What is the difference between fuses, circuit breakers and safety switches?

In the electricity world, there is a confusion people usually make between fuses, circuit breakers and safety switches. While all these devices promote safety and prevent damage in your home or office, they’re actually not the same thing. In this blog we are going to correct this common mistake, showing the specific features of each one of them.

Safety comes first and we will always treat is as our no. 1 priority. Besides knowing the basics of the electrical safety, it’s highly important to know the difference between main safety devices. Therefore, we will explain to you how fuses and circuit breakers differentiate from safety switches.

What is the role of a fuse or a circuit breaker?

A fuse or SERF (semi-enclosed rewireable fuse) is an electrical safety device that operates to provide short-circuit and overload protection. Its essential component – a metal wire – melts when too much current flows through it, thereby interrupting the current. You should replace a fuse ASAP once it has operated, since it’s a “single use” device.

Fuses have been used as essential safety devices from the early days of electrical engineering. Nowadays, there are thousands of different fuse designs which have specific current and voltage ratings, breaking capacity and response times. However, keep in mind that fuses can provide limited protection to your property and no protection from electric shocks.

For your safety, if you have an old fuse box or switchboard in your Brisbane home, then you definitely need to upgrade it.

 

A circuit breaker can successfully represent an alternative solution to fuses but there are some major differences between them.

Here, a series of switches located in the meter box are working to protect the equipment powered in your home. Just like fuses, if circuit breakers detect a surge of electrical current, they automatically switch off – breaking the electrical connection. But unlike fuses, which operate once and must be replaced afterwards, circuit breakers can be reset to resume normal operation.

Also, you can install separate miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) in the switch box to protect each of the various circuits, such as lighting, power, heating and cooling, stove or hot water.

 

What is the role of a safety switch?

When it comes to protecting the people living or working in an office building, safety switches are a “must-have” device.

Safety switches or RCDs are devices that instantly break an electric circuit to prevent serious harm from an electric shock. Safety switches work in a different way than fuses and circuit breakers, protecting from electrocution the people within the house.

Technically, they constantly monitor the current flowing in the live and neutral wires supplying an electrical system or a group of equipment. If there is a problem that may pose a risk to personal safety, the device will turn the power off within 0.03 of a second. In these circumstances, it may be fast enough to save your life.

 

What is the best option for you?

Please note that fuses and circuit breakers protect equipment but not people. The human body is extremely sensitive to electricity and it takes only a fraction of an amp to cause ventricular fibrillation, which can, unfortunately, become fatal. Also, safety switches are not an option anymore but a legal obligation to your home and family protection.

Nowadays, a modern solution is a combination of safety switches and circuit breakers, which includes each device’s advantages.

 

No matter your needs – from repairing or upgrading your fuse box to installing safety switches in your new home or office – the team at Jaric is 100% committed to your personal safety.

 

Until next time, be safe and choose wisely!

Your friend and electrical expert,

John Ricca

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