How A Circuit Breaker Works

A circuit breaker is a protective device that is designed to open the circuit when a current load is in excess of the rated breaker capacity. If there is a short or other type of overload condition in the circuit, the excessive current will open the circuit between the circuit breaker terminals. Two types used.

Circuit Breaker

This type opens when excessive current passes through it for a period of time. It closes again after a few seconds, and if the cause of the high current is still present, it will open again. The circuit breaker will continue to cycle open and closed until the condition causing the high current is removed.

Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) Circuit Breaker

This type greatly increases its resistance when excessive current passes through it. The excessive current heats the PTC device, as the device heats its resistance increases. Eventually the resistance gets so high that the circuit is effectively open. Unlike the ordinary circuit breaker the PTC unit will not reset until the circuit is opened, by removing the voltage from its terminals. Once the voltage is removed the circuit breaker will re-close within one or two seconds.