Magnum Inspections Inc.

Serving South Florida Since 1994          Martin County: (772) 214-9929 Broward/Palm Beach Counties: (954) 340-6615     

Email me at: ev@magnuminspections.com

 
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Arc-Fault Protection

Starting January 1, 2002, The National Electrical Code , Section 210-12, requires that all branch circuits supplying 125V, single phase, 15 and 20 ampere outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms be protected by an arc-fault Circuit interrupter. Eventually they will be in more areas but the NEC selected to require them on bedroom circuits first because a CPSC study showed many home fire deaths were related to bedroom circuits.


The AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker, will shut off a circuit in a fraction of a second if arcing develops. The current inside of an arc is not always high enough to trip a regular breaker. You must have noticed a cut or worn piece of a cord or a loose connection in a junction box or receptacle arcing and burnt without tripping the regular breaker. As you can guess this is a major cause of fires in a dwelling.
 

There is a difference between AFCIs and G.F.C.I.s. AFCIs are intended to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by electrical arcing faults; whereas, G.F.C.I.s are personnel protection intended to reduce the likelihood of electric shock hazard. Don't misunderstand, G.F.C.I.s are still needed and save a lot of lives.

Combination devices that include both AFCI and G.F.C.I protection in one unit will become available soon. AFCIs can be installed in any 15 or 20 ampere branch circuit in homes today and are currently available as circuit breakers with built-in AFCI features. In the near future, other types of devices with AFCI protection will be available.
 

If a GFCI receptacle is installed on the load side of an AFCI it is possible for both the AFCI and the GFCI to trip on a fault if the current exceeds the limit for both devices. It is also possible for the AFCI to trip and the GFCI to not trip since the two devices could race each other. However, in no case is safety compromised.
 At first the cost for AFCI will be high. Expect to pay between $20 and $50 for each AFCI. The cost is expected to drop as much more are ordered.

Code Section 210-12

(a) Definition: An arc-fault circuit interrupter is a device intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.

(b) Dwelling Unit Bedrooms. All branch circuits that supply 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms shall be protected by an arc-fault circuit interrupter (s). This requirement shall become effective November 1, 2002.

From the 2005 NEC:
 

210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.


(A) Definition: Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter. An arc-fault circuit interrupter is a device intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.
(B) Dwelling Unit Bedrooms. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination type installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.
Branch/feeder AFCIs shall be permitted to be used to meet the requirements of 210.12(B) until January 1, 2009.
 

FPN: For information on types of arc-fault circuit interrupters, see UL 1699-1999, Standard for Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters.
Exception: The location of the arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be permitted to be at other than the origination of the branch circuit in compliance with (a) and (b):


(a) The arc-fault circuit interrupter installed within 1. m (6 ft) of the branch circuit over-current device as measured along the branch circuit conductors.


(b) The circuit conductors between the branch circuit over-current device and the arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be installed in a metal raceway or a cable with a metallic sheath.

Click on the links to the left for more important information.

 

Martin County: (772) 214-9929 Broward/Palm Beach Counties: (954) 340-6615

Email me at: ev@magnuminspections.com

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