At Coffin Electric, we have generations worth of knowledge on electrical systems, but we know that isn’t the case for the average homeowner. Luckily, we’re here to help. This breakdown will help your understanding of elements of your electrical system that are designed to protect your property versus those designed to protect you, the people.
Standard breakers: These breakers in your panel are based on the gauge (or size) of the wire, and are designed to protect your property from overheating.
Surge protectors: Most people are familiar with a surge breaker, but what do they do for you? They’re designed to guard your devices and home against the sudden high power that occurs in surges. They can happen both inside and outside of your home, so utilizing surge protectors are vital to prevent damage.
Arc fault protectors: Arcs are tiny sparks of electricity, caused by a loose connection or short circuit. These little flashes are extremely hot, and can catch nearby objects on fire, creating a serious fire hazard. Arc faults are designed to detect arcs and turn the current flow (or trip) off quickly. By code, almost everything in today’s homes are supposed to be arc fault protected. For example, you might have a lamp plugged in at your desk. If the metal contacts are even slightly exposed, an opportunity for these sparks of electricity opens up. Something as small as a paperclip falling off of your desk and touching the energized metal contacts could trigger an arc. The breakers in an arc fault protector will trip to eliminate those flashes–they’re kind of like little firefighters in your panel, stopping fires in your home before they happen.
Ground fault interrupter (GFI): Everyone knows water and electricity are not a good combo, and a GFI provides protection against water. These GFIs are required wherever moisture or water exists–like sinks, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, pools, unfinished basements, garages, and exteriors. They turn off the current flow when moisture or water is detected, protecting you from little accidents that can happen everyday–like knocking a plugged-in mixer into a sink full of water when washing the dishes. The GFIs will trip to remove power quickly, so that when you grab the mixer, it won’t shock you.
Bonding: Electricity, like people, likes the path of least resistance. Bonding is a term you’ll hear electricians use often in reference to this path, which leads electricity to the ground. Bonding is a system that connects water, gas, and` electrical systems, protecting both property and people. This system gives unwanted or stray voltage an easy pathway to the ground, keeping it away from your family and your home.