What is an RCBO? Why do I need one?

Brigstowe Electrical RCBO Circuit Breaker
This will hopefully explain the basics of what an RCBO does, in not too technical terms.

An RCBO is a type of circuit breaker with two functions.

To protect life.
To protect an overload on a circuit – overcurrent and short circuit.

Electricians will install an RCBO (Residual Current Breaker with Overcurrent) where there is a need to prevent overload on a particular circuit at the same time as preventing anyone getting an electrical shock that has the potential to cause injury.

An RCBO will normally have two circuits for detecting an imbalance and an overload but use the same interrupt method (breaker or trip).

It works in a similar way to an RCD measuring the current on the live and neutral conductors. If they are not equal it suggests there is current leakage to earth, which could potentially mean someone is standing on their bed with their finger touching the live conductor of a light as they are attempting to change a light bulb – the RCBO will break the circuit or trip.

An RCBO also works as an MCB (Minature or Mains Circuit Breaker). In this operation it is designed to interrupt a current overload in a circuit. RCBOs are rated both by the normal current that are expected to carry, and the maximum short-circuit current that they can safely interrupt. A short circuit is an abnormal low-resistance connection between two nodes of an electrical circuit that are meant to be at different voltages, for example if a conductor liquid (water, coffee, tea etc) causes a connection between the live and neutral terminals of a plug or a light switch. This is one of the reasons you will have a pull cord in the bathroom.