What is an AFCI Breaker?

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An AFCI breaker, which abbreviates Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter, has the task of interrupting dangerous electric arcs that can contribute to overheating, damaged appliances, and even fires. If you want to bolster home safety and protect expensive appliances, like washers and dryers, then this is an important consideration. We install AFCIs and GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) all the time because they’re effective and modern electrical codes require them.

AFCI Breaker Fundamentals

An AFCI circuit breaker uses advanced electrical technology to sense an arc fault in your circuit. An arc fault would be current flowing on an improper path. This happens on some level all the time whenever you turn on and off appliances or switches. However, not every arc fault is necessarily dangerous.

A hazard arc fault would be a condition where you have current flowing on the ground or a neutral conductor. This is somewhere it should never be because It can get very hot and create a fire hazard. The primary purpose of the AFCI is to sense the hazardous arc faults and trip the circuit breaker to stop the arc flow.

How Long Have AFCIs Been in Homes?

They’re somewhat newer but have been around for many years. Many of the newer electrical codes require circuit breakers with 15 or 20 amps and 120 volts to have AFCI protection.

Fortunately for older homes, you can retrofit one onto an older panel in place of an existing breaker. While it depends on the age of your home, AFCIs may not work properly on older wiring systems or with certain circuit breaker brands.

AFCIs Versus GFCIs

What’s the difference between a GFCI and an AFCI?

GFCI protection focuses more on preventing electrical shock hazards, whereas AFCIs have more to do with minimizing fire dangers. There is some overlap, though, as both are good for mitigating shocks and fires. For electrical outlets, you can get one or the other, but there are also dual-function outlets that provide both ground and arc fault protection.

You can learn more about GFCIs by reading this article on the dos and don’ts of GFCI installation.

Main Advantages to AFCI Protection

What are the best reasons to include AFCI protection in your home?

  • It does its job automatically by distinguishing between normal and hazardous arcs with no other equipment necessary.
  • AFCIs have contributed to a significant drop in electrical fires. Arc faults contribute to roughly half of those fires, which would never happen with an AFCI device.
  • Unlike standard breakers, which only detect short circuits and overloads, AFCIs can track the problem quickly and stop the current.
  • It’s especially wise to use these in areas around major appliances, such as washers and dryers. Those have caused a large portion of the fires, many of which we would attribute to hazardous arc faults.

You can also bring your house up to code by installing AFCIs and GFCIs in strategic locations. As usual, you can contact us anytime to inquire about this beneficial installation service.

Fusion Electric Can Help With AFCI Breaker Installation

Fusion Electric offers the most reliable electrical services in Kansas City. We can help you with AFCIs, GFCIs, replacement wiring, panel upgrades, and more. None of these tasks are DIY-friendly, so your best move is to hire a licensed electrician to do them for you.

We can also help you upgrade your indoor and outdoor amenities if you’re after better quality lighting. These terrific services are the reason we have a reputation as one of the best electrical companies in our community.

Contact Fusion Electric to learn more about AFCI breakers and any other safety and performance improvement measures you can use to improve your home or business.

Jeff LeSuer avatar

Jeff LeSuer




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*Applies to labor only. Must mention coupon at time of service. All repairs and installations require a trip charge of $89. Not valid with other offers.


off any residential service or repair

*Applies to labor only. Must mention coupon at time of service. All repairs and installations require a trip charge of $89. Not valid with other offers.


off panel upgrades

*Applies to labor only. Must mention coupon at time of service. All repairs and installations require a trip charge of $89. Not valid with other offers.

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