Most of us know where the household Fusebox is located. When the electricity cuts off in our home – either the lights or the sockets, or perhaps both – it is the first place we rush to in the hope of restoring power at the flick of a switch. Likewise, if there is an emergency and we need to turn the electricity off, the Fusebox is where we do it. But what is a Fusebox: how does it work, and why is it so crucial to the electrical wiring of our homes? We explain all.
What is a Fusebox?
A typical Fusebox contains three crucial components – the main switch, fuses or circuit breakers, and RCDs (Residual Current Devices) – used to control the electricity supply to your home.
The main switch is a simple on/off device, allowing you to cut supply to your home in one step. If you have two fuseboxes – one powering your electric storage heaters, for example – you will need to turn off both main switches to cut supply to your entire home.
Residual Current Devices (RCDs) are also switches. Their purpose is to trip a circuit if there is a fault that would otherwise be dangerous. RCDs are very sensitive, and with good reason: it is these switches that can save a life, by disconnecting the electricity in an instant. They can even detect when electricity flows down an unintended path – including a person!
Fuses are small, rewirable objects used to cut a circuit when there is a fault of a surge of current (pictured below). As an overload of current flows through the fuse wire, it becomes hot and melts – breaking the circuit and ensuring safety.
Often, circuit breakers are used in place of fuses. Similar in size, they provide more precise protection. As they work automatically, they can be reset instead of requiring complete replacement.
Safety and Your Fusebox
It is important for your safety that your fusebox is fully functioning at all times. One of the most important components from a safety perspective are the RCDs, so they must be tested regularly, at least once every three months. Usually this will mean pressing a test button, but if there are instructions make sure you read them carefully and follow them to the letter. If the test button does not trip the RCDs, contact a registered electrician.
The age of your fusebox should also be noted. If it pre-dates the 1960s then it should be replaced: look out for a wooden back, cast iron switches or a mix of different fuses.
We hope you found this post useful and you never need to ask the question, “What is a fusebox?” ever again. If you did, please share it.