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What is cascading?

Cascading is the use of the current limiting capacity of circuit breakers at a given point to permit installation of lower-rated and therefore lower-cost circuit breakers downstream. The upstream circuit breakers acts as a barrier against short-circuit currents. In this way, downstream circuit breakers with lower breaking capacities than the prospective short-circuit (at their point of installation) operate under their normal breaking conditions. Since the current is limited throughout the circuit controlled by the limiting circuit breaker, ascading applies to all switchgear downstream. It is not restricted to two consecutive devices.

General use of cascadingcom

With cascading, the devices can be installed in different switchboards. Thus, in general, cascading refers to any combination of circuit breakers where a circuit breaker with a breaking capacity less than the prospective Isc at its point of installation can be used. Of course, the breaking capacity of the upstream circuit breaker must be greater than or equal to the prospective short-circuit current at its point of installation.
The combination of two circuit breakers in cascading configuration is covered by the following standards:

  • IEC 60947-2 (construction)
  • NF C 15-100, § 434.3.1 (installation)
Coordination between circuit breakers

The use of a protective device possessing a breaking capacity less than the prospective short-circuit current at its installation point is permitted as long as another device is installed upstream with at least the necessary breaking capacity. In this case, the characteristics of the two devices must be coordinated in such a way that the energy let through by the upstream device is not more than that which can be withstood by the downstream device and the cables protected by these devices without damage.
Cascading can only be checked by laboratory tests and the possible combinations can be specified only by the circuit breaker manufacturer.

Cascading and protection discrimination

In cascading configurations, due to the Roto-active breaking technique, discrimination is maintained and in some cases, even enhanced.


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