The importance of AFCIs

When people think of fire safety in their home, they are often concerned with the batteries in their smoke alarms and if their fire extinguishers are charged and easy to access. While these two amenities are essentials in any home, many times electrical current protectors are overlooked. An AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) is designed to detect all types of electrical faults, whereas conventional electrical current protectors only detect higher arcing currents.

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What is an AFCI?

An AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protects against blazes caused by arcing faults

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What is an arc fault?

According to the UL Standard for AFCIs, an arcing fault is defined as an unintentional arcing condition in a circuit. When a circuit arcs, it heats up the surrounding area (wood framing and insulation) sometimes over 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Carbon paths created by continuous arcing cause the highest temperatures.

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What type of AFCI is best?

There are several types of AFCI. Basic AFCIs decrease the threat of arcing faults by diverting energy away from the circuit when arc-faults are detected.

AFCIs are tested in nationally recognized laboratories to ensure they meet the standards. The use of AFCIs is required in specified locations by NEC 210.12. Combination AFCIs can detect arcs as small as 5 amperes, useful for branch circuits and power cords. There are also Branch Feeder AFCIs, which are usually installed at the panelboard or at the source of the branch. They detect arc faults at line to line, neutral, and ground. If neutral circuits are shared, two-pole AFCIs are available.

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Is AFCI the same as GFCI?

GFCI and AFCI both protect from electrical faults, however, they are two separate products.

Ground faults occur when electricity is conducted through the ground, and the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will cut off power to the problem circuit/outlet.AFCIs protect from damaged wires, which causes arcing electrical currents. Like the GFCI, power is cut off to the problem area. GFCIs should not be confused for AFCIs, they have similar functions but different applications.

Both are essential to protect your home from electrical disasters!