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#87794 - 04/16/04 09:03 AM Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
[Linked Image]
Look here for more information and a video.
http://www.firemarshals.org/issues/home/electrical_fires.html


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

2017 / 2014 NEC & Related Books and Study Guides

#87795 - 04/16/04 10:11 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ElectricAL  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597
Minneapolis, MN USA
Joe,

Thanks for posting this ad. As always, I appreciate and respect the perspective that you bring to the exchange of ideas.

With respect to this ad:
Quote
AFCIs detect and prevent electrical fires caused by harmful arcing conditions in their earliest stages.

So. . .the National Association of State Fire Marshalls is saying an AFCI is a FIRE DETECTOR!!!! [Linked Image] [Linked Image]

The question still remains. How does a (any) specific model of AFCI, for sale at the Parts Houses today, decide what is "normal" and what is a "fault"?

Eaton had a large booth at the Minneapolis Upper Midwest Electrical Manufacturer's Trade Show two weeks ago. Among other items of interest, were a couple flavors of AFCI, including a single pole unit with a transparent side. The integrated circuit chip at the heart of the unit is TINY. I want to believe in the AFCI, but I need to be educated about this thing's software. No one at the Eaton booth could explain the hard technology of the unit in anything more complex than glowing advertising jingo-ism.

The manufacturers MUST tell us the hard tech of how these machines work, otherwise, mis-information such as the above NASFM ad copy will dominate what should be an informed evolutionary process.

[This message has been edited by ElectricAL (edited 04-16-2004).]


Al Hildenbrand

#87796 - 04/16/04 10:17 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
ElectricAl
Thanks for your comments and I will let them know about this thread.


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87797 - 04/16/04 10:25 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
OK I did it, I sent a message about your concerns, and now you can too, or anyone who wants can send FEEDBACK to them here:
http://www.firemarshals.org/about/feedback.html


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87798 - 04/16/04 10:38 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ElectricAL  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597
Minneapolis, MN USA
Thanks Joe.

It took a while to drill down into the NASFM site to find where this ad was. I note that it is part of a prepared [b]Communications Packet for National Fire Prevention Week[/b] . The above ad is part of the packet: Add PSA 9-11


Al Hildenbrand

#87799 - 04/16/04 10:46 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
resqcapt19  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
IL
Please note that even the NFPA has recognized that the currently available branch circuit/feeder AFCIs are not very effective at preventing electrical fires. A proposal has been accepted for the 2005 code that will require the use of "combination type" AFCIs. At this time only one manufacturer has a combination type AFCI and because of this the rule requiring these devices will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2008. Until that time the installation of the less effective type of AFCI will still be permitted.
Don


Don(resqcapt19)

#87800 - 04/16/04 04:10 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
BigJohn  Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 391
Boston, MA
Don,

When you say "combination type AFCIs" do you mean AF/GFCI breakers? Don't AFCIs already have 30mA GFP?

Thanks.

-John


#87801 - 04/17/04 08:34 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
resqcapt19  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
IL
John,
Per the UL listing a "combination" AFCI is one that protects both the branch circuit and devices that are code and plug connected. The currently required branch circuit/feeder type provide only limited protection beyond the receptacle.
don


Don(resqcapt19)

#87802 - 04/21/04 03:09 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
HotLine1  Offline


Member
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,862
Brick, NJ USA
Joe:
Interesting thread. AS you may or may not know New Jersey excluded the AFCI requirements from the '02 NEC, as adopted. It was last Sunday that I finally 'saw' an AFCI breaker at the 'big box' store, as I was walking past.

Perhaps, as Don pointed out, the powers that be are waiting for the 'next generation' of AFCI devices to include in the '08 adoption of the NEC.

John


John

#87803 - 04/21/04 03:58 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
International Association of Fire Marshals Summer, Quarterly Magazine

Quote

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter Technology
By
Walter Smittle III
WV State Fire Marshal (Ret)
IFMA Past President
NASFM, Special Representative


Did you know that residential electrical fires reported by the National Fire Protection Association causes on the average nearly 73,000 fires every year. These fires are responsible for 591 deaths, 1,400 injuries and over $ 1 billion in property losses. Eighty-three percent (83%) of these electrical fires are caused by electrical arcing. Can something be done to resolve this electrical residential fire problem? This question is asked by the fire marshals and fire investigators every time when bodies have to be removed or a home is destroyed. The answer to this question is yes. Now, you can assist in reducing these unwanted losses by promoting a promising technology.

