The Difference Between a Circuit Breaker & a Fuse Box


Circuit breaker panel inspectionOne 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 issues with your circuit breaker in Marietta or Atlanta? Call Lightning Bug Electric today at (404) 471-3847 or contact us online to schedule a service!

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