A circuit breaker is one of the most important safety devices in your home, but most people don’t give them much thought until their lights go off or they can’t watch TV because the breaker has tripped. When the electrical wiring in a building has too much current flowing through it, the breaker cuts the power.
But do you know how old the circuit breaker is?
In an 1879 patent application by Thomas Edison, he mentioned an early form of a circuit breaker although his power distribution system used fuses. A miniature version of the modern circuit breaker was actually patented in 1924 by Brown, Boveri & Cie and an engineer named Hugo Stotz was credited as the inventor.
Circuit breakers have common features but vary substantially depending on voltage class, current rating and the type of breaker being used. A fault condition is detected by the circuit breaker. When a fault is detected, contacts within the breaker must open to interrupt the circuit. Using springs contained within the breaker, the contacts are separated and the breaker trips.
So the next time one of the breakers trips off the lights, give some thought to a product that goes back almost 100 years.