Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are now required in modern homes. They protect against electrical arcs that can be hotter than 10,000°F, which can easily ignite wood, insulation, and other materials.1 Here is some background information on the technology plus 5 benefits of AFCI outlets.
What Is an Arc Fault?
Electricity normally travels through wires. An arc fault is when it leaves the circuit due to broken, cut, or cracked electrical wiring. It can then travel into the surrounding environment, causing objects it touches to become overheated. Home fires can result, causing injuries, deaths, and a great deal of property damage.
What Is an AFCI?
Built into a receptacle or circuit breaker, an AFCI continuously monitors the circuit for arcing. It responds to a sudden power surge by cutting off the flow of electricity as the arc occurs. An AFCI differs from a GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, in that instead of shock protection while using appliances or electrical devices, it prevents conditions that can result in fires.
Benefits of an AFCI Outlet
An AFCI outlet:
Distinguishes Between Normal and Dangerous Arcs
The technology in AFCI outlets can measure different types of arcs, including parallel and series arcs. By monitoring circuits, normally occurring arcs can be analyzed, such as those in furnace motors, motor-driven vacuum cleaners, and light switches. In fact, AFCIs are programmed to sense hundreds of different operating conditions.
Can Prevent Injuries and Deaths Due to Fires
More than half of electrical fires in the U.S. each year are caused by arc faults, and can thus be prevented by AFCIs. The U.S. Fire Administration attributes the 20% drop in fires in the country to AFCIs, improved construction materials, and other means of fire prevention.2
Helps Comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC)
In 2014, the National Fire Protection Association expanded AFCI requirements from just bedrooms to kitchens, laundry areas, and other parts of the home. This was due to a study it conducted from 2006 to 2010, which found 80% of home structure fires involved washers or dryers. Installing AFCI’s therefore contributes to making homes code-compliant, as they’re now required for all new residential construction and areas where receptacles are replaced and AFCI protection is required), per the 2017 edition of the NEC®).3
Protect Any Branch Circuit
AFCIs are suited for any 15A or 20A branch circuit, so you can install them in every room. Regardless of whether your state or municipality requires them, or your home was built before electrical code updates in 2002 (and probably doesn’t have AFCIs), you should install these devices.
Is More Effective than a Standard Circuit Breaker
Traditional circuit breakers aren’t designed to detect and react to an arc fault fast enough to avoid dangerous conditions. An AFCI goes beyond detecting short circuits and overloads by analyzing the unique characteristics of an event to determine whether it is potentially hazardous.
Contact Express Electrical Services for Help with AFCI Outlets
Whether your home has old electrical wires or lacks AFCIs, you can depend on a licensed local electrician to update your system and improve electrical safety. A short-circuited breaker doesn’t do enough to prevent fires and can indicate a hidden electrical problem. We can maximize protection by installing an AFCI circuit breaker in your electrical panel and AFCI outlets in every room, which will trip as soon as a dangerous arc fault is detected.