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

13 Feb 2020 Licensed Electrician

In every building that uses electrical circuits, there is a system in place that 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 important to understand what the difference is between a fuse box and a circuit breaker to ensure you have the right system in place.

Differences Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers both have the same purpose: they interrupt the flow of electricity if a circuit becomes overloaded to prevent electrical hazards. Both systems are typically set up in a box that is located out of the way in a home or business and they can be manually reset to reinstate the flow of electricity through the circuit. In order to interrupt the flow of electricity, a fuse will melt and need to be replaced, 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 that is 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 are typically faster to interrupt the flow of electricity than circuit breakers, but not by much. For this reason, they are more commonly used in fine electronics, but less in buildings. Replacing a fuse is not too difficult, 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 that allows 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 flow of current. To reset a circuit breaker, the switch can simply be flipped back into place. 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.

If you would like to find out more about the difference between a fuse box and circuit breaker, or if you would like to learn more about the electrical services we provide, please contact Expert Electric at 604-681-8338.