Fuses and circuit breakers are part of any home or business that has electricity. These devices are extremely important to your safety, but what exactly are they?

It can be easy to take the technology around us for granted, and that includes the collection of strange switches in that metal box in the basement you never mess around with. You might have heard something about a “tripped circuit” or a “blown fuse,” possibly around the time the air conditioner shut off when someone plugged in a new appliance. But you might not be clear on what exactly these terms mean. Read on as we uncover the mysteries surrounding fuses and circuit breakers.

So What Exactly Are Fuses and Circuit Breakers?

Circuit breakers and fuses (which can sometimes be found instead of breakers) are safety mechanisms put in place to ensure you don’t exceed certain current limits. If the wiring in a building has too much electrical current moving through it, these devices stop the flow of electricity until you address the problem.

By interrupting the current, fuses and circuit breakers create what is called an “open circuit condition.” To put it simply, an open circuit is an electrical circuit with disconnected power sources — in other words, an open circuit will not work.

What Sets Fuses Apart from Circuit Breakers?

The main difference between the two devices is that fuses are typically single-use. If an issue comes up, or the electrical current passing through is too high, the fuse will become hot. It then melts, and in doing so it breaks the circuit until you resolve the issue and replace the old fuse with a new one. Circuit breakers are typically larger and more expensive, and unlike fuses they can be used multiple times. Breakers “trip” instead of melting and you can simply reset them afterward. Just make sure you have resolved the problem first!

Why Do We Need Fuses and Circuit Breakers?

Many of the luxuries we take for granted would be impossible if we didn’t have circuit breakers and fuses. Basic household electricity would be incredibly hazardous, as without these mechanisms there would be no safety measures to prevent wires and appliances from being overloaded by too much electrical current.

Equipment failures and wiring problems, which are simple matters to handle thanks to breakers and fuses, would become disastrous. Fires and other serious complications would break out, and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy many of the comforts made possible by the electricity readily available in our homes.

If you’re interested in learning more about fuses and circuit breakers, or if you want to make sure the mechanisms in your home are up to date, feel free to give our team of experts at Bryan Electric a call at (770) 680-2144.