What is a Fault Indicator?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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A fault indicator is an electrical safety device which indicates when a fault is present. Some fault indicators are also programmed to interrupt power until the fault can be resolved. Fault indicators are used in a variety of electrical systems, and there are a number of different styles available. They are highly regarded as one of many options which can increase the safety and operability of an electrical system.

In a home, a fault indicator can be integrated into a receptacle or power strip. If the device detects a fault in the circuit, it may reset, cutting off power until someone fixes it, or it may light up, indicating that a fault is present and that there may be a safety issue. Some fault indicators also sound a tone, which can be especially useful for visually impaired people who may not otherwise be aware that there is a problem which requires their attention.

A fault on a household circuit can cause a variety of problems. These problems can grow even worse in industrial circuits, where high-power equipment may be connected. In these situations, a fault indicator can be used to monitor the power supply for a facility or on specific circuits to identify faults when they occur. For large and highly automated facilities, the fault indicator may feed back to a monitoring station, where it will alert someone who keeps an eye on equipment performance remotely.


Power transmission systems also use fault indicators. In this case, the fault indicator sends a message to the facility where people oversee the safety of the system, indicating that there is a fault and pinpointing the location of the fault. One of the advantages to using a fault indicator is that it can be used to direct electrical crews to the precise location of a fault, instead of forcing them to wander along a length of line in an attempt to find out where the problem is occurring.

Fault indicators are also used in test circuits and in quality control for electrical components, appliances, and equipment. The fault indicator sounds or lights up to indicate that all is not well with a circuit, and that the problem should be addressed before the circuit is passed for use or sale. For sensitive electronics such as avionics systems, fault indicators may be included among the warning indicators which are used to alert operators to problems with the system.


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