Can you imagine how the world would be had Benjamin Franklin not discovered electricity? There’s no denying that electricity is the gift that keeps on giving to humankind. That said, too much electricity causes a surge which if not properly detected can cause a lot of damage through fire and electrocution. Circuit breakers were invented to help do some damage control when there’s an electrical fault before the electrician arrives.
It’s of great need to have a functional circuit breaker in your home or any space to help prevent electricity disasters. All the electrical appliances in your home have been designed to keep electric current to a very low level to ensure safety in the house. But once in a while, a surge may occur which is where a circuit breaker comes in to cut out the electric current when it rises above the recommended amount.
Well, do I have to call an electrician to accompany me when going to buy a circuit breaker? The answer is no. Of course, it may seem like a sensitive gadget to buy without professional help but with a few basics, you can easily pick the right circuit breaker for your household. In here, we have compiled a list of some of the best circuit breakers out there that will help keep your appliances safe in case of electricity surges. Have a look.
Top 8 Circuit Breakers Of 2019 Reviewed
1. Square D by Schneider ElectricBest For Ground Fault Protection
Schneider is one of the most recognized brands in the world of electricity and almost every home has a product from this brand. Their Homeline 20 Amp circuit breaker has a two-pole design specifically made to shut down overloads and any short circuit. The gadget has been designed to provide class A ground fault protection which basically implies that it will automatically trip when the current to ground is above 6 milliamperes.
The circuit breaker has been certified by credible bodies such as ANSI. It has also been UL-listed to cater to 120/240 V and 10,000 AIR. It comes with a plug-in design which easies to install. You can go for a 1-pack, 2-pack or 3-pack depending on your needs.
- Offers sufficient ground fault protection
- Easy to install design
- May fail to reset after tripping
- Not readily available in local stores
- A bit pricey
2. Siemens QF220A Ground Fault Circuit InterrupterBest 2 Pole Design
Designed to best work where there’s a lot of construction appliances such as spas and bathtubs, this dual pole 20 Amp circuit breaker is just what your appliances need. It’s designed to provide class A GFCI ground fault protection with an interpreting rate of 10,000 AIC
Since it’s UL 943 listed, the gadget comes with a self-test for increased safety purposes. The self-test feature is designed to automatically keep testing itself in 30 days to ensure that the device is working properly without the owner having to trip it themselves. Comes in a 1-pack, 3-pack, and 5-pack sizes.
- Increased safety with self-testing feature
- Adequate ground fault protection.
- Easy to install
- The cord may be short
- GFI code needed
- Limited availability
3. Cutler Hammer Circuit BreakerBest GFTCB220 Replacement Model
Designed to replace GFCB220 model, this circuit breaker is different since it comes with self-testing technology. This special feature is now a requirement by the UL for increased safety since most circuit breakers are functional but fail to protect electric surges.
Its self-test software runs in the background such that the owner won’t realize that’s it’s even there. The safety fuse is a 2 pole 20 Amp BR style breaker and a voltage of 120V.
- Comes with self-testing technology
- Has an easy to read manual
- Highly functional with increased safety features
- Lots of imitations in the market
- May wear out quickly
- Compatible with select models
4. Eaton CH220GF 20 Amp Circuit BreakerBest Thermal Magnetic Protection
The dual pole model comes in a simple plug-in design that you can easily fit yourself or have an electrician do it. With a capacity of 120/240V, this fuse will keep all your appliances safe in the event of a power surge. More specifications include a 10,000 AIC at 240V which offers ultimate protection to your home. The gadget is equipped with automatic trip functions for increased safety in your home.
It’s thermal magnetic so that when there’s an unusual electric current, the breaker can trip very fast. It is also equipped with ground fault protection which many have stated comes in handy in a home with a pool.
- Automatic trip function
- Thermal magnetic for increased safety
- Advanced ground fault protection
- Some confuse its tripping ability as a defect
- The Amp specifications may be misleading
5. Siemens Q3100 100-Amp Circuit BreakerBest 3 Pole Design
Siemens has quite a huge array of quality circuit breakers such as this 3-pole surge protector designed to ensure that all your appliances are safe. With a capacity of 100 Amperes, the gadget is built to handle a big electrical system. It has a breaking capacity of 10,000 AIC and a voltage of 240V.
The brand has ensured that the fuse comes with an easy plug-in design for fast installation. It also has an insta-wire feature that saves you time. The gadget is compatible with Siemens PL and the ES series load centers. For quality control, you can only find this product from the brand’s authorized sellers.
- Able to handle a high load capacity
- Quick plug-in design
- Adequate breaking capacity.
- Limited compatibility with other models
- Not ideal for small households
6. ZOOKOTO Manual Reset Circuit BreakerBest For Wet Areas
Looking for a fuse to protect your accessory circuits such as trucks and buses from a power surge? Then this manual reset IP67 grade circuit breaker is a great option. Both waterproof and dustproof, this safety fuse comes in a flush mount design with a push to tip button. You can easily disconnect its master protector when you don’t want your circuit protected.
