To understand the difference between GFCI and AFCI one needs to understand the instance or application for each of these circuit interupters. And there is a drastic difference between GFCI and AFCI breakers. An AFCI, Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter, protects the circuitry of your home or business and are a relatively newer product. AFCI's are generally used in new construction and provide a higher level of protection than a standard circuit breaker by detecting and removing the dangerous arcing condition before it becomes a fire hazard. These arcs can easily ignite surrounding materials as heat is known to exceed 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. GFCI's, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, protect us from electric shock if parts of an electrical appliance or tool become energized due to a ground fault and are option found in bathroom's and kitchen's.
An AFCI uses advanced electronic technology designed to “sense” the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions. AFCI manufacturers test for the hundreds of possible operating conditions and then program their devices to monitor constantly for the normal and dangerous arcing conditions. An example of a normal arcing condition when a light switch is turned off and the opening of the contacts creates an arc.
AFCI and GFCI technologies can and should co-exist with each other. An AFCI circuit breaker and a GFCI receptacle work excellent together to offer the most complete protection that can be provided on a circuit today.
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