fuse box

Wodwo

Senior Member
UK English
I am looking for a term in current, everyday British usage as an alternative to "fuse box".

To be clear, the fuse box is a panel in a house with switches for the different electrical circuits, usually labelled something like "lights" or "first floor" or similar. If a fuse blows in a plug or there is an electricity surge that overloads the circuit, the switch will automatically cut off the circuit. It can then be turned on again by the user.

In the old days these panels contained fuses. These days it's all switches, but in our house at least we still call it the fuse box. I am doing a translation into English and the context requires me to find a contemporary term that will be understood to mean this kind of domestic electrical unit, without adding any explanation. I have seen "distribution board" and "consumer unit", but they both seem rather vague to me in the absence of explanation.

It may be that I am just very old fashioned. Please could other British English speakers tell me what they call this thing in their homes.

Thanks
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    This is an AE response, and might do until a BE speaker comes along:
    "breaker box." The switches contained therein are called "circuit breakers."
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    (I will be interested too, having grown up in the UK before circuit breakers were common in houses. I suspect "fuse box" will continue for some time, the way tape and film persist into the era where it's all digitized directly:D In 2008, panjandrum from N. Ireland used the term consumer unit in this thread on fuse box and breaker box.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's called a consumer unit, but many (older?) people still call it a fuse box. It's not called a breaker box in BE
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Would a typical BE speaker automatically think of this device when presented with the word pair "consumer unit" out of context? I don't think an AE speaker would, so Wodwo will need to decide whether the translation is for AE or BE readers, a not uncommon situation:D
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Would a typical BE speaker automatically think of this device when presented with the word pair "consumer unit" out of context?
    No. Understanding would be affected by age, personal degree of practicality, and possibly gender. (Stereotyping alert! :D )
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I have just had new ones installed in two properties and they are definitely now known as consumer units in the trade, so now I have learnt it, but until very recently I would have still called it the fuse box.

    I probably still will call it that! :p Old habits die hard, eh.

    It is impossible to know how widespread this "new"term is, generally.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Things will likely change. Most households use RCDs now. :D Consumer unit, breaker panel/box, etc. I think I have seen "distribution box" somewhere. Hmm... A friend of mine from North Lincolnshire calls them fuse boxes and unfortunately we are quite young. Another one from Essex had no idea what a fuse box, consumer unit, etc was so...:D :confused:
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Another one from Essex had no idea what a fuse box, consumer unit, etc was so
    From Essex? Not female and blonde as well, by any chance? I wonder what that one called the boxy-thingy under the stairs that needs going to when the lights go out?
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    From Essex? Not female and blonde as well, by any chance? I wonder what that one called the boxy-thingy under the stairs that needs going to when the lights go out?
    Female, from Essex, Andy. Oh, memories :D. Not blonde, though. I have no idea what she calls it (I haven't talked to her since January). I personally call it a consumer unit (or breaker panel). I install such boxy-things (and other wardroby things :D) for living.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    We have similar arrangements here. I know they are consumer units, but most of the time we say fuse box. We were in a holiday house in Adelaide some years ago when the electricity tripped off. I had to ring up the landlady as I couldn't find the fuse box. And that was the term I used with her too. It turned out that it was on an external wall. (We always have it on an internal wall.)
     
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