What’s the difference between a circuit breaker, a surge protector and an RCD?

We’re glad you asked! In a nutshell…

Circuit breakers protect your circuits from overloading, which is handy because overloads cause fires.

  • Overloads happen when more current is drawn than a system is designed for – for example, when you connect too many appliances to one power circuit at home, or if you plug your 15A van into a 10A power point using an illegally modified power lead.
  • Your home’s fuse box has a number of circuit breakers, which will cut the power when you connect too many appliances to the one power circuit. They’re not designed to carry the load from a caravan through just the one power point. The excessive heat that situation generates often causes something in the circuit to catch on fire.
  • To stay safe, you need to make sure there’s a dedicated circuit breaker in between your 15A van and the 10A power point.

Surge protectors protect electrical equipment from power surges, by absorbing or redirecting the power surge to earth before it reaches the protected equipment.

  • Surges are super-short, super-high rises in voltage that can be triggered by a whole range of things, from nearby lightning hitting the grid, to caravan generators running out of fuel.
  • They’re way too fast and furious to trigger a fuse or an RCD, so unless your van is protected with a surge protection device when a surge strikes, it (and everything that’s running off it) can suffer serious – and seriously expensive – electrical damage.
  • And that damage won’t be covered by your insurance and product warranties.Most policies specifically exclude surge damage!

RCDs, or residual current devices, protect you against electrocution.

  • Electrocution happens when electricity finds a path through a person, often due to contact with water or the resultof faulty appliances and circuits that are old, damaged or have dodgy wiring.
  • RCDs monitor the balance of the current moving both ways through a circuit and if they’re not equal, which means the electricity has found another path, the RCD will cut the supply.

So, as you can see circuit breakers, surge protectors and RCDs all protect against different things.To keep yourself and your favourite travelling companion safe in every location and destination you explore, ensure you have all 3.

The good news is Ampfibian has made doing that simple.All of our caravan power adaptors feature both an RCD and a circuit breaker, and we make Australia’s only portable, weatherproof 15A caravan surge protector.

Check them out here or hit your local hardware or caravan accessory store.

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Contact our distributor Camec for product availability and where to buy.