A fuse is a type of over-current protective device that is designed to be a sacrificial element in an electrical power system. Fuses are designed to open circuits when excessive currents are present due to over-currents, and in this manner are designed to prevent further damage to the system that might result if the fuse were not present. Fuses are sacrificial in that they are generally good for one time use and are destroyed in the process of operating. The use of fuses in a circuit provides cheap insurance should there be an accidental or unintentional fault in the system wiring or components.
According to the fuse standard IEC 60269-1, a fuse is “a device that by fusing of one or more of its specially designed and proportioned components opens the circuit in which it is inserted by breaking the current when this exceeds a given value for a sufficient time. The fuse comprises all the parts that form the complete device”.
This means that by definition, the term ‘fuse’ is inclusive of all of the components that work to protect the circuit from over-currents. This consists of a fuse base or fuse mount, the fuse link and where applicable, replacement handles, the fuse carrier or covers.
In common language the term “fuse” is synonymous for fuse-link. ‘Fuse base’ and ‘fuse carrier’ may be referred to a ‘fuse holder’. A fuse carrier hinged to the fuse holder may form a ‘fuse switch’ using the fuse as moving contact.
Several fuse systems, showing different shapes, contact styles, technologies, etc. have historically developed in different countries. Their electrical performance and operating characteristics are however worldwide accepted and covered by the International Standard IEC 60269 “Low Voltage Fuses”.