New AFCI Requirements in 2014 NEC

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meby's picture
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Joined: 2012-04-17

Section 210.12(A) now includes AFCI protection requirements for kitchens and laundry areas. Why don't they just simplify this rule and say they're required throughout the entire dwelling unit?

robertakohli's picture
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Joined: 2013-12-20

If mfg. cared or if nfpa or iaei or other responicable org. cared then we would have gfci /afci in one package at a cost that all could be happy with JUST MY THOUGHT also remember when # 12 romax with # 16 ground was too hi a cost

pdnorman2's picture
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Joined: 2013-08-22

yes, I think that they should just go ahead and require them in all rooms, makes it easier on everyone.

MIKER111's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-28

I don't have any problems with the complexity of the code. But if the code making panels really want to make things safer for the consumer lets do away with back stabbed devices. I'll bet I change 100 back stabbed devices to every side wired.

I mean we are required to AFCI protect these circuits and then we create our own problems by allowing back stabbed devices. Do you think this is really representative of a quality installation?

electricontr's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-21

I think that the requirements for AFCI's and GFCI's have gotten out of hand. Many light fixtures and electronic equipment are not compatible with AFCI's and having GFCI's on dishwashers, disposals and refrigerators is ludicrous. Those who say that the modern GFCI's don't have issues with motors has not been working in the field or done much service work. The additions of all these requirements drives the cost of electrical construction up to the point that people cannot afford the work. Try to justify $250.00 to $2500.00 for adding a receptacle back to back with an existing receptacle since it now has to be arc fault protected. The customer thinks you are crazy so he does it himself or has Joe handyman do it by just connecting to the original receptacle through the wall. Now he is in real trouble because a professional didn't do the job.
Someone on the code making panels needs to use some common sense and not add things to the code just because a manufacturer wants to make equipment to sell or try to protect everything and everyone when in fact they are causing unneeded expense or a safety hazard.

murkyiodine's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-08

Are the AFCI's to replace GFCI requirements?
I think the requirement needs to be re-evaluated.

dlfelectricinc's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-29

Our niche business is correcting violations for point of sale violations. Each jurisdiction has its own interpretation. One inspector has required AFCI if adding a second outlet to a room for 2+ code terms therefore adding 1-outlet to an older home meant adding a small breaker type sub panel. $$$ Meanwhile, neighboring cities still do not ask for them on kitchen or bath remodels. 2-homes 2-blochs apart may have a cost difference of hundreds of dollars for 1 or 2 outlets. We upgrade 150 - 175 panels per year...One city hired a private inspection company that tried to require installing AFCI breakers in home that had romex cables entering the existing panels. 20+ AFCI's cost almost $ 800.00 more. (The Inspectors kid approached my homeowner and offered to install the same panel without AFCI's)

indylynch's picture
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Joined: 2013-06-07

As the code is presently written - you are installing AFCI in bedrooms, hallways, living rooms and GFCI's in garages, laundry rooms, kitchens, basements. What is left that does not require additional protection for receptacles?

Glen Battjes's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-23

I can see a need for GFCI's in Kitchens, bathrooms, outside, garages, etc. AFCIs in bedrooms maybe. You're trying to make houses the most safe place on earth, but what about cigarettes, lighters, matches, ranges in kitchens, (should have a hood and fire suppression) dryers, (something to tell when there is too much lint in the vent). I really don't see a need for GFCIs on condensate pumps, water coolers, pop machines, unless they're outside. I put a GFCI in an attic to protect a condensate pump, someone tripped the GFCI , the float switch didn't work, and flooded the attic. When I started in the trade 40 yrs. ago, the code was written by Electricians and Engineers. Now it is written by Lawyers and equipment manufacturers. Last week I had to justify the fact that a house 80+ years old had a fuse box with 'S' type fuses. Insurance man said someone could put pennies in and defeat the fuse. He'd never seen a circuit breaker fail, I've never seen a fuse fail to do it's job, even after 70 years in place. I really think it's time that we took the industry back form the insurance companies and lawyers and let those who have to service and install this stuff write the codes.

gene birk's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-29

Requirements for AFCIs should be reduced, not increased. This fallacy about safer installations for the homeowner is just a marketing ploy that preys on the fears of parents about their children, with no documented proof of substance. The use of AFCIs should be determined by an impartial engineering body, not by a code making panel made up of manufacturing representatives, that have a vested interest in increasing their profits by manipulating code requirements. AFCIs should only be an option, not a requirement.

