AFCI breakers on appliances


Old 03-02-05, 08:51 AM
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AFCI breakers on appliances

I have read about older GFCIs tripping on the inductive start of motors and people not using them on appliances. How about AFCIs, I have the ability (i.e. willing to spend the money) to use them on my appliances. SD QO AFCI breakers have a 30 or 50mA threshold for ground fault trips, so should this negate the nuciance tripping?

Would you use one for an extra margin of safety on a (each below will be on a dedicated run, unfinished basement):
Partially submersed Sump Pump ?
Hot Water Heater (Gas--basement) ?
Refridge ?
Dishwasher ?
Washer (1st floor mud room)?
Dryer (Gas--1st floor mud roomg) ?
Gas Furnace (Basement)???

Would any of these loads cause AFCI issues, and if so, why?

Thanks for your time,
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Old 03-02-05, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
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I don't recommend using arc faults on circuits that don't require them by code. You only need them on bedrooms and the smoke detector circuit (it's being enforced in some areas).
Old 03-02-05, 05:18 PM
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Why would you want AFCI or GFCI on any of those appliances???
Especially the refer, water heater, sump pump & furnace.
Old 03-02-05, 07:51 PM
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[Playing devils advocate / Mostly my ignorance]
No chances of either kinds of arcs with an appliance? Do arcs only happen in bedrooms? Wiring in the furnace by the HVAC folk perfect? Where can the possibility of a tight cutting staple be discounted?

My local inspector claims New Jersey won't adopt AFCI use until their use poliferates in the NEC.

I guess I am trying to figgure out, where can it be a safety advantage, where is it a money drain?

Old 03-02-05, 08:07 PM
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So in your eyes 99.999% of the homes in our great land are unsafe?
Or do you just want Ultra-Safe?
I'll settle for plain old regular safe. I like to live on the edge.

AFCIs main intent is to protect failing cords, not fixed permanent wiring. GFI's have their place. A refer or furnace is not this place.

won't adopt AFCI use until their use poliferates in the NEC
OK, this I don't get. They already are required by the NEC, where the NEC is adopted. So until they are required everywhere your AHJ won't require them?
Our AHJ's don't require them either but I think it is a matter of them being questionable as to relability.
Old 03-02-05, 09:06 PM
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Ooo, unsafe is such a generalism. But this is just barometer I was looking for. I have no basis for an opinion, I'm a hack, I can only gather others like yourself, authors of books I can read, etc. It looks as though this is a tad contriversal, as I got a chance to read Mike Holt's web page yesterday and read his progression of thinking with time. I guess I got caught up in the marketing? I still haven't seen the downside, they have been around for what 5 or so years?

Mike wanted to see proof of loose connections benefit, and appeared to agree with the other claims.

I am taking a wild stab here that yourself and Garou (which BTW thanks to both for your responses) both feel compelled to use them in a fashion mandated by the NEC? Beyond that, where would you envision effective (if any) use?

Speaking of enforcement, isn't it strange that cords are the main thrust of the protection, and they are being forced onto fire alarm circuits?

And if you saw some of the work done on my house, maybe you would want all the help you could get. My fault for delving deeper into the house I guess, ignorance should have been bliss.

Thanks again

Last edited by Beeek; 03-02-05 at 09:18 PM.
Old 03-03-05, 07:47 AM
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Everything can be made safer with the application of more money. The relative improvements diminish and get more expensive as you get safer and safer. Codes are a compromise between safety and cost. The code committee had to draw the line somewhere. You can choose to draw it somewhere else (on the safer side only).

Until we have decades of experience, we cannot quantify how much safer AFCI is than regular breakers. And there's no way to say what's "worth it". If ultimate safety is important to you, and money is available, then go ahead and put AFCI everywhere. The worst that can happen is that you get a few false trips and decide to go back to regular breakers on some circuits.

If we wanted maximum safety, we'd never leave the house. Life is a series of tradeoffs.
Old 03-03-05, 08:14 AM
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Thanks, well put. Let me just confirm that I do understand that others can't make the judgement call for me. That is my decision, but unfortunately I do not have the expirience that others do, and wondering if I could get some addtional information, say pro vs. con.

Perhaps this would be a better way of me asking:

Do you use AFCIs in your own house; where, or why not?

Perhaps one can break that down into more specific questions
1.) Reliability appears to be in question, is there general expirence that they fail?

2.) Accidental Trips appear to be an issue. Of the thousands of houses built in the last period since the intial NEC inclusion, are these trips seen as a general problem? John, I realize it would be more better with more data (i.e. a couple decades), are trips the early word back from the field? My original question was regarding appliances tripping. I really don't want my refer or furnace tripping, that would be big big pain, so I wanted to know if this still happens with AFCIs like the 1st couple of generations of GFCIs?

3.) Do you believe the technology is useful (your opinion) and does it and/or can it deliver what is promised?

4.) If you could get them for ~$17 a piece, would that more realistic to use them more often? Cost HomeyDs runs $33 each, vs $7 for a breaker, but if you find job extras you can get them for $15-17-19 in that range.

I can't thank you guys enough for putting up with me,
Old 03-05-05, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
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Sorry for posting to an older topic, but my view on arc fault breakers:

They're a pain to install, especially if the electrician who cut in the panel at rough didn't label the arc fault circuits in any way. At hot check they tend to work most of the time, but I've had a few circuits that refused to work on an arc fault, but worked okay on a regular breaker.

We get service calls from people who recently moved into a new house that we wired. They complain of breakers tripping, and when we get there they're almost always arc faults. And of course they don't trip when we're there. So did the homeowner plug something in that caused a fault, or was it a false trip? Difficult to judge.

Arc faults are not present in my house, it was built a few years before they were being enforced. I do not plan to upgrade because my main panel is a GE with mostly 1/2" breakers, the arc faults are 1". So I'd have to shift the breakers around, or possibly move some circuits to my outside meter/main combo.

I'm all for saftey, but you can only protect so much. People, unfotunately, will find ways to hurt themselves even with the safest of equipment.
Old 03-07-05, 09:57 AM
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Garou, thanks for sharing your expirence.

I think I'll stick with bedrooms or circuits w/ extensions, I don't want a flood, cold water, thawed food, etc.

Looks like maturation is still needed.


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