Understanding AFCI Protection

Sponsored by: Leviton Manufacturing Co.

As contractors, we’re all familiar with AFCI protection – but how can we help homeowners understand what it is, and why it’s so important?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arc-faults are “the principle electrical failure mode resulting in fire”. Simply put an arc-fault is an unintentional arcing condition (sparking) that occurs in an electrical circuit. Arcing can create high intensity heat, which may over time ignite surrounding material such as wood framing or insulation.

There are a number of conditions which may cause dangerous arcing to occur, including:

• Damaged wires behind a wall
• Damaged cords that are plugged into an outlet
• Loose electrical connections
• Within electrical cords accidentally damaged by furniture or doors pressing or resting on them

What do AFCI Outlets and Circuit Breakers do?

AFCI Outlets and Circuit Breakers contain electronic components within the device that monitor the circuit for the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions.  If a dangerous arcing condition is detected, the AFCI is triggered to quickly react and cut power to the circuit.

AFCI Breaker Outlet

Where would I use AFCI protection?

The 2017 National Electrical Code® mandates AFCI protection in:

• Kitchens
• Family Rooms
• Dining Rooms
• Living Rooms
• Parlors
• Libraries
• Dens
• Bedrooms
• Sunrooms
• Recreation rooms
• Closets
• Hallways
• Laundry Areas


AFCI and GFCI outlets and circuit breakers can look similar but provide very different protection.  It is important to understand the difference as outlined in the table below.

Provides protection from electrical fires that could result from arc-faults.
Protects users from shocks and electrocution.

Protects users from shocks and electrocution.
Cuts off power if a ground fault is detected.

For more information on the difference between AFCI and GFCI protection, watch this video.

To learn more about Leviton’s full line of AFCI and GFCI protected devices, visit

Leviton Manufacturing Co.
Sponsored by: Leviton Manufacturing Co.
From electrical to lighting to networking, Leviton is engineering thoughtful solutions that help make life easier, safer, more efficient and more productive

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.