Breaker Panel vs. Fuse Box: What’s the Difference?

Breaker Panel vs. Fuse Box: What’s the Difference?

Somewhere in your basement or inside a closet, there’s a metal box with a door on it. Inside, you’ll find fuses or circuit breakers. These prevent too much electricity from flowing through circuits in your home, which could potentially cause an electrical fire. But what’s the difference between a fuse box and a breaker panel?


Fuses are round and made of ceramic or glass. They screw into the fuse box like a light bulb. If the circuit they regulate experiences a surge or has too many devices connected to it, it’ll cause an overload. The heat from the overload causes a filament within the fuse to melt, interrupting the circuit.

When you “blow a fuse” (meaning the filament melts and everything on that circuit shuts off), you have to replace it. While you can probably find replacement fuses online or at your local hardware, it’s important to match the fuse to the load it must regulate.

Circuit breakers, on the other hand, work like switches. When the circuit is overloaded, the breaker “trips” and switches off. When this happens, investigate what caused the overload and disconnect excess devices. Turning the remaining devices back on is a simple matter of switching the breaker back on.


A significant difference between fuse boxes and breaker panels is that modern building codes require ground fault circuit interrupter (GFIC) outlets in areas of the home that are near water. For instance, they could get installed in a kitchen or a bathroom. These special electrical outlets protect people from electric shocks that occur if an appliance gets wet. They detect interruptions in the amount of electricity running to the appliance and cut the power, preventing someone from getting electrocuted.

Fuses, however, don’t work with GFIC outlets. They are lower amperage devices and can’t carry the voltage necessary to run large home appliances.


Home insurance providers don’t like fuse boxes. This is because homeowners in the past were prone to tampering with fuses. They’d use fuses that were larger appropriate in an attempt to decrease the number of times a fuse would “blow.” That’s dangerous; a larger fuse allows more electricity to pass through it, which increases the chance of wires overheating and starting a fire.

Many older Texas homes may still have fuse boxes that work, but as the number of electric devices and appliances in homes increases, it’s wise to consider installing a modern circuit breaker panel instead. San Antonio homeowners in need of home electrical repair services can call Allgood Electric for all their home electrical wiring and repair needs.

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