SAFETY SWITCHES (RCD)
STM Electrical can install a safety switch into your home, office, shop or factory from as little as
Electrical work is never a do-it-yourself job! That’s dangerous and illegal.
Only a licensed electrical contractor can install a safety switch.
Safety switches are your insurance against electric shock. They are designed to prevent injury or death.
They monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. They automatically shut off the electricity supply when current is detected leaking from faulty switches, wiring or electrical appliances. This stops the chance of current flowing to earth, through a person and electrocuting them.
Installing a safety switch is an inexpensive safety measure that protects everyone.
Why you need a safety switch
A legal requirement
The law says all homes built since 1992 must have safety switches installed on power circuits. They are not an optional extra.
Building a new home
If you are building a new home, you must have a safety switch installed on both power and lighting circuits.
Buying a property
If you buy a property without a safety switch, you must install a safety switch for the power circuits within three months of a property transfer. This applies to any transfer of domestic premises.
Selling a property
If you sell a property, you first establish if a safety switch is installed for power circuits. This must be declared on the standard sales contract and Form 24 Property Transfer.
Rental homes must have a safety switch installed by the owner for power points within 6 months of the agreement.
Legal obligation of property owners
If you buy a domestic residence or enter into a residential tenancy agreement for a domestic residence you own you have a legal requirement to have a safety switch installed for general purpose socket outlets if there is not already one installed.
How safety switches work
Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. They automatically shut off the electricity supply when current is detected leaking from faulty switches, wiring or appliances. This stops the chance of current flowing to earth through a person and electrocuting them.
Are safety switches failsafe?
Nothing is failsafe. You should regularly check your safety switch. Just like a smoke detector or other safety device, it cannot protect you if it is not working properly.
It is also important to make sure your electrical appliances, electrical wiring, extension leads and other electrical equipment are regularly checked and kept in good working order.
Test your safety switch
To test a safety switch:
- press the test button.
- This should automatically trip the switch to the off position.
- Reset by pushing the switch back to on.
If it doesn’t work, contact your electrical contractor immediately.
Carry out safety switch test every three months.
Why it tripped
If a safety switch turns off your power you could be using a faulty appliance or your electrical wiring may have become faulty.
Reset the safety switch. If it trips again unplug the last appliance used.
If everything works take that appliance to a licensed electrical contractor to be checked.
If the safety switch keeps tripping, disconnect all appliances and plug them in one at a time until you locate the faulty one.
Avoid touching appliances while doing this process.
Contact your electrical contractor if problems persist.
Recognising a safety switch
What to look for
Check by looking at your switchboard for a test reset button. That tells you that you have a safety switch installed. When you open your switchboard you should see something like this.
Typical switchboard with the main switch, safety switch with test button, and four circuit breakers.
All homes have circuit breakers or fuses. These are designed to protect the wiring and appliances within your home. Only safety switches are designed to protect people.
Which switch is which?
Safety switches are often confused with circuit breakers and surge protectors. Here is a quick guide to help understand the differences.
Surge protectors safeguard your appliances and wiring from voltage surges like a lightning strike.
Safety switches and surge protectors play entirely different roles. Surge protectors protect electrical appliances, safety switches protect people.
Circuit breakers cut the power off when electrical wiring in a building has too much current flowing through it. Too much current flowing through a circuit would heat an electrical appliance's wires or the wiring to unsafe levels. This could cause an electrical fire.
Fuses work in the same way as circuit breakers. Both fuses and circuit breakers do not protect people from electrical shock.
Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. They automatically shut the electricity supply when current is detected leaking from faulty switches, wiring or electrical appliances. This stops the chance of currents flowing to earth, through a person, electrocuting them.
Portable safety switch
A portable safety switch unit is ideal when using plug in electrical equipment indoors or outdoors. They are convenient to use where permanent safety switch protection is not available.
The portability of these devices means they can be damaged and should be inspected regularly.
Safety switches are not the same as circuit breakers or fuses. They are an additional form of protection to be used with circuit breakers and fuses.
What about lighting?
Retrospectively fitting safety switches on existing lighting circuits is not compulsory but will increase your family’s safety.
Consider at least a portable safety switch if you are using decorative lights.