The debate of fuse box vs. circuit breaker has been ongoing for quite some time. Both the devices protect your electrical appliances and, of course, you from accidents
One fundamental difference between fuse boxes and circuit breakers is their working principle and application. Additionally, both electrical devices have different pricing, response time, switching actions, and breaking capacity.
However, I’ll explore the different features of both fuse boxes and circuit breakers. So this will help you make an informed decision about which one works best for your needs.
What Is a Fuse Box & How Does It Work?
Fuse box is a part of the electrical panel to prevent anything from going wrong. This electronic device is located in the positive terminal that’s in charge of supplying power.
Sitting between the two power terminals is a simple piece of fuse wire that melts away when overheating. Hence, the fuse blows and cuts the power connection between the supply and the electrical appliances, ensuring safety.
You’ll see that different devices have specific power considerations. So, the fuses are made with such restrictions. When the power supply exceeds the input limit, the fuse melts away and disconnects the power supply, saving the device. It will allow the flow of electricity as long as it’s under the limit.
What Is a Circuit Breaker & How Does It Work?
Circuit breaker panel has the same functionality as its fuse box counterpart. However, there’s a not-so-subtle difference between the two. While the fuse box circuit is composed of a metal wire, the box circuit breaker has a switch mechanism.
Connecting an electrical breaker panel to a circuit and putting it in the ‘on’ position will allow the current to flow smoothly. However, when the load exceeds the designated position, leading to a short circuit, the box circuit breaker will turn off one of its two power strips, stopping the flow of electricity.
A circuit breaker prevents any electrical overload or short circuits in the electrical panel. Like their fuse counterparts, circuit breakers also carry a power rating.
The ones with comparatively lower power ratings are mostly found to protect individual devices, while the larger ones offer protection to entire households.
Electrical Fuse Box Vs Circuit Breaker: Difference
Both works to provide safety and prevent any hazard, but there are quite a few differences between them. For starters, circuit breakers can protect all the connected devices. In contrast, breaker panel fuses only tend to protect one device at a time.
Here are a few more differences between fuse boxes and circuit breakers.
You have to maintain both devices to have peak performance. However, the gap between their scheduled services varies. While you’ll need to perform periodic maintenance for fuse boxes every five years. Whereas a circuit breaker performs at its best with an inspection every three years.
Cost of Replacement
Since they’re comparatively older technology, finding fuse box replacement parts can be complex. Depending on the box’s size and the difficulty of finding the parts.
On the other hand, you can find circuit breakers’ parts relatively easily. However, they’ll set you back approximately 500 to 2000 USD. And if the breaker panel is a high-amp one, the cost can go up to 3000 USD!
Fuse boxes will cost you less compared to circuit breakers. When buying a fuse box, you can expect to pay around $20 to 100 dollars. In comparison, quality-rated circuit breakers tend to price between one $100 to five $500 dollars. You can find both products in any hardware store.
Circuit breaker has a mechanical function. When the power load exceeds the set limit, the breaker mechanically cuts the connection to prevent any problems.
Meanwhile, the fuse uses conducting materials that melt away for a tripped circuit when the system overloads. So you need to replace a fuse every time the conducting metal strip melts.
The response time of a fuse is much faster than a circuit breaker. Fuses can interrupt the flow of power in just 0.002 seconds, while circuit breakers typically take between 0.02 and 0.05 seconds to respond.
As you may have already guessed from the name, the circuit breaker is the winner in this term. Unlike its predecessor, the circuit breaker has a higher breaking capacity.
Pros and Cons
Both fuse boxes and circuit breakers are standard electrical installations. So let’s talk about what each of them has to offer to see which of them suits you the best.
Fuse Box Pros & Cons
- Lower price and replacement costs
- Lower maintenance frequency
- Higher response time
- Higher sensitivity often leads to frequent blowouts
- Not reusable
Circuit Breaker Pros & Cons
- It can be tested if it’s functioning perfectly, unlike fuse boxes
- Provides ground fault circuit protection
- Lower response time
Cost Comparison Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers
Replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker panel can be costly. On average, it costs between $200 and $2000 to upgrade an older home’s wiring system. Most professionals charge around $514 for these projects. However, a single fuse box can average cost $20-$100.
