One of the most critical components of a home’s electrical system
is the circuit breaker panel or fuse box. While both circuit breakers
and fuses are designed to perform the same job, there are some key differences
in the way they function. These days, circuit breaker panels are the option
of choice for new home construction.
What Do Fuses & Circuit Breakers Actually Do?
Think of a fuse or circuit breaker as power protection. Essentially, both
of these devices are designed to physically break an electrical connection
if too much power starts to flow through it. For fuses, there is a filament
inside which will physically burn up to break the electrical circuit –
this is the source of the phrase, “blowing your fuse.”
Circuit breakers, on the other hand, generally work through the use of
an electromagnet. When the electricity exceeds a specified level, the
power of the electromagnet becomes so great that it pulls a lever or bends
a metal strip to break the connection.
The Advantages of Circuit Breaker Panels
When you look at the way fuses and circuit breakers work, it becomes clear
that circuit breakers have some inherent advantages over fuses. Perhaps
the biggest of these advantages is that with a circuit breaker, the connection
is only broken temporarily, and the switch can be easily reset. Fuses,
on the other hand, become physically damaged when too much current flows
through them, so they must be replaced to restore power.
Any homeowner with a circuit breaker panel has undoubtedly “popped”
one of these breakers at some point, usually from plugging in too many
electronic devices. You can usually easily see which breaker is popped,
allowing you to quickly reset it and restore electricity.
The Advantages of Fuses
Fuse boxes aren’t as commonly used anymore, for both convenience
and safety reasons (fuses aren’t especially dangerous, but some
DIY folks foolishly try to replace them with tinfoil or wires to keep
power flowing). However, they are more sensitive than circuit breakers,
making them the ideal choice for particularly delicate applications.
Which Option is Right for Me?
For homeowners, you’re generally best served by sticking with your
home’s original power protection system, unless it’s dangerous
or is experiencing issues. If you do need to replace your power protection,
a circuit breaker panel will likely be the best all-around option. Regardless
of what your electrical needs may be, you can count on the experienced
team at Lightning Bug Electric to get the job done right.
Having electricity issues?
Call our expert Marietta electricians at (404) 471-3847 today!