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5 Reasons Why Circuit Breakers Trip
Monday, April 2, 2018

You must have grown tired of circuit breakers that keep on tripping frequently. But the fact is that the tripping of a circuit breaker means it is doing its job effectively. Circuit breakers cut the supply of electricity when they detect an excessive flow of current.

Most of the modern circuit breakers have two separate tripping mechanisms. Each of them is designed to respond to different faults.

The first mechanism is called the thermal tripping mechanism. It disconnects the breaker when the current flow exceeds the rated limit. And the other mechanism is called the magnetic tripping mechanism. It is designed to clear the high current faults like ground faults or short circuits.

This is why when a circuit breaker trips, it means either a high current fault has occurred or the breaker is not adequate for the job at hand. Here we discuss in detail the reasons why circuit breakers trip.

1 - Circuit Overload

A circuit overload happens when the current flowing through a breaker exceeds its rated value. This causes the circuit breaker to trip. For example, if a 20 amp breaker has 25 amp current flowing through it, then it will trip within a minute.

2 - Short Circuit 

When there’s a contact between a neutral and a live conductor, short circuit can happen. In such a case the breaker is drawing in current that is at least hundred times higher than the breaker’s rated value. In such a case the magnetic tripping mechanism is activated in order to clear this fault. The fault needs to be cleared as soon as possible because a very high current flow can damage the breaker and start a fire in just a few seconds.

3 - Ground Fault

A ground fault may occur when the live conductor in the breaker touches a conductive surface that’s not a part of the circuit. The current will also be very high in this case. However, the fault is almost immediately cleared by the magnetic tripping mechanism in the breaker. As it is necessary with the short circuit, a ground fault that has occurred requires an inspection so that there’s no unwanted contact between a conductive surface and a live conductor again.

4 - Wrong Breaker

When selecting a circuit breaker, it is very important that the type of the breaker matches the application. For example, if you’re using a type B breaker for a motor that actually draws 8 times more current than the rating on the breaker, then the motor won’t even start because the circuit breaker will disconnect the motor immediately.

5 - Heavy Machines

Sometimes during home modifications, the use of heavy machineries like welding or motor powered machines is involved. Such equipment when plugged into circuit that is not designed to bear their current flow also causes the circuit breakers to trip.

These five reasons may have answered your question that why circuit breakers trip, and you must’ve understood that when a circuit breaker trips, it’s actually preventing a short circuit or a ground fault. That’s why the quality of the breaker installed must be the best. Midwest Equipment has the best variety of circuit breakers for all purposes available online for your convenience. So if you want to purchase some quality circuit breakers with all their specifications available online, then visit our online store today.


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