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Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 289
:andy: Offline OP
Here in my area in Germany, at about 1965 to 1975 they have switched to use breakers instead of melting fuses in normal building installation (speaking of 10/16A).

I often see picturs from the US where cloth insulated cables are connected to breakers, so did they start using breakers earlier, or did they end using cloth later?

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 840

The fabric insulated wiring came long before the breakers. Usually, breakers replaces the old style fuse blocks, so that is why you see the old fabric insulated wires attached to newer circuit breakers.

Most of that old wiring is in pretty good shape, except anywhere it has been exposed to heat, like above a light fixture or in an attic. In that case, the old rubber and cloth covering is completely disintegrated. I have some pictures of this that I will post in a few days.


Joined: May 2004
Posts: 186
Peter, I remember using Crabtree C50 circuit breakers way back around 1965 I dont know the exact date that they were introduced.
After that seemed to come the Federal stablok breakers D type, these were installed in the thousands, in those days we had little or no regard for tripping charecteristics, you still see lots of these breakers today. Ok for short circuit protection but not very good for overcurrentprotection.

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 186
Sorry about the double post, fingers not in sync with barin, should add that I refer to the UK.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
I have days like that Alan! [Linked Image] Duplicate post deleted......

I'd say that in residential wiring here it's rare to see breakers in anything prior to the late 1970s/early 1980s. In fact the rewireable (semi-enclosed) fuses were still being installed in some places at that time.

Some older places using the Wylex "Standard Range" have the plug-in MCBs, but these are generally more recent replacements. The Wylex panels in question will accept rewireable, cartridge fuses, or plug-in MCBs with just a change of the carrier base -- No need to even remove the front panel.

The Crabtree catalog lists the C50 series as being the "standard in commercial circuit protection for over 30 years."

I remember my father rewiring the house we moved to in 1970 and using a Crabtree panel with C50 breakers. I wouldn't be surprised if we were the only house in the street with breakers instead of fuses at that time.

The C50s certainly have a traditional, solid feel to them, unlike many of the newer types:
[Linked Image from]

[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 06-03-2004).]

Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,498
Likes: 1
C-H Offline
Breakers must have been around in Sweden about as long as in Germany, but have had a hard time to catch on. Some electricians still prefer fuses (remember the photos I posted a while back?) Only in the last decade have the breakers become the norm.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 1,253
djk Offline
They were available in Ireland for quite a long time but it's rare to see an installation with all breakers before the mid 1980s!

You'll see plenty of installations with diazed/neozed fuses and an RCD or two. They're configured exactly the same way as a modern distribution board, just with neozed instead of MCBs

I don't know why, but it took Irish electricians a while to switch over to using MCBs.. I think it could have been a cost issue in the early days. I know that many electricians in the early 80s were not comfortable with anything other than Neozed/Diazed which had worked well for many many years.

Even today we still usually have 1 single neozed fuse on the board as the "main fuse" rather than a breaker.

Neozed and Diazed were and still are excellent systems though. You can't overfuse them (well at least not without considerable tampering!) and they're pretty much as effective as an MCB and as easy to install. However, they are a BIT less convienient than switching a tripped MCB back up. However, we had a Diazed system with an RCD for years and in all that time a fuse never blew!

Same in my current house, I've never yet seen an MCB trip.

The RCD has several times though in both cases.. usual cause : damp clothes iron connections! or a wet kettle!

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 186
DJK what are the charecteristics of Neozed/ Diazed fuses? Are hey the same as BS88? Have a copy of the ETCI rules (1993 reprint) had a quick glance cant find any specific ref to N/D fuses. I remember Crabtree used to use this type of fuse as protection in some of there motor control gear. In industry I saw many moddifications where maintenance persons had no spare fuses. They were quite frightening.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,443
Likes: 3
First mention here of a Circuit Breaker was the old Voltage Controlled ELCB's, under the 1935 regulations.
And these were installed (as most thing's were back then) by your Friendly Power Supplier.
The 1955 EWR's were enough to make an Electrician cringe!.
They called for nasty things like seperate switches on motors and control circuits.
If the '55 Regs weren't enough the 69 Reg's really broke the donkies back,calling for silly things like D Curve breakers on Motor circuits and C curve breakers on everything else.
Some people that were working in the field,at the time are still seeing stars from this dramatic leap in thinking.
And then came the '76 Regs, this was a better way of thinking, we still had porcelain fuses but thier days were numbered, as far as Domestic switchboards were concerned.
But enter the NZI Flush-board, sure it had all the MCB's, but it would only take the NZI branded MCB's.
And the board had a live busbar that ran the whole length of the panel, no shrouding, many an Electrician here welded thier screwdriver to the back plate with that type board.
Meanwhile we still had the old Phenolic surface board, under the '76 Regs, Electricians could basically put what they liked on them, provided ther were no live parts.
The Overhaul of the Electricity Regulations stopped all of this in 1992, however and MCB's have been used ever since, for fear of retribution from the EWRB here (and others)
The regulations were changed to a Australian/New Zealand Standard in 2003, now we do the same job but it costs us so much more to be "safe".

Joined: May 2004
Posts: 186
Most interesting, I have been having a look through a load of old stuff that i have kept, your quite right about the old ElCB,s and as I said in a previouse post I can remember installing circuit breakers in the very early 60s. Yet looking in the various regs books of the time twelfth edition there's very little direct reference to circuit breakers it was a mysteriouse tecnology then in fact the first trip charcteristics didnot appear in the regs until 1981. We just blundered about installing by name until then dont think we even recognised that some took longer than others to operate. Oh happy days.

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