Perhaps you’ve heard there are different types of circuit breakers and have come across what is called an air circuit breaker. Certainly, a circuit breaker is a circuit breaker, but what sets this one apart from the others?
How is an Air Circuit Breaker Different?
To understand how an air circuit breaker is different, you have to first understand a bit about how breakers work. Now, say there is a power surge running through one of the circuits. The circuit breaker is designed to open the circuit to interrupt the electric flow and prevent the surge from causing damage. However, when the circuit is opened, it creates an arc. An arc is a large amount of heat generated by the interruption of the electric flow. This is where the air comes in.
The arc can be cooled by a number of mediums and one of those mediums happens to be air. In an air circuit breaker, the arc is cooled down immediately using air so that the circuit can once again be closed to resume a normal electric flow. The arc can also be cooled using insulating gas, vacuum or oil, often depending on what is the best option for a particular breaker.
So, an air circuit breaker simply uses air, instead of oil or something else, to reduce the heat created by the opening of a circuit. It has the same purpose as any other circuit breaker; it just has a different medium.