Circuit breaker Tripping – Overloading your power circuits

Circuit breaker Tripping – Overloading your power circuits.

Safety switches and Circuit breakers are designed for two different applications. Safety switches are used for personal protection and circuit breakers are used for property protection, for information about Safety switches you can visit this post.

Circuit breakers provide short circuit protection and over current protection. Such as when a power point is overloaded with too many appliances on the one circuit, or if an electrical cable has been damaged in a way that the copper conductors touch each other and short out. The circuit breaker will cut off the power to protect the property from fire.

An example of an overloaded circuit is common during winter, with many people using portable heaters to warm a room in a house or a small office. Common power consumption for portable heaters are around 2000 watts which equals to approximately 8.3 amps. Most power circuits are protected with a 16 amp fuse or circuit breaker.
A circuit breakers sole purpose is to protect the electrical cable from overheating and melting.

single pole circuit-breaker

As you can see if another portable heater is used on the same circuit than the total amps exceeds the 16 amp circuit breaker rating and will trip then disconnect the power supply on the circuit.

To resolve this is not to increase the circuit breaker rating or fuse rating from 16 amps and above as it is designed to protect the electrical cable from over heating and melting. You will need to distinguish between different circuits in the property, having the two heaters on separate circuits should be sufficient and trouble free as long as there are no other major appliances on the circuits.

If this is not possible especially in an office environment then depending how important it is to have a heater, you will need to install a new circuit to a particular room or have the electrician possibly split the existing circuits evenly.

Another affordable option is to be aware of the wattage rating of the heaters being used, smaller wattage heating will use less power and may allow for more than one heater on the one circuit. You can find the wattage on the name plat on the heater. There are now a new generation of energy efficient portable heaters on the market that can produce high heat with low wattage values.
Heater Picture & Rating Label

Heater Picture & Rating Label
Heater Picture & Rating Label

Portable heaters with built in fans will distribute the heat produced by the heater more effectively than heaters without fans, used on low may produce enough heat without using a large amount of energy.

Please remember never to use extension leads and power adapters for portable heater use. Plug heater directly into a power point.