Quick guide: Key switchboard features & what they actually do

A switchboard is a vital component of every modern electrical system. It houses the switches and circuit breakers that control the flow of electricity to different parts of the system. A typical switchboard will have a main switch that controls the flow of electricity to the entire system, as well as a number of smaller switches that manage the flow of electricity to specific circuits.

Keep reading to find out more about what all those electrical switches in the switchboard actually do.

Electrical safety – Which switch does what?

Switchboard box

A modern switchboard box is usually plastic or metal and is used to house the switchboard, protecting it from the elements.

Switchboard box and electrician

Main Electrical Switch

The main switch controls the flow of electricity to the entire electrical system. This switch is usually labelled ‘main switch’ or ‘main isolator’.

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Circuit breakers

Multiple circuit breakers will be located within the switchboard, one for each circuit running through the building. The circuit breakers protect the electrical cables from overload by breaking (cutting) the electrical supply when excess power is detected.

Circuit breakers are important safety features which help to prevent cables from overheating, which can result in electrical fires, as well as damage to cables and electrical appliances.


Safety Switch

The safety switch or RCD (Residual Current Device) monitors the flow of electricity through the circuit it is fitted to, detecting imbalances which can occur due to a leak to earth. These leaks can be caused by a person making direct contact with electricity due to a faulty appliance, which directs the current away from the main path of the circuit.

When an imbalance is detected the safety switch quickly cuts the electricity supply to that circuit (in around 0.3 of a second) protecting people from electric shocks.

Earth Electrode

Earth electrode

An earth electrode is a metal rod which is fitted into the ground and connected to the switchboard. It is designed to safely discharge an overflow or excess of electricity from a poorly insulated or electrically faulty device.

Find out more about earth electrodes and how they protect your home electrical system – What is an earth electrode & why is it so essential for your home?

Is your home electrically safe?

Old fuse boxes or switchboards may not be fitted with some of these essential electrical safety devices. Book a $99 Switchboard Safety Check with Fallon Solutions today to ensure your home electrical system and family are protected.