Safety Switch RCD Installation


Repairs & Maintenance



What is a Safety Switch (RCD)?

A safety switch is a device that quickly switches off the electricity supply if an electrical fault is detected, to minimise the risk of electricity-related fires, electric shock, injury and death.

By law, safety switches protecting power points and lighting circuits must be installed in all new homes and in buildings where electrical circuits are altered or added. This law was introduced in 1991, so if your home was built before this time, it may not be protected by safety switches.

Safety switches are also required for power outlets supplying caravans or similar accommodation in caravan parks.

If you are unsure whether your home has a safety switch, contact a licensed electrician for advice or to have one installed.

Snap Air Conditioning / Electrical
can help you with Safety Switch installation

4 pole rcd

4 pole – early safety switches were 4 pole 

2 pole safety switch

2 pole – still used today but not as popular as single pole.

single pole rcd

single pole – most popular today 

Commonly asked questions
about RCD safety switches

How safety switches work

When a person makes direct contact with electricity, it is directed away from its main path in the electrical circuit and instead goes through the person’s body to earth. A safety switch can detect the change in the electrical circuit and switches the power off in as little as 0.3 seconds.

Fuses and circuit breakers protect against short circuits and current overloads, but only safety switches protect people from electric shock.

Safety switches are only a back-up. They may not protect all wiring and electrical appliances and will not prevent all electric shocks.

Types of safety switch

Knowing the different types of safety switch, their purpose and the protection they provide will help you choose a safety switch that best suits your needs.

The three main types of safety switches are:

  • switchboard safety switches
  • power point safety switches
  • portable safety switches.

Switchboard and power point safety switches must be installed by a licensed electrician. Make sure the electrician gives you a certificate of compliance within thirty days of completing the installation, to show the work has been done safely.

Nuisance tripping, faults and resetting safety switches

If a safety switch has disconnected the power (tripped), it may be due to a temporary fault, lightning or nuisance tripping. Resetting the switch should restore the power supply.

If you cannot reset a safety switch after it has tripped, you may have a faulty appliance connected to the circuit, or there may be a wiring fault. In this case, switch off and unplug the appliance that you think is faulty. You should now be able to reset the safety switch and restore the power. If you are not sure which appliance is faulty, switch off and unplug one, then try to reset the safety switch. Do this for each appliance on the circuit until you find the one that causes the safety switch to trip.

If you are unable to reset the safety switch or can’t work out which appliance is causing a problem, call a licensed electrician to find and correct the fault.

I have circuit breakers. Is that the same thing?

Circuit breakers protect an electrical circuit by quickly cutting power when there is a high current fault or overload that may cause a hazard. A safety switch is different, it shuts off electricity supply when it detects a leakage to earth. Circuit breakers are installed to protect circuit wiring and appliances, while safety switches protect people.

The Queensland Government has a longstanding commitment to increase electrical safety in the community by requiring the installation of safety switches in domestic premises. The following situations for domestic homes are required by law in Queensland.

All new homes built or extended after 1992 but before 2000

Safety switches have been compulsory on all new homes in Queensland since 1992. Safety switches must also be fitted to all power point circuits when a new electrical installations occurs, such as a general power outlet (GPO).

All new homes built or extended after 2000

Safety switches have been compulsory on all power point and lighting circuits for new Queensland homes built since 2000, following the change in Wiring Rules.

Homes which have had the electrical installation extended to include additional lighting and power point circuits are required to have safety switch protection on both lighting and power point circuits.

Buying a property

If you buy a property without a safety switch, you must install a safety switch for the power point circuits within three months of a property transfer. This applies to any transfer of domestic premises.

Selling a property

If you sell a property, you first establish if a safety switch is installed for power point circuits, which must be declared on the standard sales contract and Form 24 Property Transfer.

Renting a home

A landlord renting out a home must ensure a safety switch has been installed for the power points within six months of the tenancy agreement, if there is not a safety switch already present.

What happens if I can't reset the safety switch

his may mean that there is a fault on the circuit and will need to contact us to inspect and repair it.

How to test a safety switch

You should test the safety switch yourself every 3 months
To test, simply press the test button on each safety switch. This should automatically trip the switch to the off position and you will hear a ‘clunk’ sound. You should check inside your home to see which lights or appliances are now off. The circuits turned off by the safety switch test mean they are protected by it.
If nothing happens when you press the TEST button – the power stays on immediately call us. Every year or two it is important to have your whole electrical system inspected for safety, this check will include your safety switch and switchboard. Safety switches protect the most important keepsakes in your home – your family. Make sure yours is working properly and get peace of mind for not much cost at all.

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