Circuit Breaker

A Circuit Breaker is an electric switch which operates (automatically) to prevent the circuit from short circuiting or over-loading. Primarily, it interrupts the current flow after detecting the fault. It holds a frequency of 40Hz, 50Hz or so. Maximum current it can carry without being over-heated is 10, 11 or 12Amp (Rated Current). Moreover, the maximum voltage the Circuit Breaker can interrupt safely without being damaged is 600kV, 1000kV, 1500kV etc (Rated Voltage). It is mainly used in homes

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Detailed Description for Circuit Breaker

Types of Circuit Breaker:

There are different types of Circuit Breakers based on the different criteria.

According to the arc quenching media, the Circuit Breaker can be divided as:

·         Oil Circuit Breaker: In this type of Circuit Breaker, oil is used for insulation between the phases and the grounds and to extinguish the arc. Disadvantage of this type of CB is flammability of oil and high maintenance i.e., changing and purifying the oil. This is one of the oldest types of Circuit Breakers.

·         Air Circuit Breaker: In order to prevent the reestablishment of arcing, the Air Circuit Breaker creates an arc voltage in excess of the supply voltage. Arc voltage is defined as the minimum voltage required for maintaining the arc.

·         SF6 Circuit Breaker: SF6 (Sulfur-hexafluoride) is very good dielectric for high voltage power applications reason being its non-reactive property against the materials used in high voltage Circuit Breaker.


According to the services, the Circuit Breaker can be divided as:

·         Outdoor Circuit Breaker

·         Indoor Breaker


As per the operating mechanism of Circuit Breaker, they can be divided as:

·         Spring operated Circuit Breaker

·         Hydraulic Circuit Breaker

·         Pneumatic Circuit Breaker


According to the voltage level of installation types of Circuit Breaker, they can be divided as:

·         High Voltage Circuit Breaker

·         Medium Voltage Circuit Breaker

·         Low Voltage Circuit Breaker


Working principle:

A Circuit Breaker mainly comprises of a pair of fixed and moving contacts. In the ‘ON’ condition of Circuit Breaker, these two contacts are attached to each other due to applied mechanical pressure on the moving contacts.

An arrangement is made to store potential energy in the mechanism which is realized when switching signal is given to the breaker. The potential energy could be stored in the circuit design by compressed air, deforming metal spring, or hydraulic pressure. But irrespective of the source of potential energy, it must be released during the operation because it makes sliding of the moving contacts in a very fast manner.

There are operating coils present in all the Circuit Breakers. When these coils are energized by switching pulse, the plunger inside them gets displaced and this operating coil plunger is attached to operating mechanism of Circuit Breaker which leads to release of stored potential energy in the form of kinetic energy. The total stored energy is released after one complete cycle of operation of Circuit Breaker and thereafter, the potential energy is again stored in the operating mechanism of Circuit Breaker by means of air compressor or by any other means.



Electrical principle of Circuit Breaker:

The Circuit Breaker has to carries a large rated or, say, fault power due to which there is always dangerously high arcing between moving contacts and fixed contacts in its operation. Nevertheless, the arc in Circuit Breaker can be quenching safely if the dielectric strength between the contacts increases rapidly. The dielectric strength can be rapidly increased in number of ways too, like by compressing the ionized arcing media or by cooling the arcing media. So basically, a number of quenching processes should be involved in the Circuit Breaker operation.




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