How To Identify a Ring & Radial Circuit? SOLVED

Circuits can have different types, and this depends on many factors. Therefore, If you think of improving your house wiring, you should know which one to choose. You may also wonder what type of circuit you have at your house. So, how to identify a ring and radial circuit?

How To Identify a Ring & Radial Circuit? Step by Step

To identify a circuit, whether a ring or a radial circuit, first, you have to know the description of each one and the difference between them. Imagine a circuit that has a periphery and a radius. The one with a radius is the radial circuit; meanwhile, the periphery one is the ring circuit.

The Ring Circuit

The circuit’s cables are responsible for the circuit names because they are connected to the circuit as a ring. They connect the circuit to the consumer unit, but they start at the consumer unit. Then, go to the circuit’s points and return to the consumer unit. This doesn’t happen in the radial circuits.

Ring circuits were invented after the end of the second world war. The government knew that they would need to develop another building system. The way or the new system should be more effective and more efficient. So, instead of using radial circuits, they used ring circuits. The ring circuits offered more sockets for a lower cost.

To increase the amperes supported by a breaker in a radial circuit; you would need to add more sockets and a bigger cable. For example, to increase 20 amperes to 32 amperes, you need to get a 4 mm wire, and this typically means more copper, which costs more. Meanwhile, the ring circuit can support up to 32 amperes with a 2.5 mm cable.

The Radial Circuit

A radial circuit consists of many cables; each has a certain task. The cables coming out of the electric circuit don’t have to return. The cables start at the consumer unit or the distribution board., then, they go to junction boxes, and as their final stop, the use points or the sockets.

For example, imagine a radial socket circuit; a 20-amperes breaker is used to protect the sockets, and the size of the cable used is 2.5 millimeters. These sizes are typical; meanwhile, the size of a breaker or fuse depends on the load or appliance using this breaker. For example, Lighting circuits have a 6-amperes fuse.

The radial circuit is becoming more popular due to the new and many ways available in the consumer units. This helps to use a circuit breaker for a certain area or room, and Radial circuits are used to supply one point of use, for example:

  • Water Heaters 
  • Cookers 
  • Electric Gates 

What Is the Difference Between Ring and Radial Circuits?

There is a big difference in the shape of the radial and ring circuits. If you know this, it can help you identify the type of the circuit.

  • Radial Circuit
    The circuit starts with a breaker, for example, a 32-amperes breaker. Then, the cable moves from the breaker to the first socket, then the next one, until it reaches the last socket. The cable never connects back to the breaker. Its final stop is the last use point.
  • Ring Circuit
    The circuit’s first point is the breaker, but two cables are coming out of the breaker this time. It’s the same cable, but it passes through all the use points and connects to the breaker. So, the circuit has the shape of a circle or a ring, and this makes the current has two ways to flow.

Here’s a Detailed Video About it:

What Are the Disadvantages of Ring Circuits?

  1. The ring circuit testing and installation are more strict than the radial circuits.
  2. Ring circuits must be checked for a break or a disconnect in the middle of their load point. To avoid the probability of overload of the breaker or the wire.
  3. The ring circuits ‘ ground protection becomes more vulnerable if a break or disconnect happens.

What Are the Disadvantages of Radial Circuits?

  • The High Cost
    Radial circuits have a high cost for materials because the radial circuit needs a bigger wire to support more amperes. For example, if radial circuits are using a 32-amperes breaker. They will need a 4mm cable to maintain the load, meanwhile, ring circuits can keep a 32-amperes breaker with 2.5 mm.

Ring circuits have two wires coming out of the breaker, which divides the current. When the current has two ways to flow through, this decreases the load. So, the ring circuit can use smaller wires than radial circuits.

What Are the Advantages of Radial Circuits?

If radial circuits had a disconnect or break at any point, the current will stop. This means the power goes off, so you would know there is something wrong. Therefore, eliminating the probability of overloading, meanwhile, the ring circuits could have a break or disconnect at a load point.

But the current still flows the other way, increasing overload probability. Overloading the circuit could lead to many hazards, such as failing appliances or starting a fire. When the ring circuit overloads, its ground protection is weaker and more vulnerable. and this risks everybody’s safety.

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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Radial Distribution Network?

The radial distribution network is a system whereby the power is delivered by only one substation at the supply utility, and like any other system, it has advantages and disadvantages. For example:

Advantages of the Radial Distribution System

  • Simple network or system because it has one feeding end.
  • At low voltage, it’s very useful.
  • A radial system is preferred when the station is at the load center.
  • For areas with low load requirements, the radial network is more economical.
  • Bigger cables but fewer in number.
  • Low maintenance.

Disadvantages of the Radial Distribution System

  • The heavy load at the distributor’s end is close to the substation.
  • At any change in the load of the distributor, voltage fluctuations can arise for the distant client.
  • The system has only one feeder, and one distributor, any break or disconnect in one of them will affect the entire system. This interrupts all the users connected to the network.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Ring Distribution Network?

The ring distribution network is a system fed by two cables or sources. If a source fails or has under maintenance, the other will continue to work. However, it also has disadvantages as it has advantages. For example:

Advantages of the Ring Distribution System

  • The system has two feeding sources or cables, not only one like a radial system.
  • The network continues to work properly if one source is disconnected or fails.
  • It has a low voltage drop when compared to the radial system.
  • Due to the two feeding sources, it can have more subscribers or use points.
  • Unlike the radial systems, fewer voltage fluctuations can be experienced through the network.

Disadvantages of the Ring Distribution System

  • Expensive maintenance
  • At the load’s center, the client can’t get a benefit from it.


To sum up, To know what circuit you have in your house, you must first understand the characteristics of each type. The radial circuit has one feeding source, therefore, breakers are connected to the use points using only one cable. There will be no power if the cable is disconnected or fails.

On the contrary, ring circuits have two cables or two feeding sources, and this makes the circuit more stable at any faults or maintenance. However, if there is a break or a disconnect in the circuit, it will be a problem, because you wouldn’t know as the circuit will continue to work properly, and this could lead to overloading the circuit.

The radial circuit has advantages and disadvantages; the same goes for the ring circuit. In addition, You have to know what one suits your uses more before considering any type of them.

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