Difference between Electrical Contactor and Circuit Breaker


The main difference between electrical contactor and circuit breaker is, a contactor is an electrically controlled switch that makes contact to connect the load with the power supply whereas a circuit breaker is an electrical protective device that breaks contacts to disconnect the load from the power supply during a fault condition. Let's go to know other important differences between circuit breaker and contactor.


Constructional difference between Contactor and Circuit Breaker


Contactor: Contactor is quite simple in construction than a circuit breaker. It has multiple contacts, some of them fixed contact and some movable contacts design to move when electromagnet attracts. The electrical contactor also has an electromagnetic coil design to operate at low voltage and current. So when control voltage applied to the coil, its movable contacts touch the fixed contacts and connect the load with the power supply.

Contactor Symbol:

Electrical Contactor Symbol





Circuit Breaker: There are different types of circuit breakers available and all are made with different construction. So if we see the overall basic construction common with all circuit breakers, then we will see it also has multiple fixed contacts and movable contacts like an electrical contactor but they are designed to contact physically by electromagnetic attraction, mechanical pressure, or pneumatic pressure. The circuit breaker also has current and voltage sensing circuits unlike a contactor, because they are automatically operated, and it must interrupt the circuit automatically when any fault occurs.

Circuit Breaker Symbol:

electrical circuit breaker symbol




Functional difference between Circuit Breaker and Contactor


Electrical Contactor Function: The main function of an electrical contactor to connect the load with a power supply with high voltage and current. The contactor also has an advantage i.e. it is designed to rapidly open and close contacts. A contactor is mainly required when we need to control or switch high voltage, current by low voltage, current.

Circuit Breaker Function: The main function of a circuit breaker is to automatically break the contact to disconnect the power supply during an overload or short circuit fault. The circuit breaker can be operated manually for making the contact to connect the power supply. So, in the normal condition a circuit breaker act as a switch also.



Other comparisons between circuit breaker and contactor are given below.

Contactor VS Circuit Breaker


Electrical Contactor

Circuit Breaker

It is an electrical switching device

It is an electrical protective device

It’s main function is controlling

It’s main function is Protecting

It works under normal condition

It works under abnormal(fault) condition

It is used for low to medium voltage

It is used for low to ultra-high voltage

There are more chances of sparking, flashing

There is almost no chance of sparking or flashing

It cannot work automatically

It can work automatically and trip the circuit when  a fault occurs

The Electromagnetism principle is used to make contact between fixed and movable contacts

Electromagnetism and mechanical or pneumatic pressure is used to make contact between fixed and movable contacts

There is no arrangement for ARC quenching.

High voltage and current circuit breakers have ARC quenching arrangements.

There is no current-voltage sensing circuits in the electrical contactor.

Circuit Breaker has current and voltage sensing circuits.




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Difference between Electrical Contactor and Circuit Breaker Difference between Electrical Contactor and Circuit Breaker Reviewed by ETechnoG on 1/06/2021 Rating: 5
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