Safety switch – What are they? How do they work? Why do I need them? These are the questions that I constantly find myself on the receiving end of from curious and sometimes concerned customers. Their concern is usually why they are being told they have to pay for something that they will probably never see, touch smell of even realise is there. Said concern usually transforms from a financial concern to a safety concern when it is explained exactly what they are and more importantly what they do.

It’s quite simple really. Safety switches save lives. It is their principle reason for being designed and manufactured for installation in people’s homes and in commercial premises alike. They are a clever, yet simple and affordable piece of equipment. A safety switch is able to detect if the electricity flowing into the circuit from the switchboard is the same as that which is flowing back. If there is a slight imbalance between flow and return, it is because some of that electricity is leaking out somewhere along the line, known as earth leakage. It recognises this and within 0.05 seconds (which is less than the time between heart beats and therefor will not interrupt the beating pattern) it cuts the power off in case the residual current is leaking through you as you hold your hairdryer in the morning. Clever hey!

So when is a good time to get a safety switch and when is it mandatory? Here is a list of instances where it is a good idea to have them installed. Sometimes it’s mandatory, but it’s always recommended.


  • When you have new power points installed.
  • When you have new light points installed.
  • When you have a cable renewed or part replaced.
  • When you move a switchboard location or have it upgraded.
  • When you install outside power or lights.


  • When you have old style circuit breakers or ceramic fuses.
  • When you have children or livestock.
  • When safety is important to you.
  • When you have a lot of electrical appliances.
  • When you intend to drill into or hammer nails to hang pictures on walls etc.

When you have had your safety switches installed and tested by a licenced electrician, you should also make time to test them yourself every 3 months. It is simple and all it requires is pushing a button and making sure it trips off the power. You can then reset and forget for another 3 months knowing that you are protected to the highest degree possible. If you do push the test button and the safety switch doesn’t trip off, you should consult an electrician straight away to have it properly inspected and replaced if required.

The team at Scott Electrics are your local electrical experts. If you are unsure, we would be more than happy to carry out an inspection to establish if you already have safety switches or if you need them. We carry a full range of the best quality safety switches at all times and can install or replace on the spot quickly and efficiently with no fuss.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and I hope I was able to provide you with something of value. I would love to hear your feedback and invite you to leave a comment in the comment box below.

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Warmest Regards,

Scott McLaren
Local Electrician @ Scott Electrics

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