Residual Circuit Breaker

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Do you need an RCBO?

In the modern world there sometimes seems no end to the electrical gadgets deemed as completely ‘necessary’ for daily life.

And while we agree that some electrical items are luxuries rather than necessities, it can sometimes be hard to know the difference. That is where we come in. We are here to let you know exactly what is needed for your property to be safe and which items are nice upgrades to assist in daily functions (but not 100% required).


RCBOs fall into the absolutely necessary category and here is why – they will protect you and all others using electricity in a property from the potentially harmful effects of electrical overloads or current leakages.

Not entirely sure what I am talking about? Here is a quick breakdown of all you need to know about RCBO’s.

What is an RCBO?

RCBO stands for ‘Residual Current Breaker With Over-Current’ and is a type of safety switch.

It is a type of circuit breaker installed into the switchboard that will trip the electrical circuit when there is a power overload in order to protect people from experiencing electric shock or other potentially hazardous consequences.

How Does An RCBO Work?

An RCBO is a type of residual current circuit breaker that offers both residual current detection and over current protection in the one device.

Essentially, it will detect if there is either:

  • An overload in a specific circuit (too much current flowing that will cause potential damage to the electrical device or user), or,
  • If there is a leakage from the live to earth wire.

If either of these are detected, the RCBO will trip the power to prevent damage to the electrical circuit and users.

What Are The Benefits of RCBOs?

There are many benefits of an RCBO including (but not limited to):

Dual Protection in One Device

Before RCBOs came on to the market, consumers would need two items installed to ensure their power supply was safe:

1. Residual Current Device (RCD)

These would protect the user from being exposed to dangerous currents.

2. Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBS)

These would protect the building wiring from being overloaded.

The RCBO means that both of these functions could be rolled into one compact device…

Compact Size

As an RCBO completes the function of a RCD and an MCB in one it takes up less space in your switchboard.

This is important as there is limited space in a switchboard. Such devices means there is now enough room for all circuits in the switchboard to be fitted with a safety switch to ensure protection.

Quick Installation

As there is only one device that needs to be installed per circuit (rather than the two they used to require for complete protection), the installation time is halved.

Simplified Troubleshooting

The RCBO reliably disconnects all poles from the power supply in the event of an electrical fault meaning troubleshooting is simplified.

Whereas, other overcurrent protective devices may mean that an electrician has to perform multiple tests to find the root cause of the fault.


Long Lasting

On average an RCBO lasts for around 20,000 operations meaning they will be working to protect you for a long time.

What is the difference between an RCBO and a standard RCD (Residual Current Device)?

When it comes to protection against electrical shock both of these residual current circuit breakers will do the job.

However, the RCBO does have one additional benefit that a standard RCD does not provide. Indeed both can protect against electric shocks, residual currents and earth faults.

However, the RCBO also offers short circuit protection meaning your electrical circuits will stay in better condition for longer and your electrical devices will also avoid damage.

How Many RCBOs Do I Need?

As of 2018 all sub-circuits in residential dwellings MUST be protected by a residual current circuit breaker (ie. an RCBO) of some kind.

Properties with no RCD protection will fail any Victorian Electrical Safety Check.

For commercial or industrial properties all final sub-circuits supplying socket outlets, lighting and hard wired equipment must be protected by residual current circuit breakers such as RCBOs.

Contact Us To Get an RCBO Installed Today

When it comes to electricity supply you should always contact a professional for any installation or maintenance.

The risk of DIY accidents is very high when dealing with electricity and can be potentially fatal, especially when you are in the switchboard dealing with circuit breakers.

Here at 181 Electrical our team knows how to install and repair an RCBO. They have done thousands over the years, are very familiar with the process and can ensure the protection of your electrical equipment and all users.

If you experience an electrical fault at your property, please do not hesitate to contact a qualified electrician. They will test to isolate the circuit question and provide the required fix without you having to make direct contact with the electrical system.

Whether it is short circuits, nuisance tripping (frequent tripping), or earth fault currents you are dealing with, our team is here to get your electricity back on track and provide protection from potentially harmful faults.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch today to get your RCBO professionally installed and ensure the protection of your property and devices!

Liam Dove181 Electrical TeamAlex Botto181 Electrical Team181 Electrical Team181 Electrical Team

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