If you build a brand-new home today, the electrician is legally bound to install certain devices that will protect you and your family in the event of a surge or other issues. Yet, these regulations do not apply to homes that were built during the last century, even though those owners or occupants are vulnerable to the same types of risk. Should you think about installing them anyway, and what types of protection should you consider?
Today, a crucial protective tool is known as a residual current device. This is basically a safety switch that will automatically turn off the protected outlet or circuit as soon as it detects an anomaly. Therefore, it is designed to protect you or your family from electrocution, and this type of device should be fitted within an internal switchboard.
The switchboard should also have up-to-date circuit breakers, and these will also protect against overloading or a short circuit. Miniature circuit breakers are electromechanical devices that have long since replaced the old-fashioned fuse wire approach and are far more practical.
Understanding the RCBO
Many experts advise the use of "RCBO" products. This term stands for residual current breaker with overcurrent, which means that it can protect your household against earth leakage, overload or short circuit. This leakage can occur if an accidental break in a wire is caused by an errant drill or an energetic lawnmower. In this case, the electricity would find the easiest route to earth, and that may be through the person holding the drill or operating the lawnmower. Clearly, this is a risk that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, an overcurrent can occur if there are too many devices plugged into one circuit or if there is a breakdown in the integrity of the particular circuit.
The good news is that RCBO's can protect against all of these risks and should be installed within each individual circuit.
Of course, this is not something that you can do yourself, and in fact, regulations held within the Electrical Safety Act of 2002 mean that this would be illegal in any case. You will need to bring in a licensed electrician who can carry out the necessary alterations and provide the paperwork to prove that this has been done.
The Best Approach
Even though you may not be legally obliged to fit safety devices like these, you should always think about occupant safety first. Call in an electrician for their advice.