What Is An Arc Fault Circuit Breaker?



What Is An Arc Fault Circuit Breaker?

Did you know that the majority of home electrical fires start in the walls? And that many are caused by damaged wiring? That is why installing an arc fault circuit breaker will help protect your family. What is an Arc Fault Circuit Breaker? Arc fault circuit breakers are a type of circuit breaker used in electrical installations as one of the measures for arc flash hazard mitigation. Arc fault circuit breakers are intended for use where the presence of combustible gasses, vapors, or dust might create a risk of electric arc flash. As the name suggests, an arc fault occurs when current travels through a conductor that is not properly protected. An arc fault can be caused by a corroded wire, faulty wiring, or by a buildup of combustible gasses, vapors, or dust in a confined area. Typically, an arc fault can start a fire in a matter of seconds.

What Is An Arc Fault Circuit Breaker?

However, if arc fault circuit breakers are installed in an electrical circuit, they can detect an arc fault and trip the circuit before the fire can begin. How do Arc Fault Circuit Breakers Work? An arc fault circuit breaker is a very special type of circuit breaker that is designed to detect the conditions that are necessary for the development of an arc fault. With ordinary circuit breakers, the circuit is interrupted only after the circuit has become dangerously overloaded. AFCIs are designed to minimize the risk of fire by detecting arcing conditions that standard circuit breakers can’t detect. They do so by continuously monitoring the current in a circuit for any sign of arcing. When an arcing condition is detected, the AFCI trips and interrupts power to prevent further damage or the start of a fire. Traditionally, circuit breakers are used to prevent current from flowing through a circuit.

If the current is too high, the circuit breaker will trip and shut off the power. This type of breaker is not effective at preventing arc faults, which often involve extremely high temperatures, because they are not tripped until after they have already caused an arc.

What is an Arc Fault Circuit Breaker used for?

If you have a fuse box, you have a problem. Arc fault circuit breakers use computer-based technology to monitor your circuit and detect problems before they start. This allows you to replace old technology with new technology. In addition to protecting your family, arc fault breakers also help save you money. They protect against short circuits, which can cause fire and seriously damage your home. Even if an arc fault breaker trips, it will reset itself automatically within 30 seconds, so you won’t even notice it. One of the best parts about arc fault breakers is that they don’t require any changes to your existing electrical system.

They are easy to install and configure so you can have peace of mind that your family is protected. Even if your house has multiple circuits, an arc fault breaker will monitor all of them, so you won’t have to worry about it being overwhelmed.

Where is an Arc Fault Circuit Breaker required in your home?

Because an arc fault can occur at any time and anywhere in your home’s wiring, you need to install AFCIs on all circuits to properly protect your home against this type of dangerous fire. In the United States, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires AFCI protection for all 15- and 20-amp, 120-volt branch circuits in bedrooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, and similar rooms or areas.   AFCI protection is not required for outlets located outside or in garages or bathroom areas.

What are the benefits of Arc Fault Circuit Breakers?

The primary benefit of AFCIs is additional protection from fires caused by certain types of electrical arc faults. When an arc fault occurs, a tremendous amount of heat is generated, and if not quickly interrupted, can ignite nearby flammable materials. Many home fires are caused by electrical arcs that occur due to damaged wiring or inadequate wiring techniques. AFCIs help protects against these types of fires. Unlike standard circuit breakers, which only detect overloads and short circuits, AFCIs are special circuit breakers that are designed to detect both series and parallel arcs in the wiring of the protected circuit. Because they provide this additional protection, AFCIs have been proven to reduce the incidence of fire in homes.

Although there have been no large-scale studies conducted on this topic yet, research has indicated that approximately 47% of home fires involve some type of electrical failure or malfunction as one of the causes or contributing factors for the fire. Additionally, research has indicated that approximately 50% of electrical distribution system failures are related to arcing faults. Another benefit of using this type of breaker is that your insurance company may give you a rebate for using one. If you have an electrician install them, you will be eligible for a rebate from most companies which means that they pay for themselves quickly.


In the end, arc fault circuit breakers are one of those things that are useful to have around the house. But a quality arc fault circuit breaker isn’t low-end merchandise—you must seek out products from established manufacturers who put out reliable units at reasonable prices. These devices can be purchased by homeowners, as well as businesses or the government. Additionally, arc fault circuit breakers can supply added protection to homeowners and business owners who have utility lines running through their property, or even an entire neighborhood. With smart technology, they can identify when a line is potentially at risk of failure and cut it off before anyone gets hurt or the property goes up in flames.

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