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AFCI vs CAFCI: Detailed Comparison

Choosing the right circuit breaker for your electrical system is crucial. The most common types of breakers are AFCI and CAFCI.

AFCI vs CAFCI, which one is better? 

Parallel arcing is protected by an AFCI even if it is hot to neutral. But the CAFCI provides protection from both parallel and serial arcing from hot to hot in a splice. CAFCI is simply the modern version of the AFCI. Even though their manufacturing processes are similar, one could be better than the other. 

Let’s look after the detailed comparison!

How The Outlets Work

There are a lot of old homes with old wiring. AFCI adds safety to all the older homes that are pre-existing. It detects basically necks in your wire that have any damage to the conductors that you can’t see after it’s installed. So you’re able to monitor it through the device itself. 

In a nutshell, AFCI devices help to prevent fires by using modern technology. To closely monitor the electrical current in a circuit they de-energize the circuit. The installation cost is minimal compared to the value of saving lives and property.

Once you snap in the plug, you’re able to terminate right into the switch and make a quick installation of outlets. It shouldn’t be hard to plug-in the outlets. 

AFCI is very easy to work with. It’s basically like wiring an old thermal breaker, it’s hard to mess it up. This type of breaker can stop electric fires which is the most important thing in a home. Even if you can’t see the circuit, it detects overflow before any consequences occur. 

On the other hand, CAFCIs require all 120 volts and single-phase 15-20A branch circuits. This type of outlet needs to include almost every room in a house, hotel, dormitory, patient room, etc. For this type, you must keep in mind to balance the switch and circuit energy power. Like a 15 amp switch on a 20 amp circuit.

Difference Between AFCI And CAFCI

Even though both are capable circuit breakers for your home, there are some key differences. Let’s talk about how the AFCI and CAFCI works and what’s the difference between them. 

AFCI 

AFCIs use cutting-edge technology to detect various arcing circumstances. Arcs are measured using a variety of methods. But the AFCI will be able to identify parallel or series arcs, as well as distinguish between them.

The arc-fault circuit breaker examines the arc’s characteristics to decide whether it is a potentially dangerous event or not. They’re programmed to closely watch these conditions and identify changes.

One drawback of AFCI is, it cannot maintain the current flow when voltage drops. It also cannot identify very high and low line voltage. So it’s better not to use this type of circuit breaker on industrial high and low voltage lines. 

Faulty AFCI circuits can create dangerous arcs. This can create a fire hassle. You might need to purchase arc fault protection. This is an extra expense on your budget.  

CAFCI

The CAFCI is a replacement for the AFCI breaker. When the circuit is loaded with too much energy, the AFCI trips in the protected circuit. This protection is crucial since arcing in the wire is one of the primary causes of house fires. 

Since the turn of the century, circuit serve bedrooms have AFCI protection. The AFCI breakers don’t recognize series arcing between a small gap or frayed section in the same wire. Hence, one faulty outlet can affect others. The combo AFCI- CAFCI was made keeping this in mind. 

CAFCI circuits sometimes have grounding issues due to faults by the manufacturer. This can create current flow over any conducting material around the place. This scenario creates risk for you to get an electric shock. 

Outdated CAFCI breakers can have deteriorating copper nodes. This can lead to arc fault tripping. 

Now that you know both of the circuits’ differences, it’s time to decide which one is the better option. 

The Better One 

In the modern era, CAFCI is a better option between the two outlets. It’s essentially an improved version of AFCI that has hot to neutral or arc to ground parallel arcing. You must have an idea of between ground fault and arc fault before working on them. 

In earlier days, the AFCI technology had flaws, and many individuals complained about inconvenient trips. However, the technology is always being refined to ensure that dangerous arcing signatures are identified.

On the other hand, arcing signatures do not cause the junction box to trip. So, you need to have a good quality junction box to identify them. Here are some affordable junction boxes that you’ll find in the market.

Product 1 
Product 2

That’s all we have regarding this comparison. It’s clear that the CAFCI modern version is the better one. AFCI being the older version has its detriments. So it’s safe to use the modern version. 

FAQs 

Question: Is Cafci better than AFCI?

Answer: In a nutshell, a CAFCI is the upgraded version of an AFCI. Green or blue test buttons are found on older AFCI breakers. Also, both types of breakers are plainly labelled on the front.

Question: Where would you use a Cafci breaker?

Answer: GFCIs should be installed in the kitchen, bathroom, dedicated fridge outlets, and water pumps. Except for these places, the CAFCI is required everywhere a circuit is located.

Question: Why are AFCI breakers so expensive?

Answer: In the scenario of AFCI install, first the electrician will have to correct the faulty wires. It raises you all over cost including the buying price of the outlet. 

Conclusion

Hoping that we’ve finally ended the debate of AFCI vs CAFCI for you. Although they are similar to each other, there’s always a chance of improvement in any of them. 

Look after your own security if you’re installing any of them. 

Stay safe!