Safety switch upgrade. Here's what you need to know.
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
If you have newly purchased a property or have experienced an ongoing issue with power points and lights not working, it really is time to upgrade your switchboard.
Upgrading your switchboard is an investment. Through the process of upgrading your switchboard we learn further into what faults are occurring as well as the condition of your electrical wiring throughout your home.
5 step upgrade process
1. Disconnection of power to property.
2. Removal of old fuse/switchboard.
3. Installation of new switchboard and re termination of wiring to safety switches.
4. Re connect power to property.
5. Test and commissioning of exisiting circuits.
Today's current regulations and safety standards clearly specify that the following are to take place when upgrading a switchboard;
In nearly all scenarios when upgrading a switchboard all existing electrical circuits from exisiting fuse box are to be protected via an RCD (Residual Current Device) also known as a Safety switch.
This includes the following:
- All power point and light circuits
- Fixed air conditioning/ split system dedicated circuits
- Smoke alarm circuits
- Electric oven circuits
- Electric Hotplates
- water pumps
The RCD approach
How many Circuit breakers are allowed to be installed per Safety switch?
Today's current regulations and standards allow a Safety switch RCD to protect a maximum of 3 Circuit breakers.
Depending on the size of the electrical installation, Maximum demand and many other factors will dictate the number of circuits installed at your property.
A maximum of 3 circuits to be installed to one RCD Safety switch
In nearly all cases we find more than 3 Electrical circuits are installed at more then 90% of residential properties thus requiring a minimum of 2 RCD's installed at the property.
The following are examples of circuit arrangements commonly found and practiced.
The disadvantages of having the above arrangements is that in the event of a fault occurring within a circuit, the likelihood of the RCD tripping due to the fault occurring is very likely to occur.
This then results in a loss of power to all associated circuits that are installed and being protected by that RCD.
Inconveniences due to these arrangements include the following;
- Loss power to half the house
- Supply to internet routers could be indirectly affected due to the RCD's arrangement.
- Loss of power to essential appliances include Fridges and life support machines.
- Loss of power to light circuit when the fault is caused by a power circuit.
- Extra Labour required by electrician to investigate the fault.
- More expensive outcome to rectify fault.
The RCBO approach
Advantages of having RCBO's installed
#RCBO (Residual Current Breaker with Over-Current)
Combination Safety switch circuit breakers are the "best in practice" for the electrical industry.
The advantages of having the above arrangements is that in the event of a fault occurring within a circuit the RCBO tripping due to the fault occurring is very likely to occur.
This then results in a loss of power to only the one associated circuit.
Thus resulting in the fault isolated to the one electrical circuit.
The advantages of having combination RCBO's installed compared to multiple RCD safety switches installed are the following;
- Loss power to only the light or power circuit.
- Fault does not affect supply to essential appliances.
- Less time and Labour required by electrician to investigate the fault.
- Less expensive outcome to rectify fault.
When considering your electrical switchboard upgrade please consider your options;
- What will best suit your needs
- Investing in RCBO's can save you on future maintenance fees
- Safety issues
- The longevity of your homes electrical appliances and wiring.
- Isolating requirements.