Electricity has come a long way since Thomas Edison patented his electric distribution system back in 1880. In an effort to distribute power safely and effectively, fuse boxes were created. The fuses help prevent fires by regulating the amount of current flowing throughout a home. Fuses also help prevent electrocution by interrupting the flow of electricity. There are new systems that have proved to be a safer alternative, but many people still use fuse boxes in their homes.
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Edison patented his electric distribution system in 1880. From there, a "war of currents" began between Edison and a competitor over AC and DC current. AC eventually won out, although DC power is still used in some areas. During the war of currents, there was a lot of talk about safety. Edison even became involved in the creation of the first electric chair, filming the electrocution and showing the true power of electricity. Fuse boxes were eventually created to address safety concerns about electricity in the home. Today, most fuse boxes have been replaced with circuit breakers.
Electricity entering a building travels through a fuse box and its current is controlled by each fuse to help ensure that the current stays at a safe level.
Fuse boxes look like a metal box with circles inside that are actually fuses. There are two general types of fuses. One is called an Edison Base Type T fuse and looks like the base of a light bulb. The other is called a Rejection Base Type S fuse and has an adapter base that screws into the Edison socket. Fuse boxes are also referred to as breaker panels, circuit breaker panels, CU, panelboards or even fuseboards.
When electricity in a home goes out, it is normally because a fuse has blown. People will have to figure out what overloaded the circuit, fix the problem and replace the fuse. To do this, the main power to the fuse box is turned off and everything on the circuit is unplugged. A homeowner will have to look for melted plugs or wires that are frayed. While everything is unplugged, the fuse can be replaced. Then, each appliance and lamp is tested to see if it causes the fuse to blow until the problem is found.
Fuses help keep people safe. Without fuses or circuit breakers, people could get electrocuted. This is because fuses and circuit breakers keep electricity from getting a direct connection with the ground. For example, if someone hammers a nail into a wall and hits a wire, the electricity could travel through the hammer and the person and connect to the group causing electrocution or serious shock.