Electrical technology continues to improve providing a safer environment for the owners and occupants of dwellings. New materials and wiring methods and the development of the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent accidental electrical shock is a success story for saving hundreds of lives. The National Electrical Code (NEC) published by the National Fire Protection Association has approved a new technology for dwelling wiring and became effective January 1, 2002. This new technology is truly a remarkable accomplishment by the electrical industry and this technology is called the “arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).” This technology as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will trip an AFCI in order to prevent electrical arcing that may cause a fire. Arc-fault circuit interrupter information can be reviewed on the Internet at the following websites:
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/afci.html;
http://www.ul.com/auth/tca/fall02/afci.html;
http://www.firemarshals.org/issues/home/electrical_fires.html.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals endorsed AFCI technology September 2001 and was reaffirmed July 2003. With all the technology available to prevent the loss of life and property damage from electrical fires; AFCI technology is the most promising. Current AFCIs approved for use by Underwriters Laboratories, meeting the required tests of UL 1699, include the following: Branch/Feeder Type; Combination Type; Outlet Branch Circuit Type; and Outlet Circuit Type. There are also portable devices listed by UL that can be incorporated into appliances or utilization equipment. UL defines the AFCI as “a device intended to mitigate the effects of arcing faults by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc-fault is detected.

ARCING
UL defines “arcing as a luminous discharge of electricity across an insulating medium. The electrical discharge of an arc can involve temperatures on the order of several thousand degrees Celsius. In general, arcing can be divided into two categories: (1) non-contact arcing and (2) contact arcing.”

“Non-contact arcing is arcing that does not require direct physical contact between the conductors where the arcing is taking place. With arching between conductors separated by insulation, the mechanism of initiating an arc between stationary conductors separated by insulation will depend on the type and geometry of the conductors and insulation between them. “Contact arcing” is arcing that involves direct or indirect physical contact between the conductors or ‘electrodes’ where the arcing is taking place, such as arcing between closing or parting conductors making or breaking a circuit.” (A)

TYPES OF ARCING FAULTS
“Arcing faults can occur in one of two ways, series arcing faults or parallel arcing faults. A series arcing fault can occur when one of the current-carrying paths (e.g. a single wire) in series with the load is unintentionally broken. For example, extreme flexing in an appliance power supply cord can cause one of the conductors to open and arc when flexed. Series arcing faults are limited in the circuit. Parallel arcing faults occur when there is an unintentional conducting path between two conductors of opposite polarity, such as between a black and white conductor or between a line conductor and ground. Parallel arcing faults generally involve high currents, as they are limited only by the available fault current of the circuit.” (B)

Series arcing occurs when a light switch is opened or closed or when an appliance cord is pulled from an outlet. These are common occurrences in the electrical circuitry of the home. Parallel arcing is our most dangerous arcing that generates high temperatures that ignites available combustibles. These parallel arcs have been observed in fire scene investigations where positive conductor comes in contact with a neutral or ground conductor. The fire service has for years referred to this as a “direct electrical short.” An AFCI is designed to detect arcing by continuously monitoring the current flow by discriminating between normal and unwanted arcing conditions. “Once an unwanted arcing condition is detected, the control circuitry in the AFCI trips the internal contacts, thus de-energizing the circuit and reducing the potential for a fire to occur. An AFCI should not trip during normal arcing conditions, which can occur when a switch is opened or a plug is pulled from a receptacle”. (C)

CAUSES OF ARCING FAULTS
Common causes of arc-faults as reported by the national fire service and insurance organizations include: pinched or pierced insulation on construction wire or cords such as a nipped by a nail or screw or a chair leg setting on an extension cord; cracked insulation on wire or cords from age, heat, chemical erosion or bending stress; overheated wire or cords; loose or improper connections, such as electrical wires to outlets and switches; frayed or ruptured extension or appliance cords; electrical appliances in which support or insulation for energized electrical parts are damaged; moisture or contaminants between conductors of different voltage and electrical wire insulation chewed by rodents. The AFCI can detect these arcs from the normal current flow by the electronic circuitry within the AFCI.

