5 Types of Circuit Breakers Every Homeowner Should Know About

If you are a homeowner it makes sense to have some basic knowledge as to how things work in your property and what might be needed to fix a problem when it occurs.

There are many aspects of electrical repairs that need to be left to a professional for obvious safety reasons. However, understanding what a 50 amp double pole breaker is designed to do and how to change a breaker would be useful information to have in your memory bank.

Circuit breakers play a critical role in keeping you safe and help protect your property from a dangerous electrical problem escalating out of control.

Here is what you should know about them.


Single-pole breaker

A standard single-pole breaker is specifically designed to protect individual circuits in your home.

A typical single-pole breaker will control the power of lights in your living room, for instance, and is conventionally used to protect circuits between 15 and 20 amps.

The fundamental advantage of a breaker over a fuse is that you can reset it and use it again once you have fixed the problem. If the breaker keeps tripping as soon as you try to reset it, that is a scenario where it is wise to call an electrician to investigate the fault.

Double-pole breaker

A double-pole breaker works in the same way as a single-pole version. The key difference is that it is designed to cope with larger power sources.

If you have an air conditioning unit in your home it is likely that it will rely on a 50 amp double-pole breaker.

As the name suggests, a double-pole breaker is larger in size. This means they usually take up two slots in your panel, which accepts two wires rather than one.

GFCI breaker

A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) breaker is designed to protect you from a ground fault, which is a specific type of electric shock.

It works by detecting the amount of current being delivered to the item you are powering and then comparing it with what is being sent back.

A GFCI will help you avoid an electric shock when an electrical current is conducted through something unintentional, such as a metal pipe that is not intended to carry electricity.

AFCI breaker

Another very specific breaker is the Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI). This type of breaker only became mandatory about 20 years ago but they have now evolved as a breaker type that may well replace standard breakers in your home.

They are designed to constantly monitor circuits in order to provide a warning of dangerous electrical arcs.

Dual function breaker

You can also get AFCI/GCFI breakers. These are typically found in energy-hungry locations such as kitchens or laundry rooms.

As you might expect, this type of breaker provides both levels of protection within one device.

The type of breakers you have in your home will often depend on the age of the property. Newer homes are seeing more dual-function breakers installed.

Knowing what each breaker is designed to do will help you have a greater understanding of how your electrical safety system works.

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