Since 1991, Safety Switches are required by law to be installed on each new or altered power and lighting circuit in residential settings. From January 2019, all new or altered circuits require Safety Switch protection.
WHAT IS A SAFETY SWITCH?
A Safety switch is also known as a Residual Current Device (RCD) and is designed to reduce the severity of electrocution. RCDs offer an added level of protection than Circuit breakers. Circuit breakers are designed to trip off when a circuit is overloaded and when there is a short circuit. RCDs offer the added protection of tripping off when there is earth leakage greater than 30milli-Amps. What this means is that RCDs measure the current leaving the switch board on a circuit, and the current returning to the switchboard on that same circuit. Current leaving should equal current returning. If there is an amount of current missing that is greater than 30 milli-Amps, the RCD will trip off in less than 300 milli-seconds. The reason current could be missing is because of a path to earth at some point in the circuit, meaning there is an electrical fault or a person is being electrocuted.
AM I REQUIRED TO HAVE RCD’S INSTALLED?
If a new circuit is wired from the switchboard, or a circuit is altered, you must have RCD protection installed on it. If more than 20% of the circuits in a switchboard are given RCD protection, all must be given RCD protection. If an outlet or fixture in the home is simply replaced, RCD protection does not have to be given. In this instance however, we still recommend having RCD protection installed to your home.
Please note: In work places, medical areas, childcare facilities and other commercial premises, there are different types of RCDs which must be installed. There are also other tests which must be conducted.