COST
The cost to install AFCIs in a new home is approximately $100. This cost estimate is based on replacing two or three conventional circuit breakers with AFCIs. According to a cost-study analysis by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in March 2003, if an AFCI is installed in homes 10 years old, homeowners could expect a cost-effectiveness benefit of $530 for each $175 spent to retrofit or install the AFCIs. To review this report go to the CPSC website previously mentioned.

AVAILABILITY
AFCIs are available at Lowes, Home Depot and other home improvement centers. There are approximately 6 to 7 million AFCIs installed throughout America.

MISINFORMATION
There is misinformation being circulated by individuals and organizations regarding the effectiveness of AFCIs. NASFM Science Advisory Committee has reviewed and researched each comment and provides the following response.

(1) Claim: AFCIs are not needed based on current fire losses.

Finding: The data in support of AFCIs are compelling. Not withstanding the introduction of this article regarding the information reported by the National Fire Protection Association on electrical fires. NASFM recently conducted study from Ten State Fire Marshal Fire Investigation Divisions where electrical fires caused the loss of life. The results of this study clearly indicated the cause of the fire was electrical arc-faults that resulted in the loss of lives (adults and children) and property is appalling.

(2) Claim: AFCIs cost in excess of $125 per unit.

Finding: NASFM’s survey on June 14, 2002 of two largest retailers in nine US cities revealed the retail price ranged from $34.97 to $39.97 for both 20- and 15-amp units. Today that cost has come down and ranges from $24.95 to $34.95 per unit.

(3) Claim: AFCIs are not reliable or effective.

Finding: A CPSC fact sheet on AFCIs states, “Several years ago, a CPSC study identified are-fault detection as a promising new technology. Since then, CPSC electrical engineers have tested the AFCIs on the market and found these products to be effective. Also, according to an article by UL Senior Research Engineer David Dini entitled “Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters,” “The AFCI functions by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and de-energizing the circuit when an arc-fault is detected. By doing so, this device will safeguard persons and property by mitigating the unwanted effects of arcing, which can result in a fire.” Effective? NASFM fully supports this technology.

(4) Claim: AFCIs do not protect against ground faults, high-resistance contacts and glowing contacts.

Finding: AFCIs on the market do protect against ground faults. While these AFCIs may not directly detect some electrical arcing and glowing that can occur at high-resistance contacts and other connection points, the devices respond to secondary arcing and leakage currents to the ground that result from degraded insulation between conductors in proximity to the incipient fault condition.

(5) Claim: AFCIs have a history of nuisance tripping.

Finding: UL 1699, Standard for Safety for Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters, addresses nuisance tripping and is far in excess of practical requirements. If the AFCI trips when installed it will indicate if the wiring is not properly installed or an appliance connected to the circuitry is causing severe arcing. One manufacturer reported that an AFCI detected a faulty garage door opener. Upon examination of the unit it was found the garage door motor had severe arcing and when replaced the current flow was normal.

(6) Claim: AFCIs currently on the market fail to protect against all arcing faults.

Finding: The branch/feeder type AFCIs protect against all unwanted arcs to ground at any point in the circuit, and unwanted arcing in parallel with the load throughout the circuit including the branch circuit extension wiring. Branch/feeder AFCIs do not detect series arcs in two-conductor extension wiring. These arcs are less hazardous than parallel arcs since they are typically low current and short duration. These arcs are essentially indistinguishable from switching-arcs.

(7) Claim: AFCIs will not work on a shared neutral.

Finding: The typical branch/feeder AFCIs will not work on a shared neutral. However, some manufacturers have an AFCI that will work on a shared neutral.

(8 ) Claim: AFCIs will not work on a two wire system.

Finding: AFCIs will work on a two wire system for protection from parallel arcing.

(9) Claim: Smoke detectors will cause nuisance tripping.

Finding: Smoke detectors do not cause nuisance tripping. Furthermore, smoke detector wiring should be on the AFCI circuitry. The NEC committee has rejected a proposal to exclude smoke detectors from the AFCI circuitry.

(10) Claim: There is no way to test the AFCI that it is protecting the circuit.

Finding: The AFCI has a test button and should be tested monthly by pushing the button. Furthermore there are testers available to the electrician that will test the AFCI circuit and GFCI and identify if the wiring is installed correctly.

FUTURE
Currently, the NEC Committee is reviewing proposals to expand the use of AFCIs. The necessity of expanding the use of this technology into other types of occupancies and throughout the home wiring systems will reduce the loss of property and life from electrical fires.

