Quick Tips for Electrical Safety: Protection against Electrical Fires

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Life or death—following and updating strong safety standards can determine if the outcome is positive or negative. However, electrical contractors are busy with many priorities from daily business duties to on-site jobs.  May, National Electrical Safety month, served as a great reminder that we should remain diligent in our efforts to increase awareness, follow regulations and implement technology to reduce electrical hazards all year long.

Electrical safety is crucial to residents and electrical contractors. The data provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), explains that more than 140,000 electrical fires are expected per year, resulting in hundreds of injuries and deaths. While many electrical contractors maintain best practices, there is always room for improvement.

A more specific issue is with arc faults, which are responsible for starting more than 30,000 home fires each year. Technology provides a solution to the issue with the products, Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI).

AFCI protect a portion of the circuit from serial and parallel arcs. However, CAFCI circuit breakers provide the highest level of arc fault protection in the current market, because it safeguards the entire circuit against serial and parallel arcs. The advanced electronic technology monitors the circuit for dangerous arcing conditions; if found, the circuit breaker trips to cut off the current and voltage to the arc fault. As a result, fires can be prevented and reaches the goal of keeping people and property safe.

“If a customer purchases an Arc Fault Breaker and it trips, he or she can call Schneider Electric to run through a test,” Bob Miller, Square D, Circuit Breaker Expert Access Team, said. “This helps homeowners and contractors find out why it tripped, which is very important when it comes to safety.”

Many factors can determine which product is the best fit, including regulations, costs and ease of use. There are government restrictions against AFC receptacle use, which can result in a higher installation cost than the CAFCI circuit breaker. CAFCI circuit breakers have also been considered most user-friendly for homeowners, because they are easy to locate and reset in the home’s load center. AFC receptacles can be located anywhere in a house and that can be difficult for homeowners to find.

It is important to stay compliant with National Electrical Code in your state and local jurisdiction. Most electrical contractors comply with the NEC 2008 or 2011 editions. As a result of the constant changes in the latest NEC requirements, the potential for error when installing arc fault receptacles is a major concern.

CAFCI circuit breakers remain the choice to provide the best protection, lower installation costs and easily meet all NEC requirements. Read “7 Frequently Asked Questions about Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters.”

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  • I didn’t know that a circuit breaker was designed to cut off voltage as a fire protection. I know that my electrician had discussed using arc fault breakers in my current house, but I didn’t know at that point what the benefit of one would be. According to this, I can clearly see why he wanted to use the AFC breaker. Thanks for the info!

  • I’ve helped my mother do some simple electrical work in my time, and even with that, I’ve run into some safety issues. Her house has some very convoluted wiring, and it very well may have started a house fire at some point if she hadn’t been careful. I may have to talk to her about the AFCI and CAFCI solutions you mentioned to provide a bit more safety to the house; I wouldn’t want her house to burn down because of faulty electrical systems! Additionally, if I ever need rewiring done on my house, I’ll make sure to ask any electrical contractor I hire if they use those systems. Thanks for the article!

  • I really did not know there was a National Electric code that needed to be followed. I’m really glad that electricians have some guidelines to follow so that they can make safety a priority. Keep things efficient and safe with something like electricity is a huge load off my mind. Thanks for the detailed look into how electricians work!

  • Tara Allen

    8 years ago

    Safety I would agree is essential when it comes to working with electricity. I am glad to know how important it is that you hire a professional electrical contractor. The statistics that you mentioned of people who have been injured to due to not following electrical safety precautions is alarming.

  • Thanks for explaining how I can protect my home from electrical fires. It seems that having a good arc fault breaker can be beneficial to have in my home. Before I try to find one, it helps that you stated the factors that determines which product is the best fit for my electrical system. I should try looking int the regulations, costs, and ease of use before choosing either an AFC or a CAFCI circuit breaker. Thanks for the tips!

  • Electrical safety is one of those things that I probably need to think a little more about. I’ve had an electrician inspect my house a couple of times, but I feel like I could probably be a little more proactive when it comes to preventative measures. I honestly didn’t know that there was a national code that needed to be followed. I guess you learn something new every day! Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you for the help. I have a friend that had an electrical fire in his house recently, and it made me realize how little attention I give to electrical safety. I had never heard of of and Arc Fault Breaker. Should I an electrician to help me know if I need one or not?

  • AFCI’s and CAFCI’s provide no specific protection against “glowing” connections also known as a High Resistance Connection’s. These types of faults develop over time and heat comes from power dissipation. This energy, when dissipated in a small junction area, can generate temperatures above 1000 °C (1832 °F) and can ignite most flammable materials. AFCI type devices are useful but they are not the complete solution to prevent fires in electrical solutions.

  • I had no idea that more than 140,0000 electrical fires are expected to happen each year! My brothers are electrical contractors so I’ll have to ask them specifically about arc faults. Thanks for the article, it was very informative for both regular people and electrical contractors like my brothers.

  • I really like how you point out that following and updating strong safety standards can determine if the outcome is positive or negative My roommate doesn’t really follow good safety practices when it comes to using our electricity. I’m worried she’ll cause an electrical accident. I would imagine that if we hired a professional electrician to come and take a look at our situation, he could answer any questions we may have.

  • Great article. We need to think more about Electrical safety. Its important that all electric work is done by a certified electrician.

  • One of the post that you publish about electrician service, last week post is awesome and the variety of the wire and quality of it that you describe is very good. Publish this post again in future if you have some time for it.

  • I like how you mentioned how important it is to stay in line with the national codes for electrical projects. I would assume that the best way to do that would be to hire an electrical contractor or subcontractor if you need to repair your home or are building one yourselves. They would probably have the knowledge of what is legal and what is not so their opinions and work would be very valuable.

  • I am really terrified of having a house fire. I liked you explained that arc faults have started around 30,000 house fires. Now I want an electrician to come and check my arc wiring.

  • Thanks for the great advice on how to stay safe from electrical fires. When I was really little, I still remember how one of our cords shorted and lit the carpet on fire. Good thing father was there to put it out but it is interesting to learn how many fires have been caused because of electricity. With little kids of my own now, I will need to make sure that my home is safe. Thanks again!

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