Safety Switch Installation

Safety switches save lives. Get your Safety Switch Installation completed by Finnley Electrical and enjoy our Lifetime Labour Guarantee.

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Clipsal RCD Electrical Safety Switch

Residual-current device (RCD)

Electrical Safety Switch Installations by a Licensed Electrician

A residual-current device (RCD) safety switch is an electrical safety device that quickly breaks an electrical circuit that exhibits current leakage to ground. It is designed to protect your life by reducing the risk of electric shock (electrocution). It also protects your appliances or equipment connected to your electrical system from damage.

Within New South Wales, since 1991 it has been mandatory to have a residual current device on all power circuits. From 2000, this was extended to include light circuits as a mandatory requirement. A minimum of two RCD Safety Switches are required per domestic home. A single RCD can host a maximum of three subcircuits only.

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How does a safety switch protect your home?

A safety switch monitors the amount of electricity that is going into the cables that supply your light and power outlets. Every 30 milliseconds, the safety switch does a simple calculation to determine if there is an imbalance between the amount of electricity going in and coming out. If there is an imbalance, the safety switch will shut off the power to prevent any damage from occurring. To allow electricity to flow through the circuit again, you would need to reset the safety switch.

While many modern appliances and cables are manufactured to high safety standards, accidents can still happen. Having a safety switch fitted to your electrical system ensures peace of mind that you and your family are safe from harm should an accident occur.

Safety switches are legally required to be installed in every home and rental property within New South Wales. Whilst safety switches can be installed with older switchboards, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to undergo a switchboard upgrade. The average Australian home has at least two powerpoint circuits and two lighting circuits, as well as appliance-specific circuits. From January 2019, it has become mandatory for a safety switch to be installed on all circuits.

In summary:

  • A safety switch monitors the amount of electricity going in and out of cables supplying power to outlets and appliances.
  • If there is a difference between the amount of electricity going in and out, the safety switch will cut off further supply to that area.
  • Safety switches are now a legal requirement in rental properties (along with smoke alarms) in NSW

Safety Switch Requirements for New South Wales, Australia

According to the NSW Government, 40% of house fires in New South Wales are caused by electrical faults and electrical appliances. As per the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules – AS/NZS 3000:2018 which were published on 26 June 2018 and took effect on 1 January 2019, electrical installation work must include the following for safety switches:

  • Within New South Wales, a safety switch is mandatory for all final sub-circuits in new domestic and residential installations.
  • For all new homes built after 2000, safety switches must be installed on all power points and lighting circuits.
  • If your house was built before 2000, it is recommended you consult with a licensed electrician to check if you need any RCD safety switches installed.
  • If you’ve recently bought a property and it doesn’t have a safety switch, you must get one installed within three months of taking ownership of the property.
  • For rental properties, at the start of your tenancy, a condition report should be completed by both the landlord and the tenant. The safety section of the report should state the working condition of any safety switches.
  • If you perform any extensions or alterations to an existing circuit, for example adding a bathroom fan to an existing circuit, a safety switch must be installed.
  • For existing installations where only a single piece of electrical equipment is being replaced that is not protected by a safety switch, for example, a single powerpoint, you are not required to install a safety switch. In saying that, we do recommend you protect the circuit by having a safety switch installed.

FAQs on RCD Electrical Safety Switches

While most new properties are built with RCDs installed on every circuit, older homes often only have one RCD covering the entire house. This can present serious risks because if the RCD trips, all the power in your home will be shut off until you reset it – even if the issue was only in one room or circuit.

This is why it’s so important to have an RCD installed on each individual circuit in your home. That way, if there is an issue with one particular appliance or piece of equipment, only that particular circuit will be affected – not the entire house. You can then simply reset the RCD for that particular circuit without having to reset all the power in your home. This saves you time and hassle, and reduces the risk of an accident happening again in future.

One of the most common questions we get asked is what is the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers? Safety switches protect you and your family from electrocution. Circuit breakers protect your electrical system from overload. A circuit breaker will trip when there is an overload, thus protecting the wiring and the appliances. If you were to touch a live wire, that does not overload the circuit. It does the opposite. You earth the circuit through your body. A circuit breaker will not protect you in this instance however a safety switch can as it has been designed for this specific purpose.

The button on an electrical safety switch will have a T on it. If the button doesn’t have a T on it, then it is probably a circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are different from safety switches and don’t offer the same protection for your family. See the photo below of a safety switch.

RCD Safety Switch
If you want to make sure your safety switch is working properly, just press the button with T on it. The circuit will immediately flick off and all appliances/lighting in that section of home will go out as well!

There can be many reasons why a safety switch keeps tripping however in summary this can occur if:

  • the circuit is overloaded
  • there is a short in the wiring
  • the electrical system is overheating
  • someone has tampered with the electrical system

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