NASFM has proposed the expansion of AFCIs for all living areas of the home, lodging and rooming houses, day care centers, educational building (K-12) and residential board and care homes for the elderly, and supports requiring AFCIs for electrical upgrades for existing homes. Is it worth the expense and effort? NASFM is committed to this technology and expansion. You can make a difference now by installing AFCIs!

References:
(A) & (B): Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), 2002
(C): AFCI Fact Sheet, NASFM Science Advisory, AFCI Inquiry and Report, August 1, 2002


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87804 - 04/22/04 02:33 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
resqcapt19  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
IL
Quote
(4) Claim: AFCIs do not protect against ground faults, high-resistance contacts and glowing contacts.

Finding: AFCIs on the market do protect against ground faults. While these AFCIs may not directly detect some electrical arcing and glowing that can occur at high-resistance contacts and other connection points, the devices respond to secondary arcing and leakage currents to the ground that result from degraded insulation between conductors in proximity to the incipient fault condition.

Then UL revised the AFCI standard and the NEC is requiring the use of combination AFCIs for no reason???????????????? There is no technical justification for these changes??????????????
Don


Don(resqcapt19)

#87805 - 04/23/04 10:21 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ThinkGood  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
John:

Long time no talk [Linked Image]

I saw AFCIs in the big orange well over 2 years ago (Clifton store).

I don't know exactly why they had them, since NJ excluded them.

As to "fire detectors", how many times do we hear on the news that a house burnt down and "there were no smoke detectors in the house." This is especially true with the elderly, poor, etc. What about Carbon Monixide detectors? I know lots of people without them. I have 3 in my house.

Just how much circuitry is squeezed into those things? There are plenty of products chock full of electronics that cost less than the price of them.

Just my 2¢.

P. S. How many of you pros out there have actually used AFCIs and can comment on your experiences (nuisance tripping, etc.)?

I seen GFCI receptacles that trip before the circuit breaker--those things, IMHO, are great. (I realize that GFCIs and AFCIs are different animals.)

[This message has been edited by ThinkGood (edited 04-23-2004).]


#87806 - 04/24/04 07:57 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Quote
Then UL revised the AFCI standard and the NEC is requiring the use of combination AFCIs for no reason???????????????? There is no technical justification for these changes??????????????
Don, The UL standard has not been revised. There are several different types of AFCIs and they have separate listings (I am sure that it will be quite confusing).

I posted the following in the MH forum:

Panel 2 has accepted the requirement to put AFCI protection for all 15 and 20 ampere circuits in a panelboard whenever it is replaced in an existing home. It has not accepted the requirement to put AFCI protection for all 15 and 20 ampere circuits in a new home.

The vote in the panel was indecisive in that there were a couple of abstentions and 2/3 of the members were not achieved. At this point, it is unknown whether or not the above requirements will get the 2/3 vote required to make it into the Code. If it does, it will require a higher level of protection for a one month old home if a panelboard is replaced or added than it will for a new home.

In addition, the AFCI protection will have to go to the "combination type" in 2008. The combination type will detect series faults. For what it is worth, the parallel faults have to exceed 75 amperes for the present AFCI breakers to "see" the fault and open the circuit.


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87807 - 04/24/04 08:05 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Sorry, please let me butt in one more time.

UL has a the standard for the combination device but the P&S outlet device will not be acceptable for the required circuits unless conduit is run to the first outlet . . . , Cutler-Hammer and Square D both have devices and they are listed, I believe. Siemens is close to having a device on the market, but I do not know about the listing. A Korean company is also about there. [Linked Image]


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87808 - 04/24/04 06:30 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
This is a sample AFCI that was sent to me after I attended an Electrical Meeting in October.

SK5471M - QO® Arc-D-tect©
Circuit Breaker and Arc-fault Circuit Interrupter
20 A 1 Pole

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87809 - 04/24/04 10:43 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ThinkGood  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Milwaukee, WI
Thanks! That answered my question about the "guts" inside.


#87810 - 04/25/04 01:24 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ElectricAL  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597
Minneapolis, MN USA
It is interesting to me to note the difference in the size of the main IC. The IC shown in the photo of the Square D sample is 10x the size of the chip in the Eaton breaker that I saw in Minneapolis.

Joe, do you know if the Square D unit you posted is the branch circuit / feeder type or the combination type?

