Arc Faults and AFCI Protection

Have you heard of AFCI breakers? Arc Fault Protection? This technology has largely been adopted in all aspects of a home with few exceptions. While this safety feature caught a bad rap when they were first introduced due to nuisance tripping, they’re now improved and rarely cause issues outside of the protection that they’re designed to provide.

What’s their biggest function? FIRE SAFETY! These breakers and devices are constantly monitoring for arching due to faulty connections, whether it’s an old lamp switch or a loose wire nut. They do this by detecting any abnormality in the sine wave of the power that’s normally occurring in AC power.

In my career as an electrician, especially doing service work in apartment buildings, I’ve seen my fair share of scary wiring issues. Had these older buildings been equipped with AFCI devices, a lot of the outlets, wire nuts, and wagos that I’ve discovered completely melted would have tripped before it even heated up that much. Think of how many fires have started with smoldering electrical connections, eventually generating enough heat to produce a flame!

A misconception from the early days of arc-fault technology is that they nuisance trip a lot. This is largely false, with the exception of some known culprits. Older vacuum cleaners and the backpack types used by home cleaning services love to trip AFCI breakers. The most recent problems are certain model Dryers, which some breaker manufacturers are already solving with slight adjustments.

Reach out to us at Abbott Electrical Contractors if you’d like more information on AFCI protection!