Expert Electrical

What is the Difference Between a Fuse Box and Circuit Breaker?

Feb 13, 2020 | Licensed Electrician Tips, Residential Electricity

In every building that uses electrical circuits, a system shuts off the power flowing through a circuit in the event of an overload. The two systems used to do this in most homes and businesses are fuses and circuit breakers. At Expert Electric, we know that it is essential to understand the difference between a fuse box and a circuit breaker to ensure you have the right system in place.

Differences Between Fuse Box and Circuit Breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers serve the same fundamental purpose: safeguarding electrical circuits from overload conditions that could lead to electrical hazards. When a circuit experiences an excessive current flow, both devices interrupt or “trip” the circuit, halting the flow of electricity.

While fuses achieve this by melting a thin wire inside the fuse when overloaded, requiring replacement, circuit breakers accomplish the same task by switching off the circuit mechanically or electronically. Circuit breakers offer the advantage of resettability, eliminating the need for replacement after a trip.

Whether using fuses or circuit breakers, ensuring proper functioning is crucial for maintaining electrical safety in homes and buildings. Regular inspection and maintenance of these protective devices help mitigate the risk of electrical fires and other hazards associated with overloaded circuits.

What is the Difference Between a Fuse Box and Circuit Breaker

Both systems are typically set up in a box located out of the way in a home or business and can be manually reset to reinstate the flow of electricity through the circuit. A fuse will melt and need to be replaced to interrupt the flow of electricity, while a circuit breaker will simply flip a switch that can be switched back once the problem is solved.

What are Fuses?

Fuses come in a variety of types, sizes, and shapes. They are typically made from a filament enclosed in glass, ceramic, and metal. If the circuit is overloaded, the filament will melt, and the electricity will cease to flow. Fuses can only be used once and must be replaced when they blow out. Fuses typically interrupt the flow of electricity faster than circuit breakers, but not by much. For this reason, they are more commonly used in delicate electronics but less in buildings. Replacing a fuse is relatively easy, but most modern buildings opt to use circuit breakers for the sake of simplicity.

What are Circuit Breakers?

Circuit breakers use either an electromagnet or a bi-metal strip, allowing an electrical circuit to pass between terminals. If the current running through the circuit becomes strong enough, the electromagnet pulls a metal lever in the switch, or the metal strip bends and stops the current flow. The switch can simply be flipped back into place to reset a circuit breaker. This simplicity and the ability to get nearly unlimited uses out of the same circuit breaker usually makes them preferable to fuses for building applications.

What is the Difference Between a Fuse Box and Circuit Breaker

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