If you don’t know the difference between a safety switch and circuit breaker, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Very few people actually know the difference between the two and about 40% of people think they are the same thing. However it is more important now than ever as the government requires that homes have more than one safety switch fitted, making it extremely beneficial to know if they are installed in your home. 


What is a safety switch?

A safety switch works to protect you from electric shocks and burns, it is a device that cuts off the electricity to your home in milliseconds when a leakage is detected. It is designed to protect you, although sometimes it may seem useless when it trips, in reality it is just doing its job. 


What is a circuit breaker? 

This device is designed to protect the circuitry, as said in the name ‘circuit breaker’. It works to cut the power when there is a current overload in the circuit, this will stop it from overheating, providing defense against electrical fires. 


What is the difference? 

The main thing that differentiates the two is what they protect. A safety switch holds the main purpose of protecting people from electric shocks and burns whereas a circuit breaker is made to protect the wiring of your home. 


Can you combine the two? 

The simple answer is, YES. There is an option for a combined switch and circuit breaker in one device. This is a fairly common choice as it means a less crowded switchboard, and won’t affect other circuits if it trips. 


If you are wondering whether you have a safety switch installed, you are able to check in your electrical box for markings. Your electrician will write above each element. However if there isn’t a marking look for a ‘T’ / test button, this will be your safety switch. Always remember that you must have a qualified electrician install your safety switches and circuit breakers.