Circuit Breaker Breaking Capacity Calculator [With Formula and Calculations]

Circuit breakers breaking capacity is the rated RMS value of current that a CB can break at the rated voltage.



  • Breaking capacity (B.C) = 1.732 * V * I * 10-6

Where 1.732 = √3 represents a multiplier for three phase circuits

B.C is always expressed in terms of MVA.

Where M = Mega (A prefix representing 106)

V = Rated service voltage

A = Short-circuit current

Calculations – Solved Examples

Example 1: Calculate the breaking capacity required to break 200 A short circuit current at rated service voltage of 11 kV in a 3 phase system.

Solution: B.C = 1.732 * V * I * 10-6

= 1.732 * 11 kV * 200 * 10-6 = 3.814 MVA

Example 2: Repeat the above example problem for I = 50 A, V = 33 kV.

Solution: B.C = 1.732 * 33 kV * 50 A * 10-6 = 2.85 MVA

Frequently asked questions

Question 1: What is Icu in MCCB and other breakers?

Answer: Icu or Icn is rated short-circuit breaking capacity or ultimate breaking capacity. It is maximum fault current that a CB should be able to interrupt.

Question 2: What do you mean by Ics?

Answer: Ics means service breaking capacity.


Ics is the rated short-circuit breaking capacity.

Question 3: Why we need Icu and Ics and how Icu is different from Ics?
Answer: Icu is maximum fault current that could prevail in case of extreme menacing faults. It can be very high such as of the order 5000 A in case of CB or even 5,00,000 A in case of MCCB. Practically there exist very small chances for occurrence of such faults. For making practical design another term Ics is used. Ics is actually a multiple of k times Icn. Simply saying Ics is a percentage of Icu.

Mathematically: Ics = k * Icu

Where k represents a percentage number eg 10%, 20%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%.

Question 4: What do you mean by Ics = 100 % Icu or Ics = 100 % Icn?

Answer: The European industrial standards involve the use of k factor as 100%. So as to equate both equations: Ics = Icu


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