Are Fuses And Circuit Breakers Different?

circuit breaker

Fuses and circuit breakers both provide electrical protection for the home. It’s essential to have one or the other to protect the home or business from electrical overloads. Though they both do essentially the same thing, they use different methods. Fuses and circuit breakers are not the same, and it’s important to know the difference when choosing between the two. Here are the differences between the two and what protection they can provide. 

Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker works using both an electromagnet and a bi-metal strip. The breaker is put in place to allow the electricity to flow through when it is on. When the power level becomes too high, the magnetic force moves a lever switch in the mechanism and breaks the circuit. This switch cuts the flow of electricity through the mechanism and the house or business. The bi-metal strip method uses a flexible strip that will bend to switch the lever and cut the current of electricity similarly. Circuit breakers cut the flow but only need to be reset to restore it to normal.


Fuses consist of a metal filament inside a casing made of glass or metal. The power comes into t home or business through a fuse box that contains one of these fuses. The current flows through the fuse and across the filament, providing electricity to the building. If too much power comes through the fuse box, it will melt the fuse and stop the current. Fuses help prevent power surges as the overflow stops once the fuse melts. 


Fuses are a faster option as they rely only on the speed of melting. This option is advantageous because it offers speedier protection than a circuit breaker. The downside is that every time a fuse protects the home and melts, it is destroyed and has to be replaced. A circuit breaker may take longer to respond to a surge because it must flip a switch, but that switch doesn’t require replacing every time.


A circuit breaker is the more expensive of the two systems. It requires more components and a complex electrical system. It also may cost more in damages if it does not respond fast enough to a surge and some electronics are affected.


Circuit breakers protect the home against both electrical surges and short circuits. Fuses only protect against overloads as they react to the influx of power and melt to stop its flow.


Circuit breakers use heavy electrical equipment and high electrical loads. Fuses are used in electronics with lower electrical load and lower currents. If the home or business has a higher power load, it will likely be too much for a fuse system. 

Let An Electrician Decide

While it is good to understand the differences between these two options, choosing the correct one for your situation is more critical. While both have their uses, they aren’t interchangeable. Making the wrong choice can be costly and dangerous. To find out which is the right choice for your property, call Brunelli Electric and let us decide. Our professionals can prevent catastrophic damage to your home and avoid risking harm to family and pets. Contact us to speak with an experienced electrician who can determine the best choice for your property and assist with safe and efficient installation. Give us a call today at 508-400-5571!

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