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Scherer Electric Blog

Getting AFCI and GFCI Outlets Straightened Out

A new GFCI electrical outlet.

We have professional electricians who install AFCI and GFCI outlets in Buffalo, NY homes and elsewhere in Western New York. In fact, we strongly recommend homeowners arrange for this service if they have an older electrical system without these types of outlets. You can recognize these outlets by the two buttons located between their sockets.

If you’re already reaching for the phone to call us or you’re typing a message for a service request, that’s great. You can hang out here and read more about what these outlets do. If you still aren’t sure, we also want you to hang out as we explain the difference between AFCI and GFCI and why both are important.

AFCI and GFCI Outlets Are Safety Improvements

We’ll touch on the similarity between the two first. Although they shouldn’t be confused or used as synonyms, AFCI and GFCI outlets are types of grounded (three-prong) outlets which provide better home electrical safety, especially with the higher voltage demands on outlets today. They also look similar, and once you have them installed, you won’t need to think much about what makes them different.

The AFCI Outlet

AFCI stands for arc fault circuit interrupter. The job of this outlet is to protect a home from electrical fires resulting from arcing faults.

Okay, what’s an arcing fault? It’s an electrical malfunction that can happen in aging or damaged wires. Wires that lose insulation, or which were hit with a nail when someone tried to hang a picture from the wall. It can also result from amateur, unlicensed work installing outlets or putting in wires. These damaged or deteriorating wires allow electrical current to leap from one wire to another, which is called arcing. This can easily trigger a fire. An AFCI outlet detects this occurring and then trips a circuit breaker in the outlet to stop the electrical flow.

AFCI outlets are recommended for the following locations in a house: family rooms, dining rooms, dens, bedrooms, closets, hallways, recreation rooms, sunrooms.

The GFCI Outlet

GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. The purpose of this outlet is to prevent people from suffering harmful electrical shocks because the electric current from an outlet passes through them to reach the ground, rather than through their actual grounding.

The way GFCI outlets work is that it monitors the electrical current between the two sides of the outlet, the “hot” and “neutral” sides. If the neutral side drops lower than the hot side, it means the electrical current is passing through another object to reach the ground—and this almost certainly means it’s passing through a person. A circuit reacts within a fraction of a second to cut off voltage flow from the outlet to prevent harm.

GFCI outlets are recommended for bathrooms and the kitchen because of the number of appliances in them and the possible danger of electrical contact with water. Also recommended for outdoor outlets, crawlspaces, and laundry rooms.

You can trust our electricians to know the right spots to put in these two types of outlets. Speak to our team today to arrange for this vital service.

Call on Scherer Electric: Western New York’s Favorite Electrician! We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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