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.”