Encountering electrical devices and related accessories is a must for nearly everyone across their lifetime. As helpful as electricity has been to humans, protecting the users and electrical appliances remains a priority in the industry. Experts developed circuit breakers and fuse boxes for protection purposes, although with several differences that this blog will highlight.
Maybe have encountered a fuse box or circuit breaker but couldn’t differentiate between the two. Plenty of variations exist between fuse boxes and circuit breakers based on their areas of concentration, including mode of operation, cost, types, application, reusability, switching mechanism, breaking capacity, and more. The main difference, however, revolves around how the devices are operated.
Let’s learn about the differences in this fuse box vs circuit breaker guide:
What is a Fuse Box?
A fuse box refers to a central board for the entire electrical system, receiving power from the main supply and distributing it to the rest of the appliances and fixtures in a home.
There are two main fuse box types: the screw-in and the cylindrical fuse. The former is best suited for weaker appliances and fixtures, while the cylindrical one works best for massive loads such as ovens and dryers.
How Does a Fuse Box Work?
Different fuses join at a central metal-enclosed casing, the fuse box, which transfers the power to other home areas. The fuses are made with a ceramic or glass filament that melts automatically in circumstances of accidents or danger hence disconnecting power to the entire device and protecting it from damage.
This situation mainly occurs when the fuses overheat due to high power requirements by a particular device or area. Modern fuses have particular power considerations that are specific to different appliances. For example, the fuse should be more substantial than the device under discussion required to prevent overheating and related misfortunes.
What Is a Circuit Breaker?
Circuit breakers are switches that shield electrical devices and particular rooms against power overload and short circuits. They come in three major types, standard, AFCI, and GFCI circuit breakers, all suited for different conditions. A biometric strip is mechanically attached to the wiring connection in that it will disconnect the power in case of an incident by overheating and wrapping.
How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?
Most circuit breakers use two biometric strips connected under a standard power supply. The thinner strip overheats and wraps during power loading or short circuits, causing the switch to turn off and disconnect the power. You can also find some electromagnetic-powered circuit breakers which trip to switch themselves off and disconnect the power automatically.
Just like fuse boxes, circuit breakers have different strengths. For instance, larger or high-rated circuit breakers are best known to protect the entire or a more significant part of a household, while the small/low-rated ones work best with individual appliances.
Even better, circuit breakers can be re-used as it works by tripping and disconnecting the power rather than overheating or melting down. Their reusability makes them more expensive to purchase and install than fuse boxes.
Fuse Box vs Circuit Breaker
Unlike circuit breakers, fuses protect particular electronic devices from damage, carrying a lower breaking capacity than the former. The cost of fuse boxes is relatively low and thus affordable even for households with various appliances.
While fuse boxes and circuit breakers are known for protection against electrical malfunction and high voltage, the latter provides quicker services than their counterpart. Fuse boxes are affordable across nearly all hardware and electrical stores.
Another crucial difference between fuse boxes and circuit breakers is that the former doesn’t employ the ON/OFF switching mechanism. They also take an average of 0.002 seconds to detect an interruption and act accordingly.
In addition, fuse boxes and fuses are automated to respond to various electrical issues, although they can be operated mechanically when the electricians need to re-fix them. They strictly work depending on the heating properties of the conducting material.
Unfortunately, fuse boxes and fuses cannot be re-used whenever they melt down, overheat, or function slower than usual. You can only replace the fuse with a new, more advanced one to prevent further disasters. Even better, you can hire an experienced home electrician to replace the fuse box and fuses on your behalf.
Fuse boxes don’t require occasional maintenance. Replacing fuses and boxes is less expensive than circuit breakers. You can acquire fuse boxes in different voltage levels to serve your electrical needs effectively. However, most insurance companies barely cover homes with fuse boxes due to the high risk of fire accidents.
Circuit breakers have a higher breaking capacity than fuse boxes, meaning they might be the best for a commercial structure. Most electricians accompany circuit breakers with simple ON/OFF switches for more straightforward operation in case of an incident. The devices take between 0.02-0.05 seconds to respond and act accordingly.
Several cases of power loading and short-circuiting can wear out the circuit breaker, requiring total replacement. Their slower response time during a power surge could damage appliances and electronics.
Another advantage of a circuit breaker is that the breaker box conceals the other electrical accessories, making it safe for pets, kids, and inexperienced persons. Again, you can effortlessly label every switch with its corresponding circuit for easier identification.