Electronic circuit breakers – A system approach to circuit protection
posted by: Phoenix Contact
The type of circuit breaker that most people are familiar with are miniature circuit breakers (or MCBs). These are mostly used in domestic and commercial applications. Its main function is to protect the wiring and not much consideration is given to the loads on any particular circuit. Each circuit has a maximum current rating and having too many appliances on at any one time will cause them to trip.
A device circuit breaker, on the other hand, is primarily designed to protect individual items of equipment. Usually installed in a panel, in the event of an error they only shut down the affected actuator or sensor in the faulty circuit and crucially do not affect the other system components installed on parallel circuits. Maximum system availability is all about ensuring the 24DC control voltage is always present while, at the same time, fault currents need to be recognised quickly and faulty loads switched off selectively. This means that the production process continues running without interruption.
Based on their function, device circuit breakers can be split into the following groups:
• Thermal device circuit breakers for overload protection
• Thermomagnetic device circuit breakers for overload and short-circuit protection
• Electronic device circuit breakers for overload, short-circuit, cable attenuation, and high input capacitance protection
The market is starting to acknowledge that it is the electronic circuit breaker that gives the best overall protection from both overloads and short circuit faults (as can be seen in the table) and this is leading to a rapid increase in their usage. At the same time, this is the area with a focus on new product designs and features.
Read the full article in the November issue of PBSI
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