When to Use AFCI vs GFCI Electrical Outlets

By falyn_eaden on 06/03/2016

gfci outlet with wall plate

AFCIs and GFCIs are both NEC requirements to increase the safety and reduce the risk of injury within buildings. These fault circuit interrupters achieve this goal in very different ways. Knowing their purpose is vital for keeping people safe.

What is an AFCI outlet? 

AFCI electrical outlet

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters

An AFCI is a type of outlet that prevents fires caused by arcing faults. An arc fault occurs when power is emitted between two conductors and turns into extreme heat with the ability to burn through insulation and other surrounding materials. 

AFCIs turn off the source of power if it senses and arc in the wiring before overheating occurs to prevent a structure fire. Arcing faults are most commonly caused by damaged and/or deteriorated wires and cords. Wires can be damaged from puncturing of insulation, pinching, poorly installed outlets, cords caught in doors and furniture, natural aging, and exposure to heat and sunlight.

AFCIs can be installed in:

  • Family rooms
  • Dining Rooms
  • Living Rooms
  • Parlors
  • Libraries
  • Dens
  • Bedrooms
  • Sunrooms
  • Recreation Rooms
  • Closets
  • Hallways
  • And similar areas.

What is a GFCI outlet? 

GFCI electrical outlet

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

GFCIs prevents people from severe or fatal electric shocks. Ground faults occur when current leaks from a circuit to an unintentional ground. There are a number of different types of GFCIs and are NEC requirements to be installed in the following: 

  • Bathrooms
  • Garages
  • Storage areas
  • Work areas
  • Outdoors
  • Crawl spaces
  • Unfinished basements
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry room
  • Boathouses
  • Rooftops
  • Indoor wet locations
  • Locker rooms

Learn more about the NEC requirements on their website and visit HomElectrical to fill your equipment needs.


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