Difference between Relay & Circuit breaker

Difference between Relay & Circuit breaker

Main Differences between Circuit Breaker and Relay

Relay is a switch used as sensing and controlling device which makes and closes the contacts electronically or electromechanically. Relay is also used as a protective device which sense the fault signal and sends to the circuit breaker which make decision to make or break the circuit based on the provided information by the relay. the energized coil as moving part (also known as armature) is connected to the relay contacts while the static coil produces the require electromagnetic field for armature to make or close the contacts for circuit protection.

Circuit Breaker is a controlling and protective device which makes and breaks the circuit manually or automatically in case of normal and fault conditions like short circuit and over-current etc. Inside circuit breaker, the relay sense the fault or specified amount of current and sends the signal to the electromechanical switch which open the contacts and protect the circuit in case of excessive current like overload and short-circuit conditions.


Differences between Circuit Breaker and Relay

CharacteristicsCircuit BreakerRelay
ConstructionCircuit Breaker is the combination of internal electromechanical switch and relay mechanism which interrupts the circuit in case of short circuit or overload.The coil inside a Relay creates electromagnetic field while the solenoid as moving part known as armature opens and closes the contacts when coil is energized.
FunctionCircuit Breaker provides interruption only. Faults detection is performed by relay inside circuit breaker.Relay is a switching device that opens and closes the contacts electronically or electromechanically.
Working PrincipleCircuit Breaker automatically breaks the connected circuit when receives an error signal sensed by a relay inside CB.Relay act as a switching and sensing device and sends the fault signal occurred on power system to the circuit breaker.
OperationCircuit Breaker makes or breaks the circuit contacts when needed.Relay only sense the error signal and send it to the circuit breaker.
TypesMCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker), ACB (Air Blast), VCB (Vacuum), SF6 etc.SPST, SPDT, DPST, DPDT, EMR, SSR, Electromechanical, REED and Hybrid Relay etc.
Type of DeviceCircuit breaker is a switching device act as circuit disconnection or isolation.Relay is a sensing and controlling device act as a switch when needed.
Voltage LevelCircuit Breaker operated on low as well as high power and voltage level and acts automatic on load devices.Relay operates on low power and voltage input signalwith guaranteed isolation when needed for operation.
Controlling the CircuitCircuit Breaker used to control one per circuit same like a switch.Relay is used to select or control one among number of circuits.
Used as an AmplifierCircuit Breaker can’t be used as an Amplifier. I.e. It only receives signal from a relay and make decision based on it.Relay act as an Amplifier. I.e. it turns one signal into many signals e.g. turn a low-voltage signal into a high voltage signal, or vice-versa.
ApplicationsCircuit Breaker are used in

  • Low and High currents devices.
  • Home electrical wiring.
  • Industrial equipment and applications.
  • Electrical Machines.
  • power plants, & electricity sharing system (GND).
Relays are used in:

  • Isolating a low voltage circuit from high voltage circuit.
  • Controlling multiple circuits.
  • Microprocessor to o control a heavy electrical load.
  • Automatic change over.
  • Overload relays for motor protection.