electricity fused (fuse boxes vs wiring)

stargazer

Senior Member
Slovenia, Slovenian
Hello everyone,

If someone's electricity fused, it means that:
a) a fuse has blown
b) lightning struck and melted some electrical wiring
c) none of the above

Thanks! ;)
 
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  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I don't know if "circuit breakers" are used in England nowadays but when I was growing up there the things in the "fuse box" (in the US now, the breaker box or electrical panel) were "fuses" (or fusible links) - if too much current flowed, they melted, the electicity went off and was said to be fused (or a fuse had blown) Like in cars in the US today :)

    The perils of growing up at one time in one place and then moving to another place later (I understand both usages but don't know when they might have changed in either place :( )
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I don't know if "circuit breakers" are used in England nowadays but when I was growing up there the things in the "fuse box" (in the US now, the breaker box or electrical panel) were "fuses" (or fusible links) - if too much current flowed, they melted, the electicity went off and was said to be fused (or a fuse had blown) Like in cars in the US today
    I also grew up with fuse boxes.

    If I heard someone say, "My electricity is fused" I would most likely interpret that to mean that their electrical wiring system uses a fuse box to control overloads. Of, if I used an electrical current to heat two pieces of metal so that they melt and fuse together, I could say "the electricity fused the metals".

    But to say "someone's electricity fused ..." without an object makes no sense to me.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Ain't usage wonderful? I wondered about the reliability of my childhood recollections but recovered when I found these! (From g**gle searching UK pages only)
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Fuse boxes in the UK and elsewhere have now been replaced by what are called consumer units (but might still be called the 'fuse box' informally). Here's a picture. (Julian: Is this the same as the 'circuit breaker' you mentioned?) No fuse wires here, but if someone was to say the fuse was blown, I'd understand that the consumer unit had been tripped.

    Additionally, in the UK, there are fuses in the plugs - these fuses are cartridges WITH a fuse wire. So I might also understand that the fuse in the plug has blown.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thanks nat,
    Yes indeed they look like what in the US are called circuit breakers to me - and they get "tripped" and need to be "reset".
    Yes, the 220V supply in the UK meant that all 13A plugs had a fuse, in as a first line of defence (even before I left the UK :D )

    Basil, Have you ever heard of "consumer units" before as a name for circuit breakers - me neither!
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Thanks nat,
    Yes indeed they look like what in the US are called circuit breakers to me - and they get "tripped" and need to be "reset".
    No. Circuit breakers and fuses are different items, though they serve the same purpose.

    A circuit breaker is a switch that trips to the "off" position when overloaded. A tripped circuit breaker may be reset to its operating ("on") position.

    A fuse has an element that melts under excessive load. When the element melts, the circuit is broken and the circuit cannot be reactivated until the fuse is replaced.

    In building electrical systems in the US, circuit breakers have almost totally replaced fuses in modern construction. Many older houses still have fuse boxes, however, and many electrical and hardware stores sell replacement fuses.

    Fuses are still widely used in lower voltage applications, such as automobile electrical systems and and electrical appliances. Fuses are also often used on high voltage applications as well.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I think people are makingthe assumption that the subject is household or commercial electricity (the "mains" in BE), which is not stated in the (very) limited context provided.

    There is much electricity that still relies on fuses. My vehicle has a large number of fuses, i.e. fused circuits, not only for the vehicle itself, but the trailer wiring as well.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "If someone's electricity fused, it means that"....

