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What Is a Fuse Panel?

Fuses in a fuse panel.
Ideally, when a fuse panel is installed, an electrician will create a wiring diagram which clearly labels each of the circuits in the panel and diagrams the wiring which extends from the panel to various locations.
A glass fuse.
A household fuse.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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A fuse panel is a part of an electrical system which is designed to divide a source of electricity into an assortment of circuits, each of which is protected from overcurrent by a fuse. These panels are also known as fuse boxes or fuse blocks, depending on the application, and they can be found in association with a wide variety of electrical systems. One very common form is the automotive fuse panel in vehicles, which handles the electrical supply in a car or truck.

Fuses provide protection from overcurrent by failing when there is too much current or the fuse gets too hot. When the fuse fails, the circuit opens, and is no longer able to conduct electricity. Fuses which have failed are said to have “blown” and they must be replaced to re-energize the circuit. When fuses blow, it protects devices on the circuit from overcurrent, and reduces the risk of fire and other electrical problems caused by overcurrent.

In structures, the fuse panel is located near the service drop, the site where electricity is fed from the grid or a power generating system into the structure. The panel breaks the feed up into dedicated circuits of varying voltages, depending on which devices are connected to those circuits. In vehicles and boats, fuse panels direct the power from the battery.

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Ideally, when a fuse panel is installed, an electrician will create a wiring diagram which clearly labels each of the circuits in the panel and diagrams the wiring which extends from the panel to various locations. In cars, there is often a fuse panel diagram on the door of the panel, so that when drivers experience an electrical problem, they can immediately find the fuse involved. Labeling is also important because it allows people to safely turn off desired circuits.

When a fuse blows, it is important to determine why the overcurrent occurred. If the fuse is simply replaced with a new fuse, the new fuse may blow again because the issue has not been resolved. Fuse panels themselves also need to be regularly inspected for signs of problems, and they may need to be upgraded and replaced periodically to cope with changing needs. Using a fuse panel which is not rated for the application it is being used for can be extremely dangerous, and the fuses in the panel may fail to act as they should.

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Discuss this Article

Clueless
Post 4

I changed out a blown 30 amp fuse and while checking to see which fuse was blown came across another fuse that felt "gritty" when screwing it back in. It arced and popped, so I tried a new fuse in that socket too. It screwed in smoothly and all seemed to be well, but today, there is a buzzing/humming sound coming from the fuse box that I can hear though the wall in which the fuse box is located.

Everyone who comes into the kitchen hears it and remarks on it. Someone said it is common for a newly replaced fused to make noise but I am very wary. Is it true that this is a usual situation?

emtbasic
Post 3

@KLR650 - Hilarious! I think we must have grown up with the same uncles.

One of my relatives was an electrician back in the 40s and he said he always carried a box of pennies and a hammer in his tool kit.

If he had a bad circuit, he would put in the penny, wait for the wall to start getting warm or turn black, take the penny out, knock a hole in the black spot with the hammer, fix the wires, then patch the wall. Things were a little different then, to say the least.

KLR650
Post 2

@viktor13 - A fusebox can still be up to code, but I don't think they can be installed in a new house anymore. No real reason to, a circuit breaker is really cheap and they are much easier to deal with when something blows. They are also harder to short-circuit the safety features.

I remember my old crazy uncles saying that if they had a circuit that kept blowing they would just put a penny in it. This is insane, because the whole reason you have fuses in the first place is to keep an overloaded circuit from starting a fire or doing further damage.

Viktor13
Post 1

Do houses even have fuse panels these days? My place still has a fusebox, but it's a really old house. It can be a real pain, because it seems like whenever you blow a fuse it's never the one you have in the drawer. Our box has two different types of fuse and they are not interchangeable.

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