Will a gfci receptacle work ok on an afci protected circuit?

Tom PultzJanuary 13, 2010

I'm going to be adding some AFCI breakers for the bedrooms, family room, living room and dining room.

I previously added a GFCI receptacle in the crawl space that's on the family room circuit.

Will this GFCI continue to work OK or will this essentially "double fault protected" circuit cause problems?

Thanks.

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petey_racer

It will work no problem.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 9:25PM
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texasredhead

An AFCI breaker and a GFCI have totally seperate purposes. Basically, an arc fault breaker prevents fires and a GFCI prevents shocks. Standard breakers will not always react to arcing in a fixture because it does not sense an overload which causes fires.

On the other hand, GFCIs are installed in kitchens and bathrooms to prevent shocks from defective toasters, hair dryers, etc., especially in damp locations.

I think where things are going, we may see combination AFCI/GFCI breakers that will be a requirement in new construction and service upgrades.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 9:01AM
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Tom Pultz

Thanks for the replies. I am aware of what an AFCI and GFCI do... I just did not know if they would "fight" one another on the same circuit since the AFCI has some of the same protection as a GFCI, just at a higher current level I believe.

Technically, I don't have to install an AFCI breaker on the family room circuit (yet) since our area does not follow the 2008 NEC, but since I'm updating the panel and need to install them on the bedroom circuits I thought I might as well install AFCI breakers on all receptacle circuits not protected by GFCIs.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:30PM
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ecranny

texasredhead, you said 'GFCI prevents shocks' - not exactly true, so I want to elaborate. GFCI will detect the fact that you are recieving a shock, and will trip in a very short time so that hopefully you will get away with just a nasty 'suprise' instead of a lethal shock.

Combination AFCI and GFCI sounds like a great idea - I would patent the device if I were you :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Ron Natalie

Well: GFCI is for protection from shock (i.e., lethal shock). AFCI is fire prevention.

Be very careful with the terminology. "Combination" with regard to AFCI means it has both the Branch/Feeder and the Outlet protection features in one unit. The proper term for a device that is both an AFCI and GFCI is "dual listed."

Not a whole lot of those out there, but I suspect they are coming.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 8:47AM
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brickeyee

"GFCI will detect the fact that you are recieving a shock, and will trip in a very short time so that hopefully you will get away with just a nasty 'suprise' instead of a lethal shock."

In the vast majority of cases they will protect a person since the current from the hot rarely manages to return completely on the neutral in an accidental shock.

If you put yourself directly across the hot and neutral with no leakage paths for current the GFCI will merrily measure the hot and neutral as equal and not activate.

This is more of a hazard to folks working on live circuits than the average accidental shock from defective equipment.

While GFCIs are very effective when correctly installed and maintained (hit the test button at least every couple months) they (like most safety equipment) are not perfect.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 10:32AM
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Ron Natalie

Of course if you were to make an arc as you connected yourself across the line-neutral, the AFCI should trip :-)

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:05PM
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brickeyee

Humans do not usually arc very much at 120 volts.

Just jump like hell (or fall off the ladder).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 2:49PM
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pharkus

lol

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 5:33PM
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