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What is the difference

between MCB, MCCB, ELCB,

and RCCB
Published by jiguparmar | On Oct 25 2011 | 195 comments| Save to PDF

Home / Technical Articles / Energy and Power / What is the difference between MCB, MCCB, ELCB, and RCCB

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MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker)

Rated current not more than 100 A.
Trip characteristics normally not adjustable.
Thermal or thermal-magnetic operation.
MCCB (Moulded Case Circuit

Rated current up to 1000 A.
Trip current may be adjustable.
Thermal or thermal-magnetic operation.

Air Circuit Breaker

Rated current up to 10,000 A.
Trip characteristics often fully adjustable including configurable trip
thresholds and delays.
Usually electronically controlledsome models are microprocessor
Often used for main power distribution in large industrial plant, where the
breakers are arranged in draw-out enclosures for ease of maintenance.

Vacuum Circuit Breaker

With rated current up to 3000 A,
These breakers interrupt the arc in a vacuum bottle.
These can also be applied at up to 35,000 V. Vacuum circuit
breakers tend to have longer life expectancies between overhaul than do
air circuit breakers.

RCD (Residual Current Device /

RCCB(Residual Current Circuit

Phase (line) and Neutral both wires connected through RCD.
It trips the circuit when there is earth fault current.
The amount of current flows through the phase (line) should return
through neutral .
It detects by RCD. any mismatch between two currents flowing through
phase and neutral detect by -RCD and trip the circuit within 30Miliseconed.
If a house has an earth system connected to an earth rod and not the
main incoming cable, then it must have all circuits protected by an RCD
(because u mite not be able to get enough fault current to trip a MCB)
RCDs are an extremely effective form of shock protection
The most widely used are 30 mA (milliamp) and 100 mA devices. A current flow
of 30 mA (or 0.03 amps) is sufficiently small that it makes it very difficult to
receive a dangerous shock. Even 100 mA is a relatively small figure when
compared to the current that may flow in an earth fault without such protection
(hundred of amps)
A 300/500 mA RCCB may be used where only fire protection is required. eg., on
lighting circuits, where the risk of electric shock is small.

Limitation of RCCB
Standard electromechanical RCCBs are designed to operate on
normal supplywaveforms and cannot be guaranteed to operate where
none standard waveforms are generated by loads. The most common is
the half wave rectified waveform sometimes called pulsating dc generated
by speed control devices, semi conductors, computers and even dimmers.
Specially modified RCCBs are available which will operate on normal ac
and pulsating dc.
RCDs dont offer protection against current overloads: RCDs detect
an imbalance in the live and neutral currents. A current overload, however
large, cannot be detected. It is a frequent cause of problems with novices
to replace an MCB in a fuse box with an RCD. This may be done in an
attempt to increase shock protection. If a live-neutral fault occurs (a short
circuit, or an overload), the RCD wont trip, and may be damaged. In
practice, the main MCB for the premises will probably trip, or the service
fuse, so the situation is unlikely to lead to catastrophe; but it may be
It is now possible to get an MCB and and RCD in a single unit, called an
RCBO (see below). Replacing an MCB with an RCBO of the same rating is
generally safe.
Nuisance tripping of RCCB: Sudden changes in electrical load can
cause a small, brief current flow to earth, especially in old appliances.
RCDs are very sensitive and operate very quickly; they may well trip when
the motor of an old freezer switches off. Some equipment is notoriously
`leaky, that is, generate a small, constant current flow to earth. Some
types of computer equipment, and large television sets, are widely
reported to cause problems.
RCD will not protect against a socket outlet being wired with its live
and neutral terminals the wrong way round.
RCD will not protect against the overheating that results when
conductors are not properly screwed into their terminals.
RCD will not protect against live-neutral shocks, because the current
in the live and neutral is balanced. So if you touch live and neutral
conductors at the same time (e.g., both terminals of a light fitting), you may
still get a nasty shock.
ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)

Phase (line), Neutral and Earth wire connected through ELCB.
ELCB is working based on Earth leakage current.
Operating Time of ELCB:
The safest limit of Current which Human Body can withstand is
30ma sec.
Suppose Human Body Resistance is 500 and Voltage to ground
is 230 Volt.
The Body current will be 500/230=460mA.
Hence ELCB must be operated in 30maSec/460mA = 0.65msec

