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When Did Circuit Breakers Replace Fuses in Homes?

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

when did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes

Fuses used to dominate establishments to help manage electrical circuits in houses. But circuit breakers soon took over that role, and they offered enhanced safety features. So when did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes?

This started happening in the 1930s. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the majority of homes threw their fuse boxes away and replaced them with electrical service panels that housed breakers.

Take note that fuses are different from circuit breakers. Continue reading to know the differences between these two electrical modules. You’ll also gain additional insight into the history of changing fuses in house.

When Did They Stop Installing Fuse Panels?

residential-old-electrical-panel

At the beginning of the 1960s, homes switch to circuit breakers as opposed to using fuses for the long term. Circuit breakers completely took over residential electrical setups by the mid-1970s.

However, you may find a residential old electrical panel that still uses cartridge-type fuses for specific applications. It’s because users can calibrate these modules to respond slowly, particularly during startup surges from fairly heavy equipment and their large motors.

When Were Circuit Breakers First Used in Homes?

fuses-house

Although Thomas Edison invented the concept of a circuit breaker in 1879, it wasn’t until the 1920s that people saw it used for industrial purposes. About a decade later, homes started converting their fuses house into breaker boxes.

Is a Fuse the Same as a Circuit Breaker?

Although some people interchange the terms ‘fuse box’ and ‘circuit breaker box’ because of their similar functions, these electrical assemblies have many differences.

1. Fuses

Fuses, which some might call old style fuse box circuit breakers, are generally for specific applications. These units also only have three standard amperage ratings: 3 amps, 5 amps, and 13 amps.

Perhaps the main difference seen with fuses when compared to circuit breakers is their reusability. You can’t reuse fuses once they trip, unlike breakers.

2. Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers can supply and maintain currents to different connected electronic devices. These modules continue to serve their purposes even after tripping.

Also, users can activate and deactivate circuit breakers manually, unlike fuses. Plus, circuit breakers can help prevent overloads and short circuits, whereas fuses can only prevent the former concern.

Can You Convert a Fuse Box to a Breaker Box?

when-were-circuit-breakers-first-used-in-homes

Converting fuse box to circuit breaker is possible. However, it’s generally not a DIY-friendly job and often demands confidence and expertise in handling electricity.

Take a look at these general steps in converting an old fuse box to a circuit breaker panel to get an idea of what this procedure entails:

What You’ll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutter
  • Electrical tape
  • Replacement electrical service panel
  • Circuit breakers

Step-by-Step Guide

  • Step 1: Turn off all appliances and electronic devices on the property. Then, remove all fuses from the old service panel.
  • Step 2: Remove all the wires attached to the fuses. Cut the wires if they’re difficult to take out.
  • Step 3: Unscrew and remove the fuse service panel before installing the new breaker box.
  • Step 4: Route the wires to the new circuit breakers, and don’t forget the ground and neutral connections.
  • Step 5: Turn on the main breaker and test if issues surfaced from this conversion project.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a clear answer to the question, ‘when did circuit breakers replace fuses in homes?’ Remember, it wasn’t until a few decades after the invention of breakers that these modules started appearing in houses.

Today, many buildings, including commercial and industrial establishments, use circuit breakers to help power and maintain their electrical circuits. Converting an old fuse box to a circuit breaker panel is possible, although this job often requires ample expertise.

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