RANDYK's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-04

[quote=murkyiodine]Are the AFCI's to replace GFCI requirements?
I think the requirement needs to be re-evaluated.[/quote]

no you still need gfi's

Eastpoint Electric's picture
Joined: 2014-02-06

I work in several states. The requirements for AFCI protection vary greatly by AHJ and various state supplemental codes. CT has been on the 2005 code cycle forever and is finally adopting the 2011 code as of March 1st thereby leapfrogging the 2008 cycle. The State supplements will overrule the NEC by requiring AFCI protection in dwelling unit bedrooms only. In my opinion the cost of compliance in many cases is disproportionate to the actual risk exposure. This works against licensed electricians when Home Improvement Contractors offer to do non-compliant work at a reduced cost because they are unaware of code requirements. In the end the customer is left with a less safe installation. If we are going to continue to try and make all electrical installations fail safe, writing codes that are arbitrarily or selectively enforced will not get to that objective.

RAUL's picture
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Joined: 2013-03-17

They have to make special panels.

electropower's picture
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Joined: 2014-01-16

Maybe they need to publish statistics of accidents that occurred as a result of not having these devices in place to just the mandatory requirement. Thanks!

electroken's picture
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Joined: 2013-12-05

There are plenty of ordinary issues with existing wiring to correct in most homes without adding in some of the requirements for GFIs where they will cause tripping on circuits feeding motor driven appliances.
As for AFCI protection, I know it can work and probably prevent some fires as I have first hand seen it work. But requiring it retroactively can be a real problem where the home was wired in romex using a lot of multi-ciruits to save on cost by using 14-3 romex for home runs to the panel. It could cost plenty to split up those circuits so that GFI/AFCI breakers can be used to protect the circuits.
In many other cases it can be found that neutrals from two different circuits were tied together at a junction box by persons who did not realize this was wrong to do. Then also the many homes which still have numerous runs of old knob and tube still in use.
Education is the best way to prevent people from doing stupid things on their own with the electrical circuits in their homes.
The worst waste of money is the mandatory use of tamper proof receptacles and GFIs here in Minnesota because some guy from here was the inventor and now there is a way to make people pay a lot extra for something they do not want nor need since they have no young children in their household. Also there are parents who watch their kids a lot and don't let them fool around at receptacles with bobby pins any more. You do recall bobby pins don't you?
Not many kids have access to strips of metal or bare wire which they can insert into outlet openings either.
When are they going to require each of us to put on our straight jackets when we get home from work?

DabneyTaggart's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-11

I think AFCIs may be finding wiring problems that have previously not caused concern. This may be in new wiring or 60 year old wiring. For new wiring, AFCI circuits should be energized as soon as possible so that intermittent problems can be addressed before rough inspection or before the walls are sealed up.

ww_big_al's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-21

You can put me firmly in the anti AFCI camp. From studies I have read I do not believe they work as well as they are claimed to. Also, I do not believe that any cost benefit analysis has been done properly. I to agree that the code making panel is being driven by manufacturers. I sit on other panels and there are very few end user (contractors, users, etc.) sitting on these panels. Companies will no longer spend the money to send a representative to protect the consumer. Many feel that it doesn’t matter because the cost will just be absorbed by the customer forgetting that either the job won’t be done or done under the table. Neither option is good for the public. GFCIs had the same issues of reliability when they first came out. They are much better now but I still won’t put one on my refrigerator or freezer regardless what the law says. Food poisoning is far more probable from a tripped GFCI than electrocution.

dmttbt's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-21

With all the supposed concern about safety in the circuit protection area, with the concern about counterfeit breakers and the such, the fact remains that the circuit breakers we have had for years are more likely to stay on than to trip. Why didn't the manufacturers fix that?? Oh I guess their fix is the AFCI and the GFCI. With the slow building industry and the high cost of material why don't they make devices and breakers that have a 90 degree C rating?

