All you need to know about Differences Between MCB and MCCB

In the case of electric circuits, safety plays a crucial role. Now, the most important method to prevent accidents due to sudden cascades is to use self-operating electrical switches for conducting electric current. The two most common switchers in global use are the Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs) and Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCBs). While they have similar operational aspects, there are differences worth noting. This article outlines these differences so as to provide clarity to SME owners and procurement managers, especially with reference to the electrical wires and cables projects.

What is a Miniature Circuit Breaker MCB?

The MCB is an automatic electrical device used for the purpose of protecting circuits from damage caused by increased current, such as overloads or short circuits. With a simple working principle, the MCB features movable and fixed contacts. When the current exceeds the limit set, these contacts disconnect, interrupting the circuit and preventing any possible damage. This essential element ensures electrical systems’ safety whenever problems are detected by disturbing current flow and keeping equipment from threats.

What is Moulded Case Circuit Breaker (MCCB)?

A Moulded Case Circuit Breaker (MCCB) is a device used to protect circuits from overloading that can be adjusted to suit high-current applications. In contrast to the MCB, it includes manually operated contact for tripping. It has the bimetallic contact that has two arrangements, i.e., one for over-temperature and the other for over-current.

This contact expands and contracts with temperature changes. In normal conditions, it allows current flow, but if it exceeds predefined limits, the contacts expand until they open, disconnecting the circuit. This crucial feature shields equipment from potential damage due to excessive current. 

Major Differences between MCCB and MCB

The key differences between the two are as follows:

Size:

The miniature circuit breakers get their name from the fact that they are relatively smaller than their cousins, the moulded case circuit breakers (MCCB). This size disparity makes MCBs ideal for applications that demand a more compact breaker. On the contrary, the bulkier MCCBs find their niche in commercial and industrial setups, offering configurations of up to 4 poles.

Current Rating Clash:

When it comes to current ratings, MCCBs outshine MCBs. The former exhibits a significantly higher load bearing capacity, capable of handling currents up to 200A, making them indispensable for heavy-duty applications. In contrast, MCBs typically cap at around 100A, aligning them with scenarios demanding lower current capacities.

Interrupt Current Rating:

The interrupt capacity of MCCBs stands out, allowing them to interrupt larger amounts of electrical current during faults. With an interrupting capacity of around 100A, MCBs excel in scenarios where lower current interruption suffices, emphasising their suitability for less demanding electrical scenarios.

Voltage Rating:

Both MCBs and MCCBs operate in low-voltage power systems, but their voltage-handling capabilities differ. MCBs are tailored for residential voltage levels, catering to more moderate applications. On the other hand, MCCBs are designed for higher voltages and are capable of handling networks with voltages as high as 1100V, making them robust choices for heavy-duty applications.

Operating Characteristics Palette:

The operating characteristics of a circuit breaker encompass how it responds when its peak current rating is exceeded. While MCBs deploy a consistent mechanism for tripping, MCCBs offer a diverse palette of operating characteristics. This includes instantaneous trips, delayed trips, adjustable tripping functions, and more, allowing for a customised approach to circuit protection.

Maintenance Complexity:

Maintenance complexity comes into play, with MCCBs demanding greater attention due to their intricate design. Featuring more parts and mechanisms, MCCBs are susceptible to damage or malfunction over time. In contrast, MCBs boast simplicity in design, requiring less attention when it comes to maintenance. Their straightforward structure and the interruption of smaller amounts of current contribute to their resilience against wear and tear.

Installation Complexity:

The installation process varies between MCCBs and MCBs due to their size differences. MCCBs, being larger, often necessitate more complex installation procedures. Certain types of MCCBs require installation in a metal enclosure to shield against environmental factors like dust, heat, and moisture. In contrast, MCBs are generally plug-in or DIN rail-mounted devices, offering a more straightforward installation process.

Price Disparity:

The complexity of design and larger size contributes to the higher price tag associated with MCCBs compared to MCBs. The added flexibility features, such as adjustable current settings and removable tripping units, enhance the cost of MCCBs. Depending on the specific features, an MCCB can cost up to five times more than a miniature breaker. This price discrepancy is further justified by the higher current rating and voltage capabilities of MCCBs, rendering them particularly suitable for larger installations.

Application Specifics:

Customized to specific applications, MCCBs, and MCBs attain diverse needs. MCCBs find their strength in industrial and commercial settings, serving factories, office buildings, and large residential complexes. The robustness and higher load bearing capacity of MCCBs make them indispensable in scenarios where heavy-duty protection is paramount. On the flip side, MCBs thrive in smaller residential and light commercial settings. Their smaller size and lower cost make them an attractive option in scenarios where the demand for current and voltage levels is more moderate, and simplicity is key.

Choosing the Right Circuit Breaker: MCCB vs. MCB

The decision to select between an MCCB and MCB for an electrical circuit is dependent on a variety of factors, which include circuit current and voltage ratings, installation prerequisites, and the application. In industrial contexts, the robust features of an MCCB often render it the optimal choice. Conversely, for certain commercial and residential applications, an MCB may suffice. It is imperative to ensure that the selected breaker adheres to all relevant safety standards and provides reliable protection for the electrical system. Reference to industry-specific standards and guidelines is advised for an informed decision, ensuring compatibility with the intended electrical configuration.

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