Good Day Everyone. This weeks blog is about AFCI Breakers. We are going to explain exactly what this type of breaker is and at the end the difference between a regular circuit breaker and a GFCI breaker. So lets begin.
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a type of circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent electrical fires. An AFCI distinguishes between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors, and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor. (technical definition)
With today’s electrical code many homes have been upgraded with this device or they are installed for new construction. You will normally see AFCI’s in the living rooms, bedrooms, home office and maybe dinning room. Basically, where there is living occupied space. Where people have basements, there will be AFCI circuits as well. Now do not confuse these with GFCI’s for the kitchen, garage and bathrooms. When detected the AFCI will trip quicker then a normal circuit breaker for that branch circuit. Also when installed you entire branch circuit will be protected from that circuit breaker. The devices are great and an added safety feature for the home. However, the one little downside of this device is the CFL bulbs will occasionally trip the breaker and sometimes the bulbs will not last the life of the manufacture. Alot of electricians will be against the CFL bulbs because of that and additionally, these bulbs in my opinion really don’t save money. They get us away from carbon but I still prefer the traditional incandescent type light bulb.
So, whats the difference between an AFCI and GFCI. Well for one, a GFCI will be used for the wet areas of the home. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and in Florida you will see them in garages. GFCIs prevent shocks, and AFCIs prevent fires. Both should be installed by a qualified electrician to make your home safer.
So in closing, we do not suggest that the home owner or the reader replace the breakers with AFCI or GFCI type breakers. Save that for the professional electrician. However, at Emerald Inspection Service, when performing the electrical inspection, we test both types. Yes, I am sure you have seen the little tester at the box stores for GFCI’s. However for the AFCI’s they are a bit pricier and you will normally not see for retail. Additionally, we also check for heat on the breakers. This is the common sign of the breaker maybe failing. To find out more about this and all of our other services, that we perform in Tampa, Land O Lakes, Hernando and Clearwater Florida, go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net You can call as well at 352-322-2700