A circuit breaker is an electrical safety device. It was designed to help protect an electrical circuit from being damaged by an over current or in the event of a short circuit. The circuit breaker will interrupt the current flow and protect the equipment from being damaged.
Circuit breakers come in two main varieties, single-pole breakers and double-pole breakers. Circuit breaker parts consist of the molded case, trip system, operating mechanism, arch chamber, terminals, and a trip button.
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5 Basic Components
There are three basic types of external casings. The circuit breaker frame provides the strength required to deal with the interruption process. It insulates and isolates the electrical current to protect the equipment. Frames can be constructed from metal or molded insulating materials.
Let’s look at the types of circuit breaker parts.
1. External Casing
- Molded Case: These case frames are constructed from strong insulating materials such as glass-polyester, or thermoset composite resins.
- Insulated Case: Parts of a circuit breaker box that insulates the parts inside the system.
- Metal Clad: A metal frame is constructed from precise metal pieces that are bolted and welded together to form a frame. These cases can be used for both low voltage power circuit breakers and medium voltage circuit breakers.
2. Electrical Contacts
This part of the circuit breaker must carry the entire load current without excessive heating. It needs to be able to withstand the heat of the arc produced when interrupting/ opening the circuit. These contacts are constructed from copper, or copper alloys. The materials are highly conductive.
3. Electrical Arc Extinguishing Mechanism
The final arc extinction is achieved by a rapid increase of the dielectric strength in the medium between the contacts so that reestablishment of arc after zero-crossing can’t be possible. It extinguishes an arc when the circuit breaker interrupts a fault.
4. Main Operating Mechanisms
It provides the means of opening and closing the circuit breaker.
5. Trip Elements
A thermal trip element circuit breaker uses a bimetallic element that is heated by the load current. The higher the current flow, the faster the bimetal trips the breaker.
Types of Circuit Breaker Parts
Circuit breakers are unique mechanical devices that connect to electrical systems. They are used to initiate and interrupt the flow of electric current. Under faulty system conditions, the mechanism will pull the moving contacts away as a result of the trip coil becoming energized and opening the circuit.
1. Oil-Based Circuit Breaker
These use insulating oil as a dielectric medium to quench the arch and break the circuit safely. The oil has better dielectric strength than air. The two types of oil circuit breakers are minimum oil and bulk oil breakers. The minimum oil circuit breaker has an insulating medium between the current and the carrying contacts and earth parts.
2. SF6 Circuit Breaker
Sulphur Hexafluoride or SF6 is a type of circuit breaker that uses pressurized SF6 gas to extinguish the arc. SF6 is a dielectric gas that has superior insulating and arc quenching properties that far exceed air or oil. Perfect for quenching circuit breakers up to 800kv in power stations and electric grids.
3. Vacuum Circuit Breaker
In this type of circuit breaker the arch quenching occurs in a vacuum. Vacuum offers the highest insulating strength. It has far better quenching properties than any other medium.
Here is a closer look at the circuit breaker key components.
The frame has the task of protecting all of the internal parts of the circuit breaker and supporting all of its circuit breaker panel parts components. The frame provides insulation to contain the arc.
This part is responsible for opening or closing the contacts of the circuit breaker. The contacts allow the current to flow along the circuit breaker when it is closed.
The arc extinguisher extinguishes the arc while in fault conditions.
The trip unit senses the abnormal flow in the current in the event of a current overload or short circuit. This causes the operating mechanism to open the contacts and trip automatically in the event of an overload, short circuit, or fault.
The component is used to electrically connect the circuit breaker to the circuit that it needs to protect. The terminal is a block of metal with a bolt emerging on the outside of it. Wires carry electrical current from the power supply through the breaker.
All the parts of the circuit breaker are very important to ensure it’s operating correctly.
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