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Howcircuitbreakertripunitworks?

Inadditiontoprovidingameanstoopenandcloseits
contactsmanually,acircuitbreakermust
automaticallyopenitscontactswhenanovercurrent
conditionissensed.
Thetripunitisthepartofthecircuitbreakerthat
determineswhenthecontactswillopenautomatically.
Inathermalmagneticcircuitbreaker,thetripunit
includeselementsdesignedtosensetheheat
ThermalMagnetic Trip Unit
resultingfromanoverloadconditionandthehigh
currentresultingfromashortcircuit.Inaddition,somethermalmagneticcircuitbreakers
incorporateaPUSHTOTRIPbutton.

TripMechanism
Thetripunitincludesatripmechanismthatisheldinplacebythetripperbar.Aslongasthe
tripperbarholdsthetripmechanism,themechanismremainsfirmlylockedinplace.

Trip Unit with Trip Mechanism

TheoperatingmechanismisheldintheONpositionbythetripmechanism.Whenatripis
activated,thetripmechanismreleasestheoperatingmechanism,whichopensthecontacts.

Note:thedrawingsinthissectionshowanACpowersourcehowever,aDCsource
couldalsobeused.

The operating mechanism is held in the ON


position by the trip mechanism.

ManualTrip
Somemoldedcasecircuitbreakers,especiallylargerbreakers,canbemanuallytrippedby
pressingthePUSHTOTRIPbuttononthefaceofthecircuitbreaker.Whenthebuttonis
pressedthetripperbarrotatesupandtotheright.Thisallowsthetripmechanismtounlock
releasingtheoperatingmechanism.
Theoperatingmechanismopensthecontacts.
ThePUSHTOTRIPbuttonalsoservesasasafetydevicebypreventingaccesstothecircuit
breakerinteriorintheONposition.Ifanattemptismadetoremovethecircuitbreakercover
whilethecontactsareintheclosed(ON)position,aspringlocatedunderthepushbuttoncauses
thebuttontoliftupandthebreakertotrip.

Manual trip mechanism

OverloadTrip
Thermalmagneticcircuitbreakersemployabimetalicstriptosenseoverloadconditions.When
sufficientovercurrentflowsthroughthecircuitbreakerscurrentpath,heatbuildupcausesthebi
metalicstriptobend.Afterbendingapredetermineddistance,thebimetalicstripmakescontact
withthetripperbaractivatingthetripmechanism.

Thermalmagnetic circuit breakers employ a bimetalic


strip to sense overload conditions.

Abimetalicstripismadeoftwodissimilarmetalsbondedtogether.The
twometalshavedifferentthermalexpansioncharacteristics,sothebi
metalicstripbendswhenheated.Ascurrentrises,heatalsorises.
Circuit breaker contacts

Thehotterthebimetalicbecomesthemoreitbends.Afterthesourceof
heatisremoved,aswhenthecircuitbreakercontactsopen,thebimetalicstripcoolsandreturns
toitsoriginalcondition.Thisallowsacircuitbreakertobemanuallyresetoncetheoverload
conditionhasbeencorrected.

ShortCircuitTrip
Aspreviouslydescribed,currentflowthroughacircuitbreakersblowapartcontactscreates
opposingmagneticfields.Undernormaloperatingconditions,theseopposingforcesarenot
sufficienttoseparatethecontacts.Whenashortcircuitoccurs,however,theseopposingforces
increasesignificantly.
Thecurrentthatflowsthroughthecontactsalsoflowsthroughaconductorthatpassescloseto
thecircuitbreakerstripunit.Atfaultcurrentlevels,themagneticfieldsurroundingthisconductor
providessufficientforcetounlatchthetripunitandtripthebreaker.
Short Circuit Trip

Thecombinedactionsofmagneticfieldsforcingcontactsapartwhilesimultaneouslytrippingthe
circuitbreakerresultinrapidinterruptionofthefaultcurrent.Inaddition,becausethemagnetic
forcesareproportionaltothecurrent,thegreaterthefaultcurrent,theshorterthetimeittakesto
interruptthecurrent.

SOURCE:SIEMENS:BasicsofCircuitBreakers