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The Difference Between AFCI, GFCI & Standard Circuit BreakersUpdated 8 months ago

In the realm of electrical safety, different types of circuit breakers serve distinct purposes, each designed to address specific hazards. AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter), GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), and standard circuit breakers offer varying layers of protection, each targeting unique electrical threats.

AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter)

AFCIs are engineered to detect and respond to arcing in a circuit. Arcing refers to the sparking or discharge of electricity between conductors, often caused by damaged wires or faulty connections. This phenomenon can lead to fires even with low levels of current. AFCIs are primarily required in bedrooms, as they aim to prevent fires caused by potential arcing scenarios by enhancing residential fire safety.

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

GFCIs, on the other hand, prioritize safety by monitoring the flow of electrical current. They swiftly trip or interrupt the circuit when they detect a ground fault, which occurs when an unintended path for electricity to the ground is created. GFCIs activate when there is 5mA (milliampere) or more of current leakage, preventing potentially lethal electric shocks—particularly in situations where water and electricity might come into contact, like someone accidentally dropping  a blow dryer in a bathtub.


It's important to note that while GFCIs may significantly reduce the risk of electrocution, they do not guard against arcing or prevent short circuits. Wall-mounted GFCI breakers usually combine GFCI protection with overcurrent safeguards, but standalone GFCI outlets do not provide overcurrent protection.

Standard Circuit Breakers

Standard circuit breakers are the familiar protectors against overcurrent situations in electrical circuits. When the current surpasses the rated capacity of the breaker (typically 15 or 20 amps in household circuits), it trips to interrupt the flow of electricity. Their primary role is to safeguard the wiring and prevent electrical fires resulting from overheating caused by excessive current flow.

Enhancing Safety Beyond Circuit Breakers

It's important to understand that while AFCIs, GFCIs, and standard circuit breakers play vital roles in electrical safety, they do have limitations. None of these safeguards prevent fires originating from overheating appliances or electronic components within devices.


In situations where additional layers of safety are desired for appliances like 3D printers or other electrical devices prone to overheating, considering supplementary safety measures such as the Fire Guard Outlet can provide added protection. This specialized outlet serves as an extra precaution against potential fires caused by device malfunctions or overheating electronic components, complementing the protective functions of AFCIs, GFCIs, and standard circuit breakers. Additionally, all Docking Drawer Blade in-drawer outlets feature a thermostat that will cut power to the outlet when the ambient temperature exceeds 120° F. 

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