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Circuit Breakers Versus Fuses: Which Are Right for You?

Circuit Breakers Versus Fuses: Which Are Right for You?

As a homeowner, you may not think about your electrical panel until you accidentally overload a circuit and blow a fuse or trip a circuit breaker. When judging circuit breakers versus fuses, it must be acknowledged that they serve the same basic purpose: to disrupt electrical current in order to prevent a short circuit or an overload of the electrical system. On the other hand, they work in different ways to achieve their shared purpose. Thus, when you are thinking about circuit breakers versus fuses, you need to decide which is best for your own individual circumstances.


An electrical fuse is a disposable component that monitors the electrical current that flows through it - and the circuit it protects. If the amperage in the current exceeds the rating for the fuse, a metal strip that connects the two ends of the fuse will melt and blow the fuse. Once a fuse is blown, it can no longer be used and must be replaced. This adds a continuing cost component to homes that still use a fuse box.

Fuses are used less frequently these days in the Atlanta area - and in new homes, almost never. However, many older homes with fuse boxes still have not been upgraded, so it’s not too unusual to see them. One advantage that fuses have over circuit breakers is that the system itself is less expensive to install.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers, on the other hand, are attached to switches that can be reset without having to a remove or replace a component. Rather than having a strip that melts and blows the circuit, an overload in the system simply flips a switch and breaks the circuit. To restore power, you simply flip the switch back in place - after you’ve disconnected the elements that overloaded the circuit in the first place.

Circuit Breakers Versus Fuses

If you’re installing a new system, circuit breakers are typically the better choice. They can be reset easily without replacing anything. When you have fuses, you not only have the cost of purchasing replacements, but you risk the unfortunate instance blowing a fuse with no replacements on hand.

If your home has a fuse box already installed, you must consider the cost of replacement versus the benefits of the breaker system. You’ll save some money when you no longer have to buy new fuses. However, the amount you’ll save will likely not off-set the upgrade cost. The convenience of a modern breaker system may make the upgrade worth it.

This type of work should not be attempted as a DIY project. If you think that your current fuse system should be upgraded - or you’d like an evaluation of your current system - contact Casteel Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing for a consultation.