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Fuse vs. Circuit Breaker

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jrv12

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If you live in a house like mine, blowing fuses and circuit breakers is a common occurrence because of all the things we have plugged in at once.

A fuse is a small, thin conductor that is designed to separate whenever there is excessive current flowing through the circuit. Fuses are connected in series so that when the fuse blows it will stop current flow throughout the entire circuit. If fuses were connected in parallel, they would not affect the current through any of the other branches. Although fuses are designed to stop all the current flowing through the circuit, sometimes if the voltage is high enough and the fuse isn’t long enough a spark can jump from one end of the wire to the other, allowing some current through and completing the circuit once again (which would not be good at all). Once a fuse is blown, it needs to be discarded and replaced with a new one.

A circuit breaker is a switch that automatically opens to interrupt the current flowing through the circuit. When the circuit breaker is on, it allows the current to pass through the circuit. However, when the current becomes too excessive, a strong magnetic force flips the metal lever within the circuit breaker and stops the current from flowing. Unlike fuses, when a circuit breaker is tripped, it can simply be turned back on from the breaker box allowing the circuit to reconnect.

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