    The conciseness of the phrase alone is probably sufficient context to link it to the BE expression (link in #7 above). However, it would be good for the original poster to confirm that :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The consumer unit is the box that contains the circuit breakers along with the connections from the incoming mains and the connections to the building's electrical services.
    Although it is decades since the panjandrum household had a fusebox, the terminology that applied then remains in current use. Part of this is resistance to change, part of it is the low frequency of such episodes, and part of it is that she who reports the event is not he who takes the necessary action to restore the supply.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks nat,
    Yes indeed they look like what in the US are called circuit breakers to me - and they get "tripped" and need to be "reset".
    Yes, the 220V supply in the UK meant that all 13A plugs had a fuse, in as a first line of defence (even before I left the UK :D )
    Just been thinking about the phrase again. I think that if we were thinking of the fuse in a plug, we're more likely to say something like 'the kettle/toaster/etc. has blown the fuse'. I don't think the fuse in the plug is to do with the 230V voltage, because most of the world is actually on 220-240V and European continental plugs and Australian plugs, for example, are not fused.
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Fuse boxes in the UK and elsewhere have now been replaced by what are called consumer units (but might still be called the 'fuse box' informally). Here's a picture. (Julian: Is this the same as the 'circuit breaker' you mentioned?) No fuse wires here, but if someone was to say the fuse was blown, I'd understand that the consumer unit had been tripped.

    Additionally, in the UK, there are fuses in the plugs - these fuses are cartridges WITH a fuse wire. So I might also understand that the fuse in the plug has blown.

    I would call at least one of the switches in the picture "a trip-switch". As someone has said, they are "tripped" by power surges or short circuits and you simply have to flick the switch to reset them, instead of replacing a fuse. Some of the switches may perform other functions though.

    In reference to the original question, I would think it more usual to hear "a fuse has blown" than "the electricity's fused".
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I would call at least one of the switches in the picture "a trip-switch". As someone has said, they are "tripped" by power surges or short circuits and you simply have to flick the switch to reset them, instead of replacing a fuse. Some of the switches may perform other functions though.

    In reference to the original question, I would think it more usual to hear "a fuse has blown" than "the electricity's fused".
    In my lifetime in the US I have seldom, if ever, heard that type of unit called a "trip switch". But I would probably understand what the speaker is referring to if I heard that word used in context.

    The device shown in natkretep's link in the US would be called a circuit-breaker box. The individual switches are circuit-breakers, or "breakers" in short. In building wiring in the US, circuit-breaker look more like the box shown in this photo: Circuit-breaker box.

    This photo shows different types of fuses: types of fuses. The plug type fuse is the fuse one sees in a fuse box that is functionally the same as a circuit-breaker box. Fuse boxes with plug fuses are seldom used anymore in the US in new and remodeled construction, with circuit breaker boxes used instead. The other types of fuses are still commonly used in specific applications, such as automotive wiring, electronic devices, and for protection of specific items of electrical equipment.

    I hope this helps!
     

    liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Trip switch is the usual term for a circuit breaker in the UK (although circuit breaker is also used in more technical contexts). The whole unit is known as a consumer unit or distribution board.
    As most homes nowadays have this new system, it's more usual to say "the switch has tripped" rather than "a fuse has blown" but I don't remember ever hearing "the electricity has fused" but I suppose I would understand what was meant.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    As most homes nowadays have this new system, it's more usual to say "the switch has tripped" rather than "a fuse has blown" but I don't remember ever hearing "the electricity has fused" but I suppose I would understand what was meant.
    As I already confessed :D my recollections are old, so usage has probably evolved :) The expression I recalled (from the original questioner and the one that showed up in the search) does not use the has you mention (google doesn't find any usage of that either). The hits are probably from folks of my generation so it sounds like it IS fading away, even in BE??
     

    Basil Ganglia

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Trip switch is the usual term for a circuit breaker in the UK (although circuit breaker is also used in more technical contexts). The whole unit is known as a consumer unit or distribution board.
    As most homes nowadays have this new system, it's more usual to say "the switch has tripped" rather than "a fuse has blown" but I don't remember ever hearing "the electricity has fused" but I suppose I would understand what was meant.
    In my experience in the US, we most commonly say that "we tripped a breaker" or "the breaker tripped". Less often we would say that we "threw a breaker" (but never "the breaker threw"; that is nonsensical).

    If it's a fuse that failed, then we "blew the fuse" or "the fuse blew".
     
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