Fuse Panels vs. Modern Circuit Breakers

August 24, 2015 by Valerie Griffiths

You’re a homeowner, not an electrician. Still, it’s important to understand the very basics of your home’s electrical system including what type of breaker panel you have: either a fusel panel or circuit breaker.

There are major difference between circuit breakers and fuse panels but they both serve the same purpose: they exist to prevent electrical circuit overload that could cause fire.

So how do you tell which you have in your home? Take a look at your electrical panel. Does it have switches that resemble horizontal light switches, or plug fuses with a screw base? If it has switches, you have a circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are the more modern form of overload protection. They’re easily reset once they are tripped, with just the flip of a switch. They are also built to withstand modern electrical needs.

If your panel has round, colorful fuses, it’s a fuse box. These are still permitted by code, but they are typically found in older homes, and are slowly being phased out. Using an oversized fuse in the wrong circuit is a fire hazard. This is all too common, given the ever-increasing electrical needs of the modern day.

Fuse boxes are also more difficult for homeowners to maintain. For example, loose fuses may present problems. Further, every time a fuse blows to protect your home from overload, you need to purchase a new fuse and replace it. Replacing the fuse requires following proper safety precautions. You must cut electricity to the main switch, stand on a dry surface, and ensure you’re using the appropriate fuse.

Having a fuse box can affect your insurance rates as insurance companies can charge more or refuse coverage for homes with fuse panels.

To avoid issues related to fuse panels, speak to a licensed electrician about a service upgrade to a breaker panel. This will ensure safety and peace of mind. It will also improve your resale value if you’re looking to sell your home.