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  1. #1
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    Feb 2009
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    Default Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    I'd like to hear some of the forum member's opinions on this. When I see fuses in an A/C service disconnect, I've been mentioning to my clients that they should consider an upgrade to a 240 V breaker, and get rid of the fuses. This is because you can have only one fuse blow, and that the equipment is still going to have 120 volts applied to it, but it won't be able to run on just half of its intended circuit. A breaker, on the other hand, will disconnect both sides of the 240 V circuit when it trips.

    I recently mentioned this to an HVAC contractor, and he said I shouldn't be telling my clients this because having the fuse blow on just on side of an A/C power circuit wouldn't hurt the equipment. What say all the experts here on the forum?

    Thanks a lot!

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  2. #2
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    As long as it is single phase I agree with the HVAC contractor.


  3. #3
    John Steinke's Avatar
    John Steinke Guest

    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    You've unwittingly strolled right into a minefield ....

    The first part of the issue is that circuit breakers and fuses each have their own advantages, and which one to use is generally a design decision, not a code matter.

    With HVAC equipment, the issue gets murkier. It is very possible that the nameplate of the equipment specifies "maximum FUSE size." If that is the case, then there have to be fuses somewhere in the power to the unit. Only if the nameplate says "maximum OCPD" or "maximum fuse or breaker" does one have the option of using the breaker.

    Another issue that comes up is disconnection of the unit. Fuses alone are not enough; there also has to be some manner of disconnecting means at the unit. This contrasts with breakers, which generally qualify as a disconnecting means.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Chico,Ca
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    423

    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    If it's older equipment, the data plate may state: "Max. fuse size __" and if it does only fuses may be used, newer equipment allows both* & it's not a bad thing to use fuses in a A/C disco, IMO.

    *Newer HVAC EQ. will say Maximum fuse size or HACR circuit breaker.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    Some HVAC equipment requires fuses. While not as convenient to reset as a breaker, fuses are fine.


  6. #6
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    Chico,Ca
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    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    As long as it is single phase I agree with the HVAC contractor.
    3-pole fusible safety switches are commonly used on 3 phase HVAC equipment.


  7. #7
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    St. Louis, Mo. area.
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    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    I should have specified that I was referring to the service disconnect located on the exterior wall at the location of the exterior A/C compressor unit, and that we're talking strictly about single phase applications only. Actually, since the A/C circuits are protected by either fuses or breakers at the interior service panel anyway, having additional fuses or breakers at the exterior service disconnect is probably needlessly redundant anyway.

    Thanks for the insight on the use of fuses with A/C circuits. That certainly didn't take long!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    St. Louis, Mo. area.
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    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    You've unwittingly strolled right into a minefield ....
    Thanks John! It's a talent I have!

    Mike


  9. #9
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by Rollie Meyers View Post
    3-pole fusible safety switches are commonly used on 3 phase HVAC equipment.
    "I recently mentioned this to an HVAC contractor, and he said I shouldn't be telling my clients this because having the fuse blow on just on side of an A/C power circuit wouldn't hurt the equipment. What say all the experts here on the forum?"


    I was responding to the OP question. Blowing one fuse on a single phase cirucit will not hurt the equipment but it will on a three phase circuit. And thanks for the heads up on three phase fused disconnects.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    St. Louis, Mo. area.
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    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    I was responding to the OP question. Blowing one fuse on a single phase circuit will not hurt the equipment but it will on a three phase circuit. And thanks for the heads up on three phase fused disconnects.
    That's where my original assumption came from I guess. My background is more with three phase, and I know that loosing a leg there is not a good thing. Thanks!


  11. #11
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Fuses vs Breakers for 240 V Applications

    It is a plus to have a 3-pole breaker on a three phase motor to help prevent single-phasing when one fuse blows. You just have to size the breaker per Table 430.52 to help prevent the breaker from kicking out on startup.


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