Difference Between ELCB and RCCB

In the world of electrical, there are various devices introduced to protect both the electrical equipment and the personal operating it. Two of them are the Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB) and the Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB). While both serve same purpose of safeguarding against electrical shocks, only difference in their functionality and application. In this article, we will delve into the dissimilarities between ELCBs and RCCBs, exploring their definitions, types, working principles, and more.

What is an ELCB?

An Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker, as its name suggests, is a electrical safety device that provides protection against electric shocks resulting from contact with a faulty device. It consists of a coil connected in series with the earth terminal, which allows it to detect voltage variations when the phase wire comes into contact with the equipment’s body. This voltage triggers the ELCB, causing it to trip the circuit and prevent potential harm.

It is important to note that ELCBs, while once commonly used, have been largely replaced by a more advanced circuit breaker, known as the Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB).

What is an RCCB?

A Residual Current Circuit Breaker operates on the principle of a core balancing current transformer. It compares the currents flowing through the phase and neutral wires to ensure electrical safety. When the vector sum of the currents passing through these wires is not equal to zero, the RCCB detects a fault or a leakage current and trips the circuit, isolating the faulty circuit from the healthy one.

Difference Between ELCB and RCCB

While both ELCBs and RCCBs serve as protective devices, they differ in several key aspects. Let’s explore the major differences between these two circuit breakers in the following table:

Basis of
Full FormEarth Leakage Circuit BreakerResidual Current Circuit Breaker
DefinitionA safety device used to prevent electric
shocks in electrical installations with high
earth impedance.
A safety device that trips the circuit against electrical
leakage currents, protecting against electric shocks due to
indirect contacts.
Type of devicesVoltage operated Current operated
Connectionconnected to phase, neutral and earth wireConnected to phase and neutral only
Detects electrical faults with earth leakage
current flowing through the main earth wire
Can detect any type of earth fault
Monitoring of Earthing StatusMonitors the earthing status of the systemDoes not monitor the earthing status of the electrical
Need of
Earthing connection required for function Earthing connection Not required for proper functioning
Costexpensive Cheap

It can be cleared from the table that ELCBs and RCCBs main differences in terms of their full form, definition, type of device,
connection, fault detection, working principle, monitoring of earthing status, need for earth connection, nuisance
tripping, cost, and applications.

Conclusion on difference between ELCB and RCCB

In conclusion, both ELCBs and RCCBs play a crucial role in maintaining electrical safety by protecting against electric
shocks. However, their operating principles, wiring connections, and features distinguish them from each other. ELCBs
are connected to phase, neutral, and earth wires, while RCCBs are connected to phase and neutral wires only. Despite
being an older technology, ELCBs are still used in certain settings, but they have largely been replaced by the more
advanced RCCBs in modern electrical installations.

Understanding the difference between ELCB and RCCB is essential for electrical professionals, as it enables them to
select the appropriate device for specific applications. By opting for the right circuit breaker, individuals can ensure the
safety of both their electrical systems and the people operating them.


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