In a newly published white paper by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Low Voltage Distribution Section (LVDE), NEMA LVDE reveals the compatibility and protection Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are providing to appliances, beyond the already proven record of AFCIs preventing electrical fires in homes.
“What we were able to determine through significant research, data collection and a state specific survey is that not only are AFCIs working well with various appliances, but they are doing so with remarkable consistency,” says Keith Waters, P.E., C.E.M., industry standards manager of Schneider Electric USA and member of NEMA’s LVDE AFCI Promotional Task Force.
“This new information is great news for those in the electrical, home building and appliance industries where AFCI compatibility and interoperability are important along with the device’s proven ability to protect against electrical fires as part of the National Electrical Code.”
The white paper entitled Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters and Home Appliances focuses specifically on 15-amp and 20-amp AFCI protection of branch circuits that are utilized by cord and plug connected appliances.
Some of the findings of the study include:
AFCI DATA: More than 60 million home appliances are estimated to now be protected by AFCIs nationwide including dishwashers (56%), refrigerators (83%), microwaves (84%), vacuums (76%), and washing machines (74%). •
AFCI SURVEY: A Massachusetts’ electrical contractor survey conducted recently by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) showed contractors made an average of 16 calls per week related to tripped circuit breakers or fuses. Almost all of the incidences occurred due to damaged wiring or overloaded circuits. AFCIs helped pinpoint 18% of the issues and the contractors reported no problems with the AFCI devices themselves. Since 2020, Massachusetts has had in place some of the most extensive AFCI requirements in the country covering homes including appliances.
AFCI REPORTING: According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than 9.5 million new homes built since 2014 have AFCI protection. From 2021 through 2022, www.AFCISafety.org reported only 35 claims of potential false tripping of AFCIs in the U.S. Upon investigation, none of those contacted directly identified a faulty circuit breaker or an incompatible product issue.
AFCI TESTING: AFCI manufacturers indicate they have conducted more than 130,000 interoperability tests with a variety of appliances and appliance combinations. The tests included 400 appliance brands and 150 product types. Additional testing was done for over 40,000 combination loads such as various countertop appliances, vacuum cleaners, power tools, and durable medical equipment. The lab tests used loading, temperature, humidity, and other factors to change the parameters to provide as many options as possible to determine if an AFCI would trip when protecting the circuit where an appliance or group of appliances are installed. The results of these extensive tests were that AFCIs function properly with appliances.