What's The Difference Between An AFCI And A GFCI Outlet?

While regular outlets give you a source of power in convenient locations, some outlets do more than this. For example, safety outlets protect you and your home from accidents.

You have two options here: arc-fault circuit interrupter (ACFI) outlets and ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. While both these outlets have extra safety benefits, they aren't exactly the same. What are the similarities and differences between the two?

AFCI Outlets: What to Know 

AFCI outlets protect a property from fire. These outlets can detect when wiring has a fault that could create an arc in an electrical circuit that might set something alight. They prevent fires from starting.

When these outlets detect an arcing problem, they shut down electrical power on their circuit to keep things safe. When you have investigated or fixed the problem, you press a reset button on the outlet to turn it on again.

AFCI outlets give you constant protection from unforeseeable problems whether you are in or out of your home. They watch out for problems you can't see.

For example, you can't see internal wiring problems, such as damaged wires. You might not know that you have a problem with your walls or your electrical devices until it is too late. If an arc sparks a fire, and you don't have outlet protection, then the fire will spread if it is close to combustible materials.

If you install at least one AFCI outlet on every circuit in your home, then you protect your property from damage. You also make things safer for anyone who lives in your home.

GFCI Outlets: What to Know

GFCI outlets do the same kind of protective job as AFCI outlets. However, these outlets protect you from electric shocks and electrical burns in rooms and areas which contain water sources or lots of moisture.

So, for example, you use these outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, garages, and underground spaces. People are at a higher risk of electric shock in these rooms. Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. If you accidentally touch a wet outlet, then you could get a shock.

GFCI outlets monitor ground current. If this current changes to an unsafe level, say because you've touched a wet outlet and caused a spike, then the outlet will shut down power virtually instantly. You lose your connection to the current. This could reduce the effects of a shock, avoid burns, and even save your life.

Again, you reset these outlets when you have investigated and fixed the problem to restore power again. This process might take a little time if the inside of the socket is still wet.

If you don't have protective outlets in your home or would like to add more, then contact a local electrician.