Residual Current Devices (RCD) are first and foremost there for your personal safety. Although we may try our best to be careful around electrical appliances and power points we can never protect ourselves 100% of the time. This is where RCDs or safety switches come in handy, to give yourself extra protection against electric shocks and electrocution.
What are RCDs?
RCD stands for residual current device and put simply is an electrical safety switch. RCDs aim to offer an extra level of protection, which standard fuses and circuit breakers fall short of providing. These safety switches specifically target your personal protection, as they help prevent electric shock.
What is the purpose of RCDs?
RCDs are designed to monitor the directional flow of electric currents. Safety switches are able to identify whether your electricity is going to travel down an unwanted path. One of these unwanted paths is our frail human body. Unlike electrical wires, our human bodies were not built to conduct electricity. The main purpose of RCDs is to prevent the flow of electricity from actually reaching us.
Safety switches not only help prevent electric shock, but also assist fuses and circuit breakers in detecting current leakage and faults.
How efficient are RCDs?
The speed at which safety switches cut the power to your circuit ranges between 40 to 300 milliseconds after a fault’s detection. Although this may significantly reduce your risk of injury or death, RCDs are not 100% effective. To be more specific, safety switches are only 97% reliable. You can increase your protection though by getting regular checkups of your home’s wires and testing your switches every three months.
Would my Brisbane home have a RCD switch?
In the 1990’s the installation of safety switches started to become a regular occurrence. But, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that it actually became mandatory for Australian houses to install RCDs. Since Brisbane is the second oldest settlement in Queensland, there is abundance of older homes. If you believe that your house was built prior to the 2000’s it is important to check your meter box and look for an obvious ‘test’ button.
If you are still unsure or worried, make sure to call your electrician for an inspection.
How do RCDs differ from circuit breakers?
The primary difference between safety switches and circuit breakers is the focus of its protection. Circuit breakers aim to protect your home’s electrical wiring and prevent overloads.
RCDs on the other hand primarily focus on your personal protection and keeping you safe. Both devices are housed within your meter box but the way to tell them apart is by looking for the ‘test’ button on the RCD.
What do I do if my home doesn’t have an RCD switch?
If you suspect that your home does not have a safety switch installed and you want extra protection against electrical injuries take action immediately.