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Circuit breakers used as switching devices

The 17th edition introduced a quick selection table 53.4 to assist with the selection of devices used for various functions such as isolation, emergency switching and functional switching.

This table suggests that circuit breakers to BS EN 60898, BS EN 60947-2, and RCBO’s to BS EN 61009 are suitable to be used as functional switches. So in a shop for instance where the lights may be either all on or all off the circuit breaker in the distribution board could be used to switch the lights on and off.

Whilst circuit breakers are suitable to switch loads of course, their primary function is as circuit protection devices and depending on the type of load they are switching may not be the best product to select for this purpose.

For this reason Amendment 3 has added a small note to this table stating:
Circuit-breakers and RCDs are primarily circuit-protective devices and, as such, they are not intended for frequent load switching. Infrequent switching of circuit-breakers on-load is admissible for the purposes of isolation or emergency switching.

For a more frequent duty, the number of operations and load characteristics according to the manufacturer’s instructions should be taken into account or an alternative device from those listed as suitable for functional switching in Table 53.4 should be employed.

So specifiers or installers should either consult the manufacturer of the circuit breaker giving information as to the type of load being switched or better still use a device listed in the table as a switching device which are designed for this frequent duty.
Posted: 10th December 2014

For further information please contact: Hager Ltd, Hortonwood 50, Hortonwood, Telford, TF1 7FT.
Telephone 01952 675612, Fax 01952 675557, Web: www.hager.co.uk, Twitter: @hageruk