What Should Your Switchboard Include?
Safety Switch (Residual Current Device)
A Residual Current Device (RCD), commonly referred to as a safety switch, plays a critical role in maintaining your safety by promptly disconnecting power before any potential risk can manifest.
Having RCDs installed in your switchboard is imperative as they help to shield the circuits. These small devices are able to detect any instance of earth leakage current running through your switchboard circuits. Engineered to activate within a mere 0.3 seconds, the safety switch’s swift response time is a legal stipulation, as any delay increases the potential for harm.
For these devices, it is recommended that you conduct biannual tests by pressing the T (test) button. This practice helps to ensure the internal mechanisms are still operational and effective.
The fundamental purpose of a main switch is to protect your home’s entire electrical system from potential overloads and short circuit situations. This component ensures that electricity can be cut when the problem is stemming from multiple different circuits. It also allows you and electrical professionals to turn off the power to the property when needed.
The circuit breakers are designed to protect the cables from any potential overloading. This means if there is an excessive power flow within a circuit, the circuit breaker will activate, stopping the process and minimising the risk of the cable becoming overheated. This can happen when the demand is too high, the cables become damaged due to short circuiting, or water infiltrates an appliance.
Surge protectors often go unrecognised and underestimated, despite their immense value.
Located within your switchboards, a surge protector serves as a crucial defence mechanism that absorbs the impact of any unexpected surges in electricity flowing through your incoming lines. This is especially important during thunderstorms and other adverse weather conditions that can affect the energy supply.
These surges can quickly course down your electrical lines, potentially resulting in the abrupt failure of your electronic devices. But a surge protector is able to nullify these sudden spikes, effectively safeguarding your household gadgets and appliances from harm.
Every switchboard should be connected to an earth electrode. What is an earth electrode? It is a metal stake that has been drilled into the ground outside your home and wired directly into your switchboard. This then provides your electrical system with the grounding needed to ensure safe operation.
Some older homes utilise the equipotential bond method whereby the electrical earthing was connected to metal plumbing pipes, however recent research proves this to be a problematic earthing method. The up-to-date earthing system uses an independent earth electrode, which minimises the risk of accidental disconnections.
How to Tell if it is Time to Upgrade Your Switchboard?
First up, how can you tell if it’s time to upgrade your home’s switchboard?
Generally, if you’re considering a transition to larger or updated electrical appliances, or you’re looking to add a new power point to your residence, you should consider updating your switchboard to ensure it is capable of safely outputting the necessary electricity. Similarly, should your switchboard exhibit signs of age, there is a chance it no longer meets the Australian Standards. Such a scenario poses potentially serious risks.
Reasons to Consider an Upgrade
The following are just a few of the reasons you should consider upgrading your switchboard:
- Older switchboards are prone to overload due to their inability to handle modern appliances.
- Circuit breakers are less likely to trip frequently.
- Diminished likelihood of a fuse blowing due to overloading.
- Updated switchboards adhere to current regulations and are conducive to accommodating new smart meters.
- Contemporary switchboards offer the integration of solar power.
- Comprehensive surge protection throughout your home.
Remember, your switchboard functions as the central command for your residence. Any malfunction, no matter how small, can lead to multiple issues for your property.
Upgrading Your Switchboard
If you aren’t sure whether or not your switchboard adheres to the current electrical standards, a home electrical safety evaluation is the best way to find out.
At Jetset Electrical, we offer a comprehensive electrical safety check to help you ensure that your household is protected. As a part of this, our electricians will assess your switchboard, identifying any circuits in need of safeguarding. They will also assess your property’s wiring, smoke alarms, and other electrical devices in order to give you the essential insights you need when updating your electrical system.
Think this might be something your property could benefit from? Call us at 1300 453 871 and book your local Brisbane or Gold Coast electrician today!