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What’s the Difference Between Circuit Breakers and Fuses?

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

Difference Between Circuit Breakers and Fuses

Do you want to learn more about breakers and the difference between circuit breakers and fuses? Do you care to know which ones are required in today’s world?

Though fuses and circuit breakers serve the same purpose in protecting your home, they differ significantly. It’s worth noting, though, that most professionals nowadays recommend using a circuit breaker for any electrical system, including residential and commercial buildings. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to stop using fuses.

Continue reading this article to know more about the difference between fuses and breakers.

How Does a Fuse Differ from a Circuit Breaker?


You may be wondering why there are two types of circuit protection mainly used in an electrical system? To give you some idea about them, here is some information about the difference between circuit breakers vs fuses.

1. Reuse Capacity

One of the main differences and advantages of a circuit breaker over a fuse is the reusable function.

Circuit breakers have a reset function, allowing you to use them after every tripping. Fuses don’t have this function, and you will need to replace them after they break.

2. Price

When comparing fuses vs circuit breakers, the former are cheaper. The cost for a single-piece circuit breaker can buy many fuses.

However, a circuit breaker may be worth it in the long run. Due to its reusable nature, a circuit breaker unit can last longer than many fuses.

3. Protection

Both breakers and fuses protect your house from circuit overloads that can result in fires. Nonetheless, a circuit breaker can provide more protection to you and your property, including your devices and appliances.

For example, it can detect a short circuit and ground fault that can be dangerous to you and your devices.

That said, once a fuse gets tripped and replaced, it always guarantees the same level of protection. On the other hand, circuit breakers, which you reset, can decline in safety over time.

4. Response Time

A fuse has a response time of 0.002 seconds on average when detecting circuit overloads. On the other hand, a circuit breaker has a response time of roughly 0.02 to even 10 seconds on average. Fuse reactions appear to be faster than circuit breakers.

5. ON and OFF Function

A circuit breaker features an on/off switch that allows you to turn off an electrical system without dismantling it. This function allows you to work more efficiently and safely, especially when it comes to electrical repairs.

On the other hand, the fuse does not have any features that allow you to flip it when you need to shut down a system.

6. Installation Process

Installing a fuse is pretty straightforward. You only need to screw it into its circuit. In comparison, a circuit breaker needs to be connected to multiple wires for every circuit installation. It also has different types that fit different panel slots.

7. Sizes

  • The fuse itself is small, and its storage or fuse box is also smaller than the breaker box.
  • Many fuses use different holder sizes, preventing you from using the wrong fuse size in each circuit.

Related: Circuit Breaker Vs Fuse Box – The best explanation and comparison

How Do Circuit Breakers and Fuses Work?


Generally, all buildings, such as residential and commercial houses, have an electrical system.

There may be differences in each electrical system depending on how old the establishment is and how large it is. An old and small house or establishment may use a fuse, while a new and bigger building may use a circuit breaker.

We use fuses or circuit breakers to be safe from electrical malfunctions that can cause injury or damage to our properties. Some of these electrical malfunctions are short circuits, circuit overloads, and ground faults resulting in fire or electrocution.

Now, to give you knowledge of how circuit breakers and fuses protect us and our properties, here’s how they work.

1. Fuse

The fuse has a small wire inside that corresponds to its amperage. When too much current flows through this, it will immediately melt and break. It happens when you put too many appliances or gadgets onto a single circuit and exceed its amperage capacity.

2. Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker uses a thermal-magnetic device instead of a small wire which distorts when detecting circuit problems such as overloads and short circuits.

Furthermore, some particular types of breakers can detect arcs and ground faults, making them more versatile than fuses.

To give you a more precise explanation, I recommend watching this video made by This Old House. It includes a brief description of how circuit breakers and fuses work and the actual view of fuses and the inside of the circuit breaker.


Though circuit breakers have many advantages over a fuse, it doesn’t mean that you need to upgrade to them immediately, especially when your fuses work perfectly. All you need to do is to maintain your current fuse well.

However, knowing the difference between circuit breakers and fuses may affect your decision on what is better for your electrical system.

Does this article give you the best explanation about fuse and circuit breakers? Would you like to learn more about them? Send us a comment, and we’ll gladly respond.

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