martin s harris jr's picture
Joined: 2013-10-28

I'd like to hear opinions and procedures for testing older residential wiring (e.g., Pre-WWII fabric covered, no neutral) for AFCI vulnerability. In many cases it's replaced with grounded Romex where exposed in attics and basements, but the walls are another story.

leftielouie's picture
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Joined: 2014-01-17

AFCIs don't prevent fires and they have too many false trips; they require a 5 amp load before they'll trip on arcing and multiple stereo & TV devices with switching power supplies will create false trips. Clever idea but they don't work as intended. Requiring AFCIs would prohibit electricians from removing them, thereby requiring homeowners to solve their own problems with false trips. The code would seem to not have the intended effect either.

donpom1@comcast.net's picture
Joined: 2014-02-21

Well, NFPA has done it again.... They always seem to do no cost/value justification for their rules.... Don't they understand that, especially homeowners, aren't made of money... AFCI protection, as well as GFCIs have their place and applications, but when you go to a homeowner and have to quote a price that doesn't seem justifiable the homeowner will simply do it himself with a book from Home Depot.... I can't justify to a customer, other than saying it's the rule, such things as blanket AFCI usage. I agree for some specific locations it's a good and justifiable requirement, but this should be a decision that either the owner requests or I can legitimately and factually justify. In too many instances it's not possible at $80.00 per circuit. If we truly have an arc fault problem out there how come there aren't more instances in the news of fires that are proved to be caused by something arc fault would have prevented.
I think the whole industry is over regulated to benefit the manufacturers. As an electronics and electrical engineer I REALLY have trouble justifying many of the rules and I don't like doing something only because someone removed from the fact thinks it's a good idea.

attic rat's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-22

Now they are going too far. I really believe that there are lobbyists working for the device manufacturers that appealed to the Code Making Panel to get this ridiculous code passed. It is absurd, and I do believe it's a money-making opportunity for them, not us, as most residential homeowners will NOT pay the extra coin to run a line or two,… they will just as soon do it themselves (hire handyman), or scrap the idea completely.

As "Miker111" above me stated, disallow the "E-Z wire" back-stabbing method of termination at devices by having UL pull it's listing for it. THAT is the REAL problem here in hundreds of residences I have serviced… and I totally agree with him.

I understand the growing need for safety and concern but now it has just gone too far. I only hope that my State (NJ) doesn't adopt it as they did in 2005.

This is really becoming a "nanny state" of sorts,… governed by money and greed!

goodyelectric's picture
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Joined: 2013-12-07

In last years consumer reports, there was a 2 page item that many appliances caught fire while the owners were away and not being used. I brought this up at a meeting with my association and I think its a great idea about installing AFCI in the entire house, including the kitchen.

larrykinne's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-04

I'm a firm believer in Arc-Faults. Had 120V on my foil faced siding from nicking a hot wire. Yes, they should just say all outlets in a dwelling should be covered. But if you remember when this all started in 1999 they would phase it in over years so I think in 2017 the wording will be different. As for some of the other comments, people should go to the IAEI section meetings and learn some things. The members of code making panels are us! And GFCIs on appliances is to protect us later as the appliance gets older. Also, remember AFCIs and GFCIs do two different things!

svemike's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-28

Require Manufacturers to put both GFCI and AFCI on the main for new construction. There was talk of doing this to GFCIs years ago. Way too much cost just to add 1 receptacle using AFCI. Requiring AFCI and GFCI in some rooms can require load center changeout to comply. Plus the metal conduit to the 1st receptacle requirement will also be expensive to retrofit. This all seems to benefit the Manufacturers. So if they get the benefits, they get the requirement to cover the Main breaker.

RayN's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-21

The requirement for AFCI breakers has been in the NEC since 2008. The argument in favor of the change is that it would protect form faulty extension cords. In reality, there are more cords used in commercial and industrial situations. The real purpose is to protect against faulty wiring of type NM cable. A simple voltage leakage test could be performed at 600 volts and any problem could be detected at that time.
The AFCI requirements make 1/2 breakers, dual breakers and multiwire circuits, which up till 2005 were compliant, now noncompliant. Why not just outlaw type NM cable?

