How to Connect Earth Leakage Circuit Breakers

Written by doug hewitt
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How to Connect Earth Leakage Circuit Breakers
Wire strippers (morguefile)

Earth leakage circuit breakers are safety devices that work with alternating current (AC) voltages. These circuit breakers will remove electrical power from a circuit, hence the term breaking the circuit, if current flow is detected from the live AC white wire to earth ground. Earth ground is usually obtained via a metal rod driven into the ground. For some electrical shorts, the normal circuit breaker will trip. But there are instances in electrical current can pass through a human body to ground without enough current to trip a normal breaker, yet enough to be deadly.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Multimeter
  • Diagonal cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • White wire
  • Green wire
  • Black wire
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Make sure all power is removed from the electrical circuit that you're connecting the earth leakage circuit breaker to. Check with a voltmeter to be sure no voltage is present by using your multimeter with its function set to voltage and measuring with the probes at the input terminals.

  2. 2

    Use diagonal cutters to cut lengths of green, white and black wire to reach your AC supply voltage and AC output circuit. One green wire will need to be long enough to reach the ground rod. Strip short lengths of insulation from the end of each wire.

  3. 3

    Connect the white wire to the AC hot input terminal by screwing in the terminal with the end of the wire inserted into the terminal. Repeat with the black wire. Connect your output wires in the same way.

  4. 4

    Continue by connecting one green wire to the circuit side of the two earth terminals on the earth leakage circuit breaker. Connect the longer green wire to the other terminal.

  5. 5

    Attach the other end of the longer green wire to the earth ground rod. You can use the existing grounding terminal. Make sure you have a connection by using the ohmmeter function of your multimeter and touching one probe to the grounding rod and the other probe to the grounding terminal on the circuit breaker. Because this might be a long distance, you might need to extend the reach of one of your probes by using a piece of wire.

  6. 6

    Reapply power to your circuits. Most earth leakage circuit breakers have a test button, so it's a good idea to push it and see if your installation works. Use caution as there is live voltage present. Be sure not to touch any terminals.

Tips and warnings

  • Push your circuit breaker's test button once per month to ensure its continued correct operation.
  • AC voltage is dangerous and can cause electrical shock.

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