An electric circuit is the path on which electricity flows from a source to outlets; every circuit is designed to carry only a certain amount of power. A circuit breaker is the device that automatically “trips”, or shuts down the current flowing through the circuit, once it detects a threat of overload.
As an electrician would explain, there are various reasons why a breaker would trip. Oftentimes, particular appliances (or their improper uses) are the culprit.
- Multiple fans on the same circuit
Having one or two electric fans plugged in would not usually cause problems, but three or more is a different story. Overload is even more likely to happen when the connected fans are more powerful and kept on all day. It’s a good idea for relief on sweltering days, but a bad idea for electrical safety.
- “Octopus” extension cords
“Octopus” extension cords are the ones with “tentacles” – that is, too many other cords connected and spreading from them. Whether these are cords of plugged-in appliances, or, worse, cords leading to other extension cords, the set-up is bound to lead in overload.
- High-voltage styling appliances
Hair dryers, curlers, and other hair styling appliances draw a significant amount of power from circuits. A single hair dryer alone runs on anywhere from 800 to 1,800 watts – whereas some microwaves could operate on less. If a hair dryer gets plugged into a less powerful circuit, or into outlets already shared by more than one appliance, a circuit breaker might just trip.
- Irons left on maximum setting
Like hair dryers and microwaves, clothes irons require a lot of power to generate high heat quickly. Using irons on maximum setting for extended periods can also run up wattage.
- Older model refrigerators
It’s a general rule: the older the appliance, the more power it’s likely to gobble up. That’s why electricians recommend replacing outdated units to improve energy and power efficiency. Old refrigerators put a particular strain on circuits because they tend to draw more power to function, especially during hot days. The more power they need, the more likely a circuit breaker can trip.
5 Appliances That Can Trip Circuit Breakers. Angie’s List, February 13, 2013.