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Circuit Breakers

Electronic equipment is often designed with built-in circuit protection. The main function is to provide protection to both the equipment and the equipment operator in the event of a circuit overload.

This protection usually comes in one of two forms: a circuit breaker or a fuse. A circuit breaker is an automatic switch that prohibits the flow of electric current when it is rapidly overloaded or unusually stressed. A fuse is a safety device that protects an electric circuit from excessive current.

In principle, a circuit breaker is like a fuse—it can open the circuit pathway in the event of an overload or short circuit. Unlike the fuse, the circuit breaker is reusable. It is available in a manual or automatic reset. A manual reset requires the user to press a button or move a lever (or switch) to reset the circuit pathway. An automatic reset will return to normal functioning once normal conditions resume.

When the current is larger than the circuit breaker is designed to handle, the switch contacts open, breaking the current. This occurrence is often referred to as being “tripped.” When the issue is resolved (whatever “tripped” the circuit is repaired), the circuit breaker can be reset by a push of a button or a flip of a switch. The contacts will remain closed unless another overcurrent fault condition occurs in the protected circuit, causing it to trip again. Circuit breakers can be designed to trip more rapidly than fuses, although they are typically larger and costlier.

Circuit breakers only protect against low-level faults and are not meant to clear faults with high-voltage levels. A circuit breaker is not a surge resistor for catastrophic events, such as lightning strikes or high-voltage line shorts.

Examples of Circuit Breakers Offered by Interpower

82910030 82910090 82910160 82910270
P/N Current Rating (250VAC) Terminal Style Max Interrupt Capacity Internal
Resistance (Ω)
82910030 4A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A 0.087 Ohms
82910040 6A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A 0.043 Ohms
82910050* 8A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A 0.033 Ohms
82910060 10A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A <0.04 Ohms
82910080 15A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A <0.04 Ohms
82910090 10A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A <0.02 Ohms
82910160 10A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 250A <0.04 Ohms
82910270 15A 4/6.3mm or 8/2.8mm 3500A <0.02 Ohms

*Available while supplies last.

Characteristics of a Circuit Breaker

  • A circuit breaker is reusable and can be reset after it has tripped. While it may take longer for a circuit breaker to trip when exposed to moderate overloads, at high overloads it tends to trip more quickly. When tripped, it provides a clear indication that it has tripped.

  • It can eliminate an incorrect fuse replacement because it is reusable. When a fuse is needed, there is the possibility that an incorrectly rated fuse may be used which could result in injury or equipment damage.

  • A circuit breaker’s design allows for repeated use. It can be used many times before needing to be replaced. Factors that may affect its life span include arc strength, setting time, and frequency of resetting.

  • Ambient temperatures do not affect some types of circuit breakers as much as a supplementary fuse may be affected.

  • A circuit breaker can be combined with a switch providing both on/off and circuit protection in one unit.

  • A circuit breaker, when compared to a supplementary fuse, is larger in size, so it take up more panel and internal space. It if does become disabled, replacing one may require a technician to replace it.

  • The ratings are in larger increments for a circuit breaker. Many are not available with the minute adjustment levels of certain fuses. For example, a fuse can be in milliamps, while a circuit breaker is in even or half increments.

  • Initially, a circuit breaker may be more costly than a fuse. The savings can come with the reduction in replacing components.

Application

Location Requirements

Location of the supplementary protection device is important. Ambient temperature can affect the operation of the supplementary device. The impact is especially true on thermal devices. Warmer temperatures can cause it to open prematurely. Cold temperatures can cause it to have a delayed response.

The ease of changing or resetting the supplementary protection device is important and needs to be considered in the selection process. Placement in the most accessible location is ideal, but closeness to the power as it enters the equipment can be a concern. Having to pull out the equipment when the protection device fails is not convenient.

Performance Requirements

The performance capability of a supplementary circuit protection device determines its use. Fuses can be fast-acting or time-delayed. Selection depends on the need within the equipment. While circuit breakers can do the same thing, they are not as sensitive in the interruption capacity.

Connections

Terminations used on circuit breakers can come with a combination terminal that will accept soldering or a 6.3mm QD—which are the kinds offered by Interpower. The choice of method is left up to the customer.

For More Details

For the complete product line offered by Interpower, see Circuit Breakers. Find additional information on circuit protection and supplementary protection at “More Information on Circuit Breakers.”


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