Circuit Breakers

Written by Will Baum
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Circuit breakers hold down the fort when electrical current gets out of control. There are a huge number of companies vying for your circuit breaker business. Some are well-known, others less so. Still others are specialists, focused entirely on making a better circuit breaker.

Choosing the best circuit breakers is, to some degree, a matter of personal taste. Some feel more comfortable with a big-name company like GE or Westinghouse. These companies, they reason, build airplane components and hydroelectric dams, surely they can manage a high-quality circuit breaker. Others prefer a smaller company. They like the idea of a company whose sole mission is to make the best circuit breaker possible. For many others, the issue is cost. For them, inexpensive circuit breakers are the best circuit breakers.

Going solely by price has its drawbacks. I could sell you a set of old, rusted-out circuit breakers at a price that you might find far more appealing than the price of a set of brand-new circuit breakers. That doesn't mean you'd be getting a good buy. You have to be able to trust your circuit breakers. The best way to make sure this is the case is to trust the source of your circuit breakers, both the manufacturer and the retailer.

What Circuit Breakers Do

Why are circuit breakers so important? Circuit breakers stand between you and chaos. They are like guards standing over your electrical system seeing to it that it functions properly. If a circuit breaker malfunctions even once, that is too many times. The stakes are too high.

Circuit breakers monitor the current traveling into your home or workplace. When electricity leaves a power station, it travels at a huge voltage (usually 7,200 volts). That current would blow your appliances to bits. Before the current approaches your structure, it travels through a transformer, slowing the current to 220-240 volts. This is the current that your appliances and circuit breakers are prepared to manage.

The power grid runs smoothly, but it isn't perfect. Occasional surges, caused by the grid or by a sudden jump in demand inside your home or workplace, still do occur. This is when a circuit breaker jumps in. When the current hops over the acceptable amount, the circuit breaker cuts the line. No more electricity hits your wires. The mini-blackout that ensues may be an annoyance, but it's nothing compared to the trouble that you'd have without the interruption. Surges can fry your machines and fritz out your wiring, sometimes even causing fires.

Buying Circuit Breakers

The cost of a fire is far greater than the few extra pennies you may spend on top-notch circuit breakers. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be a smart shopper. The best way to be smart about your circuit breaker shopping is to compare prices between the different brands. The best way to do that is over the Internet.

It wasn't too long ago that comparison shopping on an item like a circuit breaker was difficult. Today, it's easy. Using the Internet to find high and low tech items of every kind is a great time and money saver. The Internet is a terrific place to find people who are expert in circuit breakers and can help you with every aspect of your decision.


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