I had a final inspection today and the city inspector was testing the arc-fault circuits. One of them was working properly while the other one was not tripping with his tester, yet it tripped with the test button. I was not present at the time so naturally he failed me. I arrived at the job 2 hours later and tested it with my tester (Ideal SureTest #61-056) and it worked fine. The braker is a SquareD homeline but I installed it in December and it is supposed to be a post-recall breaker - the test button is green which my supplier says is post recall. Is it possible that my tester is substandard to the inspectors tester? How does an arc-fault tester work exactly? Thanks in advance for any thought on this.
Bill - link was very helpful on understanding what makes these tester work.
Scott - followed your link to the other forum. Sounds like you had a hell of a time with that inspector over his meter. I'm hoping it goes better with this AHJ. He sounds reasonable enough in that he is willing to consider my meter as standard for the testing of this AFCI when he re-inspects tomorrow. It sounds as if the UL approved way of testing an AFCI is with the test button. You would think considering that quality AFCI testers cost at least $120.00 that they could have some standard of consistancy in these testers and the breakers themselves.
I spoke to an engineer at UL today and he said there is nothing in writing anywhere that says the test button is the only way to test an AFCI breaker. What he did say is that it is the only effevtive way to test the breaker as it checks all the internal components to insure that they are working properly. The testers can not do what the button does so the button should be the test you use. If the button works the breaker works. That is the test that UL uses and endorses. Same can be said for the manufacturers.