Question: I just moved into a home that has the old style screw in fuses. Some people have suggested that I should change it to a circuit breaker panel. What is your opinion?
Answer: If the fuse panel is still in good shape there is really no safety reason to change it.
However, many insurance companies are refusing to provide house insurance for homes where the old style screw in fuse panels is still in operation. There are many things that they point out as being what they consider to be safety hazards.
- It is very convenient to use higher amperage rated fuses than should be used in any specific position. This is because all screw in fuses have the same thread, so that it is very convenient to screw in a 20 amp fuse to replace a 15 amp fuse. While you can install a circuit breaker with a higher rating it is not as convenient as screwing in a higher rated fuse.
- Investigations of fuse panels have shown that there can be arcing at the point where the bottom of the fuse makes contact with the buss bar in the fuse panel. There is no mechanical connection between the base of the fuse and the buss bar. With circuit breakers the wire is mechanically attached to the circuit breaker and the circuit breaker is locked into position on the buss bar. This should prevent any possibility of arcing.
In summary, I generally go by the motto; "If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!" If you need to upgrade your electrical service or add additional sub-panels in order to provide power to new electrical appliances or devices in your home, I would suggest you use that opportunity to replace the old screw in fuse style panel with a modern load center that uses circuit breakers.
Additional information on converting fuse panels to circuit breaker panels.
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