WAZIPOINT Engineering Science & Technology: What are the Ring Circuit and Radial Circuit?

Sunday, September 24, 2023

What are the Ring Circuit and Radial Circuit?

What Is Radial and Ring Circuits?

Think of a simple Circle that has a radius and periphery. The electrical circuit in your wiring system that looks like a radius is called a Radial circuit and which one looks like a periphery or ring is called a Ring circuit. Oh! this definition seems to layman, not professional; let's know the details-  

A radial circuit is an electrical circuit where the feeders to each socket are taken directly from the consumer unit or distribution board (DB) or circuit Breaker (CB) like a 20A MCB. 

A ring circuit is an electrical circuit that has two feeders both coming from the same 32A MCB or RBCO in the consumer unit and heading off to different ends of a loop circuit. Ring circuit also known as Ring Main circuit.

What Are the Advantages of Ring Circuit?

Ring and Radial Circuit
Ring and Radial Circuit

In a ring circuit simply put it, the wiring is connected at both ends of the circuit. The main advantage of a ring main circuit is if any single connector is broken or disconnected at any point in the circuit all the other sockets will still work because they will be acting as radial circuits and fed from the other end of the circuit. 

  1. Generally ring circuits require less cable as there are two parallel routes back to the circuit breaker (CB) at the distribution board (DB) which allows the thinner cable to be used for the same load which works like two radial circuits, or another way we can say one ring circuit may replace by two radial circuits. 
  2. If in in-ring main circuit is broken or disconnected at any point though it still works but there is a slight vulnerability to certain sorts of breaks in ground protection.
  3. In a ring main circuit, a bigger 32A circuit is much more flexible in terms of usage than two smaller 16A radials; which means no need to worry about which socket to plug them into for two large loads.

What Are the Disadvantages of Ring Circuit?

  1. A ring-main circuit installation and testing is more rigorous than the radial circuit.
  2. In a ring-main circuit if no break or disconnect in the load middle point, then there is a possibility of overloading the wire and breaker.
  3.  During break or disconnect the ring circuit is vulnerable to ground protection.

What is the Advantages and Disadvantages of Radial Circuit?

The radial circuit wiring material cost is less than the ring main circuit. Due to safety, a typical ring main circuit is used for a 230V ring main 32A circuit breaker (CB) and 2.5mm cable which is double rated compared to the radial circuit. 
If the same rated wire is used in both the ring and Radial circuit, the Ring circuit has more current capacity than the radial circuit because there are two paths to any load. Ring circuit also has lower loss but the disadvantage is that if an open circuit occurs in the ring, you will probably not realize or don't care to fix the circuit because power is not cut off, so the circuit may go overloaded; there is no possibility in the radial circuit for the same.

What is the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ring and Radial Distribution Network?


Now we will discuss the ring and radial feeder system in the energy distribution network system. Each system has some advantages and the same way some limitations. Let's find the advantages and disadvantages of the Ring and Radial network:

Advantages of the radial distribution network 

  1.  Simplest as fed at only one end;
  2.  The initial cost is low;
  3.  It is useful when the generating is at low voltage;
  4.  Preferred when the station is located at the center of the load;
  5.  More economical for some areas that have a low load requirement;
  6.  Require less amount of cables; &
  7.  It has a low maintenance.

 Disadvantages of the radial distribution network 

  1.  The end of the distributor near the substation gets heavily loaded;
  2.  When the load on the distributor changes, the clients at the distant end of the distributor face serious voltage fluctuations; &
  3.  As users are dependent on a single feeder and distributor, a fault on any of these two causes an interruption in supply to all the users connected to that distributor.

 Advantages of the ring distribution network

  1. In-ring power is supplied from both ends as compared to radial;
  2.  In case of a fault in the radial circuit, the entire system goes off unlike in the ring whereby in case one end gets a fault the other end still keeps on supplying power;
  3.  Compared to the radial system, the voltage drop is less along the distribution line;
  4.  More subscribers can be installed to the system than the radial system; &
  5.  Less voltage fluctuations can be seen at the client’s terminals. Voltage fluctuations in high-loaded areas can be reduced using a tie line.

 Disadvantages of the ring distribution network

  1.  The ring is very expensive and requires more materials than radial;
  2.  Radial circuit is more economical;
  3.  High maintenance cost; &
  4.  It is not usable when the client is located at the center of the load.


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