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Old 12-11-2009, 01:49 PM   #21
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OP here, We are at about 50 warranty calls, at about 30 differant address's. When this all began, yes we checked for N to gnd faults, N to N faults, found none. which is farther supported by the fact that some things will work on the circuits, (lamps, alarm clocks, cans, etc..) I'm not an electrical engineer but I assume those would be enough of a load to trip the circuit if there where improper wiring. I may be wrong?? So the typical scenario goes like this. We wire new home, hot check, city inspectors hot check, everything's fine. Home owner moves in, uses lights, cans, misc. small appliances, no problems. Lives in home a week or so, has time to hook up computers, big screen TVs, and has to run the vacuum for the first time. Now we have Problems!
Vacuums work on some arch circuits not on others, Circuits trip when you first turn on the appliance sometimes it will stay on for half hour or so.
There seems to be little consistency. However every thing works fine until electronic devices are put to use. And I'm not talking old stuff. a lot of these home owners have just purchased brand new stuff for there brand new home.

We have been in touch with GE and they are aware and have admitted that these types of problems exist, however on a "small scale" nothing to the extent that we are having. They are coming out next week to investigate the problem first hand, Check the power from utility Co in the area. etc..

So I'll let you all know how that goes next week.
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Old 12-11-2009, 02:03 PM   #22
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how many surge-protected power strips are plugged into those circuits?

Shunting surges to ground will trip out those pesky AFCI's ...
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:10 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MF Dagger View Post
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...7X-_-100674086
Here's the one I had only it was 20 amp
That's a THQL1115AF_ "MOD 2", a black one with a single push button tester (note that I think the suffix to "AF" differs in ways I don't understand -- I think the Home Depot ones have a "2" following AF). You can see the "MOD 2" in the picture from the link you provided.

Home Depots in my area *just* began stocking "THQL1120AF2 MOD 3 SWD", which is the grey one with the rocker switch that tests both Parallel Arc and Series Arc separately. The UPC for Home Depot is the same for MOD 2 and MOD 3, and the shelf hangar where they're stocked has old and new ones both on the same stick for the same UPC. They stock the low-end 15A and 20A (that is, 10KAIC plug-in types).

I happened to notice that there's another difference between the GE MOD 2 and GE MOD 3 plug-in 10KAIC CAFCIs (for both 15A & 20A models): the bottom hook of the breaker where it holds onto the non-contact part of the panel doesn't have a notch gap in the MOD 2 (so is similar to Murray breakers), but the MOD 3 has a notch gap, of an identical size to old Bryant breakers. (In other words, MOD 2 doesn't "fit" in an old Bryant panel backing, but MOD 3 does "fit" in an old Bryant panel backing. Neither one allows the Bryant panel cover to fit over the breaker since the Bryant panel cover hole size is smaller than the GE breaker sizes (similar to Murray), but the GE grey CAFCIs are tapered slightly inward, so it's less of a non-fit for MOD 3 than MOD 2.) However, on both, the packaging says simply that it is for "GE load centers", and doesn't mention any other type of load center. Since Cutler-Hammer makes CAFCIs that are listed on the breaker package as being for panel types that include Bryant (although I doubt the Bryant panels say "CAFCIs can be Cutler-Hammer BR CAFCIs"), I'm guessing there's no reason in hell to use a GE CAFCI (even MOD 3) in a Bryant panel, except for one thing: The Cutler-Hammers are oversized breakers, similar in size to Homeline CAFCIs, whereas the GE ones are old breaker-sized profiles (normal small size). Too bad Eaton/Cutler-Hammer CAFCIs are so bulky, because Bryant loadcenters barely have enough room to fit them. If GE's breakers were made and listed for Bryant loadcenters too, that'd be one reason to try them instead.

My background: just a maintenance person.

P.S., one of those GE THQL1120AF2 MOD 3 SWD circuit breakers with an aging refrigerator on the circuit (Whirlpool ET14JKY0W00 mfg date 05-00) is difficult to close without tripping. It's easier to unplug the refrigerator, reset & close the breaker, and then plug in the refrigerator. Sometimes that trips it anyway. I think it's the arcing of the various parts as the compressor initial draw demands a lot of energy, so the CAFCI says "ARC!" and trips. The refrigerator is plugged into a GFCI. It's sometimes even easier to unplug the ref, turn on the CAFCI circuit, trip the GFCI, plug in the ref, reset the GFCI. No guarantees. When left alone, the refrigerator by itself when cycling on will trip the CAFCI (nothing else on circuit but unused stove.)

I envision snowballing effect: CAFCIs cost more. CAFCIs require dedicated neutrals, more wires. CAFCIs nuisance trip a lot, suggesting more dedicated circuits would help alleviate downed computers and TVs. More circuits, more wires, more CAFCIs. More heat from CAFCIs too close to each other in panels. Much, much, much larger panels. Yuck. Some electricians will be happy.