Al


Al Hildenbrand

#87811 - 04/25/04 07:42 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Quote
SK5471M - QO® Arc-D-tect©
Circuit Breaker and Arc-fault Circuit Interrupter
20 A 1 Pole


Al

I believe the the label here identifies this as an overcurrent protective device and AFCI only, so this one is not also a GFCI.

Do you remember how many vendors at the meeting were showing the AFCI's?


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87812 - 04/25/04 09:34 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Joe, a combination type is not an AFCI/GFCI type although that type is made. A combination type will protect against series arcs and will protect extension cords. The combination type is not on the market yet. [Linked Image]


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87813 - 04/25/04 06:44 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
n1ist  Offline
Member
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 183
Malden MA
It looks like both the hot and neutral go thru the current transformer (red coil on the right), so it could be a GFCI as well.


#87814 - 04/25/04 09:19 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
PCBelarge  Offline
Member
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 681
Dobbs Ferry, NY, USA
I attended one of the national meetings and talked with the SqD group. They will have to market by spring/early summer a 'combination' type that protects the branch circuit and the cords. I received one of the same breakers as Joe and I am using it for examples of the technology at some presentations I do.

Pierre


Pierre Belarge

#87815 - 04/25/04 10:24 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Quote
It looks like both the hot and neutral go thru the current transformer (red coil on the right), so it could be a GFCI as well.
All AFCIs are also GFCIs, the difference is that the GFCI for personnel are set in the range of four to six milliamperes, most of the AFCIs are set for around 30 milliamperes. I believe there are some AFCI/GFCI combinations but that does not make a combination type AFCI. I think this is going to get confusing. [Linked Image]


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87816 - 04/25/04 11:45 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
nesparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
omaha,ne
In the time since this new technology was pushed thru the NEC, What effect if any have they had on fire statistics?
Listening to some of the salesmen all electrical fires would not occur if we installed them.
I am asking if any reliable statistics on incidents of fires show a directly attributal reduction of fires in areas that have enforced these as required in the code?
Do we have any reliable proof of the effectiveness of these devices other than the proponents theoritical claims?
How many fewer fires in homes have fire deptartments, on average for the jurisdiction, NOT have had to respond to?
IMHO these are still being sold with the tatics of snake oil salesmen. If such sales tatics are necessary and the only way the product is sold is thru force of law, I can not have much faith in the claims of those who profit from it
I will agree that something to reduce electrically caused fires is a good idea, I am not convinced AFCIs are the answer.


ed

#87817 - 04/26/04 07:56 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Quote
I am asking if any reliable statistics on incidents of fires show a directly attributable reduction of fires in areas that have enforced these as required in the code? Do we have any reliable proof of the effectiveness of these devices other than the proponents' theoretical claims? How many fewer fires in homes have fire departments, on average for the jurisdiction, NOT have had to respond to?
I wonder how to get those statistics? If an EC is called and Joe Homeowner is complaining about a #&$@ AFCI that keeps tripping. You go out and repair the circuit and then the AFCI holds, have you prevented a fire? Do you report it to anyone? Who do you make the report to, what agency is collecting the data?

IMO, we will never have statistics on the effectiveness of AFCIs. However, we may see the incident of fires decrease after the mandate of combination type AFCIs is required. Personally, I don't fell like the current (no pun intended) AFCIs do much. I also do not believe we should use the Code to force new and unproven products onto the public.


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87818 - 04/26/04 09:25 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
ElectricAL  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597
Minneapolis, MN USA
Quote
Personally, I don't fell like the current (no pun intended) AFCIs do much. I also do not believe we should use the Code to force new and unproven products onto the public.
From your fingertips to God's ears!!!


Al Hildenbrand

#87819 - 04/26/04 09:58 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
nesparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
omaha,ne
Frankly I doubt we will ever have any measurable reduction in electrical caused fires. There are too many shadetree handy men, save a dime DIYers, and other untrained and ignorant individuals who will continue to mess aruond with electrical systems to allow any expensive new good idea toy to save them. [Linked Image]


ed

#87820 - 04/26/04 11:13 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
resqcapt19  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
IL
Charlie,
Quote
Don, The UL standard has not been revised. There are several different types of AFCIs and they have separate listings (I am sure that it will be quite confusing).

