Electrical fuses and circuit breakers cut off electricity if they sense danger in the circuit. However, that is where the similarity stops; the older fuse boxes are markedly different from circuit breakers in many ways. Below are some of the main differences between the two.
The operating principle of an electrical fuse depends on the heating capacity of the fuse material. If the fuse is exposed to an electrical current beyond its limit, the fuse material heats up and burn. That way, the fuse opens up the circuit to prevent further flow of electricity and protect the circuit.
The operating principle of a circuit breaker depends on an electromechanical switch. If the circuit breaker is exposed to electrical overload, the switch opens to prevent further flow of electricity.
The electrical fuse mainly protects your house from electrical overload. For example, if a downed power line sends too much electricity into your house, the fuse detects the overload and burns to prevent further flow of electricity. The circuit breaker also protects your house from an electricity overload, but it does more than that. The circuit breaker will also open up the circuit if it detects an electrical short circuit. For example, if two wires accidentally come into contact within an outlet, the circuit breaker opens up the switch to prevent electrical damage or injury.
The operating time of the fuse is much faster than that of a circuit breaker. Both of them work pretty fast, but even a marginal difference can mean the difference between electrical damage and safety if you are dealing with a lot of power. Speedy action is more desirable when dealing with highly sensitive equipment.
A circuit breaker can work again and again because you just reset it (to close the switch) once it trips. This is because its operating principle is just that of opening and closing a switch. However, the situation is much different from that of a fuse that burns up and cannot be reused. You need to replace the fuse each time it blows.
The initial cost of a fuse is less than that of a circuit breaker. In the long run, however, the circuit breaker is likely to be cheaper than the fuse because you just reset the breaker while you have to replace the fuse.
You don't have to stick to one protection system. If you have a fuse, as is common with many old homes, an electrician can upgrade it to a circuit breaker.
For more information, reach out to an electrician today.