Fuses vs. Circuit Breakers: Which One Should I Use?

Which should you use – a fuse or circuit breaker? Both serve the same function –protecting your wire, devices or personnel – and are extremely important. However, how do you pick which one (fuse vs circuit breaker) to use? What are the advantages of each? Check out what Van Meter’s Product Specialist, Mike Ritchie, has to say:

Why Should I Choose a Fuse (vs. a Circuit Breaker)?

Fuses are simple. They offer good protection with an inexpensive initial cost. Fuses have faster circuit protection and have a smaller footprint than most circuit breakers. The main advantage is the variety of types of fuses. With different types, you can match the fuse to a very specific application – think sensitive electronic equipment that needs fast circuit protection. Some manufacturers even require certain types of fuses (to find, look in the user manual) to protect their equipment. In addition, fuses do not require regular maintenance.

Why Should I Choose a Circuit Breaker (vs. a Fuse)?

In general, circuit breakers have more capabilities, keep you safer and are more versatile. While fuses can have live parts exposed, circuit breakers are dead front, so you are not exposed to energized parts. If needed, the enclosed unit also keeps an arc contained - keeping you safe. Fuses can arc if replaced under power.

Circuit breakers can reduce downtime because they are resettable. In addition, they can be tested to make sure they are working properly. To truly test a fuse, it would need to be destroyed in the process.

Circuit breakers also come in handy by having both magnetic and thermal protections (fuses only have thermal), an on/off switch and ground fault protection. Lastly, circuit breakers provide better protection for three-phase loads. With a breaker, all three phases trip together, where if a fuse blows, the other two fuses can remain intact which may result in damaged equipment (or single phasing).

For more information on whether a circuit breaker or fuse would be best for your application, please contact us.

mike ritchie van meter