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Tuesday, January 10, 2012
feature story
Troubleshooting Tips for AFCI Installations
by Gerard Winstanley, NEMA

AFCI Image - JPGBasic wiring practices for AFCI-protected circuits

Unlike a conventional circuit breaker, which detects overloads and short circuits, an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) uses advanced electronic technology to sense different arcing conditions. This device weeds out the harmful arc characteristics from the “normal” arcs that occur during the normal operation of loads and other wiring devices. Common household items, such as a motor-driven vacuum cleaner or a furnace motor, naturally create arcs when they operate—each of which is considered a normal arc (click here to see Fig. 1).

Another example is the arc that may occur when a light switch is turned off. Dangerous arc faults, however, may result from improper installation, damaged wiring, overheated or stressed electrical cords, worn electrical insulation, wires and/or cords in contact with vibrating metal, damaged electrical appliances, and more. This type of arc condition creates high-intensity heat, which may exceed 10,000°F and result in burning particles that can easily ignite surrounding material, such as wood framing or insulation.

AFCIs are designed to recognize arc faults when they occur and automatically shut the circuit down before it becomes a fire hazard. Manufacturers of AFCIs test for hundreds of possible operating conditions, designing each AFCI to constantly discern between normal and dangerous arcs.

Due to the proven effectiveness of AFCIs, it’s important electricians follow proper wiring practices to help minimize troubleshooting efforts. The following sections highlight some of the best practices for electrical installation projects, but especially those performed on circuits that will be protected by AFCIs. Appropriate steps to successfully troubleshoot a potential wiring problem that will cause the AFCI to trip are also covered.

Other related information:



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On the Hill/Around the Nation

01.10.12
DOE Moves to Streamline Transmission Review: The Department of Energy in December announced a proposed rule that would better coordinate federal agencies’ authorizations for transmission projects that cross federal lands.  An offshoot of the 2009 MOU among nine federal agencies, the proposed rule would have DOE determine a lead agency for a given project and a series of intermediate and final deadlines for various permitting steps.  Projects that automatically receive this treatment are those that are 230kV and above which are regionally or nationally significant, at least in part cross federal lands, and require the approval of more than one federal agency.  Other projects which do not meet these requirements can request this treatment on a case-by-case basis.  Comments are due January 27. NEMA has been outspoken and has advocated for streamlined transmission siting processes and regulations in order to reduce grid congestion, improve the delivery of power, and facilitate new transmission infrastructure, construction, and related domestic jobs.    

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International News

01.10.12
Webinar:  Mandatory Eco-Design and Energy Efficiency Requirements in the European Union
Date: January 20, 2012 at 11:00am Eastern Time / 5:00pm Brussels Time
Description: U.S. exporters have to meet energy efficiency requirements in order to sell their products in Europe. The Energy Related Products (ERP) Directive has already set energy efficiency requirements for computers, televisions and set top boxes, battery chargers, external power supplies, lighting products, motors, fans, pumps, refrigeration and air conditioning, and dishwashers and washing machines. The EU has announced that many other products will come within the scope of the ERP Directive in the years ahead such as machine tools, transformers, and network, data processing and data storing equipment just to name a few. Regulation arising from the ERP Directive is subject to conformity assessment / CE Marking as well as for energy efficiency.

Learn how to meet the new requirements from experts who will talk about how to comply with the eco-design implementing measures and about market surveillance.

—U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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