What is a Thermal Fuse and How Does it Work?

Most of us are familiar with the principle of fuses and how they work to help to keep electronics and other electrical systems operating smoothly. They protect overcurrents surging through a system and frying the other components or causing a fire. They’re designed simply to stop or interrupt a current before it can cause any lasting damage in most cases. What is a thermal fuse and how does it work?

What is a thermal fuse?

According to SWE, a thermal fuse is a component that serves as a safety device. It is also known as a thermal cutoff. It opens circuits to prevent overheating. Thermal fuses are designed to detect heat that arises from an overcurrent that occurs within an electrical system. The cause for the overcurrent could either be due to a breakdown in a component or a short circuit.

Is a thermal fuse the same as electrical fuses?

Some of the functions of a thermal fuse are the same, e.g. the safety factor, but it is different than traditional fuses. When a thermal fuse is triggered it interrupts the current or stops it to stop the overheating of a circuit. This is the same way that a traditional fuse works. The major difference between the two is that once the thermal fuse is triggered it is no longer useful.

While a traditional fuse will reset itself, a thermal fuse does not reset and it must immediately be replaced. The same is true if a thermal switch fails. It is not designed to reset itself like other fuse types. A second difference is that a thermal fuse will only react when there is an excess in heat, versus excessive current. The overcurrent must be high enough to cause an excessive amount of heat that can be detected by the thermal fuse. The heat causes the thermal fuse to heat up to trigger the response that provides safety from electrical fires.

What are thermal fuses used for?

Thermal fuses are special fuse types that are used most commonly in devices that heat up or produce heat. Some common household appliances that use thermal fuses include hairdryers and clothing dryers that are used for everyday laundering tasks. They are also used in the construction of coffee makers. The thermal fuse works by disconnecting the current to the heating element when there is a faulty thermostat or some other type of malfunction. The function of the thermal fuse is also to protect the heating element from receiving too much current or from heating past its limitations.

How do you know if a thermal fuse is working?

According to Hunker, you should use a multimeter to test a thermal fuse. Simply touch the right side of the device’s lead to the right side of the fuse. You should also repeat the process on the left multimeter lead. If the needle moves this means that the fuse is still in operation. If the needle doesn’t move, then you can assume that the fuse is blown and must be replaced. Various appliances that use thermal fuses will stop working if the fuse is blown. If there are no other defects or problems with the unit, then simply replacing the thermal fuse may make them function normally again.

Essential facts about thermal fuses

There are a few different kinds of thermal fuses. This is not a one-size-fits-all type component. Thermal fuses are used in home appliances and they are also used in industrial applications to monitor heat through a sensor that is set at a particular level to cutoff electricity flow when it reaches the preset that. It monitors machinery and appliances to ensure safe operation. Thermal fuses prevent your clothing dryer from overheating and catching your home on fire. They keep industrial machinery from overheating and causing factory fires. They serve as a part of a safety system that often relies on other forms of human intervention such as keeping the lint removed from clothes dryers and monitoring other machines for proper maintenance.

How do you replace a thermal fuse?

After testing a thermal fuse as recommended, a blown fuse is not that difficult to replace, depending on the kind of appliance it is in. For a clothing dryer, in most cases, the back panel must be removed. The fuse is usually found behind the back panel. It’s always recommended to refer to the owner’s manual of any appliance for the exact placement of the thermal fuse. Sometimes it is located in the top part of the dryer. If you don’t have a paper manual you can usually find one online. Simply remove the old blown fuse and replace it with a compatible model.

Where do you find thermal fuses?

Thermal fuses are easy to find if you know where to look. Most hardware stores carry them. They are also sold in home improvement stores, appliance stores, and you can also order them online. The average cost is $10 per fuse.

Final thoughts

Thermal fuses are safety mechanisms that help to prevent a heat-generating appliance for the device from overheating and causing a fire. They’re different than traditional fuses because they only interrupt current flows when there is enough of a problem to cause overheating. When the fuse becomes overheated itself, the sensors detect the heat and interrupt the current.

Once a thermal fuse does its job it must be replaced immediately. It can prevent a fire or serious injury from overheating, but it will not function any longer. These fuses are not like other fuses that can reset themselves. They are useless after they’ve been triggered. They’re essential components in any device that generates heat, and they’re wonderful safety precautions for helping to stave off injury-causing accidents, but they also cause the appliance to stop working after they’re blown. If an appliance overheats then refuses to work any longer, you’ll probably need to replace the thermal fuse to get it to work again.

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