What Is The Difference Between a Fuse and a Breaker?

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If you are new to learning about electrical services or just want a refresher on the difference between a fuse and a breaker, this is the perfect place to begin.

Fuses and breakers were designed to keep your home safe from an electrical fire that could be caused by an overload or another malfunction.

What Is A Fuse?

Electrical fuses are placed within a circuit as a weak point so that if a high electrical current from an overload or short circuit occurs, the fuse is sacrificed and melts or breaks the circuit it is in.

This eliminates the potential dangers to the electrical systems that electrical circuits have, like excessive temperatures and power surges.

Fuses tend to be in older homes and older electrical systems, but they’re usually still code compliant.

Fuse Box

Fuses are located in a metal box which is the central hub of the electrical system, where the incoming voltage is separated into various circuits. The fuse box supplies power to every electrical system in your home.

Fuse boxes have between six and 12 screw-in fuses and cartridge fuses. Depending on how old your home is and if the electrical system is updated, your fuse box will have a 60-amp or 200-amp capacity. Most residential electrical systems have a 200-amp total capacity today, but older systems will still have a 60-amp total capacity.

What Is A Breaker?

A circuit breaker is placed within the circuit in order to cut the power throughout the circuit when too much current is flowing through it until someone can fix the problem.

Circuit breakers reduce the possibility for shock or fire hazards to occur that result from wiring problems and equipment failures.

Breaker Box

Breakers are located in a circuit breaker panel, or breaker box, with all the wiring in the house running through it. It will usually have a dozen breaker switches that lead to various circuits in the house.

A single-pole breaker carries 120 volts of current that supplies most devices, whereas a double-pole breaker has two switches fused into one and carries a 240-volt current that supplies specialized outlets.

The Difference Between A Fuse And A Breaker

You may be saying to yourself that a fuse and a breaker are the same things, or at least perform the same goal which is to stop the flow of power through a circuit to prevent dangerous fires or other mayhem.

You would be correct in that they have the same goal, but these two devices solve the goal in different ways.

They both interrupt the flow of electricity through the electrical system, but fuses protect your home against overloading, whereas circuit breakers protect your home against overloading and short circuits. Additionally, fuses melt, whereas circuits trip.

Electrical fuses are metal filaments within the system that melt when the circuit is overloaded. This melting disconnects the sudden high current flow to the circuit, stopping the flow of power and preventing a potential fire.

When you were growing up, you may have heard someone say, “We blew a fuse,” when referring to why a portion of the power went out around the house. When a fuse has “blown,” it has melted due to a current overload.

Because the fuse melts to stop the current, fuses must be entirely replaced with a new fuse to reconstruct the flow of power.

Circuit breakers are a switch mechanism. When there is an overload condition within the circuit, the breaker will “trip” and stop the flow of current through the circuit to prevent electrical mayhem.

This a wonderful, updated alternative to the fuse because when a breaker is tripped, it just needs to be reset by triggering the switch. A fuse must be replaced, whereas the breaker just needs to be reset.

Still Not Sure The Difference Between A Fuse And A Breaker?

Fusion Electric would be thrilled to assist you and keep your home safe if you’re in the Overland Park or Kansas City Metro area and need help with repairing, replacing, upgrading, or installing new fuses or circuit breakers in your home.

We want to keep as many people safe from electrical fires and any electrical inconveniences as possible. Whether you want to upgrade your electrical panel or just have it looked at, we’re here for you.

Our qualified electricians will inspect and make valuable recommendations for your electrical system to ensure its efficiency and safety. Contact Kansas City Fusion Electric today to discuss the difference between a fuse and a breaker!

Jeff LeSuer avatar

Jeff LeSuer




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*Applies to labor only. Must mention coupon at time of service. All repairs and installations require a trip charge of $89. Not valid with other offers.


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*Applies to labor only. Must mention coupon at time of service. All repairs and installations require a trip charge of $89. Not valid with other offers.

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