Fuse Box Vs Circuit Breaker: Which Is Better?

The debate of fuse box vs. circuit breaker has been ongoing for quite some time now. Both the devices protect your electrical appliances and, of course, you from accidents. Hence, it would be best to choose between using either fuse boxes or circuit breakers.

One fundamental difference between fuse boxes and circuit breakers lies in their working principle and application. Apart from that, both devices have different pricing, response time, switching actions, and breaking capacity.

Ideally, your home should have both of these, and you’d have to decide when and where to use either of the devices. While the newer houses come with circuit breaker panels, homes built prior to 1960 tend to have a fuse box installed instead.

You can read Surge Protector Vs Circuit Breaker: Know The Differences

What Is a Fuse Box & How Does It Work?

The fuse 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.

Fuse Box

Sitting between the two power terminals, it’s a simple piece of fuse wire that melts away when overheated. Hence, the device 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. But don’t worry. The fuse will allow the flow of electricity as long as it’s under the limit.

What Is a Circuit Breaker & How Does It Work?

The circuit breaker panel also 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 wire, the box circuit breaker is an electrical switch.

Circuit Breaker

When you connect the breaker electrical panel to a circuit and put it in the ‘on’ position, it’ll allow current to flow through 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. This prevents any circuit overload orshort 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.

Fuse Box Vs Circuit Breaker: Differences

While both the devices work to provide safety and prevent any hazard, there are quite a few differences between the two. For starters, circuit breakers can provide protection to 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.

Schedule Service

Both the safety devices need to be maintained to have peak performance. However, the gap between their scheduled services varies.

While you’ll need to perform periodic maintenance for fuse boxes once every five years, the box circuit performs at its best with an inspection every three years.

And if the circuit breaker is a low-voltage one, it’s best to retard the gap to once every one to three years.

Cost of Replacement

Since they’re comparatively older technology, finding fuse box replacement parts can be difficult. Depending on the box’s size and the difficulty of finding the parts, your replacement costs for a blown fuse can vary from 200 USD to 2000 USD

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 panelis a high-amp one, the cost can go up to 3000 USD!

Price

Fuse boxes will cost you less compared to circuit breakers.

When buying a fuse box, you can expect to pay from around $20 to a 100 dollars. Whereas, a good rated circuit breakers tend to price between one hundred to five hundred dollars.

Operating Principle

The circuit breaker has a mechanical function. When the power load exceeds the set limit, the breaker mechanically cuts the connection to prevent any problem.

Meanwhile, the fuse uses conducting materials that melt away for a tripped circuit when the system overloads.

Response Time

Fuse boxes can respond to any overload within 0.02 seconds. On the other hand, the timing of the breaker can vary from 0.02 to 0.05 seconds.

Breaking Capacity

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.

Fuse Box vs Circuit Breakers: Pros and Cons

Both fuse boxes and circuit breakers are standard electrical installations. Let’s talk about what each of them has to offer to see which of them suits you the best.

Fuse Box

There’s an adage that goes, ‘Old is gold.’ Let’s see if that stands true for fuse circuit breakers.

Pros
  • Lower response time
  • Lower price and replacement costs
  • Lower maintenance frequency
Cons
  • Higher sensitivity often leads to frequent blowouts
  • Not reusable

Circuit Breaker

All the newly-built houses use circuit breakers instead of fuse boxes. But what made them choose the electrical panels over the amp fuse? Let’s find out!

Pros
  • Reusable
  • Can be tested if it’s functioning perfectly, unlike fuse boxes
  • Provides ground fault circuit protection
Cons
  • Higher response time

Top Fuse & Circuit Breaker

Here’s our pick for the best fuse box and circuit breaker. No matter which you end up buying, you’ll be in safe hands.

Square D- HOM115PCAFIC Homeline Circuit Breaker – Best Cheap Circuit Breaker

The HOM115PCAFIC breaker unit is the best unit in the market. Thanks to its innovative design that features a neutral connection, the circuit breaker panel installation process is as easy as it gets. The plug-n-play breaker panel allows you to directly connect to the neutral bar, eliminating any chances of callbacks from 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 high budget, you can buy QO120 Square D circuit breaker that is perfect for hevy 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 elements. 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 right size of a circuit breaker for your dryer can help you determine what size circuit breaker you need.

Fuse Box vs. Circuit Breaker: Quick Comparison Chart

While we advise that you go through the entire article to understand the topic completely, we understand that not everyone has the time to do so.

For those of you, we’ve made a quick comparison chart about fuse panel vs. circuit breaker. Let’s go!

FactorsFuse BoxCircuit Breaker
Schedule ServiceEvery five yearsEvery three to five years
Cost of Replacement200 to 2000 dollars (depending on the fuse box size and difficulty to find replacement parts)500 to 3000 dollars (depending on the amperage)
Price20 to 100 dollars100 to 500 dollars
Operating PrincipleMechanically turns off the connection Melts away conducting material to sever the connection
Response Time0.02 seconds0.02 – 0.05 seconds
Breaking CapacitySmallLarge

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I replace my fuse box with a circuit breaker?

Yes, you should replace your fuse box with a circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are much more convenient, and they can easily be replaced.

On the contrary, fuse boxes will cost you more in the long run.

Do I need to update my fuse box to a circuit panel?

With modern technology, electrical experts consider fuse boxes to be outdated. So, you should update your fuse box to a circuit panel.

Should you upgrade your fuse box to an electrical panel?

If you live in an older home, maybe built before 1960, chances are your house has a fuse box. In that case, you should consider an upgrade to a more advanced electrical panel since it’s safer.

My circuit breaker keeps tripping; why?

If your breaker unit keeps tripping, you should get it looked at since it usually means that there’s a problem in your electrical circuit. There’s a possibility that one of the devices has short-circuited, the circuit is overloading or any other reasons.

Which is Better: Fuse Box or Circuit Breaker?

There’s no one absolute answer to this question. It depends on where you’re using it.
Fuses offer faster protection. So, if you’re using a sensitive electronic device, 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 important. While fuse boxes have a lesser upfront cost and faster reaction time, 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, but you can use a combination of the fuse box and circuit breaker.

By having both of these appliances in just the right place, you can keep both you and your family safe from any electrical hazards!

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