Differences Between GFCI and AFCI

It is understandable that GFCI and AFCI are commonly confused. The ground fault circuit interrupter and the arc fault circuit interrupter both prevent hazardous electrical emergencies, they both shut off power if there is a problem and they both need to be tested every month.

However, the GFCI protects against ground faults, and the AFCI protects against arc faults — two very different occurrences. Ground faults create an unintentional electrical path between a power source and a grounded surface. Arc faults are an equally dangerous but different problem caused by damaged, overheated or stressed electrical wiring. In short, GFCI protects against electrical “leaks” external to a power source, and AFCI protects against electrical problems inside the power source itself.

Both can be part of outlets wired into specific circuits. Test them by using the test button on the outlets.