Surge Protector Vs Circuit Breaker: Know the Differences

Do you want to know surge protector vs circuit breaker? If not, don’t worry. This blog post will cover all of the information you need to know about surge protectors vs circuit breakers.

Surge protectors and circuit breakers are both electrical surge protection devices that help prevent damage to your home’s electric current system. Circuit breakers can be found in most homes, while surge protector outlets are more common in commercial buildings.

Surge protectors also have other features, such as built-in circuit tester or fire alarm signaler circuits, which may not be present on a standard breaker panel.

There are many similarities between surge protectors and circuit breakers but there are also some differences worth noting. This blog post will compare the two types of surge protection devices so you know which one is best for you!

Surge Protector Vs Circuit Breaker Quick Differences

A surge protector is an appliance that protects electrical devices from electrical power surges, voltage spikes, and other power problems. A surge protector does not protect against all power-related issues; it only guards your appliances.

On the other hand, a circuit breaker provides protection to both your equipment and wiring by stopping or interrupting the abnormal current flow in the event of a short circuit, overloads (overloading/overheating), or faults (faulty wiring).

Surge Protector Vs Circuit Breaker: 6 Important Differences

Functionality:

Surge Protector’s Functionality: A surge protector is designed to protect electrical appliances from voltage spikes. It automatically disconnects the power supply when it senses an abnormal increase in the input voltage. Also, it does not let the electrical current pass until it is reset manually.

Circuit Breaker’s Functionality: A circuit breaker interrupts the current when it senses an overload or overheat. This overload can be due to excessive current, short circuit, etc. It automatically resets once the problem is fixed.

So if you think about functionality, a circuit breaker is better as it automatically resets after fixing the problem.

Power Surge Protection:

Protection capacity of a surge protector: A surge protector’s capacity is measured in joules. The higher the joule rating, the more will be the protection provided by it. In addition to this, the response time is also very important in case of power surges. The lower the response time, the lesser will be the damage to your appliances.

Protection capacity of a circuit breaker unit: The maximum current provided by a circuit breaker is measured in amperes. There are two types of circuit breakers available- the thermal circuit breaker, and the magnetic circuit breaker. The maximum current provided by a thermal circuit breaker is 7200 amperes and by a magnetic circuit breaker is 16000 amperes.

So if we consider the protection capacity, then a circuit breaker will be better as it provides more maximum current.

Circuit protection:

Internal circuit protection capacity of a surge protector: A surge protector doesn’t have an internal circuit protection capacity. But it provides a certain resistance, which can be helpful in reducing the damage due to a surge.

Internal circuit protection of a circuit breaker: On the other hand, a circuit breaker has an internal circuit protection capacity. This capacity is measured in amperes. For example, a 15-ampere circuit breaker will have an internal resistance of about 15 amps. This capacity protects the downstream appliances from the impact of the current.

So if we compare internal circuit protection capacity, then a circuit breaker will be better as it has an internal resistance.

Overcurrent protection:

Overcurrent protection capacity of a surge protector: A surge protector only provides the required resistance to avoid the excess current. But it does not let the power supply get cut off.

Overcurrent protection of a circuit breaker: A circuit breaker provides a definite automatic disconnection facility by cutting off the power supply. This protection is provided by the internal overcurrent protection capacity of a circuit breaker.

So if we consider overcurrent protection, then a circuit breaker will be better as it provides a definite disconnection.

Installation:

How to install a surge protector: A surge protector is connected between the socket and the appliance.

How to install a circuit breaker: A circuit breaker is connected in between the socket and the downstream device, or load.

So if we consider installation, then a circuit breaker will be better as it can easily protect all the appliances connected to a single socket.

Usage:

A surge protector is helpful in protecting small electrical appliances, computers, televisions, etc. It is not compatible with high-load appliances like the air conditioner or the refrigerator.

A circuit breaker is compatible with all types of appliances. It protects the main electrical panel and all the downstream appliances connected to it.

So if we consider usage, then a circuit breaker will be better as it can protect all types of appliances.

Life Span:

Life Span of a surge protector: The life span of a surge protector is almost 2 to 3 years. Most of the surge protectors fail to provide 100% protection due to their capacity to withstand the maximum power load.

Life span of a circuit breaker: The life span of a circuit breaker is almost 5 to 10 years. A circuit breaker can easily withstand the maximum power load, and it also protects against short circuits. As it’s internal overcurrent protection capacity is very high, the life span of a circuit breaker is very long.

So if we consider life span, then a circuit breaker will be better as it has a long life span.

Installation Cost:

Surge protectors are cheaper than circuit breakers.

Cost of a circuit breaker: A circuit breaker costs more than a surge protector. The reason is that it has a longer life span, and also provides high internal overcurrent protection.

So if we consider the installation cost, then a surge protector will be better as it is cheaper.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

When a circuit breaker trips, the mechanism inside the switch pops open and separates the conductors so that no electricity can flow through it. Since electricity requires a complete circuit to flow, no power is delivered and the equipment that the circuit was powering is shut down.

Circuit breakers trip in response to excessive current flow in the circuit. This typically occurs when a circuit encounters an overload condition and carries too much power for a sustained period of time.

One of the best things is that a good quality circuit breaker works as a whole home surge protector. So you do not need to invest in both of the devices. A single purchase will work for your entire house, which saves you money and space.

Top Rated Circuit Breakers

There are many circuit breaker brands and models in the market. In the following section, we have listed some of the best-rated circuit breakers that you can consider according to your need and budget.

Top Rated Surge Protectors

We highly recommend the following surge protectors. But you can learn about the best surge protector here.

FAQs

Q: Is it possible to use circuit breakers with surge protectors?

Ans: NO. Surge protectors and circuit breakers DO NOT work together.

Q: Do surge protectors have circuit breakers?

Ans: NO. Surge protectors work by absorbing excess electricity to ‘protect’ the connected equipment from any damage.

Q: Do circuit breakers protect against lightning?

Ans: NO. Circuit breakers protect against short circuits or electrical surges. Lightning is not an electrical surge, but rather a direct hit to the building.

Q: Is a surge protector necessary?

Ans: YES. Electrical surges and voltage spikes can severely damage or destroy electronic equipment. A surge protector safeguards your computer and other peripherals from lightning strikes, power surges, and other sensitive electronic equipment.

Q: Is a surge protector same as a power strip?

Ans: Yes and No. Power strips provide multiple outlets and surge protection, but not all power strips provide the same level of protection. Surge protectors are generally more expensive than power strips but offer more comprehensive protection.

Q: What does a surge protector do that a breaker doesn’t?

Ans: Surge protectors do not only provide protection from power surges, but also from voltage spikes or voltage that have been diverted from the primary source.

Q: What’s the difference between amps and volts?

Ans: Voltage is a measurement of the electrical pressure and amps measure the flow of electrons.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the small yet significant difference between a surge protector and a circuit breaker. It has been seen that a circuit breaker is better than a surge protector in some aspects, while the opposite is true for other aspects.

So, if we consider usage, then a circuit breaker will be better as it can protect all types of appliances. Whereas if we consider life span and installation cost, then a surge protector will be better as it has a long life span and is cheaper.

So, after going through this article, it is essential or the main point to know the difference between a surge protector and a circuit breaker before making any purchase. So that, you can make an informed decision and buy the product that is suited for your requirements.

5/5 - (1 vote)

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.