arc fault vs ground faultArc VS Ground Fault + safety

What is the difference between an arc fault vs ground fault? It is important to know the difference so that you are able to take the correct safety steps.

By: Gareth Kelly – Expert Electrician, Owner of Kelly Electric, Co-owner of Dream Team Home Services

Arc Fault

An arc fault is an unintentional discharge of high energy and short duration. Acting as a spontaneous spark with a staggering surge of electricity, its hard to prepare your home to prevent these from happening. With the following safety tips, it will be possible to mitigate these hazards.

Arc faults have led to around 500 deaths and $900 million in damages each year. What makes them even more dangerous is that there are few reliable ways to detect them. Standard circuit breakers and fuses cannot detect the sudden spontaneous surge in power that can happen in a couple of seconds. Only devices known as arc fault circuit interrupters are designed to shut down a circuit in the event of an arc fault.

Ground Fault

Ground faults are designed to protect people from the direct deadly shock, where AFCIs are designed to protect the circuits. Ground faults can charge an appliance to an unsafe level where making any contact with it can be dangerous. AFCIs can also protect from ground fault surges due to their nature of shutting whole circuits down. It is a good idea to have both GFCIs and AFCIs installed in your home to protect everyone inside as well. The two appliances can co-exist together with no repercussions.

Arc faults occur inside and outside of walls. If a wire anywhere is pinched, perforated, or interfered with at all, it can cause that wire to become unstable. Unstable wires are prime causes for arc faults. If you have suffered from an arc or ground fault, odds are that it came from an unstable or malfunctioning wire.

The 2005 National Electric Code states that AFCIs must be placed in bedroom power and lighting circuits so it can monitor them closely and directly. It is also recommended that you install AFCIs in other sections of your home as well. You can even install AFCIs and GFCIs if they are not required for wherever you are staying. We at Kelly Electric recommend both GFCIs and AFCIs be installed in your home. When it comes to the safety of you and your loved ones, you don’t want to take any chances!

Gareth Kelly


About The Author:

Gareth Kelly, co-owner of Dream Team, has been serving Delaware Valley homeowners for over 20 years with expert electrician services. He came from Ireland to the United States in 2000 and started his own business in 2001, Kelly Electric Co Inc. His expertise in the field grew and strengthened his connection and local commitment to the community. In 2018, Gareth partnered with one of his best friends to create Dream Team Home Services, Inc. Dream Team is about being the ultimate home services team for any homeowner with a reputation for trusted service.