RCDs And The 18th Edition

Greenbrook talks us through Residual Current Devices (RCDs) and the new 18th Edition.

So let’s talk about the basics. Residual Current Devices are electrical devices which, when incorporated into an electrical installation, will provide the highest degree of protection against the risks of electrocution and fire caused by electrical earth faults. PowerBreaker were the first to create the RCD back in 1975.

The 17th Edition of Building Regulations recommends the use of RCDs for sockets as well as for inside consumer units. The new 18th Edition recommends that RCDs be used for all public spaces and for retrofitting sockets that are not already RCD protected. Despite this recommendation, there are still approximately 13 million dwellings in the UK that have no RCD protection at all. Approximately 10% of all fires are caused by electrical faults, and many of these could be prevented by using RCDs.

RCDs are available in different variants, namely Passive or Active, and can be used for different applications. Many people are unaware of the differences between these two products and do not understand where best to use what.

For Passive RCDs, a typical application would be a refrigerator or freezer that would return to its regular mode of operation as soon as the power supply resumes normal operation. Passive RCDs are also useful to use for for sockets in hard to reach places, where having to gain access to re-set an RCD would be tricky, but where protection is still required.

An active RCD is better used for electrical equipment such as hedge trimmers, machinery or power tools, where unexpected restarting of the equipment could present a danger to the user in a power cut situation.

PowerBreaker 10mA RCDs are the latest products to hit the market. These RCDs trip earlier, as they are more sensitive to a fault current flowing, breaking the circuit before the trip occurs further upstream in the consumer unit – often then cutting out other faultless items.

These RCDs have been deemed safer for use in areas with young children, such as nurseries and schools, but also for use in places with more vulnerable people like hospitals or old people’s homes, where a chance of electric shock could be fatal. As detailed earlier, the 18th Edition now deems that all public access areas would be advised to use RCDs (we would suggest 10mA) as all types of people can pass through these areas.

PowerBreaker offers both a 30mA RCD as standard plus a 10mA option. The PowerBreaker 30mA RCDs trip at least 10 milliseconds faster than the BSEN standards require.

PowerBreaker socket RCDs also offer MFBL (make first break last) technology, which is critical to avoid upstream RCD nuisance tripping at the consumer unit.

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