Safety Switch Installation Cost

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By Tristan Cameron

A safety switch is found on your home’s main switchboard; it’s a life-saving device that kicks in and cuts the power to an appliance if a power leak is detected. This action can prevent you from being electrocuted.  

Before we get into how much it costs to install a safety switch, let’s look at what they are and why you need them. We’ll also tell you if they’re compulsory and if one is enough.

Is a Safety Switch and a Circuit Breaker the same thing?

Safety switches and circuit breakers are often confused as being the same thing, but they’re not. 

Safety Switches

These save lives. Think of a safety switch as a monitor; it detects leaks from appliances, power points, and faulty wiring. If one is found, it can immediately cut the power to a device.

Most Sydney homes built since 2000 have at least one safety switch installed. 

You can check this yourself by looking at the switchboard. It’s easily identified by a ‘T’ or ‘Test’ button. You can even check what circuit the safety switch is connected to by pressing the button. It will immediately cut the power to everything related to that circuit.

If you see a switch without a ‘T’, you’re likely looking at a circuit breaker.

Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers are designed only to protect appliances by cutting the electricity if there’s a power surge. A lightning strike, for example, or an excess of electricity can overheat an appliance or wiring and cause an electrical fire.

It needs to be a massive amount of extra energy for the circuit breaker to identify it. One challenge is that if it’s tripped, it can switch off all the power to the house. 

A safety switch is targeted to shut off the area it covers only. It’s more instantaneous and can spot a minor leak and save a life.

The Circuit Breaker Safety Switch

A new piece of technology combines both the circuit breaker and a safety switch. Nicknamed the CBSS, it only shuts off what’s on that circuit and not the entire house.

We suspect these will be compulsory in the future.

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Are Safety Switches Compulsory?

Speaking of compulsory, any new or renovated homes in Sydney require at least one safety switch in the switchboard. This is most commonly called the RCD (residual current device). 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an owner/occupier or if your house is a rental property; the rules apply to every dwelling.

Until 2000 safety switches were only a recommendation in Sydney. The Australia/New Zealand Wiring Rules 3000:2018 changed all that; the current rules are:

  • Any new builds must have a safety switch
  • Final sub-circuits in all residential and domestic installations must have safety switches or RCDs installed
  • When any electrical modification works, including replacing switchboards, are being completed

Is One Safety Switch Enough?

Many people may look at their switchboard and see an RCD or a safety switch and think they’re covered. But they’d be wrong. Despite what you might think, not everything is connected to the one circuit. 

If something faulty gets plugged into a power point that’s not on the circuit with the safety switch, a shock (or worse) can happen.

A safety switch needs to be installed on every circuit. 

Often air conditioning, hot water systems, ovens, and spas or hot tubs are on their own circuits. Every one of these requires a safety switch.

How Much Does a Safety Switch Cost to Install?

A licensed electrician should always install a safety switch. This is one of those tasks unsuitable for a DIYer. 

It’s relatively straightforward for someone with experience and doesn’t take a great deal of time. 

At North Shore Electricals, we don’t have a specific charge for the service; it just comes in as part of our hourly rates. You can check them here

As it’s unlikely to take a full hour to install a safety switch, we recommend bundling the installation with another service, such as a switchboard upgrade, to maximise the electrician’s purpose for being there.

Contact us today to book your safety switch installation. Our expert team is ready to help.

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