Quantcast Circuit protection devices protection devices. Circuit protection devices are used to stop current flow or open the circuit. To do this, a circuit protection device must ALWAYS be connected in series with the circuit it is protecting. If the protection device is connected in parallel, current will simply flow around the protection device and continue in the circuit. ">

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CIRCUIT PROTECTION DEVICES

All of the conditions mentioned are potentially dangerous and require the use of circuit protection devices. Circuit protection devices are used to stop current flow or open the circuit. To do this, a circuit protection device must ALWAYS be connected in series with the circuit it is protecting.

If the protection device is connected in parallel, current will simply flow around the protection device and continue in the circuit.

A circuit protection device operates by opening and interrupting current to the circuit. The opening of a protection device shows that something is wrong in the circuit and should be corrected before the current is restored.

When a problem exists and the protection device opens, the device should isolate the faulty circuit from the other unaffected circuits, and should respond in time to protect unaffected components in the faulty circuit. The protection device should NOT open during normal circuit operation.

The two types of circuit protection devices discussed in this chapter are fuses and circuit breakers.

Fuses

A fuse is the simplest circuit protection device. It derives its name from the Latin word "fusus," meaning "to melt."

Fuses have been used almost from the beginning of the use of electricity.

The earliest type of fuse was simply a bare wire between two connections.

The wire was smaller than the conductor it was protecting and, therefore, would melt before the conductor it was protecting was harmed. Some "copper fuse link" types are still in use, but most fuses no longer use copper as the fuse element (the part of the fuse that melts). After changing from copper to other metals, tubes or enclosures were developed to hold the melting metal. The enclosed fuse made possible the addition of filler material, which helps to contain the arc that occurs when the element melts.

For many low power uses, the finer material is not required. A simple glass tube is used. The use of a glass tube gives the added advantage of being able to see when a fuse is open. Fuses of this type are commonly found in automobile lighting circuits.

Figure 2-1 shows several fuses and the symbols used on schematics.

Figure 2-1. - Typical fuses and schematic symbols.

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Circuit Breakers

While a fuse protects a circuit, it is destroyed in the process of opening the circuit. Once the problem that caused the increased current or heat is corrected, a new fuse must be placed in the circuit. A circuit protection device that can be used more than once solves the problems of replacement fuses. Such a device is safe, reliable, and tamper proof. It is also resettable, so it can be reused without replacing any parts. This device is called a CIRCUIT BREAKER because it breaks (opens) the circuit.

The first compact, workable circuit breaker was developed in 1923.

It took 4 years to design a device that would interrupt circuits of 5000 amperes at 120 volts ac or dc. In 1928 the first circuit breaker was placed on the market. A typical circuit breaker and the appropriate schematic symbols are shown in figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2. - Typical circuit breaker and schematic symbols.

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Q.6 How are circuit protection devices connected to the circuit they are intended to protect and why are they connected in this way?answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.7 What are the two types of circuit protection devices?
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Q.8 Label the schematic symbols shown in figure 2-3 below.
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