A circuit breaker is an automatically operated electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overload or short circuit. Its basic function is to detect a fault condition and interrupt current flow. Unlike a fuse, which operates once and then must be replaced, a circuit breaker can be reset (either manually or automatically) to resume normal operation.
MCBs or Miniature Circuit Breakers are electromechanical devices which protect an electrical circuit from an overcurrent. The overcurrent, in an electrical circuit, may result from short circuit, overload or faulty design. An MCB is a better alternative to a Fuse since it does not require replacement once an overload is detected. Unlike fuse, an MCB can be easily reset and thus offers improved operational safety and greater convenience without incurring large operating cost.
The principal of operation is simple. An MCB functions by interrupting the continuity of electrical flow through the circuit once a fault is detected. In simple terms MCB is a switch which automatically turns off when the current flowing through it passes the maximum allowable limit. Generally MCB are designed to protect against over current and over temperature faults (over heating).
A number of leading companies provide different types of miniature circuit breakers depending on the usage, breaking capacity and cost of the device. These include the Tripper and Azora series of MCBs from L&T, MCBs from Siemens, Acti 9(Merlin Gerin) and Neo Break from Schneider. The other leading brands in MCBs are Hager, ABB and Havells.