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So what actually is a Residual Current Device (RCD)?
An RCD (Residual Current Device) is a preventative piece of equipment that is used in almost every commercial and residential environment. Your RCD monitors the electrical currents in your building or device and switches off the supply when an abnormality is detected. A portable RCD is mobile and provides protection for people working outdoors, or in office environments that use electrical appliances. A building should be equipped with an RCD, but this doesn’t necessarily protect all staff from electrical shock. Added safety is provided with an RCD.
An RCD is an electrical safety device which provides protection by rapidly disconnecting the electricity supply in many situations where someone could otherwise receive a fatal electric shock. They constantly monitor the electric current flowing along a circuit. If there is an earth-fault, the RCD will sense a leakage (out of balance current) and trip, disconnecting the supply of electricity.
A portable RCD is perfect for use on construction sites. Portable RCDs are also utilised frequently by campers and people who live in mobile homes. You may not recognise your RCD immediately – they are often built into portable power outlets and leads.
These are RCD (often incorporated into an extension cord) that plug directly into socket outlets (power points) and then an appliance or extension cord plugs into them. The RCD can be moved from socket outlet to socket outlet as needed. These are very useful when using electrical equipment (such as electric lawn mowers and power tools) outside or in a damp environment.
It is very important to use an RCD when working with electrical equipment outside. It is all too easy to accidentally slice through an electric cable. Portable RCDs can be bought at hardware shops and electrical equipment suppliers.
When using electricity outside, use an RCD to protect against electric shock. And remember:
- Water is a good conductor of electricity – if you are wet and in contact with the ground, it is even easier for electricity to flow through you. RCDs offer excellent protection in damp areas of your home where there are electric fittings, and when working with electrical equipment outside.
- Always check your power cords and appliances for damage before using them. If they are damaged have them repaired or replace them.
It does not eliminate that risk. If you think there is an electrical fault with your house’s wiring or with an appliance, turn it off and get it checked by a licensed electrician.
We recommended to always use an RCD with any appliance being used out of doors or in a damp or wet location, test the RCD each time it is plugged in and inspect the appliance (and any cords) first for damage.
- RCD protection minimises the risk of serious electric shock.
- If there is an earth-fault, the RCD will sense a leakage (out of balance current) and trip, disconnecting the supply of electricity.
- It’s a safety device – every household should have one!
- RCDs offer excellent protection in damp areas of your home where there are electric fittings, and when working with electrical.