Fuses are an often-overlooked piece of technology that can literally save your life. In an occasion where when things go massively wrong in an electrical circuit, fuses were conceptualized to ensure the safety of you- the user.
A Detailed Look
The main purpose of the fuse is simple, protecting the electronics and thus the user if and when there is a “too large current”. Sudden jumps in current are incredibly common in electric circuitry. Faulty power supplies, damaged wiring and other external factors can be the cause of an abrupt increase in current. This jolt will mostly either lead to three harmful outcomes:
- Damaged appliances
- Electrical fire
- Electrifying the user
When a fuse us used, in place of your house burning down, the fuse itself gets “burned out” in the time of an electric mishap. Cartridge fuses- the common cylindrical fuse- have a thin wire inside them which melts if too much current is flowing through it, stopping the overload before it can cause any tangible damage.
Types Of Fuses
Fuses nowadays come in various forms. The two most common domestic fuses are the cartridge fuse and trip switches/ circuit breakers.
The cartridge fuse as discussed before has a thin wire inside which ‘blows’ to make the circuit incomplete so that there is no current. This type of fuse is a one-time use only. Meaning every time a cartridge fuse blows, it has to replaced.
Circuits breakers or trip switches- the other common domestic fuse- are reusable, unlike the cartridge fuse. This is actually a type of switch which automatically opens making the circuit incomplete in the case where a too large current is flowing through it.
Although there are many different physical types of fuses, the most important differentiator is the size of a fuse. The most common fuse size for domestic appliances in the UK are 3A, 5A, and 13A. the correct fuse for a circuit is one that allows the correct current to flow, but blows if the current is a little larger. If the current in a circuit is 2A then it should be protected with a 3A fuse. If the current is 4A, then a 5A fuse should be used.
Reasons To Upgrade
Reason to upgrade the fuses in your house can be plentiful. Maybe the fuses in your house are old and have deputized for a long time. Or maybe you need to upgrade to trip switches for the reusability advantage. Fuse upgrades have many reasons behind them.
A general rule of thumb is that the fuses, and fuse box in your house should be upgraded/ changed every 40/ 50 years. As current flows through a fuse it is constantly warming up and cooling down. These changes in temperature overtime, cause the condition of the fuse to deteriorate. The whole system becomes filled with defects and can not only cause instabilities but are also a risk. In a situation where the same set of fuses have been used for a long time, an upgrade is astutely recommended.
Another-previously hinted at- reason to upgrade the fuses in your house is to swap cartridge fuses out for circuit breakers. Circuit breakers, as mentioned earlier, are reusable making them much more economical in the long run. Whereas every time a cartridge fuse blows it has to be replaced, a circuit breaker can just be reset for another time of electric anomaly.
Regular replacement of fuses and upgrading to circuit breakers are pretty clear-cut reasons to generally upgrade the fuses in your house. There is however, another less thought about but probably more important reason why the fuses in your house must be upgraded. That reason being modern use of electricity. Modern electrical usage is severe when compared to just 30 years ago. Constant charging of phones and laptops, multiple TVs, bigger fridges, power hungrier ovens all add up quickly to a total electrical use the fuses in your house were not designed for, especially if it is an older house. The larger use of electricity might cause instabilities relating to fuses, where the fuses are blown prematurely. Also, the impulsive jerry-rigged fixes a prematurely blown fuse might induce will become the cause of safety hazards. Unless the fuses are upgraded in this context, it will cause a snowball effect where one problem turns into another leading to a multitude of possible risks you just do not need.
In the same vein to the last point, fuses need to be upgraded to “future proof”. Although it is tough to predict exactly what a possible future is, due to the constantly changing and developing nature of technology, if we go by what we are experiencing, fuses and fuse boxes in your house must be prepared for even larger use of electricity. As the use of appliances increases, the use of electricity increases. People today use a vast array of appliances. And the number of appliances they use is always growing. As a result of the growing use, the fuses in your house must be prepared for larger loads. This will not only ensure safety and peace of mind, but will also help increase the value of your house as the infrastructure of your house will be prepared for an expected future.
Fuses are there for your safety. In occurrences of electrical anomalies, fuses are designed to ensure nothing happens to you. When the time comes, upgrading the fuses in your house becomes mandatory as it is impossible to put a price on your safety.