An arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) is a type of receptacle or circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent an electrical fire. An arc occurs when an electric current crosses an air gap from as energized component to a grounded component, it produces a glowing plasma discharge known as an arc. An AFCI is selective in that normal arcs do not cause it to trip. Conventional circuit breakers only respond to overloads and short circuits. The AFCI monitors continuously all currents and discriminates between normal and unwanted arcing conditions.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter; How Does It Work?
Every home has an electrical panel, load center or service panel. It is a steel box that holds multiple circuit breakers that are wired to circuits that distribute power throughout your home. An AFCI will distinguish between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors, and in an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor. Since the beginning of the 21st century AFCI breakers have been required for circuits that feed electrical outlets in bedrooms of homes by the electrical codes of the United States. These are the areas in our homes where most low level arcing occurs and subsequent fires take place. There are a lot of combustible material in bedrooms that can be exposed causing those low level arcs to occur. Curtains hung on walls and sometimes cover electrical outlets and sofas are pushed up against them as well. Most rooms in a house are now required to have an AFCI.
Faulty Electrical Wiring Can Cause Fires
Arc faults that occur in homes are one of the leading causes for electrical wiring fires. In fact, each year in the United States there are over 40,000 fires linked to home electrical wiring. Over 350 deaths and 1,400 injuries are a result of these fires. Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets. Outdated wiring in older homes don’t have the capacity to handle the increased amounts of electricity for modern day conveniences like computers, wide screen TV’s, microwaves and air conditioners. Breakers should be triggered when circuits get overloaded by too much electricity. When an unwanted arc condition is detected, the AFCI opens its internal contacts and de-energizes the circuit; thereby reducing the potential for fire to occur.
Difference Between AFCI & GFCI
The AFCI should not be mistaken for the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). These two products serve similar but different functions. The GFCI is designed for protection from severe or fatal shock. This device will shut power off if it detects that a current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. The AFCI protects property against fires caused by electrical arcing faults. There is good news in that manufacturers of the AFCI are incorporating the GFCI functions together in the same circuit breaker making safety for both homeowner and property both a priority.
Residential & Commercial Electrical Inspections, Emergency Wiring & Repairs, Fixture Installations, Upgrades & Replacement, Lighting Consultant & Preventive Maintenance Services in Lithonia & Metro Atlanta, GA & Surrounding Areas
A professional electrician can install these AFCI’s in your current circuit breaker panel and will provide you with instant protection against a major killer in the United States; electrical fires that occur from low level arcing. Call Sullivan Electric Services Co., LLC today!