RCBO (Residual Circuit Breaker

with OverLoad)
It is possible to get a combined MCB and RCCB in one device (Residual
Current Breaker with Overload RCBO), the principals are the same, but
more styles of disconnection are fitted into one package
Difference between ELCB and RCCB
ELCB is the old name and often refers to voltage operated devices that
are no longer available and it is advised you replace them if you find one.
RCCB or RCD is the new name that specifies current operated (hence
the new name to distinguish from voltage operated).
The new RCCB is best because it will detect any earth fault. The voltage
type only detects earth faults that flow back through the main earth wire so
this is why they stopped being used.
The easy way to tell an old voltage operated trip is to look for the main
earth wire connected through it.
RCCB will only have the line and neutral connections.
ELCB is working based on Earth leakage current. But RCCB is not having
sensing or connectivity of Earth, because fundamentally Phase current is
equal to the neutral current in single phase. Thats why RCCB can trip
when the both currents are deferent and it withstand up to both the
currents are same. Both the neutral and phase currents are different that
means current is flowing through the Earth.
Finally both are working for same, but the thing is connectivity is
RCD does not necessarily require an earth connection itself (it monitors
only the live and neutral).In addition it detects current flows to earth even
in equipment without an earth of its own.
This means that an RCD will continue to give shock protection in
equipment that has a faulty earth. It is these properties that have made the
RCD more popular than its rivals. For example, earth-leakage circuit
breakers (ELCBs) were widely used about ten years ago. These devices
measured the voltage on the earth conductor; if this voltage was not zero
this indicated a current leakage to earth. The problem is that ELCBs need
a sound earth connection, as does the equipment it protects. As a result,
the use of ELCBs is no longer recommended.
MCB Selection
The first characteristic is the overload which is intended to prevent the
accidental overloading of the cable in a no fault situation. The speed of the
MCB tripping will vary with the degree of the overload. This is usually
achieved by the use of a thermal device in the MCB.
The second characteristic is the magnetic fault protection, which is
intended to operate when the fault reaches a predetermined level and to
trip the MCB within one tenth of a second. The level of this magnetic trip
gives the MCB its type characteristic as follows:

Type Tripping Current Operating Time

Type B 3 To 5 time full load current 0.04 To 13 Sec
Type C 5 To 10 times full load current 0.04 To 5 Sec
Type D 10 To 20 times full load current 0.04 To 3 Sec
The third characteristic is the short circuit protection, which is intended to
protect against heavy faults maybe in thousands of amps caused by short
circuit faults.
The capability of the MCB to operate under these conditions gives its
short circuit rating in Kilo amps (KA). In general for consumer units a 6KA
fault level is adequate whereas for industrial boards 10KA fault capabilities
or above may be required.
Fuse and MCB characteristics
Fuses and MCBs are rated in amps. The amp rating given on the fuse or
MCB body is the amount of current it will pass continuously. This is
normally called the rated current or nominal current.
Many people think that if the current exceeds the nominal current, the
device will trip, instantly. So if the rating is 30 amps, a current of 30.00001
amps will trip it, right? This is not true.
The fuse and the MCB, even though their nominal currents are similar,
have very different properties.
For example, For 32Amp MCB and 30 Amp Fuse, to be sure of tripping in
0.1 seconds, the MCB requires a current of 128 amps, while the fuse
requires 300 amps.
The fuse clearly requires more current to blow it in that time, but notice
how much bigger both these currents are than the 30 amps marked
current rating.
There is a small likelihood that in the course of, say, a month, a 30-amp
fuse will trip when carrying 30 amps. If the fuse has had a couple of
overloads before (which may not even have been noticed) this is much
more likely. This explains why fuses can sometimes blow for no obvious
If the fuse is marked 30 amps, but it will actually stand 40 amps for over
an hour, how can we justify calling it a 30 amp fuse? The answer is that
the overload characteristics of fuses are designed to match the properties
of modern cables. For example, a modern PVC-insulated cable will stand a
50% overload for an hour, so it seems reasonable that the fuse should as