The two main types of electrical outlets are AFCI and GFCI, which fulfill specific purposes. Without them, the risk of a possible fire is greater. Both AFCI and GFCI circuits are equally important, but can you put a GFCI outlet on an AFCI circuit? Will it provide increased protection? Read this article to discover more about where are AFCI outlets required in houses.
What are GFCI and AFCI Outlets?
The GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter is a fast-acting circuit breaker. It works to shut off electric power when the event of a ground fault occurs. It can act in as little as 1/40 of a second. It is designed to protect people from fatal or severe accidents. Since GFCI is able to detect ground shocks, it can also prevent electrical fires.
On the other hand, the AFCI or arc-fault circuit interrupters detect potentially dangerous arc faults. They work to interrupt power flow before the fire starts.
Can You Put a GFCI Outlet on an AFCI Circuit?
Yes, you can put a GFCI outlet on an AFCI circuit. They both are compatible on the same circuit. This can be done if your specific setup has no other choice or if you have some particular purpose for doing so. Putting a GFCI outlet on an AFCI circuit is possible because AFCI is capable of providing high-level protection to any modern electrical wiring system.
AFCI and GFCI are different structures with different functions. The AFCI outlet is used to protect branch circuit wiring from potentially dangerous arching faults which are capable of igniting a fire. The arcs that occur in branching circuits are what AFCI protects from. The function of GFCI is to protect people from electrical shocks that arise from electrical leakage within the ground fault, which are potentially harmful or deadly. The electrocution from the connected load is usually prevented by the GFCI. Hence, it is important to use both together carefully. It is advisable to take advice from an experienced installer to make sure that your outlets are compatible with the same.
What is the Purpose of an AFCI Outlet and a GFCI Outlet?
The purpose of an AFCI outlet is to protect against electrical fires caused by arcs, which can occur when damaged or deteriorated wires or cords create a spark. These outlets can distinguish between normal and dangerous arcs, which enables them to sense abnormal situations. They interrupt power when there is a detection of an arc fault in the circuit downstream from where the receptacle is installed, including within items plugged into it.
The installation of AFCI makes homes code-compliant. They are required for all new residential construction. AFCI outlets are also necessary and are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) in certain areas of a home or building, including bedrooms, living rooms, and more because as we discussed, a fire can start anywhere in the house.
On the other hand, the purpose of a GFCI outlet is to detect ground faults, which ultimately result in protecting people from severe and sometimes fatal electrical shocks. It is different from a fuse as a GFCI is integrated into the outlet itself. When an appliance is plugged in, the amount of power going to the device is monitored by the GFCI outlet. When there is an interruption in current due to any reason, the GFCI is able to detect it and cuts the power immediately.
Also See: What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Trip?
Where are AFCI Outlets Required? Does Every Outlet Need to be AFCI?
What is the purpose of an AFCI outlet is answered in the previous pointer, now let’s talk about the areas where AFCI outlets are required. Under the National Electrical Code (NEC), AFCI outlets are required in the house. With the presence of electrical systems, the chances of a fire occurring are quite high. So, AFCI outlets are required in certain areas because people tend to spend more time here as compared to other areas within the house. Here is the list of areas that should necessarily have AFCI outlets.
- Common rooms
- Finished basements
- Hallways and closets
- Laundry areas
Now, if you are wondering if every outlet needs to be AFCI then No, it is not required for every outlet to be AFCI.
What are the Disadvantages of Using a GFCI Outlet on an AFCI Circuit?
You already got the answer to if you can put a GFCI outlet on an AFCI circuit. Although it is safe to use a GFCI outlet on an AFCI circuit, there are some disadvantages to this type of setup.
1. It can be problematic if an AFCI circuit does not have the actual GFCI breaker, and you are introducing a GFCI outlet. This lacks validity because there is no protection of the GFCI component even in the presence of an outlet. So, some damages will still be there in case of a ground fault.
2. Another reason why it can be dangerous is when the GFCI receptacle is present on an AFCI circuit, but the other rooms still do not have GFCI outlets. This type of connection is again futile because damages by ground fault will not be prevented.
Also See: AFCI Vs GFCI: What are the Differences?
Which is Safer: an AFCI or GFCI?
So, it is difficult to comprehend which one of the two is safer than the other because both of them have different functions. A simple difference between the two is that the GFCI outlet prevents shocks and the AFCI outlets prevent fires. The AFCI is installed as a breaker and a GFCI is installed as a receptacle. The role of a breaker is to protect the entire circuit whereas the role of a receptacle is to protect downstream if the load is connected downstream.
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