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a fuse box

Fuse vs Circuit Breaker: Which is Best for Your Home?

Many people know what happens when you want to run the toaster, microwave, vacuum, and TV all at once. You typically find yourself with nothing running and on an adventure to the basement to swap a fuse. You get there and find you don't have a fuse, and the adventure continues to the store!

Of course, this isn't always the case, but it can happen. Worse yet, you might find a different fuse that fits just fine, but it might be for a different circuit. It should be fine, though, right? Quite the opposite. You may find yourself with an even bigger problem in the future!

The general trend in homes is exchanging fuses for breakers as they provide reliable electrical safety with better convenience and fewer chances for user errors. This blog will explain the shortcomings of fuses, why breakers are a better alternative, and what to expect if you intend to make the switch.

What is a fuse in a circuit?

Fuses are inherently safe but carry some risk. When there is an electrical overload in the circuit, the metal strip inside the fuse's cartridge melts and breaks the circuit. With your appliances now protected, you can replace the fuse. It is in that replacement that the risk appears.

If you touch the metal contacts of the fuse or panel, you could get shocked and injured. The other primary concern is using the wrong size fuse or something other than a fuse that still closes the circuit. This frequently happens, often by accident, and increases the risk of overheating wires, melting, fire, and damaged appliances.

To prevent issues, licensed electrical contractors (LECs) must now follow specific rules when working on fuse boxes. For example, LECs must install fuse rejectors if adding a circuit to a fuse box. As the name suggests, the rejector will refuse improper fuses or other items placed in the fuse's housing.

These risks have influenced insurance companies to require homeowners to upgrade their fuse boxes to breaker panels. Even though fuses provide sufficient electrical protection, the potential for user error makes them a less desirable choice to insure.

a fuse panel

What is the difference between fuses and circuit breakers?

Circuit breakers and fuses serve the same function. They are part of your electrical panel and are wired to the circuits in your home. If they sense any overflow in power, they will "break" the circuit to protect your wires and appliances.

The major difference between circuit breakers and fuses is that you do not have to replace breakers every time they interrupt the circuit. They stay in your electrical panel and flip off to interrupt power when overflow occurs.

To reset breakers, they must be flipped entirely off, then flipped back on to get the circuit back to restore power. This simple process reduces the inconvenience and risks of fuses and keeps both you and your insurance company happy.

In the past, some breakers wouldn't always trip when they were supposed to. They couldn't protect the home if they didn't break the circuit! Fortunately, that is much less of an issue as the standards and quality of breakers have vastly improved.

What does an electrical panel replacement cost?

The type of electrical panel upgrade you may need depends on your home. If you live in a house, then a standard panel upgrade is what you will need. A LEC will arrive at your home, disassemble your old fuse box, replace it with a new breaker box, and install and reconnect the new breakers to your circuits.

A panel upgrade typically costs between $1200-$1700.

There is another process if you live in an apartment building or condo where your panel is built into a wall. Panel replacement, as described above, would cause damage to your walls and wouldn't look too nice. Fortunately, breaker panel manufacturers offer retrofit kits that make the job as simple as pulling out the old components of the existing fuse box and installing and wiring the breaker hardware.

Due to less labour and parts, a panel retrofit typically costs about $900.

An updated electrical panel

Breakers protect your home from electrical overflow and offer you the convenience and safety of simply flipping it off and on to reset. Although fuses provid eexcellent protection, the need for breakers is challenging to argue. If it is time for you to upgrade your electrical panel, please feel free to connect with Kraun at or by using the phone number or form below.

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