Sorry for posting an incorrect statement. I guess that my point should be that the NEC does not now require the use of "combination type" AFCIs, but will in the '05 code. From the ROP and ROC, it appears that the new rule requiring the use of "combination" type devices is to require the use of a device that will do most of what we have all been told that AFCIs could do. The big problem was that the branch circuit and feeder type AFCIs cannot provide all of the protection that the AFCI and safety people say that we need. There was a major "spin" program used to get the original AFCI requirement into the code, because the manufacturer's knew that the product that was available at the time of the acceptance of the current and previous AFCI rules could not do what they had implied.
I'm still not convinced that the AFCI is a cost effective method for preventing home fires. The major reason that I make this statement is because the fire loss statistics used to support the AFCI rules say that 85% of the dwelling unit fires of electrical origin occurred in dwelling units over 20 years old. This means that if the bedroom circuits in every new dwelling unit constructed this year gets AFCI protection, that we could expect to prevent less than 20 fires, of the 70,000+ that will occur this year. The other issue is the longevity of these devices. Can we reasonably expect that they will still be functional in 20 years when they may be needed? They do not fail safe, so when the electronics fail the become a standard thermal magnetic breaker. Yes, I know that the instructions require a monthly test by the home owner, but it is my opinion that few home owners will actually perform this test.
Don



[This message has been edited by resqcapt19 (edited 04-27-2004).]


Don(resqcapt19)

#87821 - 04/26/04 10:17 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
CharlieE  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 200
Indianapolis
Don, I would love to argue with you but I tend to agree with you. I do not expect a large percentage of the AFCIs installed today to be in service 20 years from now. What I do expect is that Joe Homeowner will generally replace the broken AFCIs with standard circuit breakers from the big box that will 'fit' his panelboard and it will have no interrupting current listed so it will only be 5k AIC. IMHO, not a good trade. I think most of the failures will trip open or will not reset when a circuit is deactivated for whatever reason. Voltage surges will destroy the internal circuitry just like we had problems with the GFCIs a few years back. [Linked Image]


Charlie Eldridge, Indianapolis Utility Power Guy

#87822 - 04/26/04 11:39 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Jps1006  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
Northern IL
I agree with nesparky. I would be curious to know the details of the 83% of fires caused by arcing. If these were in older homes that were in desperate need of renovation or tear-down, then I imagine that the new homes that these AFCI's are being installed in would have to age another 20? 40? 60? years before it is likely there were candidates for a burn. And by then would the AFCI be operational anyway?


#87823 - 05/01/04 05:24 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
UL Information on AFCI's http://www.ul.com/regulators/afci/


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87824 - 05/07/04 10:02 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
kschirra  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 1
Moon Twp, PA, USA
I saw a couple topics that could use some additional clarification, so I hope this helps...

There are five types of AFCIs listed in UL 1699 although the NEC has only required branch feeder AFCIs to date. Another type is combination breakers, which are listed in the 2005 NEC BUT with an effective date of 2008. This is due to the fact that there are no Combination AFCIs available at this time and since everyone has seen some of the learning curve associated with AFCIs to date, there is sufficient reason to make sure these work properly in the real world.

Fires in older homes are a bigger problem by virtue of so many older homes in existence. There are many issues that AFCIs would help with such as detecting faults in Al wiring, insulation breakedon in older wiring like knob and tube, etc. AFCIs will benefit there and one of the current proposals for the 2005 NEC is to have them for any service changeouts/upgrades. The 2005 NEC will not be finalized until the end of May 2004 so this is still open.


#87825 - 05/07/04 11:30 AM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
Joe Tedesco  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
Boston, Massachusetts USA
Thank you!! Finally!
www.eaton.com

A CB manufacturer has come aboard! Welcome, and please do keep us (me) informed.

Could use you at some of my seminars, any samples??

Joe


Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#87826 - 05/07/04 12:50 PM Re: Does your State Fire Marshal Agree? AFCI's are here to stay!!  
resqcapt19  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
IL
Kirk,
Quote
insulation breakedon in older wiring like knob and tube, etc

Are AFCIs listed for use on circuits that do not include an EGC? It in my understanding that with the currently available AFCIs that the ground fault protection part of the device is the part that most often opens the circuit for high resistance or "glowing" faults. If there is not an EGC in the circuit, then the glowing fault would have to progress to a line to line fault before the AFCI would open the circuit.
Don


Don(resqcapt19)

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