Thermal fuses, also called thermal cutoffs, are a safety device used in electrical circuits to provide protection against appliances overheating. Thermal fuses are normally supplied in an axial or radial package, although some thermal fuses are now available as a chip.
How do thermal fuses work?
Thermal fuses work in a similar way to electrical cartridge fuses; when the conditions exceed a certain limit, the circuit will be broken. For thermal fuses, the limit is based on temperature. Thermal fuses typically contain a small pellet within them or have a thin piece of wire which melts at a certain temperature. When the pellet or piece of wire melts, the circuit breaks. This is called 'blowing out' or 'burning out'.
Single-use thermal fuses and resettable thermal fuses
Most thermal fuses are single-use and non-resettable. Once the pellet or piece or wire has melted, the thermal fuse will need replacing before you can operate your appliance again. Resettable fuses are available but tend to have a higher upfront cost than single-use counterparts. For resettable fuses, when the wax pellet within melts, the circuit is broken. However, as the appliance cools, the wax pellet will cool and solidify. This will complete the circuit again and your appliance can be used.
What are thermal fuses used for?
Thermal fuses are used to protect appliances from overheating and can be found in domestic and industrial applications. They are a safety device that helps to prevent fires. For example, thermal fuses can be found in hairdryers, tumble dryers and coffee machines.
What is the difference between functioning temperature and holding temperature?
All thermal fuses have a holding temperature rating and functioning temperature rating. These are key measurements to consider when choosing the right thermal fuse for your application. The holding temperature, normally measured in Celsius, defines what temperature the fuse can operate at continuously without blowing. This is the limit of the safe temperature range for the fuse. The functioning temperature is the lowest temperature rating (also in Celsius) at which the thermal fuse will blow and the circuit will break.