Safety Switches


Electrical safety

Did you know every householder in NSW has a legal responsibility to keep their home safe? Or, that if you own or run a business you are responsible for the electrical safety of employees and everyone else on your premises?

Also, if your house was built before 1977 it is unlikely to have an earth rod and you should seriously consider having one installed.

What is a safety switch and why do I need one?

Safety switches are your insurance against electric shock. They are designed to prevent injury or death.

They monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. They automatically shut off the electricity supply when current is detected leaking from faulty switches, wiring or electrical appliances. This stops the chance of current flowing to earth, through a person and electrocuting them.

Installing a safety switch is an inexpensive safety measure that protects everyone.

How do I know if I have a safety switch?

What to look for

Check by looking at your switchboard for a test reset button. That tells you that you have a safety switch installed. When you open your switchboard you should see something like this.

A typical switchboard with the main switch, safety switch with test button, and circuit breakers.

All homes have circuit breakers or fuses. These are designed to protect the wiring and appliances within your home. Only safety switches are designed to protect people.

Which switch is which?

Safety switches are often confused with circuit breakers and surge protectors. Here is a quick guide to help understand the differences.

Surge protectors

Surge protectors safeguard your appliances and wiring from voltage surges like a lightning strike. (see our surge protection page on this site.

Safety switches and surge protectors play entirely different roles. Surge protectors protect electrical appliances, safety switches protect people.

Circuit breakers

Circuit breakers cut the power off when electrical wiring in a building has too much current flowing through it. Too much current flowing through a circuit would heat an electrical appliance’s wires or the wiring to unsafe levels. This could cause an electrical fire.

Fuses work in the same way as circuit breakers. Both fuses and circuit breakers do not protect people from electrical shock.

Rewireable Fuses

Fuses are prone to incorrect ratings and circuit breakers are not. There are many fuses wired with much heavier fuse wire than they are supposed to be. Meaning that if there was a problem in the field wiring (which causes heat), that wiring would burn out before the fuse does which is exactly how electrical fires can start

NSW government offers a rebate for businesses that install safety switches – see link below


Upgrade your safety switches

Even if you have a switchboard that looks like the photo above with a large safety switch, there is a better solution.

These switches were typically installed many years ago and they are a safety switch that is common to multiple power circuits. This means that if there is a problem and the safety switch trips, the whole house goes out and not just the affected circuit. Usually, this style of safety switch does not include the lighting circuits either.

There’s a new generation of safety switch which called an RCBO.

These switches are a combined circuit breaker and safety switch, which is individual to each circuit. If there is a problem on a particular circuit, it trips that circuit only and not the entire property.

A tripping circuit is not great but it’s a lot better than an electric shock when you turn on the tap or the kettle, so give Lightning Bult Electrical a call today to get your safety switches upgraded.


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