What's the Difference Between GFCI and AFCI Outlets?

What’s the Difference Between GFCI and AFCI Outlets?

Are You Wondering: What’s The Difference Between GFCI and AFCI? We’ve Got Your Answer

If you do any research about residential or commercial electrical wiring or electrical repair, then you’ll no doubt come across the terms GFCI outlets and AFCI outlets. Both types of outlets are essential to the proper and safe functioning of any electrical system. But you may be wondering: What’s the difference between GFCI and AFCI outlets? Let’s take a closer look at each type of outlet so you understand why each one is so important.

GFCI Outlets

GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. A GFCI monitors electrical currents and immediately detects when the current is flowing along an unintended path like water. Once that imbalance is detected, the outlet shuts off to protect you against electrocution and electric shock. Think of a GFCI as a small, extra-sensitive circuit breaker built right into an outlet to protect you against electrocution—even in outlets that are not grounded. GFCIs are currently required for use in any areas where there may be an increased risk of electrical hazards including, but not limited to:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry rooms
  • Wet bars
  • Unfinished basements
  • Exterior outlets
  • Spa and pool areas

If a GFCI does shut itself off due to perceived danger, then you can easily turn it back on by pressing the reset button on the outlet once you’ve taken care of whatever caused it to turn off in the first place.

AFCI Outlets

AFCI stands for arc-fault circuit interrupters, and similar to GFCI outlets they protect you from electrical dangers. But here’s the difference between GFCI and AFCI outlets: GFCI outlets prevent electric shock, whereas AFCI outlets prevent electrical fire by being able to detect arcing. An arc flash occurs when electric current flows through an air gap between conductors, like two wires. This typically happens when a mouse chews through a wire, you accidentally drive a nail through a wire, or overheating causes the wire to break down. AFCIs detect this arcing and shut down outlets before damage can occur. Unlike GFCI outlets, AFCI outlets are not found in walls but instead, are easily incorporated into your home or business’ main service panel. AFCI outlets are required in:

  • Bedrooms
  • Any sleeping area: dens, foldout couches, etc.
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry areas

Should You Upgrade Your Outlets?

Now that you know the dangers GFCI and AFCI outlets can guard against, it’s really a no-brainer to install these outlets where appropriate in your home or commercial space. True, some older homes and buildings without these outlets aren’t required to be upgraded, but it’s a relatively inexpensive fix, and the peace of mind they provide is priceless. Plus, if you ever want to sell your property, having outlets that are up to code is a feature for prospective buyers.

Now that you know the answer to the question “What’s the difference between GFCI and AFCI?” it’s time to call Apollo Electric. Apollo’s team of professional and friendly contractors will come to your home or office and make sure your entire property is outfitted with the proper outlets. Apollo Electric has been providing the five boroughs of New York City with exceptional electrical services since 1995. Contact Apollo Electric today.

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