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William
Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

Does anyone here use Arc Fault circuit breakers?

I am going to be replacing a sub-panel box and wanted to use arc fault circuit breakers, but from the reviews on home depot and loews I am concerned about their reliability. More than one person has complained that they only last around two years and then they go bad, and at over 40 bucks a pop (I'll need 8 which would be 320.00). That's a bit too costly if I have to replace them every couple of years.

Anyone else seeing short life time on these circuit breakers? :confused:

MLB Construction
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

i installed them in my house 5-6 years ago and haven't had one issue, nor have i heard of anyone having any. stop by your local electrical supply house and ask them, they can give you a better answer than an electrician.

dj1
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

The last time I installed AFC they tripped nonstop. They were Square D and over $35 each. The homeowner did what he had to do to get some peace of mind and I didn't know anything about it. After the inspection that is.

William
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability
MLB Construction wrote:

i installed them in my house 5-6 years ago and haven't had one issue

THANKS MLB Construction, do you know what brand they are?

William
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability
dj1 wrote:

The last time I installed AFC they tripped nonstop. They were Square D

Yeah if I get them they definitely won't be from Square D. The most complaints that I've seen are all from Square D.

Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

I've had good results w/ GE

William
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability
The Semi-Retired Electric wrote:

I've had good results w/ GE

Thanks :) I think I'll either get those or Siemens. My new sub-panel load center will be from GE, but the Siemens AFCI protects 3 ways, and I think the GE only protects two. I will look into this closer because I'd like to keep it all GE if possible. I was just reading a good article about AFCI circuit breakers and they found that Square D had a lot of nuisance tripping. They tested them on a circuit with basically just a coffee maker and the Square D brand always had nuisance tripping. Square D also had to recall there's because of defects before, so I don't trust that brand anymore. I will install either the GE or the Siemens both upstairs on the sub-panel and downstairs on the main panel and hopefully they won't cause any problems :)

Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

Whichever brand you select be sure the breakers are listed as acceptable for use in that panel. Usually breakers of the same manufacturer are OK, except for Cutler-Hammer you must choose between the "BR" or the "CH".

And, SQ D you must choose between the Homeline or "QO" panels and breakers.

In order for an AFCI breaker to be listed as a new style meeting 2011 Code all breakers must now be "Combination AFCI's" and meet the same objectives.

If either AFCI or GFCI breakers have too much wiring (12 receptacles is good on a 20A) they may be wired correctly and still trip with healthy appliances plugged in.

William
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability
The Semi-Retired Electric wrote:

Whichever brand you select be sure the breakers are listed as acceptable for use in that panel. Usually breakers of the same manufacturer are OK

Oh crap :eek: After you posted I went downstairs to check who makes the main load center. It's Square D (#HOMC21UC) :( I really hope I don't get stuck having to use their AFCI breakers. I'll definitely need to contact them to find out what will work. THANKS for the heads up :)

William
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability
MyMilan wrote:

My new sub-panel load center will be from GE, but the Siemens AFCI protects 3 ways, and I think the GE only protects two.

Just an update. GE's Combination AFCI now offers 5 kinds of protection:

1.Parallel protection − Just like its Branch/Feeder counterpart, Combination AFCI can detect and neutralize parallel arc faults

2.Series Protection − A series arc fault is the unintended flow of electricity over a gap within a single wire. These arc faults were not detectable until advanced technology allowed the development of the Combination AFCI breaker.

3.Ground protection − Arcing between a single conductor and a ground line

4.Overload protection

5.Short circuit protection

Fencepost
Re: Arc Fault Circuit Breaker Reliability

A while back there was a batch of Square D AFCI breakers (I think it was "first-generation") that were recalled due to failure.

The complaints you read may be related to those early versions. Newer ones should be better.

http://inspectapedia.com/electric/SquareDRecalls.htm

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