I am looking at fuses from a cable protection standpoint. According to this doc the IEC standards for typical miniature fuses (IEC127-2) can be summarised as:

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Why can fast acting fuses tolerate a 210% over-current for 15x longer than slow acting fuses, when in all other cases they are more responsive?

Is this deliberate, or just a consequence of how the fuse operates?

I suppose there is something special about that particular over-current figure, but I'm drawing a complete blank on what it may be....

(And no its not a mistake in the table, I've checked!)

Related: Should I use slow fuse or fast fuse?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, how did you check the table? Mail the manufacturer or blow some fuses for science? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2017 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing as fun! Though I am in the process of melting the wires the fuses will hopefully protect - for science. I checked the data sheets of fuses that claimed to adhere to IEC127-2, and they matched the above table. \$\endgroup\$
    – sebf
    Jul 12, 2017 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


That is a nice observation - I am only speculating here about the how, and I hope a fuse manufacturer will jump in with a better answer.

The fast fuses I looked at contain a relatively thin wire, slack, while the slow blow fuses contain a thicker wire, held under tension by a spring.

As such, they operate in different ways : you need to melt the wire in the fast fuse, to break the circuit. But the slow blow fuse only needs to soften the wire until it yields under the spring tension, at a somewhat lower temperature (for the same wire material). That leads to the use of a thicker wire, as can be confirmed by observation.

Thus the fast fuse, with its thinner wire, has better cooling - greater radiating surface per unit mass of material - than the slow fuse, as well as requiring a higher ultimate temperature before failing.

So a modest overload will leave it at a high enough temperature to radiate away enough heat energy to limit its temperature, or at least slow its temperature rise, and delay its melting.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thats a good explanation, thanks! It never occurred to me that this could be a concession for the fuse design, rather than a specific goal... \$\endgroup\$
    – sebf
    Jul 9, 2017 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be off regarding the precise mechanism, but it's a pretty safe assumption that it's a consequence of the physics rather than a design goal. Thermodynamics of cooling a wire are ... not simple. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Jul 10, 2017 at 9:51

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