For additional safety, a stud insulator has been provided and is also UL1500 ignition protected. It has an interrupting capacity of 3,000A at a voltage of 48V. The housing for this fuse is thermal plastic which provides adequate protection for the gadget.
- Waterproof and dustproof
- Quick mount design
- Comes with a stud protector
- Has to be reset manually
- Low breaking capacity
- Not ideal for household items
7. Connecticut Electric UBIZ0230 Circuit Breaker
Are you using a Zinsco circuit and looking for a replacement fuse? Then, Connecticut Electrical has designed this circuit breaker to do just that. It’s compatible with Zinsco circuit panels, Intertek and UL UL Standard 489 models. It has a breaking capacity of 10,000 A and can handle a load capacity of 30 amperes. It can handle a voltage of 240V and comes with a one year warranty.
- Increased breaking capacity
- The highly functional replacement unit
- Some have had issues with the switch
- Difficult to set up
- Lots of imitations in the market
8. Blue Sea Systems 187 Series Klixon Circuit BreakersBest For Solar Panels
The fuse comes in a surface mount design which has combined switching and surge protection into one gadget. It has a trip-free design that doesn’t remain ON when there’s an electrical surge. With a maximum voltage of 48V and a breaking capacity of 5,000 amperes, this fuse will provide adequate protection to your electrical devices. Designed to fit a terminal size of 5/ 16 to 18 inches. It’s also waterproof with a rating of 1P66.
- Sturdily built and dependable
- Automatic switch
- Manual circuit protection
- May trip at a lower rating in warm areas
- Complicated to mount
How To Choose Best Circuit Breakers
Electric surges are a common fire hazard in any building and end up destroying appliances in a home. As a safety requirement, homeowners are expected to install circuit breakers in their spaces to prevent any fire accidents. Breakers are designed to trip and shut down electricity when there’s a faulty current or when a short circuit occurs. Most of the household appliances come fitted with fuses but it’s important to have a central circuit breaker for the entire house.
How does a Circuit Breaker Work?
Ideally, breakers are made of electrodes which are both fixed and moving contacts. When your electrical system is working as it should, the electrodes will remain closed up until when there’s an electric power surge.
When there’s an overcurrent, the contacts can open automatically or through a manual button to shut down the electrical system through opening the circuit. Basically, the circuit breaker forms an arc which prevents the electric current from passing through until the surge goes down.
Types of Circuit Breakers
Generally, we divide circuit breakers into two main types:
- Thermal magnetic protection – Majority of household breakers such as DIN rail type breakers plug-in breakers, molded case protectors and motor protection circuit breakers fall in this category. Such breakers have an external mechanism that’s calibrated such that it interrupts the circuit when there are high temperatures. Thermal magnetic protectors have a slower response rate before tripping by design since an overcurrent is common in the operation of most equipment.
- Magnetic protection – This type of protection is present where there are higher magnitudes such electric faults in lines or short circuits. The two common breakers in this category are motor circuit breakers and hydraulic magnetic circuit breakers. Just like the name, these breakers operate by inducing a coil inside that creates a strong magnetic field causing a trip which shuts down the overcurrent.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Circuit Breaker
As earlier mentioned, you don’t have to be an electrician to go shopping for a safety fuse for your home. Here are a number of factors to help you with your shopping:
- Voltage rating – The indicated voltage shows the highest that can be applied across all the end ports in a particular circuit and the distribution type present. When picking a breaker, it’s important to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the end port.
- Interrupting (Breaking) capacity – This is the highest amount of overcurrent that the circuit breaker can interrupt without destroying itself. It’s easy to calculate the maximum current that’s in an electrical system. The general rule of thumb is that the breaking capacity should be equal or more than the fault current. Failure to do so may result in damaging the circuit breaker.
- Ampere Rating – The rating depends only on the type of load and duty cycle. Usually, the electricity regulatory body in your area usually sets the ampere rating and has a table showing the current rating for different breakers and the defined load.
- Operating conditions – The environment where the circuit breaker will be installed matters. Let’s have a look at a number of settings:
- High-temperature areas – Back in the day, most circuit breakers were designed to handle a temperature of 77° F but modern-day standard circuit breakers can conveniently operate in areas with temperatures of up to 104° F.
- Corrosive and Moist areas – Breakers for such areas are coated with a special treatment to help fight substances that may cause corrosion.
- Altitude – In areas where the altitude is above 6,000 feet, the circuit is usually de-rated for the current carrying ability and interrupting capacity.
- Resting position – Most breakers operate from either a vertical or horizontal position conveniently without affecting the tripping mechanism.
- Testing – When buying a breaker, you will come across the term UL (Underwriters Laboratories) tested. It’s highly recommended that you go for UL tested gadgets since you will be guaranteed of proper calibration on the breaker.
The necessity of quality and functional circuit breaker can’t be overemphasized. You have invested so much in buying all those electrical appliances in your home and that an investment is worth protecting using a safety fuse especially because electrical surges come out of the blues. We hope that our review has shed some insight on the best circuit breakers out there and you have spotted one that will fit right into your needs.