Are you looking for a contractor?

Submit our quick form and get quotes now!

Table of Contents

Renovation tips

4 min read

The Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Renovation tips

4 min read

The Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Renovation tipsThe Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Although hidden behind the scenes, both fuses and circuit breakers run the central electrical operations while they serve to protect your home as well as your family. Both work to defend against an overloaded electrical circuit by interrupting the flow of electricity.

However, their interpretations vary greatly, and understanding their differences for interrupting power is fundamental to know the advantages and disadvantages of having either in your home.

How do Fuses Work?

Electrical fuse_The Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Source : Flickr, Richard

A fuse is made up of a piece of metal that melts when overheated and works on the electrical and thermal properties of the conducting material. Fuses are quicker at interpreting the flow of power than a circuit breaker. However, while circuit breaks can simply be reset, fuses are one-time-use and need to be replaced after they melt.

The type of fuse used will depend on whether the fuse is being used in a residential or commercial environment. The most common fuse consists of a metal or wire filament enclosed in a glass or ceramic and metal casing. In your home, fuses can be found in the central fuse box.

When all is well with your home's electricity flow, the fuse allows power to pass unobstructed, moving across its filament and between circuits. If there is too much power heading towards a source, the filament will melt to stop electricity from flowing. Unfortunately, the filaments in common fuses melt very easily so any surge in power is quickly halted. Luckily, there are different types of voltages and ratings that can take on different capacities of electricity.

How do Circuit Breakers Work?

Electric panel circuit breaker_The Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Source : Flickr, Todd Lappin

A circuit breaker is a multiple-use device working on the electromechanical principles and has two methods of operation. It either operates with an electromagnet (solenoid) or a bi-metal strip. In both cases, the design is the same: when turned on, electrical currents pass through the breaker from a bottom to an upper terminal across the solenoid or strip. When a current is too strong, reaching levels that are unsafe, the magnetic force of the solenoid activates the metal lever within the switch mechanism, breaking the electrical current.

Unlike fuses, which melt and must be replaced, the circuit breaker can be reconnected by turning the switch back on. This switch action is also convenient if you're planning to work on wiring and need to isolate a part of the home's electricity as a result.

A circuit breaker can also perform a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) which is a function that can prevent electric shock and is particularly useful in rooms such as the bathroom or kitchen where electrocution can be risky.

circuit breakers_The Difference Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Fuses VS Circuit Breakers

The advantages and disadvantages of choosing between a fuse and a circuit breaker are wholly dependent on how they will be used.

Fuses are initially the inexpensive method and can be found at your local hardware store. They are very quick to react, and thus, offer protection to delicate electronic devices. However, if a circuit is prone to surges, fuses will blow regularly and this will lead to frequent replacement.

Replacing a fuse can be challenging, as it needs to be performed immediately and this is not always possible. Also, replacing a fuse yourself needs to be done carefully, including paying special attention to the correct voltage or current rating required. Additionally, any exposed electrical connections can be a danger to someone not trained in wiring electronics.

The circuit breaker's most important advantage is how easily it can be reset, as it is usually initially clear which switch has been tripped. Obviously, flicking a switch doesn't require someone with an electrical engineering background to complete, so this option is safer for this reason.

A further reason why a circuit breaker is much safer for the homeowner is that there is little possibility of choosing the incorrect fuse rating. The disadvantages to using a circuit breaker include both size and cost.

They are far larger and more expensive than fuses to install, maintain and repair. Further, circuit breakers do not react as quickly as fuses, and thus, can damage appliances and electronics.

Keep in mind when weighing out the pros and cons of these two that they are not always interchangeable! If you're considering installing one or the other, it is recommended that you get a professional opinion regarding which one might be right for your home.

Disclaimer: All tasks that touch on electricity are very risky and should be completed under the safest conditions. Additionally, in certain parts of Canada, only certified electricians are allowed to do this type of work. Please check before you do any electrical work yourself.

Read our article to know how to reduce electricity consumption.

Get 3 renovation quotes from qualified electricians to fix your electrical panel will put you in contact with 3 reliable electricians to fix your electrical panel. Fill in the form on our homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will receive quotes from trusted professionals.

Dial 1-844 828-1588 to speak with one of our customer service representatives

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Last modified 2023-11-07

List of sources

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Looking for something else?

Table of contents

Get 3 free quotes for your project!

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes!

Are you a contractor?

Join our network and receive real leads!

Download the price guide for renovations

We’ll be emailing you the latest market price guide for renovations.

Related articles

The latest industry news, interviews, technologies, and resources.

9 min read

Karine Dutemple • 07 Nov 2023

Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

It should come as no surprise that the roof of your home is one of the most integral and important parts. A well-maintained, beautiful roof is essential for keeping interior temperatures regulated.

4 min read

Amanda Harvey • 07 Nov 2023

How to Install an Air Barrier

When building a new home, air barriers are not always part of the equation. However, air barriers are crucial structures that assist in aiding with energy efficiency as well as maintaining a comfortable and cozy home environment.

6 min read

Amanda Harvey • 07 Nov 2023

Maintenance Tips for Bathroom Tiles

Tiles come in all kinds of colours, shapes and sizes, keeping bathroom floors waterproof and beautiful. However, like any home surface, they need proper maintenance to uphold their elegance while preventing cracking, mould or mildew growth.

4 min read

N/A • 24 Apr 2024

Renovation projects which require an engineer

When it comes to large-scale renovations, there is plenty of potential to build in a way that enriches the lives of your family and loved ones. Of course, not everyone is well versed in the inner workings of home renovation. If the project is too big to tackle as a DIY job, you might be considering who you can hire to help things run as smoothly as possible. Working with an engineer will offer a way to avoid mishaps and make sure that the structure of your home isn't compromised.

7 min read

N/A • 07 Nov 2023

Kitchen Backsplash Price Guide

The kitchen backsplash plays a role that is both practical and aesthetical. It is used to protect the walls that are often exposed to our creative culinary impulses (who hasn't sent tomato sauce flying all over the walls before?). A backsplash is also a visual element that can be used to create a cohesive look in the room, bringing together the upper and lower cabinets, as well as the counter.

Looking for a contractor?

Submit a project and get 3 free quotes now!