Whether it’s your home or office, the proper regulation of electricity is necessary to maintain safety. Overloads can damage not only your wires and appliances but also cause electric fires.
That is why we have fuses and circuit breakers. While the two differ in many ways, fuses and circuit breakers serve the same function, namely, to interrupt electricity flow in a power surge.
Today, we will discuss the similarities and differences between fuses and circuit breakers so you can choose the best option for electrical repairs or a wiring service.
A fuse is a piece of metal or filament that melts due to overheating during a surge. This interrupts the flow of power. Once dissolved, you will have to replace the fuse with a new one to restore your building’s electricity.
The metal or filament is usually enclosed in a ceramic/glass and metal casing. You can locate your home’s fuse in the central fuse box. This is where the wiring passes through. The fuse enables electricity to pass across the filament between circuits. But if there’s an overload, the fuse melts and immediately stops the flow of electricity.
You will then have to discard the fuse and replace it. There are different types of fuses on the market, both for residential and commercial applications. It is recommended that you get a fuse rated a bit higher than the normal operating current.
Breakers have an internal switch that trips when there’s a power overload. All you have to do is reset the switch to restore power. This makes circuit breakers favorable for homeowners.
Depending on the type of breaker you have installed, the current will pass through an electromagnet or a bi-metal strip. Once the current reaches dangerous levels, the magnetic force breaks the current by throwing a metal lever in the switch mechanism.
Alternately, the metal strip in the circuit breaker can bend, tripping the switch and breaking the connection.
To reset the flow of electricity, you just have to turn the switch back on. Many buildings have a breaker box for individual switches, and the breaker is usually located inside this cabinet.
Circuit breakers also prevent electric shocks by acting as ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). That is why circuit breakers are ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas of your home where there is a risk of electrocution from water sources.
Which One To Choose?
There are a couple of things to consider when choosing between a fuse and a circuit breaker.
Fuses are cheaper of the two and are readily available at most hardware stores. Breakers are relatively more expensive to install and replace.
- Ease of Use
A fuse has to be replaced after a power surge, which may be difficult and dangerous in a dark room. And what if a replacement isn’t available? Compared to this, breakers are easier to handle once installed.
Finally, breakers and fuses cannot be used interchangeably for the same application. For instance, fuses are better suited to protect sensitive electronic devices. Breakers, on the other hand, are better for applications that require GFCI.