Thermal Cutoffs Make Cooler Heads Prevail
American households use a good deal of energy. Since much of the country faces both severely warm and cold temperatures throughout the year, air conditioning and heating usage is significant in many states. In fact, as of 2009 87% of U.S. households were equipped with an air conditioning unit, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. But U.S. household energy consumption isn’t restricted to just heating and cooling. In addition to these, other appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, and more, are responsible for 60% of the average U.S. home’s energy bills, which is typically upwards of $2,200 a year per household.
Thermal Cutoffs — What are They?
With so much energy in the fold and so many devices producing it, it’s useful to know a bit about some of the significant components that allow these machines to run properly, efficiently, and safely.
Thermal cutoffs (or thermal fuses) are fusible links that are designed to function as safety devices for machines at risk of overheating. When an appliance reaches a temperature deemed unsafe, the thermal cutoff will prevent the electric current from flowing, shutting down the machine. The thermal fuse has a one-time use, meaning once it is triggered, or if it fails, it needs to be replaced, as opposed to thermal switches which can be reset and used multiple times.
Types of Thermal Cutoffs
There are two major brands of thermal cutoff: Elcut thermal cuffs and Sefuse thermal cuffs. Elcut thermal cuffs also feature two types of thermal cutoff design: Radial and Axial. The difference between these two types involves the positioning and direction of the fuse’s lead wire. In the axial design, the lead wire comes in and goes out on separate ends of the fusible thermal element. Radial thermal cutoffs have the lead wire parallel to itself, coming out of just one end. Depending on several factors such as temperature, size of machine, positioning, etc. axial or radial thermal cutoffs will be most effective.
Bend, Don’t Break your Thermal Cutoffs
When installing or replacing thermal cutoffs, it’s important to keep in mind that they though they are flexible they can also be fragile. Therefore, when bending the lead wire, one shouldn’t bend close to the root of the wire where the tension is highest. There should be a distance of at least three millimeters between the body of the fuse and the wire before bending it. For safety and efficiency purposes, it’s also crucial that you know the fuses you’re using match the temperature and electricity rating of the appliance involved. Mismatching these can result in malfunctions and even injury.
As Americans, we like our appliances and use them daily. But there’s a lot more to our air conditioning units and dishwashers than just rumbling and clanking. There’s a network of electrical signals being sent and received, and tiny thermal fuses making sure nothing gets too out of hand.