Circuit Breakers vs. Fuses

Electronics are often at risk of becoming damaged from overload conditions, even presenting the risk of an electrical fire if proper protection is not in place. Electrical protection devices may come in a variety of forms, though the two most common devices that are regularly implemented in countless spaces are the circuit breaker and fuse. With both devices, wires, appliances, machinery, and even individuals may be guarded from the hazards of a fault or short circuit. Despite serving a similar role in circuit protection, circuit breakers and fuses feature different designs and operational characteristics that set the two devices apart from one another.

A circuit breaker is a device that is commonly found in many homes, buildings, and spaces, coming in the form of an automatically operated electrical switch. Circuit breakers are designed for impeding the flow of unsafe voltages, breaking contacts to interrupt the circuit when a fault is detected. The method of breaking contacts may differ depending on the particular model, and various methods include the use of pressurized air, magnetism, solid-state components, thermal components, and more. Once the circuit has been broken and the fault has subsided, the circuit breaker is capable of being reset manually or automatically so that normal operations may continue. As such, the circuit breaker is a reusable device that will simply trip when a fault is detected. When procuring such devices, it is important to ensure that it matches the voltage requirements of your space or application as some may be specifically designed for high-voltage operations while others may be incapable of handling such electricity.

Fuses, on the other hand, are electrical safety devices that typically come in the form of a housed metal wire or strip that is placed directly into the path of a circuit. As a sacrificial device, the fuse is specifically designed to melt or breakdown when voltages increase to unsafe levels. With this method of operation, the fuse can rapidly deter the flow of extreme voltages before major damage may occur. Nevertheless, fuses are a one-time use component, thus need to be replaced each time that they break down. Fuses have been a standard safety device that has been used since the emergence of electrical engineering, and there are now countless fuse types that may be relied upon for a variety of applications to accommodate varying requirements.

As the two devices pose very different methods of operation and use, the choice will often depend on a handful of factors and how they relate to one’s specific needs. While fuses are a sacrificial device that must be replaced each use, they are very cheap and can be procured fairly quickly. Additionally, fuses are easy to physically replace, given you have access to the space where they are located. Lastly, fuses are much smaller, permitting their installation in more space restricted areas or within appliances. Circuit breakers, on the other hand, can be very easy to operate. In many buildings or spaces, circuit breakers are placed in an easily accessible area of a wall so that an individual may reset switches as needed. Despite these advantages, circuit breakers are often more expensive than fuses and can be much more complex to install if one is unfamiliar with such devices. To install a circuit breaker, one would need to be familiar with the wiring they have in their home and the amount of energy regularly used to implement proper protection.

Once you have decided whether you need circuit breakers or fuses, the experts at Paragon Purchasing are ready to help you secure all you require with ease. Paragon Purchasing is a premier supplier of aviation, NSN, and electronic parts that cater to a variety of industries and applications. We invite you to explore our vast array of items on our inventory, and you may request quotes for your comparisons through the submission of an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website. With industry experts readily on standby 24/7x365, customers can receive responses to their requests in just 15 minutes or less. Give us a call or email today and see how we can fulfill all your operational requirements with unmatched pricing and rapid lead-times.


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December 14, 2020

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