man throwing circuit breaker at residential service panel

The Main Differences Between a Circuit Breaker and a GFCI

Conway, AR is prone to tornadoes and other damaging storms that can cause electrical problems and other issues. If you’ve had any type of electrical work done on your home, you probably have heard your electrician discussing either a GFCI or a circuit breaker. These two items are very important for the safety of your electrical system, but anyone who is not involved in this field can get fairly easily befuddled by the two terms. What are the main differences? Here are some characteristics you need to know.

A GFCI Is Known as a Specialized Outlet With a Breaker Already Built In

GFCI, which stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, is a device that is designed to prevent any type of electrical shock should the device come in contact with water. That is why these outlets will typically be found in bathrooms and kitchens but also near pools and any other area where electricity is present near water. Basically, if you are using an appliance and its electricity comes into contact with the water, it will cause the GFCI to trip and cut off the electricity to the appliance. The GFCI will usually act as a great way not just to protect appliances but also to prevent injury.

A Circuit Breaker Is in Control of a Room or Entire Area of Your Home or Office

Unlike a GFCI, a circuit is an entity that is in control of an entire room or area of your home or office. Usually, if there is a surge of abnormal electrical activity, the breaker will trip and cut the power to the part of the home where the outlet is sitting. They call this “tripping a breaker” or a “fault,” and this is meant to prevent damage to the wiring in that particular area of the building.

A GFCI Should Be Tested Regularly

Finally, a GCFI is something that should be tested on a regular basis simply because they have a limited lifespan. You should fully inspect your GFCI outlets annually and replace them every seven to 10 years.

There is an easy way to test these GCFI systems. You simply press the “Test” button on the outlet. If it doesn’t cause the circuit to trip, that means it is time for you to replace the GFCI completely. You should also replace the GFCI unit if it trips completely and does not reset when you press the “Reset” button.

At Money Electric Co. in Conway, AR, we offer a full range of electrical services. Our team is also happy to provide education on GFCIs, circuit breakers, and other electrical components. Contact us today if you have any questions or want to set up a service appointment.