You’re probably pretty used to people trying to sell you something that you don’t actually need. You know, that one sharpening tool that only works for a single knife, a combination bicycle pump and rice cooker, those strange “magic” beans that almost sound like they’re whispering to you…. Anyway, we don’t blame you for being skeptical at yet another blog post claiming you need something that you may not have ever heard of before. But, you may need this thing that you might not have ever heard of before. We’re talking about safety outlets, specifically GFCI and AFCI outlets. Have a look below at why it’s a very good idea to have these outlet types in key places around your home.
What are These Outlets?
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCI and AFCI respectively, are outlets designed to provide an extra layer of protection between your electrical system and the rest of your home. Each is designed to guard against a specific kind of electrical issue.
Ground fault circuit interrupters are a type of outlet designed to protect against electrocution. This is one of the two biggest risks associated with home electrical systems, and it happens more often than you would think, so it’s a good idea to have at least a few of these around just in case. The outlet monitors the flow of electrical current through it at all times. Then, if the current starts behaving in a way it shouldn’t (like maybe someone stuck a fork in the socket) the outlet will immediately cut off all flow through it. This happens so quickly that it can actually prevent any serious harm to whoever is conducting the electrical current.
GFCI outlets aren’t needed everywhere in the home, but they are a good idea in certain areas where it might be more likely for electrocution incidents to occur. The two most common areas for GFCI outlets to be installed are the bathroom and the kitchen, as they contain a lot of water appliances. Touching an outlet with wet hands is inviting disaster, but with a GFCI outlet, you are at least better protected.
AFCI outlets, by contrast, are meant to defend against electrical fires caused by short circuits. Your electrical panel already serves as the first line of defense against issues with the circuit itself, but it does not guarantee that a short won’t ignite something in your walls and start a fire. That’s what AFCI outlets are for. If an AFCI outlet detects an abnormality in the circuit itself, it will shut down to prevent any damage.
If you don’t have any of these outlet types in your home, we highly recommend that you give them a try. They may not be very flashy, but they can seriously save you some trouble in the right circumstances.