Not all outlets are created equal: regional differences, safety features, and useful additions can run the gamut, and electrical outlets can look startlingly different in different settings. Arc fault circuit interrupters, ground fault circuit interrupters, and ground fault interrupters are common components in some outlets, particularly in places like bathrooms and kitchens. Still, many homeowners don’t know the differences between these protective features. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between AFCI, GFCI, and GFI protection!
AFCI, GFCI, and GFI Protection for Outlets
AFCI, GFCI, and GFI protection are all designed to protect users from electrical faults. While the acronyms are different, GFCI and GFI outlets are actually the same thing: they protect against faults by shutting the circuit down if abnormalities are detected. AFCI outlets are slightly different. Arc fault circuit interrupters are specifically designed to shut down when they sense an arc fault, which can cause high heat and electrical fires. While AFCI and GFI protection are common in electrical outlets, some electrical panels and breakers also have these features.
What’s the Difference?
While AFCI and GFI protection both shut down circuits in the event of a fault, they are actually quite different. In essence, GFI protection is intended to guard against fatal shocks, and AFCI outlets are intended to prevent electrical fires due to arc faults. AFCI and GFI outlets typically have two buttons, a reset button and a test button. In many cases, AFCI buttons are white and GFI buttons are red and black, but this is not always true.
Investing in AFCI, GFCI, and GFI Protection
GFI protection is particularly common in areas that experience moisture regularly (think bathrooms and kitchens), as these are the places where electrical shocks can be more likely to occur. AFCI outlets are recommended for various spaces and circuits, and many jurisdictions include AFCI protection guidelines in their electrical codes. Whether you’re installing AFCI and GFI outlets for the first time or your home already has them, make sure to test them monthly and work with an experienced electrician for maintenance and repair.
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