Additionally, replacing a circuit breaker switch costs between $500 and $3000, including parts and labor. This cost varies depending on the type of breaker being installed. For standard 15- to 20-amp circuit breakers usually go for $150 to $200.
Safety Considerations for each Device
Safety is always a top priority when it comes to electrical work. So fuse boxes and circuit breakers are important components of any home’s electrical system. So you should properly maintain them to keep everyone safe.
Pro Tips: To ensure safety while using fuse boxes and circuit breakers, make sure you hire a qualified electrician who is knowledgeable about these systems and capable of making sure they are installed properly.
Top Fuse & Circuit Breaker
Here’s our top pick for the fuse box and circuit breaker. No matter what you buy, you’ll be in safe hands.
Square D- HOM115PCAFIC Homeline Circuit Breaker – Best Cheap Circuit Breaker
The HOM115PCAFIC breaker unit is the best in the market. The circuit-breaker panel installation process is relatively easy thanks to its innovative design that features a neutral connection. In addition, the plug-n-play breaker panel allows you to directly connect to the neutral bar, eliminating any chances of loose connections.
Another fantastic feature of the HOM115PCAFIC breaker unit is its time-saver diagnostic feature. This feature helps the user identify the problem with just a touch of a button. So, you no longer have to search for the answer in the dark.
And with fewer and more organized connections, this ensures an unburdened gutter at the load center. So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one package, it can’t get any better than this!
Note– If you have a high budget, you can buy a QO120 Square D circuit breaker that is perfect for heavy use.
Blue Sea System ST Blade Fuse Blocks – Best Fuse Box
One common complaint about fuse boxes is that they tend to be messy and can be confusing. Not with the Blue Sea System ST Blade Fuse Blocks. This fuse set block merges branch circuits and offers a compact and organized setup to help users avoid tangling any connections.
With tin-plated copper covering, the fuse block can battle any element. Thus, it’s a perfect choice for vehicle and marine DC electrical systems.
The ST blade fuse box boasts the highest durability. Moreover, its unique design includes an especially designed fuse clip that can help keep the fuses steady in the bumpiest terrains, preventing any blowouts.
And with its stainless steel fasteners, the ST fuse block offers the most secure installation!
Our guide to choosing the correct circuit breaker size for your dryer can help you determine what size circuit breaker you need.
Quick Comparison Chart
|Factors||Fuse Box||Circuit Breaker|
|Schedule Service||On average every 5 years||On average every 3 to 5 years|
|Cost of Replacement||200 to 2000 dollars (depending on the fuse box size and difficulty to find replacement parts)||500 to 3000 dollars (depending on the amperage)|
|Price||20 to 100 dollars||100 to 200 dollars|
|Operating Principle||Melts away conducting material||Mechanically turns off the connection|
|Response Time||0.02 seconds||0.02 – 0.05 seconds|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, replacing your fuse box with a circuit breaker would be the best option. Circuit breakers are much more convenient, and you can easily replace them. On the contrary, fuse boxes will cost you more in the long run.
With modern technology, electrical experts consider fuse boxes to be outdated. So, you should update your fuse box to a circuit panel.
If your breaker unit keeps tripping, you should get it looked at since it usually means a problem in your electrical circuits. For example, the circuit is overloading, or there is a short circuit in any of the wirings.
Which is Better: Fuse Box or Circuit Breaker?
It depends on where you’re using it. Fuses offer faster protection. So, if you have sensitive electronic devices, it’s better to go with a fuse box.
On the other hand, circuit breakers are more suitable for three-phase applications. They’re more convenient since they don’t need to be replaced like a fuse box.
The Bottom Line
Both types of safety devices have something unique to offer and are essential. While fuse boxes have a lower upfront cost and faster reaction time. While circuit breakers can be more cost-saving in the long run and feature a higher breaking capacity.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect protection, don’t think of a fuse box vs circuit breaker. Instead, you can use a combination of both.
Having both of these appliances in just the right place can keep you and your family safe from any electrical hazards!
[Updated by Palash Talukder]