Fuses vs. Circuit Breakers

A fuse is a small glass or plastic tube that contains a piece of wire. That wire is carefully calibrated so that it will only allow a certain level of current to pass through it. Any more, and the wire will melt from the heat, breaking the circuit. This means that if a power surge comes into your home, a circuit will be broken before it causes damage to your appliances.

Typically fuses are inexpensive and can be purchased at any local hardware store. Overloads are handled quickly which means great protection to your sensitive electronic devices and appliances. However, if the circuit is more likely to have a surge, fuses can blow regularly which means more money is spent on replacements.

A circuit breaker achieves the same thing, but by a different method. A circuit breaker also disconnects the circuits in your home if the current gets too large but does it using electromagnets. If the current gets high enough, then the electromagnet will become powerful enough to attract a contact and break the circuit that way.

Circuit breaker boxes are much more expensive to install, repair, or replace, and they typically take a longer time to react during a surge which can mean some damage makes its way to your electronic equipment. However, when these are tripped, the switch that controls that flow of electricity can simply be turned back on rather than having to replace the entire fuse. This also means they can easily be turned off when repairs or additional work needs to be done in the home.

If you have an appliance with a metal case and that appliance comes in contact with a live wire, it can cause you to electrocute yourself. If that metal case is connected to a ground wire (the third pin in some plugs), then the electricity will flow through the ground wire, through the circuit breaker or fuse box, and break the circuit, stopping you from potentially getting electrocuted.

The availability of both fuses and circuit breakers on the market is a clear sign that for any given project, the selection to use either a circuit breaker or a fuse set will remain the decision of the licensed electrician. Typically, things such as panel cost, manufacturing costs, service requirements, and space availability will play a big part in the selection process than the actual electrical characteristics of the circuit.

Contact Nipper Electric today and let our professional team help you come to the right conclusion as to which style of circuit protection works for you. With over 20 years of experience, we pride ourselves on our commitment to customer service and to ensuring you get the right job done the first time around.