Electrical Safety

GFCI vs AFCI – What’s the Difference?

By November 27, 2019 February 8th, 2021 No Comments
An electrician replacing a GFCI outlet.


The vocabulary of an electrician is full of acronyms which can quickly lead to confusion if your not an electrician yourself. KW, MW, OCV, POV, SW, VOM to name a few. (Kilowatt, Megawatt, Open Circuit Voltage, Short Wave, and Volt Ohm Meter) Today we are going to discuss the key difference between two common household acronyms GFCI and AFCI outlets. Let’s dive into it!

What is the difference between a GFCI and an AFCI outlets?

Otherwise known as ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) both GFCI and AFCI outlets have features built into them to protect you and your home from electrical danger. The main difference between GFCI and AFCI is which electrical dangers they protect you from.

GFCI Outlets

Ground fault circuit interrupters are designed to monitor the electrical currents and shut off electrical circuits when an imbalance is detected. If the electrical current has made contact with a human or in another conductor the GFCI outlet will automatically stop the flow of electricity from causing more damage. This dramatically decreases the risks of electrical burns, shocks, and electrocution.

GFCI outlets are so effective in reducing electrocution related injuries that National Electrical Code now requires them to be used on any outlet within 6 feet of a water source, all outdoor outlets, and in all spaces with concrete floors such as unfinished basements and garages.

AFCI Outlets

Arc-fault circuit interrupters are designed to shut off your outlets if they detect arcing and sparking within your electrical system. This arcing causes heat, which leads to electrical fires. By utilizing AFCI outlets you are greatly minimizing the risk of having your home wiring overheat and start a fire. AFCI protection is also so effective that code requires AFCI outlets in all habitable living areas.

Common Causes of Arcing & Sparking Wires:

  • Lose wire connections
  • Nails going through wires
  • Rodents chewing on a wire
  • Overheated devices
  • Faulty wiring

Electrical Safety with GFCI and AFCI

As technology advances so does our ability to protect ourselves from potential hazards such as electricity. If your living in an older home or simply want an evaluation on how safe your electrical system is contact VPC Electric today for a FREE electrical safety evaluation for homeowners.



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