Although both devices are classified as electrical safety devices, there’s a significant difference between RCCB and ELCB breakers, even in their operation and usage suitability. This difference is mainly due to the way they detect faults and the wires that each device is connected to. This article aims to explain these differences, and help you understand the two types of breakers in more detail.
RCCB Breaker Meaning
Starting with the RCCB breaker meaning, here’s what you need to know: The RCCB long form is residual current circuit breaker. This device is used to detect an earth fault in a circuit by measuring incoming and outgoing currents in the live and neutral wires.
In the event that a fault has occurred, the current in the neutral wire will be lower than the current in the live wire, and the RCCB tripping mechanism will activate, cutting off the electricity supply to prevent potential harm to people or property.
Next, let’s look at ELCB meaning: the letters ELCB are the short form for earth leakage current circuit breaker. It means the device connects directly to an earth cable, and can detect leakage current in this cable. In case of a fault, it will cut off the electricity supply to prevent electrical shocks or even electrocution.
Difference Between RCCB and ELCB
The difference between RCCB and ELCB is an important consideration when it comes to understanding what each device does so you can decide the type to use. Here, we’ve outlined 5 of these differences, including those touching the breaker’s function, construction, connection, rating, and price.
RCCB ELCB Difference #1: Function
The main difference between RCCB and ELCB breakers is the way that they detect faults. As we’ve mentioned above, an RCCB will detect a fault by measuring incoming and outgoing currents in the live and neutral wires, while an ELCB is connected directly to an earth cable so it can detect earth leakage currents.
Among other things, this means that RCCBs are better suited to detecting different types of earth fault currents, while ELCBs are more effective at detecting direct leakage current to earth. This RCCB ECLB difference is an important consideration when choosing between the two breakers, as we’ll later.
RCCB ELCB Difference #2: Operation
An ELCB is a voltage operated circuit breaker. It relies on the voltage that’s developed on its coil when there’s a fault current flowing to earth. On the other hand, the RCCB is said to be a residual current operated breaker, since it works by comparing currents in its two line conductors.
As you can tell based on the RCCCB operation, residual current circuit breakers, as it’s also called, connects to the live and neutral wires, while the ELCB is normally connected to the earth conductor. So an RCCB will still offer protection if the earth connection is broken, while an ELCB will not.
RCCB ELCB Difference #3: Construction
Another major difference between RCCBs and ELCB breakers that you may want to know is the construction difference. As the RCCB is connected to the live or phase and neutral wires, it has two separate coils for measuring the current in each conductor, and a separate coil to operate the tripping mechanism.
The ELCB has just one coil that’s connected to the earth cable and the phase and neutral wires. This coil generates a voltage when there’s a fault situation, thereby helping the breaker to sense the problem and trip the circuit.
RCCB ELCB Difference #4: Rating
The RCCB rating, based on its working principle, is current based. These breakers are typically rated in mA, with the ratings mostly ranging from 5 mA to 100 mA. ELCBs are usually also rated in terms of tripping voltage — they’re voltage operated — and will normally trip at 50V.
RCCB ELCB Difference #5: Price
When it comes to the ELCB and RCCB price range you’ll find that the RCCB is usually the less expensive option. That’s despite it offering a greater range of protection. Overall, the RCCB cost is seen as being more effective given that it offers a more reliable circuit protection, as we will see below.
Which is Better, RCCB or ELCB
When it comes to comparing RCCB vs. ELCB, the RCCB is the better option, and for several reasons. Note that ELCBs are older versions of the residual current protection device, and not commonly used today. That’s because the RCCB is better suited to detecting different types of earth fault currents. Other reason that explain the use of RCCB breakers over the ELCB are:
- RCCBs are more sensitive to fault currents than ELCBs, with ability to respond to fault currents that are as low as 5mA. But that also means RCCBs are more prone to nuisance trips.
- The RCCB working principle (current based) and its higher sensitivity makes it a more reliable device when it comes to providing protection against electric shocks.
- With no need for earth connection, RCCBs can provide protection even in systems that do not have an effective earth connection.
- RCCBs generally cheaper than ELCBs, and a cost-effective choice, even when combined with circuit breakers.
Based on these advantages, therefore, the RCCB is usually your best choice. In fact, older ELCBs are increasingly being replaced by RCCB breakers in many homes and other settings. RCCBs are also, today, available in several different types to cater to the varied protection needs. These include:
- The type A for AC and pulsed DC systems
- The type B RCCB for smooth DC current circuits
- The type F RCCB breaker for systems with varying frequencies than the normal mains 50 or 60 Hz
The difference between RCCB and ELCB breakers is seen in the operation, construction, current ratings, and cost effectiveness. As you’ve learned in this article, while the ELCB has existed for years, the RCCB is its newer version, and what you will usually use when you need to protect your property from the effects of earth fault currents.