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Home Safety Switch Installation in NSW: Answering 10 FAQs

Safety switch installation in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is an essential step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of a household. Safety switches protect against electric shock, making it a crucial component in electrical safety. 

You might have some questions about the processes and regulations involving safety switch installation. If you reside in NSW or just want to be updated on the latest rules, this article is for you! Here, we’ll answer ten common questions regarding safety switches

Keep reading if you’re looking into making your space safe from any electrical accidents.

What Is a Safety Switch, and What Does It Do?

A safety switch helps to prevent electrical accidents from happening. This device monitors current that leaks. When the safety switch detects leakage, it cuts the power almost immediately.

Are Safety Switches Mandatory in NSW?

Yes, safety switch installation is mandatory in NSW. The Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules 3000:2018 explicitly states that they are ‘required for all domestic and residential final sub-circuits’.

This rule aims to prevent fires occurring because of electrical faults. Data from the NSW government show that each year, unchecked and outdated electrical systems are responsible for 40% of house fires in the region.

What Are the Benefits of Having Safety Switches Installed?

There are two main benefits to safety switch installation. The first is that it can save lives; the second is that it can help to prevent fires.

As the safety switch cuts off power when current leaks, it can prevent electrocution. Furthermore, leakage can lead to heat buildup and fires—another thing that a safety switch can prevent.

Keep in mind that safety switches are just one part of an electrical fire prevention strategy. A comprehensive strategy should include other devices, such as circuit breakers, surge protectors and fire alarms.

What Is an RCD?

A residual current device or RCD also prevents accidents from happening by monitoring the current through a circuit and cutting off the power when it detects any leakage. Because RCDs serve a similar function to safety switches, the terms are often interchangeable.

What Is a Circuit Breaker?

Circuit breakers monitor the current flowing within circuits and automatically trips or interrupts the flow when the circuit surpasses its capacity or when the current travels along a short circuit. While this may sound similar to what a safety switch does, they’re two distinct devices, as we’ll explore in the next question.

What Is the Difference Between a Safety Switch and a Circuit Breaker?

Both safety switches/RCDs and circuit breakers detect changes in the current. When they do, they immediately cut the power supply.

In the case of a safety switch, a current leak to the ground or another conductor triggers a trip. It indicates that the current isn’t flowing where it’s supposed to. This device prevents electric shock, which can occur when a person accidentally comes into contact with energised electrical appliances or wiring.

On the other hand, a circuit breaker interrupts the power supply when it detects abnormalities, such as an excessive power surge or a short circuit. It prevents damage to electrical components, electrical appliances and wiring and reduces the risk of fires or other hazards.

Electricians install both RCDs and circuit breakers in switchboards, safeguarding both residents and properties from potential electrical hazards and accidents.

How Do I Know If I Have a Safety Switch and/or a Circuit Breaker Installed?

All homes built since 1991 have safety switches installed because it became a legal requirement beginning that year. To make sure, check your switchboard for any labels left by the electrician that installed it. If there are none, look for switches with a ‘T’ button (which stands for ‘test’). These are your safety switches.

You should also find the circuit breakers in your switchboard. These are usually rectangular or square switches arranged in rows, with ‘On’ and ‘Off’ positions. Each switch should have a label corresponding to the electrical circuit it controls.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you have the appropriate safety devices installed—or if they’re working as intended—don’t hesitate to contact a licensed electrician. They can inspect the electrical safety of your property and work with you for any maintenance or upgrades as needed.

Do I Need to Test My Safety Switch?

Yes, you need to do safety switch testing regularly. The NSW government recommends a biannual safety switch check, but you can do it as often as every three months. 

To do so, here are the steps you should follow:

  • The best time to do the test is when nobody is at home. If this isn’t possible, let the household know that the power will be cut for a safety switch test.
  • Locate the safety switch. Press the T button for the test.
  • After pressing T, the switch must move to the Off position, cutting the power supply inside your house.

The movement of the safety switch to the Off position and the successful cutting of your power suggest that the safety switch is working properly. Otherwise, contact a qualified electrician in NSW to check your safety switch.

How Much Does Safety Switch Installation in Sydney Cost?

The cost of installing a safety switch in Sydney varies depending on the complexity of the installation and the type of safety switch. Note that most electrical service companies charge an hourly rate. Compared to other electrical jobs, installing a safety switch can often be simple for  experienced electricians, so all things being equal, you can generally expect it to be an affordable and straightforward process. 

To make the most of a licensed electrician’s work, homeowners can also request a switchboard upgrade together with the professional safety switch installation. Doing so can help to prevent any electrical issues and accidents from happening in your household.

Who Can Install Circuit Breakers and Safety Switches? Can I Install Them Myself?

Circuit breaker and safety switch installation is a basic task for a licensed electrician but not for an inexperienced individual. Even if you watch numerous tutorials, installing your circuit breakers and safety switches at home is unsafe and illegal. So seek help from experts who have a publicly registered licence number and can give you a Certificate of Compliance Electrical Work after installing and testing the devices.

Safety Switch Installation by The Local Electrician

If you need a safety switch installed, choose The Local Electrician.

We have highly experienced level 2 electricians that can provide a professional installation of safety switches in your Sydney home or business anytime. We are on call 24/7, so we can deliver prompt electrical services. Apart from our guaranteed expertise, our materials come with a five-year warranty to ensure our quality. We also do free electrical safety inspections.

Let us handle your electrical work for you, whether it’s a residential or commercial electrical job. 

safety switch installation electrician at work, using a screwdriver

Contact us today for prompt, no-fuss service Sydney-wide.

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Hamish Baker