The function of a thermal fuse is a lot like an air bag in your car. It's only meant to go off when something goes wrong. Thermal fuses are used in many home appliances and other devices that deal with high temperatures and heating. Their specific function is to shut off the heating unit when temperatures get too high.
Thermal Fuse Functions
Anything with a heating element to it, or in other words any product or device that heats up to high temperatures, might use a thermal fuse as a safety device. They do this by disconnecting the electrical current to the heating mechanisms in whatever appliance or machine they are attached to.
How They Work
Thermal fuses use a one-time use fusible link. These mechanical links are devices that are made of two strips of metal soldered together with a fusible alloy that's made to melt at a specific temperature. Once the alloy melts the two pieces of metal separate and act as a catalyst to disconnect the current used for heating. After it's used, the thermal fuse must be replaced for the machine or device it's used in to work.
Thermal Fuse Vs. Electrical Fuses
Thermal fuses only react to heat. No matter how much voltage is passing through them they will not react to it unless the heat from the current is hot enough to burn the alloy inside its fusible link. An electrical fuse is the type of fuse that reacts to current.
Thermal switches are a possible alternative to using a thermal fuse. They fulfill the same function of disconnecting the heating element in devices; yet, unlike thermal fuses they can be reset.
Not all thermal fuses work at one temperature but vary depending upon their use. They differ by changing the alloy in their fusible links to more heat resistant materials or less heat resistant materials.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Michael Cote'
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