electrical safety by gdf57j

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									W H AT I S T H E D I F F E R E N C E B E T W E E N A
G R O U N D FA U LT A N D A N A R C FA U LT ?

There is a major difference between the
functioning of an AFCI as compared to a GFCI            N E M A A N D E L E CT R I C A L S A F ET Y
(Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). The function
of the GFCI is to protect people from the               For more than 80 years, manufacturers of low
deadly effect of electric shock that could              voltage distribution equipment have been
occur if parts of an electrical appliance or tool       working to ensure public safety by standards
become energized due to a ground fault. The             writing efforts and the dissemination of
function of the AFCI is to protect the branch           important industry information through the
circuit wiring from dangerous arcing faults that        National Electrical Manufacturers Association
could initiate an electrical fire.                      (NEMA), one of the most respected standards
                                                        development organizations in the world.
AFCI and GFCI
technologies can co-exist                               Headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia, NEMA has
with each other and are a                               approximately 400 electroindustry companies,
great complement for the                                including large, medium and small businesses.
most complete protection                                To learn more about NEMA visit                                                arc faults and
                                                                                                                         electrical safety
that can be provided on a                               www.nema.org.
circuit.                                                To learn more about AFCIs, visit our AFCI web
IT’S ALL ABOUT SAFETY                                   site at www.afcisafety.org.
Smoke alarms, fire
extinguishers and escape
ladders are all examples of
emergency equipment
used in homes to take
action when a fire occurs.
AFCIs are products designed to detect a wide
range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce
the electrical system from being an ignition
source of a fire. Conventional overcurrent
protective devices do not detect low level
hazardous arcing currents that have the
potential to initiate electrical fires.
AFCIs are the next generation product in
electrical circuit protection. As you evaluate                                                                                P R OT E CT I N G H O M E S & FA M I L I E S
your new home’s construction or consider
                                                                                                                                   F R O M E L E CT R I C A L F I R E S
upgrading or remodeling your current
electrical system, consider enhancing the                                                                                      W I T H A D VA N C E D T E C H N O LO GY
protection of your electrical system
with AFCI.
                                                       NATIONAL ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
                                                            Low Voltage Distribution Equipment Section
                                                          1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1752 • Rosslyn, Virginia 22209   NATIONAL ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION
                                                                     (703) 841-3200 Fax: (703) 841-5900                       Low Voltage Distribution Equipment Section
                                                                               www.nema.org
E L E CT R I C A L F I R E S K I L L                                  H O W A R E A R C I N G FA U LTS D ET E CT E D ?      W H E R E A R E T H EY R E Q U I R E D TO B E
T H O U S A N D S E V E RY Y E A R                                                                                          I N STA L L E D BY T H E N AT I O N A L
                                                                      Traditional overcurrent protective devices
                                                                                                                            E L E CT R I C A L C O D E ?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration*, home                      cannot detect these types of arcs. The
electrical problems accounted for an estimated                        capability now exists to detect many of these         The 2005 National Electrical Code states that
67,800 fires and $868 million in                                      arcing conditions and disconnect the problem          AFCIs must be placed on bedroom power and
property losses in 2003. Electrical                                   circuit through the use of Arc Fault Circuit          lighting circuits. The 2008 NEC
fires also cause an estimated 485                                     Interrupters (AFCIs).                                 may expand this requirement to
deaths annually and injure almost                                                                                           other areas in the home. As with
                                                                      H O W D O E S A N A R C FA U LT C I R C U I T
2,300 more individuals.                                                                                                     all property protection and life
                                                                      I N T E R R U P T E R ( A F C I ) WO R K ?
                                                                                                                            saving devices, the ultimate use,
Electrical fires can be caused by a
                                                                      In essence, the detection is accomplished by          beyond the Code, rests with the
number of failures. Appliance
                                                                      the use of advanced electronic technology to          homeowner. Whether new
defects or misuse, incorrectly
                                                                                                 monitor the circuit for    construction or retrofit, NEMA
installed wiring, or misapplied
                                                                                                 the presence of            supports that
extension cords can lead to electrical hazards.
                                                                                                 “normal” and               you utilize the
In 1992, the Consumer Product Safety                                                             “dangerous” arcing         maximum
Commission (CPSC) contracted with                                                                conditions. Some           electrical
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to provide                                                        equipment in the           protection level
research and evaluation of products and                                                          home, such as a            available to
technology that could reduce the likelihood of                                                   motor driven vacuum        reduce the
residential fires. A result of the research, UL                                                  cleaner or furnace         chance of an
identified an electrical hazard called “arcing                                                   motor, naturally create    electrical fire.
faults” that could eventually lead to the ignition                    arcs. This is considered to be a normal arcing
                                                                                                                            C A N I H AV E
of a fire as one possible cause of residential fires.                 condition. Another normal arcing condition that
                                                                                                                            AFCIs
                                                                      can sometimes be seen is when a light switch
W H AT I S A N A R C FA U LT ?                                                                                              I N STA L L E D E V E N I F MY STAT E
                                                                      is turned off and the opening of the contacts
                                                                                                                            O R M U N I C I PA L I T Y D O E S N ’ T
Most people are familiar with the                                     creates an arc.
                                                                                                                            REQU I RE TH EM?
term arcing. Arcing may be
                                                                      W H Y I S I T I M P O RTA N T TO H AV E A N A F C I
intended, such as with an arc                                                                                               Absolutely, do you only place locks on the front
                                                                      B R E A K E R I N STA L L E D I N MY H O M E ?
welder or unintended, such as                                                                                               door of the house? Just like placing locks on all
when a tree falls on a power line                                     AFCIs were developed in response to an                external doors and windows for security
during a storm creating a current                                     identified electrical problem causing fires in the    reason, it is logical to request AFCI protection
discharge between conductors or                                       home as noted by the Consumer Product                 on all 15 and 20A branch circuits, not just
to ground.                                                            Safety Commission and other prominent                 those in the bedroom, to protect the entire
                                                                      organizations.                                        home from an electrical arcing ignition hazard.
An arc fault is an unintended arc created by
current flowing through an unplanned path.                            An AFCI provides a higher level of protection         AFCIs are available through electrical
Arcing creates high intensity heating at the                          than a standard circuit breaker by detecting          distributors and in many home centers and
point of the arc resulting in burning particles                       and removing the hazardous arcing condition           hardware stores nationally. The only major
that may easily ignite surrounding material,                          before it becomes a fire hazard.                      physical requirement is that the AFCI requires
such as wood framing or insulation. The                                                                                     directly wired hot and neutral wires on the
temperatures of these arcs can exceed 10,000                                                                                circuit you’re going to protect.
degrees Fahrenheit.
*USFA. 2006. “On the Safety Circuit: A Factsheet on Home Electrical
Fire Prevention.” U.S. Fire Administration.

								
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