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Replacing fuses with breakers: The case for updating electrical equipment in restaurants

Photograph: Shutterstock

Ask restaurateurs what electrical safeguards they prefer for their kitchen equipment and it’s likely they won’t have a preference—or they won’t know that there are different options in the first place. But asked if they’d prefer less downtime for their dishwashers or coolers, operators are likely to have a passionate response—especially once they know that the road to that outcome involves asking their equipment supplies one key question: Do they still use fuses, or have they switched to the more modern and reliable devices known as miniature circuit breakers (MCBs)? 

Operators may not know the differences between the two, but they’ll readily appreciate the disadvantages of fuses should their icemaker or walk-in go on the fritz. With MCBs, all that’s needed to bring the equipment back online is a flip of a toggle switch. With a fuse, it’s a whole different matter.

For operators who want to make the switch, that can mean convincing their equipment suppliers to make the switch, too. And the best way to do that is by being able to convey the benefits of doing so.


By design, breakers are safer than fuses. A blown fuse can be mistakenly replaced with a new one in the  wrong size. If it’s replaced by a bigger size, the equipment is at risk of being a fire hazard. If a breaker trips on a consistent basis, a service person will need to be called and the problem investigated. Moreover, how  do operators know for certain that the problem is that the fuse is blown? Many fuses do not have a blown fuse indicator, so service workers or operators will need to remove them and test them with an ohms meter, or use a voltmeter to see if the voltage passes through the fuse. Some fuse holders are not finger-safe, so the employee doing the diagnostics is at risk of touching a live wire. Many industrial users are requiring anyone who works on fuse panels to wear an arc fault suit, which means needing a dedicated maintenance team to tackle even minor electrical issues, such as a blown fuse.  

Degradation testing and cost savings

While both fuses and circuit breakers do degrade with age, only breakers can be tested. The only option for fuses is to replace them on an interval schedule before they blow—which any homeowner can confirm doesn’t always happen on time, so the same may be said for fuses used to provide electricity to restaurant equipment. By being able to check efficiencies for breakers, restaurants can bank cost savings from not having to arbitrarily replace fuses. Restaurants can also stop worrying about downtime from blown fuses. When calculating the time lost to replace fuses when short-circuits happen, plus the replacement cost and longer diagnostic time to find the problem, all of those factors add up quickly. By switching to breakers, manufacturers and operators no longer have to worry about that lengthy downtime or unpredictable problem diagnosis. 

Moving forward

MCBs from NOARK are designed to be used in the manufacturing of restaurant equipment. While a lot of equipment is still built to be used with fuses, making the switch means manufacturers can offer their restaurant clients additional reliability in their equipment. To learn more about making the switch to NOARK miniature circuit breakers and DP contractors and find out more about the advantages of doing so, visit na.noark-electric.com.

This post is sponsored by NOARK

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