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Electrical Safety for Your Home Sweet Home

07 Sep 2023
EMA | Feature Stories 07 Sep 2023

Enhancing electrical safety to keep your loved ones safe

Well before the term “Circuit Breaker” was associated with the nationwide partial lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore, many would have only thought of the electrical safety device commonly found in homes.

In fact, since July 1985, all new electrical installations are required to have a Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB) installed. This was to protect consumers after a rise in the number of fatal electrical accidents between the 1960s-80s.

Tan Zhi Wei, Principal Engineer at the Inspectorate Department, ensures the safe supply and use of energy at consumers’ premises.

“Most homes in Singapore have an RCCB installed today. Even homes built before July 1985 would have an RCCB installed if their homes underwent major renovations or electrical installations over the years,” said Tan Zhi Wei, Principal Engineer at the Energy Market Authority’s Inspectorate Department.

However, there could a small percentage of residential homes built before 1985 that may not have installed an RCCB.

To improve electrical safety for all households, EMA has mandated that all homes must have an RCCB installed by 1 July 2025. “As the regulator of the electricity industry, EMA safeguards consumer interest in terms of electrical safety. It is essential that homeowners ensure an RCCB is installed in their premises,” said Zhi Wei.

Government subsidies are available for RCCB installation works for HDB flats completed before 1985 that do not have an RCCB installed.

To provide support to lower-income households without an RCCB, RCCB installations for one- and two-room HDB flats completed before 1985 were fully funded by the Government. As for three-room and other larger flats built before 1985, the government will subsidise up to 95% of the cost of RCCB installation for Singapore citizens.

How Does the RCCB Work?

The RCCB is an essential electrical safety device that cuts off electricity supply immediately upon the detection of current leakages. Such leakages could be caused by ageing or exposed wires, faulty electrical appliances or damaged insulation.

To some, a more familiar term would be the Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB). The ELCB serves the same electrical safety function as the RCCB.

A RCCB or ELCB can be identified as a switch with a ‘Test’ button in your distribution board box.

Licensed Electrical Worker Er Teo Chor Kok, who was formerly a board member on the Professional Engineering Board explained, “In the past, there were two types of ELCBs. Those that detected voltage and those that detected electrical current. However, the voltage-type ELCB has long been phased out in Singapore. The current-type ELCB and RCCB refer to the same electrical safety device in use today.”

Homes with an existing ELCB installed will be pleased to know there is no need to replace it if it is in working condition.

Where Can I Find My Circuit Breaker?

"There are various models of RCCBs and ELCBs in use today. They are typically installed in the distribution board box (DB box), usually located near the doorway or sometimes in the storeroom or bomb shelter of residential premises. All circuit breakers have a “Test” button, which may also be indicated as a letter “T” on the device,” said Zhi Wei.

Regardless of how the circuit breaker looks, it is more important for homeowners to test that it is in working condition and protects all electrical circuits at home. All it takes is a simple 3-step test.

The 3-step test to check that a RCCB or ELCB is in working condition. Download a copy of the poster here.

Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners

Installation of the RCCB is a straightforward process. “Homeowners are advised to engage only Licensed Electrical Workers (LEW) to carry out electrical work, such as installation or extension of wiring, rewiring work, and installation of an RCCB,” said Zhi Wei.

However, wiring in some older homes may have accumulated wear and tear overtime. This may result in repeated circuit trips once the RCCB has been installed. On this, Er Teo shared, “An experienced licensed electrical worker would be able to trace the faulty wiring and redo the necessary rewiring to remedy that fault.”

From the air-conditioning that keeps us cool to the water heaters that allow us to enjoy a warm shower, electricity powers our everyday lives. Let’s not forget about the safety aspects of using electricity with the safety tips shown below.

Electrical safety tips for homeowners.


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