Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter vs Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter
The AFCI should not be confused with the GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter. The GFCI is designed to protect people from severe or fatal electric shocks while the AFCI protects against fires caused by arcing faults. The GFCI also can protect against some electrical fires by detecting arcing and other faults to ground but cannot detect hazardous across-the-line arcing faults that can cause fires.
A ground fault is an unintentional electric path diverting current to ground. Ground faults occur when current leaks from a circuit. How the current leaks is very important. If a person’s body provides a path to ground for this leakage, the person could be injured, burned, severely shocked, or electrocuted.
The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection for receptacles located outdoors; in bathrooms, garages, kitchens, crawl spaces and unfinished basements; and at certain locations such as near swimming pools. A combination AFCI and GFCI can be used to satisfy the NEC requirement for GFCI protection only if specifically marked as a combination device.
source: Consumer Protection Safety Commission Fact Sheet
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