Generally I only buy electrical fixtures (lights, fans, etc.) from a reputable seller out of concern for fire risks, but if AFCI breakers and GFCI receptacles are installed, would that eliminate any potential for fires / dangerous issues if there was either a faulty fixture or wiring in the house?

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    Eliminate no, but should reduce the chances by a very large amount. Should be close to zero chance if everything is to code and the breakers/receptacles are working as they should.
    – crip659
    Jun 10 at 13:37
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    I confidently buy a 10-pack of outlets for $5 and use them without worry. Is that cheap? Yes. Is the company reputable? Also yes. Are the faulty? Only time can tell. You should revise your question to remove money from the equation. Yes AFCI and GFCI exist to protect people from various electrical failures regardless of perceived quality of of your fixtures/devices. However, don't cheap out on the AFCI/GFCI protection itself.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 10 at 14:02
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    @GeorgeAnderson I never thought I could be insulted over the Internet but accusing me of using backstabs is a particularly heinous transgression...
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jun 10 at 14:39
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    @MonkeyZeus Sorry about that, guess I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. But using 50 cent outlets is also egregious . Jun 10 at 14:41
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    @monkeyzeus, they do not have the same quality hardware so yes they do wear out faster, new they don’t have the same withdrawal force after just a few cycles (some jobs I have to measure the withdrawal force). That with the ones that only have backstabs should be outlawed in my opinion. Although backstabs may have put my son through college so I should like them. Despise backstabs yes because of the close calls to full blown fires. Not only arcing at a stab but look at the plug face for soot from arcing, most likely a cheep one even if it has screws in my experience.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 10 at 15:01

Do AFCI and GFCI protect against cheap equipment?

Not really. A GFCI will limit a shock and an AFCI will limit arcing. There are many other things that can happen with non listed equipment. I specifically look for a UL listing or TUV true verification that the devices are safe to use. Some JUNK may not arc or have ground faults but overheat and start a fire.

So NO even the combination AFCI + GFCI devices can not protect for these cases where no arcing or ground faults happen. Poorly chosen components that over heat and start fires can still happen.

What’s worse is some devices cause nuisance tripping, no faults, new replacement more tripping the owner removes the AFCI and the device ends up causing a small fire (usually contained in the junction box).

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    +1 Indeed, not really. To the OP: UL + AFCI/GFCI are added layers of protection for different failure modes (wiring, fitting, install, wear & tear, wet conditions), not substitutes.
    – P2000
    Jun 10 at 14:33
  • Ed: I wish I could give you a 100 points for that answer! And the advice monkeyzuse it not good. It's just not that much more expensive to invest in quality materials. ++++++++++ Jun 10 at 14:37

If the cheap equipment is so cheap, that you experience a live-neutral shock, you will die, and neither the GFCI/AFCI will trip, because killing you became the load. You'll be long dead before the lowest rated breakers will trip from shocking you.

AFCI/GFCI do not cover all possible source of danger. It covers some of it and can make things safer, but electricity will still kill you. Don't do stupid things and think AFCI/GFCI can compensate for garbage electronics.


At the very least, you need to comply with NEC 110.2 (it's on the first page) which says you must use approved equipment. In practice that means listed by an NRTL such as UL, CSA, ETL, BSI, TUV and the like, this being independent lab testing to positively confirm the appliance complies with the relevant UL White Book standards so it won't kill you. And then, continued surveillance of factory output to assure the factory doesn't bait-and-switch.

*It sounds like what you're saying is, "Is it OK to use the cheap Cheese junk I see on AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, Banggood, DealExtreme and wish.com" the vast majority of which are not listed.

Right off the top of my head, here's a fatal blunder: As you know, any random plastic will burn like a freak and produce toxic smoke; very commonly in house fires, the toxic smoke overcomes you - it doesn't need to kill you clinically dead, just incapacitate you and the smoke/fire does the rest. They must be made out of the right plastics (expensive) to NOT do that. The right plastics cost money.

That's an immediate example of something AFCI and GFCI won't protect against.

That cheapo stuff online is all about cutting every possible corner on costs, so they dispense with both proper materials and independent lab testing. Since most consumers expect an NRTL mark to be there, they just stick a CE, CCC, FCC or RoHS mark on there, none of which are NRTLs but you don't know that. They either don't relate to device safety, or are voluntary self-certifications that are unenforced outside certain jurisdictions, so no consequence for faking them.

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