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Report: Kettle causes power surge

We had a report via Twitter that this Sunbeam kettle is causing power surges. “… Lost power in half my home the moment I turned it on. I unplugged it and put it in another power point - same thing. No power to most of my home…”

A small appliance like this surely shouldn’t cause a blown fuse every time it is plugged in under normal conditions. Anyone else experienced this issue?

kettle

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Yep. Old self-defrosting fridge. At odd times every day or two the house circuit breakers would blow. I traced it to the fridge. The defrost element had gone short circuit and every time it was turned on it overloaded the system. I suggest the element in the jug has done the same. Not fixable, return for refund.

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Thanks @syncretic, appreciate the input :+1:

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My Russel Hobbs kettle and GVA portable heater don’t like each other: when both on the power protection switch gets triggered off and there’s no power in the kitchen.
Maybe it’s a combination of appliances overloading the system, and the kettle is the last straw?

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Interesting, I wondered whether this could be the case myself.

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The other issue could be the element/kettle is faulty causing earth leakage, resulting in the protection switch being activated. The kettle’s owner could be confused to whether it is a ‘blown fuse’ or a activated earth leakage protection switch.

It is unlikely that a kettle will cause a power surge…it is more likely to be an overloaded circuit as outlined by others.

Maybe the morning routine of boiling water for a cuppa and using a toaster in the same power point resulted in overloading and the circuit breaker being thrown.

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Yes PHB you are right. As a registered electrician, I agree with you, and you have summed it all up perfectly. :smile:

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What @phb posted, plus both power points could easily have been on the same breaker or fuse, so changing power points might not have changed anything. Many older and some relatively newer homes are wired with a single general power point circuit, or one for ‘front of the house’ and another for ‘back of the house’ or some such simplistic separation.

My 1990’s construction had front, back, oven and some other dedicated circuits with a single safety switch, and when searching for an elusive problem taking my power down upgraded the box to ‘front’, ‘appliances 1’, ‘appliances 2’, and ‘back’, plus oven and other dedicated circuits, with most having their own dedicated safety switch. It made trouble shooting far easier.

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Yep or even just increasing from one to two or three can be very useful. If the earthing bar is in very dry soil the potential that a ELCB device is already dealing with can be very high and close to it’s activation point. Having another device or two can spread this potential over several devices thus reducing the risk of a “false” activation.

While a kettle shouldn’t normally cause this reaction it is not out of the realm of possibility, but returning the kettle as has been recommended is a worthy action.

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There have been a couple of comments from electricians earlier, but we need to be clear on what definitions mean:
Power surge: This is a rapid rise in power consumption from the connection of a large load such as a motor or some other device that needs a large current to start. This ‘surge’ is short lived and, unless the circuit protection activates, it will pass. It is dangerous as it can stress the electrical system causing overheating and insulation failure.
Overload: This is when to much load is connected to the circuit, unlike a ‘surge’ it is not short lived. This will cause problems with the wiring, possibly overheating and eventual breakdown of the insulation. If the protective device is correct it will disconnect. Unfortunately, with older rewardable fuses there is great danger as people will do their own fuse wire replacement, quite often the wrong type - I have even seen electrical wire instead of fuse wire - so will not ‘blow’. Circuit breakers also need to be correctly rated, a 20-amp breaker will not protect a circuit if the breaker is not the right size,
Earth Leakage: This is when the RCD trips the circuit because, as the description says, there is an earth leakage. There is always some earth leakage, and if the existing earth leakage is high enough there will be nuisance tripping because it does not take much to reach the very small current needed for the RCD to operate. Earth leakage circuit breakers (RCD) should NOT just replace existing protective devices (ie pull out the old device and install the RCD), the wiring system needs to be checked to make sure the earth connection to the most distant power point is adequate, this can be checked by measurement of the earth wire resistance or using an RCD tester. You need an electrician to do this.

In summary, don’t try to guess what is causing the problem, get the appliance causing the trip checked and do NOT assume your house wiring is not the problem. In my experience many houses have faulty wiring, and some even have dangerous wiring!

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