A fuse is a type of low resistance resistor that acts as a sacrificial device to provide overcurrent protection, of either the load or source circuit. Its essential component is a metal wire or strip that melts when too much current flows through it, interrupting the circuit that it connects. Short circuits, overloading, mismatched loads, or device failure are the prime reasons for excessive current. Fuses can be used as alternatives to circuit breakers.
A fuse interrupts an excessive current so that further damage by overheating or fire is prevented. Wiring regulations often define a maximum fuse current rating for particular circuits. Overcurrent protection devices are essential in electrical systems to limit threats to human life and property damage. The time and current operating characteristics of fuses are chosen to provide adequate protection without needless interruption.