The Electrical Contractor Network

ECN Electrical Forum
Discussion Forums for Electricians, Inspectors and Related Professionals

Books, Tools and Test Equipment for Electrical and Construction Trades

Register Now!

Register Now!

We want your input!


2017 NEC and Related
2017 NEC
Now Available!

Recent Posts
Parking lot pole light swap....
by gfretwell
Yesterday at 08:46 PM
International Wire Colour Codes
by Tjia1981
10/23/16 12:08 PM
Son of Sparky
by HotLine1
10/20/16 07:43 PM
Speaking of Plugmold ...
by gfretwell
10/17/16 02:37 PM
Broken battery charger? Check for cobwebs!
by gfretwell
10/17/16 02:30 PM
New in the Gallery:
12.5A through 0.75mm˛ flex (just out of curiosity)
Shout Box

Top Posters (30 Days)
gfretwell 14
HotLine1 7
ghost307 7
renosteinke 6
Potseal 4
Who's Online
0 registered (), 293 Guests and 4 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#12668 - 08/14/02 02:18 PM AFCI controversy continues!
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
At risk of opening this thorny subject again, and for those who don't get Mike Holt's newsletters, here's another article for discussion:



I invented the AFCI circuit breaker in the 1980s and my engineering staff at advanced its technology in the 90s: (Lee Blanton & Bob Clunn).

Bob Huddleston's 8/01/02 article "AFCI - Why I Have A Problem With It" only scratches the surface of the underlying problems associated with the AFCI. However, our homes and offices desperately need the protection of today's AFCI circuit breaker.

I strongly recommend installing AFCIs in all circuits in the home. Even with all the problems and improvements that are equally desperately needed.

An unadvertised electrical path that Bob may not have tested is the GFI path: Line (hot) to Ground. The AFCI circuit breaker has a pigtail and two connectors because of the pseudo GFI function, not the AFCI function. Of the AFCIs that we tested, all used the GFI path to ground. The GFI reacts when a current of 60 milliamps or larger is detected to ground. This path does not qualify as a GFCI path as it exceeds the body model of 3 to 5 milliamps.However, this GFI path addresses a large percentage of the electrical fires; either a Line (hot) to Ground shorts or after a Line to Neutral shorts that bridges to the ground wire causing a GFI trip.

Try the series arcing test from Line to Ground! The AFCI may also trip Neutral to Ground if the Neutral voltage is elevated.

The fast response of the GFI path is the saving grace of today's AFCI circuit breaker.

----- I strongly urge you not to repeal the use of the AFCI breaker --- this would be a major mistake.

----- I instead encourage expanding its use. I say this knowing of a ton of problems and issues that must be standardized and fixed.

The problems with the present AFCI are a direct reflection of UL, NEMA, and the UL-1699 code.

I know that everyone feels that they have been duped by UL and NEMA, and we have, (Congress needs to fix this issue).

After working with these organizations for several years; I feel a Congressional hearing to remove UL and NEMA from this process is the only way the problems & issues can be resolved.

By misleading us, and not allowing outside inputs & scrutiny, these organizations are a detriment to our safety!

Zlan can demonstrate most of what Bob's testing was hoping to find in the AFCI breakers.

Again in closing, I strongly encourage you not to defeat the AFCI, instead I implore you to expand its use. Its pseudo GFI function will save thousands of lives.

The action that I encourage you to take is:

---- push for a Congressional hearing ---.


George Spencer (Inventor)

Mike Holt's Comment: Sure a line to ground fault will trip the Ground Fault sensor or an AFCI like it would a GFCI. So what is the advantage, except the AFCI won't trip until the ground fault reaches 60 milliamperes. Where a GFCI trips at 5 milliamperes. Given the choice between AFCI and a GFCI, I would chose the GFCI.

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Arc Flash Clothing, Gloves, KneePads, Tool Belts, Pouches, Tool Carriers, etc. etc....

#12669 - 08/14/02 02:33 PM Re: AFCI controversy continues!
sparky Offline

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
quite the revelation! would seem we here would in fact be better off subscribing to your system styles there in the long run, as the coclusion may be the same....

#12670 - 08/14/02 03:05 PM Re: AFCI controversy continues!
WARREN1 Offline

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 184
Loc: Greenville, SC, USA
It seems Mr. Spencer has made some strong accusations against UL and NEMA without any backup material. UL and NEMA have a reputation of providing good safety advisories for the general public. By following acknowledged standards, we, the public can at least feel somewhat safe.
However, I am not yet convinced that AFCI breakers are proven beyond all doubts. I feel the NEC should have held off a while until all the test were complete and all the data is on the table for review (and maybe they thought that was the case).
Just my thoughts at the present time.


ECN Electrical Forums - sponsored by Electrical Contractor Network - Electrical and Code Related Discussion for Electrical Contractors, Electricians, Inspectors, Instructors, Engineers and other related Professionals