Paul Allen's picture
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Joined: 2013-12-31

The AFCI requirement in my opinion only benefits manufacturers of AFCIs. I also agree with the folks that think backstabbing devices need to be outlawed. This would go farther in reducing fires than the AFCI law. I am in the service and repair industry, and adding additional unjustified costs to homeowners just takes work away from Electrical Contractors in an already tough economy. It is already tough to sell electrical service when so many homeowners are either doing it themselves or hiring the unlicensed handyman or out of work electrician to do it on the side. I am all for safety, but all of the added GFCI and AFCI, and tamper proof requirements are crap. GFCIs should be used in the locations where needed, (wet locations, bathrooms, near a sink, outdoors, etc). But AFCIs and tamper proof receptacles should be offered to the homeowner as an upgrade for safety, not mandated.
I would like to see the data on how many lives have been saved since garage door opener receptacles have been required to be GFCI protected. Just my 2 cents!

Pablocrane's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-27

I agree with electricontr. The whole reason for these requirements is the financial gain of the manufacturers of these devices. Look at the committee member lists and where they are employed. I worked for a company who made test equipment for several of the largest manufacturers of these devices. We were making test machines for AFCI breakers for all of them 13 years ago. I didn't believe they could sell that many of them, but the past few code changes have just added more and more requirements for them. The manufacturers were ready for this years ago. They knew what was coming, because they were making it happen. Sounds like a conspiracy theory except I watched it happen. I was just to dumb to get in on it.

italo's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-05

Idon't know why i see a connection between code making panel and manufacturer like we see lobbiest in washington. Its all about the money.

italo's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-05

ATfirst new product are expensive but now that they are required troughout the house why don't they have already come down in price? They sell gazillions now!!! Once again greed!

andylyke's picture
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Joined: 2013-11-21

I think that the (pardon the expression) arc of the history of AFCIs reflects some silly reasoning. Why did we require AFCIs only in the bedroom? In many houses, the bedrooms are upstairs. A fire started in the bedroom allows more chance of escape than one started in a downstairs room, so it would almost have made more sense to require AFCIs downstairs first, although if the reasoning is fire prevention, why were they not required in every circuit? Apropos GFCIs and failure, some folks I know have had whole freezers full of food go back because they simply plugged them into a GFCI circuit in the garage, not appreciating the fact that a dedicated circuit could be non-GFCI protected.

attic rat's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-22

I just came home from a job where the "back-stabbed" UL listed receptacle MELTED due to a loose connection. The complaint was that "half the house" was without power (2 bedrooms) and I went directly to the breaker box first, and found ALL circuits ON. So I proceeded upstairs where I found one receptacle with power. I opened it up, and BAM!!, the receptacle literally blew apart in my hands as the phenolic material had melted and the exposed metal contacts shorted out. This was all caused by a loose neutral connection in the back stab terminals. The white TW insulation was melted and charred back 3 inches from the receptacle.
Obviously the load of the two bedrooms on that 15 amp circuit had been cooking that wire due to the poor connection for quite a while.

EZ wire terminations start fires more readily than any other circumstances that I have come across…so WHY does UL continue to list this method of termination?

Answer… MONEY!!

DougSimpson's picture
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Joined: 2014-01-12

Having read all the comments to date I think it is safe to say that the Code has gone to far in this requirement. I think it should be pushed back to bedrooms only in new construction until it has proven itself beyond a doubt. Like Washington, the Code is being driven by manufactures that constantly have to increase profits to stock holders. But, in the process are actually shrinking sales by rapidly pricing the customer base out of the market altogether and forcing them to circumvent the requirement. We the contractors are suffering the most under these overpriced regulations by not being able to force them down the consumers throat there by losing the sale to the unlicensed. In my forty years in the trade, I can tell you that I have seen so may examples of bad wiring that never burned anything down that I am constantly amazed. In this case, the Code making panel is barking up the wrong tree and I agree with the gentleman that wants to get rid of the back-stab receptacle listing, which would ultimately solve a lot more problems and cost the consumer nothing!

