We like to think that most common electronic components are essentially commodity items. We don´t buy premium wire or resistors. You just assume these electronic components are more or less the same from anywhere unless you need some very special characteristics. What about fuses? We would assume they are all essentially the same, but [Ham Radio A2Z] says he’s throwing away his generic fuses after he found they didn’t work as he would expect.
Of course, name-brand fuses are tested to very specific tests, and you get to see the plots of how the fuses are supposed to melt for Bussmann fuses. Then he takes out a generic assortment of fuses he bought at a hamfest. No Bussmann fuses in that batch!
Comparing the generic fuses with some from Bussmann and Littlefuse, they all work fine to carry current. That isn’t the problem. The problem is when you feed the fuses 20 A and expect them to clear. A 5 A generic fuse carried over 20 A for a very long time, and, as you might expect, it got very hot. We kept waiting for the fuse to blow, but after three minutes, he gave up.
For comparison, a 10 A Bussmann fuse in the same conditions blew almost immediately — about 350 milliseconds. None of the generic fuses blew, and, in fact, the fuse in the video had been subjected to 20 A of over-stress several times already. It seems like it is nearly impossible to blow them at that current level despite it being four times the marked current. Not much of a bargain.
As the video points out, fuses aren’t as much to protect your equipment as much as they are to prevent fires, so don’t forget to include them even on simple projects. Remember the TI 99/4A? The power supply for that vintage computer has an odd little box in the power cable very near the plug. Why? Because they forgot to put a fuse in until the UL reminded them.