What Is the Difference Between Circuit Breakers & Fuses?


If you’re a homeowner, you know that electrical safety is a top priority. One important aspect of electrical safety is ensuring that your electrical system is protected from electrical problems such as overloads and short-circuiting. This is where circuit breakers and fuses come in. Both circuit breakers and fuses are designed to protect your electrical system from interrupting the flow of electricity in the event of an overload or short circuit. While both devices serve the same basic function, there are some key differences between them, which are important to be aware of. In this blog post, our home safety experts explore the differences between the two and help you decide which one is the best option for your property.

The Key Differences Between Fuses & Circuit Breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers are both safety devices that protect electrical systems from overloading and potentially causing fires or other hazards. When properly installed, both can provide effective protection against electrical faults. However, there are several differences between each system that you should consider before installation.

Here’s a list of the main differences between circuit breakers and fuses:

  • Response time: Fuses tend to blow more quickly in response to overloads or short circuits, while circuit breakers may have a slight delay before tripping. In general, the response time for a fuse is 0.002 seconds and the response time for a circuit breaker is 0.02 – 0.05 seconds.
  • Reset ability: Circuit breakers can be easily reset after a trip, with just the flip of a switch. Fuses, on the other hand, must be replaced once they blow.
  • Cost: In general, fuses are less expensive than circuit breakers, both in terms of the initial purchase and for replacement. However, since fuses must be replaced every time they blow, this cost can add up over time.
  • Sensitivity: Fuses tend to be more sensitive to overloads and short circuits than circuit breakers, meaning they will blow more quickly in response to these events. Circuit breakers may have a slight delay before tripping but can often be adjusted for different levels of sensitivity.
  • Capacity: While the capacity of each type of system varies depending on size, rating, and design, circuit breakers generally have a higher capacity than fuses. This is because circuit breakers are designed to be resettable and reusable and can handle larger surges of electricity without needing to be replaced.
  • Maintenance: Circuit breakers generally require less maintenance than fuses since they can be reset after tripping. However, it is still important to periodically inspect circuit breakers to ensure they’re functioning properly. Regular inspections are also needed for fuses to check for signs of wear or damage.

Which One Is Better?

It’s difficult to say which one is considered better between circuit breakers and fuses, as each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In general, circuit breakers are a more modern and convenient option, as they can be reset after tripping and require less maintenance than fuses. However, fuses are often more sensitive to overloads and may provide better protection for smaller electrical systems or individual appliances. Ultimately, the choice between circuit breakers and fuses will depend on factors like your budget, the size and complexity of your electrical system, and your personal preferences.

Do I Need Both a Fuse & a Circuit Breaker?

Since fuses and circuit breakers provide similar protection against electrical faults, it is not necessary to have both devices in the same electrical system. However, in some cases, both a circuit breaker and a fuse may be used in the same electrical system for added protection against potential hazards.

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Whether you’re embarking on an electrical remodeling project or building a new home, Lightning Bug Electric is here to help with all of your electrical installation needs. Our skilled and experienced electricians offer service panel upgrades to ensure your home’s electrical system is designed to meet your electrical needs safely and efficiently.

Give us a call at (404) 471-3847 to learn more. We look forward to serving you!