Is there a difference between a whole house surge protector and an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)?

  • Yes. Circuit-breakers, surge protectors, AFCIs and GFCIs are all completely distinct and protect against different things.
    – Hank
    Apr 21, 2015 at 3:39

2 Answers 2



An Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is designed to detect arcing faults within a home, and interrupt power to prevent fires. A Combination Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) will detect both parallel and series arcs, while an AFCI will only detect parallel arcs

A whole house surge protector is designed to divert surges coming from outside the home, to prevent damage to electronics within the home. Typical surge sources would be, nearby lightning strikes (it likely will not protect against direct strikes), malfunctioning service equipment, etc.


Whole house surge protector will help protect against surges from entering the house (technically the electrical panel). An AFCI will protect a single circuit from any arcs detected on that circuit. Arcs are caused by bad electrical connections and can lead to a fire. Surges are spikes in the lines voltage and can cause equipment failure.

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