AFCI and GFCI protection

Circuit breakers are critical to the safety of an electrical system.  A circuit breaker’s job is to remove power from a circuit if the circuit exceeds the designed load of the circuit. A simple mechanical device consisting of temperature sensitive metal, that when expanded to a certain size, trips a lever to open its contacts. Breakers have been around for a long time and made a big impact on safety.

It was just a matter of time before they became computers too.

Arc fault circuit interrupters and ground fault interrupters are great life-saving devices that are now mandatory on all new residential buildings. The devices can look like an ordinary breaker but look close and you will see a small test button on the front that sends a fault right to the micro processor inside for analyzing. If the type of fault it was meant to detect is there, it shuts down the circuit.

Arc Fault AFCI is designed to stop your electrical wiring to remain connected when the slightest arc occurs, weather it be in a poor connection at a receptacle or a pinched lamp cord behind a night stand.  All electrical arcs do not cause fires, such as the brushes arcing inside a vacuum cleaner motor. The breaker needs to know the difference between a normal arc and a bad one. The processor looks at the wave form of the arc and if it matches a known fault caused wave form it shuts of the power too the circuit. Please note some older (and newer) vacuums have caused breakers to trip due to internal arcing. Refrigerators trip more often when on a GFCI breaker or GFCI outlet which have also caused headaches as it is frustrating to know a device worked fine on a non protected outlet but won’t on one that is. It tells you their is an issue there but it may be nothing. Still best to have the appliance repair company you use to have a look.

GFCI protection comes in the form of a breaker or receptacle and shuts off power if a loss of electricity to ground is detected. The device measures the power going out and the amount coming back and knows if it is not the same it could be going into the ground somewhere and could be a danger to some one or thing. A hair dryer dropped into a sink is an example of a ground fault. The current may not be enough to trip a standard breaker but when wired correctly a GFCI will shut down at as little as .05 of an amp going to ground. Ground faults have been in use longer than the arc fault breakers and have been required in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, laundry areas and outdoors for years now.

If you would like an evaluation of your homes protection devices and a quote on replacement or upgrade please contact us today.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge