Summary: Electric circuit protection with AFCI provide the extra measure of safety for your family. AFCI's are installed serving required house
wiring circuits protecting areas such as the bedrooms. AFCI protects the bedroom circuit devices against the danger of arcing which can lead to fire.
What are GFCI and AFCI Circuit Breakers?
The electric circuit breakers serving your home wiring circuits are intended for switching and protection of your home's wiring from high temperatures caused by excess current higher than the rating of the wire.
While thermal magnetic circuit breakers are the key element for overload and short circuit protection of your home electrical system, there are potentially dangerous conditions that do not involve overcurrent.
The following circuit breakers should be utilized to provide further protection with house wiring.
AFCI's can Prevent Sparks That Can Lead to a House Fire
Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI)
Combination AFCIs protect against all
three possible types of arc fault: line to ground, line to neutral arcs,
and series arcs and thus significantly reduce the risk of electrical
fires. They feature a unique LED trip indicator, providing a valuable
analysis tool to help to pinpoint the type of trip and reduce the time
spent debugging the home electrical wiring circuits.
AFCIs are new electrical safety
devices used for some of the home electrical wiring circuits that provide protection
against arcing faults. These devices recognize characteristics unique
to arcing and de energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.
Arc faults may occur for many reasons such as worn electrical insulation
or damaged wire, misapplied or damaged appliance cords and equipment,
loose electrical connections, or driving a nail into a wall and having
it inadvertently hit a wire. The possibility of arcing grows as a home
ages since age and time will contribute to the possibility of these
Circuit Breakers and Surge Arresters
One example of a circuit breaker with a built in surge arrestor is this transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS) module which has a highly effective surge suppressor integrated with two 1-pole circuit breakers. Even the best point-of-entry surge protectors are subject
to failure in the event of a catastrophic surge. Good surge protectors are designed to sacrifice themselves and not the connected equipment. Some surge protection devices provide visual indication that the surge protection circuitry is functional and protecting the connected equipment. If the indicator lights are not illuminated the home owner should replace the surge protector promptly.
Common Brands of Home Electrical Circuit Breakers
Siemens / ITE / Murray
Zinsco / Westinghouse
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AFCI Circuit Breaker and Wiring
Gary, from New York asks:
I had an addition done on my house a while ago, but the builder never filed for the electrical work. To make a long story short I received a violation from the building department that AFCI protection has not been provided for all bedroom outlets and lighting. Surfing the web it sounds like an easy fix by just changing the circuit breakers. I have had 2 electricians tell me they have to put a loop in the outlets. Not sure what that is really. Does that sound accurate?
Gary, the electricians mat be referring to a loop that may have to be installed between two outlet locations in order to place the outlets on one AFCI circuit. AFCI circuit wiring cannot share the neutral as with multi wire circuits and this may be a condition that needs to be corrected as well.
How to Provide GFCI Protection for a Circuit
Perrie, from Trinidad WI, Other asks:
Can I get protection for a 8 amp 220v motor by wiring one supply hot wire to one 120v gfci and the other supply hot to a second 120v gfci. A common grounded neutral is attached to the neutral of both gfci. Then two hot leads each taken from both gfci is connected to the motor. (Utility supplies electricity by two 120v
hot wires and one neutral.)
The method that is describe in your question is not correct. The way to Provide GFCI Protection for a Motor Circuit would be to install a 15 or 20 amp 220 volt GFCI circuit breaker (with provision for a neutral if it is really needed for the motor). The amperage would depend on the wire size and specifications of the motor.
Questions about GFCI and AFCI Circuit Breakers
Bill in South Carolina asks: Is a GFCI Outlet Needed for More Fault Protection?
I have Square-D brand Qwik Gard GFCI circuit breakers in the panel box that protect the outlets which are standard type in the bathrooms. Is there any additional protection provided by installing a GFCI outlet in these locations.
Dave’s Reply: A GFCI Breaker Provides Adequate Fault Protection
It is not necessary to add a GFCI outlet to a circuit which is connected to a GFCI circuit breaker. Adding a GFCI outlet would be redundant.
Joe in Michigan asks: Ungrounded Panel and a GFCI Breaker
I have a 2 wire branch circuit 120volt. The circuit is going to a garage panel where there is no grounding conductor. The branch circuit needs a GFCI. Can I put a GFCI breaker in the panel without having a ground, or do I need to drive a rod before using a GFCI breaker?
Dave’s Reply: A GFCI Breaker in a Grounded Panel
The electrical system and the panel needs to be properly grounded. After the approved ground system has been installed a GFCI circuit breaker can be installed.
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Installing Electric Circuits
Electrical Project Skill Level:
Intermediate to Advanced - Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Electrical Tools Required:
Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools, install electrical circuit wiring, and the available access to the project area. Electrical Safety:
Identify the panel circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring. Working in an electric panel is dangerous due to arc flash hazards and the possibility of electric shock.
Electrical Wiring Parts and Materials:
Electrical parts and materials for circuit wiring projects should be approved for the specific project and compliant with local and national electrical codes.
Electrical Codes and Inspections:
Installing additional electrical circuit wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
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