Joel Freson's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-28

I attended a class where electrical inspectors for Ohio and Pennsylvania were present and they were of the opinion this has been taken too far also.
Wiring kitchen circuits will be expensive and methods will have to be creative to accomplish code compliance.

bcsparks4's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-07

Like "Attic Rat," I had a service call identical to that. If I "touch" an existing receptacle, it gets re-terminated on the terminal screws. They should be outlawed, it was designed for speed of installation, not safety. I think the premium receptacles with the "clamshell" compression grips are OK

journeymanjoe's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-19

Here is a link to a great article by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that will explain some misconceptions some of you have (you can print it out to show your customers why they should allow you to install the AFCIs per the Code, instead of doing it themselves or finding a handyman): http://www.cpsc.gov//PageFiles/108737/AFCIFireTechnology.pdf

This forum is supposed to be for professionals, have any of you read the NEC? AFCI protection is in 210.12, Article 210 is part of Code-Making Panel No. 2. Looking at the list of members for this panel (2014 NEC) I can only identify 2 of the 21 as being manufactures of AFCIs, that is less than 10% of the members! To suggest that the manufactures were able to ram this through because they were in control of the Panel is crazy.

Anyone can make a proposal, the panels only determine if there is justification and then it is eventually voted on by NFPA members. If you don't like a Code requirement, make a proposal, try to get on a panel, and become an NFPA member; complaining about it on a forum will never get the Code changed.

Contractors that lose business to unqualified installers should report them to their local AHJ for inspection. We should all be working to get the laws changed to only allow licensed electricians to perform electrical installations. To suggest that a Code requirement be removed so that we don't have to follow it, since the unqualified installers don't comply whether it is there or not, would make for safer installations is beyond comprehension!

Eastpoint Electric's picture
Joined: 2014-02-06

Code compliance has always been the purview of licensed contractors. Inspectors are unable, as a practical matter, to inspect every device, termination, junction box etc. They do however take specific note of known areas of likely noncompliance. One area of likely noncompliance which is often given a blind eye, is the non-compliant work done by home improvement contractors and DIY'ers. Enforcement is the purview of the inspector and building code compliance officers. The laws are already in place which make illegal any third party installation by other than licensed professionals. If codes are written only to be ignored by the enforcement authorities, then they serve no public safety purpose. To suggest that licensed contractors report to the authorities any non-compliant installer is tantamount to reporting to the authorities anyone driving with bald tires or turning in illegal aliens.

The requirement for AFCI protection is not universally implemented. Until and unless the requirement is proven to provide benefits commensurate with the cost of implementation it should be optional. Thereafter, enforcement should be universal.

journeymanjoe's picture
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Joined: 2014-02-19

Eastpoint Electric, The inspectors I know will press charges against illegal installers. My point is, they can only go after ones they know about. If someone is doing illegal work they are probably not getting a building permit, so the inspector doesn't know they have done the work. If you know a customer has hired an unqualified worker, you should notify the authorities, don't just stand outside thinking if only I didn't have to follow the law like that guy that underbid me.

Chickenman's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-13

Please post this important article here>

http://www.combinationafci.com/resources/doc_ieee_combination_afci.pdf

~Chickenman~

IrishElectrician's picture
Joined: 2014-03-03

[quote=DabneyTaggart] I think AFCIs may be finding wiring problems that have previously not caused concern. This may be in new wiring or 60 year old wiring. For new wiring, AFCI circuits should be energized as soon as possible so that intermittent problems can be addressed before rough inspection or before the walls are sealed up. [/quote]

GCs will never give enough time to test everything.

bill_the_EE's picture
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Joined: 2014-12-17

[quote=Glen Battjes]I can see a need for GFCI's in Kitchens, bathrooms, outside, garages, etc. AFCIs in bedrooms maybe. You're trying to make houses the most safe place on earth, but what about cigarettes, lighters, matches, ranges in kitchens, (should have a hood and fire suppression) dryers, (something to tell when there is too much lint in the vent). I really don't see a need for GFCIs on condensate pumps, water coolers, pop machines, unless they're outside. I put a GFCI in an attic to protect a condensate pump, someone tripped the GFCI , the float switch didn't work, and flooded the attic. When I started in the trade 40 yrs. ago, the code was written by Electricians and Engineers. Now it is written by Lawyers and equipment manufacturers. Last week I had to justify the fact that a house 80+ years old had a fuse box with 'S' type fuses. Insurance man said someone could put pennies in and defeat the fuse. He'd never seen a circuit breaker fail, I've never seen a fuse fail to do it's job, even after 70 years in place. I really think it's time that we took the industry back form the insurance companies and lawyers and let those who have to service and install this stuff write the codes.[/quote]

