Circuit Breakers Vs Fuse Box (New Vs Old & Differences Between Both)
circuit breakers vs fuse boxes

Circuit Breakers Vs Fuse Box (New Vs Old- Differences Between Both)

If you speak to enough customers, you may hear some people still refer to their brand new circuit breakers as a fuse box.

But are they really the same thing?

There are two types of electrical panels found in most homes - fuse boxes and circuit breakers.

So, let's match up the differences.  Its fuse box vs circuit breaker panel.

Are you ready to learn more?

What is a Circuit Breaker?

A circuit breaker is a mechanical device that breaks an electrical circuit. It consists of two parts - the switch mechanism and the trip.

The switch controls the flow of electricity to the circuit, while the trip detects any overcurrent or short circuits in the circuit and trips the switch to shut off the power.

Most modern homes have these installed to handle any electrical load as a safety device.

Seems simple, right?

What is a Fuse Box?

A fuse box or fuse panel is an electrical panel that houses fuses. Fuses are devices that protect circuits from overloads by interrupting the flow of electricity when too much current is flowing through the circuit.

You know those little circular pieces with a small window to see a metal wire or fuse wire.  You typically screw them into spots in the fuse boxes like a light bulb.

You might have heard of the expression,  "Have you blown a fuse?" 

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How do Circuit Breakers and Fuse Boxes Work?

Both circuit breakers and fuse boxes work to protect circuits from an overcurrent or a power surge.

Circuit breakers do this by tripping the switch to shut off the power when an overcurrent is detected, while fuse boxes do this by interrupting the flow of electricity with a fuse.

Circuit Breakers Vs. Fuse Box | Is there a Difference?

When it comes to your home’s electrical system, there are two main components that can work together or exclusively to keep everything running smoothly: the circuit breaker and the fuse box.

Both of these devices serve an important purpose, but they do have some key differences.

Here’s a look at the difference between circuit breakers and fuse boxes:

  • The main difference between a circuit breaker and a fuse box is that a circuit breaker can be reset after it trips, while a fuse needs to be replaced.
  • A circuit breaker is designed to protect your home’s electrical system from overload by shutting off the power when it detects too much current flowing through the system. When the current flowing through the circuit breaker reaches a certain level, the breaker “trips” and shuts off the power.
  • A fuse box, on the other hand, is designed to protect your home from fire by interrupting the flow of electricity if it detects too much current flowing through the system. Once a fuse blows, it needs to be replaced before the power can be restored.
  • Another key difference between circuit breakers and fuse boxes is that circuit breakers are typically found in homes built after 1950, while fuse boxes are more common in older homes.

If you’re not sure which type of electrical system your home has, it’s easy to find out. Just take a look at your main electrical panel. If there are row after row of circuit breaker switches, you have a breaker box.

If there are fuses instead of circuit breakers, you have a fuse box.

If you need help installing or repairing either a circuit breaker or fuse box, contact a licensed electrician. Here at Bates electric, we can assess your home’s electrical needs and make sure everything is installed correctly and up to code.

Do I Need To Replace My Fuse Box With Circuit Breaker Panels?

In most cases it is best to replace a fuse box with a circuit breaker.

If you are comfortable with your fuse box and it is working well and/or it has been inspected and in working order, then there is no need to replace it with a circuit breaker.

However, if you are planning on doing any major electrical work or upgrades, then it may be a good idea to upgrade to a circuit breaker. Circuit breakers offer many advantages over fuse boxes, such as:

  • Circuit breakers can be reset easily, while fuses must be replaced.
  • Circuit breakers trip (disconnect the circuit) when they sense an overload, while fuses simply blow and need to be replaced.
  • Circuit breakers offer protection against electrical fires, while fuses do not.
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The Process of Replacing a Fuse Box with a Circuit Breaker

Generally speaking, the process of replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker is not overly complicated. It is always best to consult with a professional electrician before undertaking any electrical work in your home.

With that said, here are the basic steps involved in replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker:

1. Turn off the power to your home at the main breaker.

2. Remove the cover of your fuse box and take inventory of all the fuses. Make a note of which circuits each fuse controls.

3. Disconnect all the wires from the terminals on the back of each fuse. Be sure to label each wire, so you know where it goes when you reconnect them to the circuit breaker.

4. Install your new circuit breaker in the main panel. Be sure to connect the wires to the correct terminals on the new circuit breaker.

5. Turn on the power to your home and test each circuit to make sure it is working properly.

As you can see, replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker is not a difficult task if you are experienced with electrical wiring, but it is always best to consult with a professional electrician before undertaking any electrical work in your home.

So, while there is no definitive answer as to whether or not you need to replace your fuse box with a circuit breaker, it really depends on your individual needs and preferences.

If you are planning on doing any major electrical work, then upgrading to a circuit breaker may be a good idea. Here at Bates Electric, we can take a look at your existing setup and give you a free estimate should any work be required.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to electrical systems, circuit breakers and fuse boxes both serve the same purpose: to protect your home from fire by interrupting the flow of electricity if they detect too much current flowing through the system.

If you’re not sure which type of electrical system your home has, it’s easy to find out. Just take a look at your main electrical panel. If there are row after row of circuit breakers, you have a breaker box. If there are fuses instead of circuit breakers, you have a fuse box.

If you need help installing or repairing either a circuit breaker or fuse box, contact Bates Electric by phone at 636-464-3939 to schedule service or by filling out the contact form below  We will assess your home’s electrical needs and make sure everything is installed correctly and up to code.

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