Well said Glen! I have been an electrical engineer for almost 40 years and it is clear that sound engineering principles are no longer driving the Code process. I agree that it certainly appears to be driven by legal issues and manufacturers sales quotas rather than real safety requirements. I remember as a young engineer being told by a mentor that safety is one of those areas where you have to look at the cost benefit analysis carefully and unemotionally since one can always make the argument that we can make the design "safer." I question whether or not the profusion of AFCI requirements is really making the public safer when they make it so much easier to trip a breaker and take power from critical medical devices like CPAPs, etc. Paying so much more for a safety device like the AFCI breaker that has questionable safety benefits does not seem like a good return on investment. GFCIs have a proven record of saving lives... I have yet to see convincing data on AFCIs. It is all pretty theoretical at this point.

Paul Abernathy's picture
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Joined: 2012-12-21

Gentlemen,

While I did not want to take the time to read every post here, listen to the AFCI haters or the individuals who say the manufactures are pushing this down our throats and yes even the individuals who say the validity of the testing is not up to snuff yet they provide no technical data to substantiate their position other than feelings or random encounters.

Here is what we do know. The AFCI requirements stem from a study done (not by manufacturers) by the Consumer Product Safety Commission way back in the early 90s. They pushed for AFCI protection on all branch circuits in a dwelling but this was not achieved. Indeed the original EXCITEMENT about the AFCI was a little misleading in terms of it's overall protection but their is no doubt it does as a specific level of protection out the gate, maybe not what was expressed but protection never the less so old timers get over it...AFCIs have evolved.

Now I don't need to remind anyone of the limitations of GFCIs in a specific situation yet we would never think of arguing their merit because they have statistical data to support them. Now, in terms of the newer Combination AFCIs which do indeed look for a characteristic of both parallel arcs and series arcs, which was not the case prior to being Combination type....clearly the product has advanced (as promised) from those early days.

Are they perfect?....do they detect a glowing arc, which we could argue if its even an arc at all...maybe not. Some content that unless they have some GFCI function within them they are worthless, which is an overall incorrect statement...the debate is pointless because if the device can pass UL 1699 without the GFCI function then it is compliant.

Now I traveled all over the south as the NEMA Southern Field Representative and have only heard of a handful of situations where the AFCI device activated on reasons other than legit reasons and this was due to a frequency issue that the FCC takes a blind eye too. This is being addressed over time, the issue is random in terms of individuals reporting issues compared to the millions of units being sold each year.

To address the question by someone who said why not make the entire panel AFCI. Well, be careful what you ask for since individuals gripe about the cost of an AFCI Device (which they should simply pass on to the consumer anyway) can you image what it would cost to install a load center with this incorporated technology on all of the branch circuits....can you image the sassy talk at that point....plus the benefit of having it at the device level is to aid in diagnostics and troubleshooting circuits.

When someone says the data is not their for AFCIs and then read an article at the CPSC where foreign luminaries caused tripping of AFCIs due to faulty product, only to know that nothing else caught the issue except the AFCIs, that sounds like data to me.

If you conduct a test of a parallel and series circuit, replicate the arc condition of an unsafe arc (not a switch or motor) and the AFCI activates on a known characteristic of arc as intended how can you say it is not doing what it was intended to do. While not all conditions may be detected...it is the BEST line of defense against such conditions we have...embrace it. I guess what ticks me off the most is when people complain but do not get involved in the process by visiting www.afcisafety.org when they experience this so call "nuisance trip" condition, when I device trips I never consider it a nuisance because it tripped for a reason. My son asking me for money every 10 minutes...now that's a nuisance.

Just my thoughts on it....it protects us right now the best it can and it will only get better. I want the latest 80" TV and I know that once I buy it an 85" will come out tomorrow...I still want that 80" TV now. Why wait for the benefit an AFCI provides us today simply because someone out their is looking for the holy grail of protection.

Just my thoughts on it......

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