---

UPDATE: New Information January 22, 2010

I was reading the product literature for the GE THQL1120AF2 MOD 3, and I have the paper instructions that came in the Home Depot package, instructions version "DEH-41131 R1 0109 (c) 2009 GEC". On the second page, it has a typo in the "Troubleshooting Guidelines: Condition: Circuit breaker trips (handle in center position and trip flag appears)" section: #2 and #3 are backwards (swapped). Well, in R2 (revision 2) of the same document which is on GE's web site as a PDF, they fixed that, but they also added another Potential Cause and Solution/Action:

"Potential Cause: 4. A load or combination of loads on the branch circuit emits a current signature that looks like a valid arc-fault."
"Solution/Action: 4. Contact GE (see contact information below) for troubleshooting information."

So, the official word is that if this happens, "contact GE". The # they give for troubleshooting or service related questions is 1-800-782-8061.


Update: GE called me from a report I filed on the AFCI web site, and they said that basically you aren't supposed to ever put CAFCIs on the circuits they aren't required for. He said there's a reason AFCIs aren't required on the refrigerator, kitchen, and bathroom circuits: the places the NEC doesn't require AFCIs are the places most likely to require the types of loads such as compressors and motors that would cause signatures (arcing?) that would trip the AFCI.

So, in essense, trying to retrofit an old breaker box with AFCIs isn't going to work for the circuits that cross into both AFCI-not-required zones and other zones that you'd like to have AFCIs on without changing the circuits. Holding to the code on what you aren't required to do with AFCIs is almost as important as doing what is required by the code. E.g., when replacing a breaker panel but keeping old circuits, I've seen people post that the AHJs have been interpreting NEC as not requiring AFCIs where they haven't been before. Another example is for new construction (or new circuits in old construction), making sure you are not putting AFCIs in zones where they aren't required, such as the kitchen and garage. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Last edited by BWA; 01-27-2010 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Update
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:16 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Dennis Alwon View Post
I have used GE for many years and have been installing the combo arc faults for some time and never had a problem.

I seem to recall that sq.D had a big problem in the Denver area and they discovered that the problem was related to the power company signature voltage. Apparently the sine wave was flattened at the top which caused havoc on the arc faults.
How did the utility explain that could happen? I would have liked to have seen a waveform capture on that one.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:20 PM   #25
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What is a "combo arc fault"
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:28 PM   #26
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Nice thread.....Every once in a while we get one right...very helpfull.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:29 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Black4Truck View Post
What is a "combo arc fault"
Both a series and parallel arc at the same time? Or are you abbreviating for Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interruptor?
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:31 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black4Truck View Post
What is a "combo arc fault"
Check this link
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/afcifac8.PDF

The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection for receptacles located outdoors;
in bathrooms, garages, kitchens, crawl spaces and unfinished basements; and at certain
locations such as near swimming pools. A combination AFCI and GFCI can be used to
satisfy the NEC requirement for GFCI protection only if specifically marked as a
combination device.

Last edited by codeone; 01-22-2010 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:12 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codeone View Post
Check this link
http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/afcifac8.PDF

The National Electrical Code requires GFCI protection for receptacles located outdoors;
in bathrooms, garages, kitchens, crawl spaces and unfinished basements; and at certain
locations such as near swimming pools. A combination AFCI and GFCI can be used to
satisfy the NEC requirement for GFCI protection only if specifically marked as a
combination device.
In my opinion, the writer of that article is quite mistaken about the sentence you highlighted in red. Combination ark-fault circuit breakers do have ground fault protection, but it is set a much higher level than a gfci is set to. A gfci will trip out (if it is working correctly) between 4-6 mil amps.
A combination ark fault breaker has its ground fault device set point around 30 milliamps. At 30 mil you could be talking about a fatality. Now if it is marked as a combination ark-fault and gfci then yes the author is correct, just not how he describes the device. Combination ark fault=one animal, combination ark fault /gfci= another animal.
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Last edited by macmikeman; 01-21-2010 at 12:16 AM. Reason: clear up the difference in the two devices.
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Old 01-21-2010, 10:59 AM   #30
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Default Afci/gfci

Hey. We were looking for an Arc Fault/GFCI 2pole Breaker that would satisfy both requirements the other day. Does anyone know where to find one??? We can't seem to locate?
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:31 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Guile View Post
Hey. We were looking for an Arc Fault/GFCI 2pole Breaker that would satisfy both requirements the other day. Does anyone know where to find one??? We can't seem to locate?
If you need a combo AFCI and a GFCI built into one as a DP breaker I doubt you will find it. Can you not add a GFCI in the line? That would be your best bet.

I also don't think they are making a combo DP AFCI.

Don't get confused with the terms a combo AFCI is not a GFCI/AFCI breaker- although I believe they do make them.
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:23 PM   #32
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I have had to replace 3 Square D arc fault breakers that were tripping about every third day. (practically drove me crazy)

I was told by Square D that a batch of them were being recalled and they gave me the numbers and the ones I had installed were included.
They also told me that it was Colorado problem that they were trying to compensate for that made this batch of breakers litterally "time out".

One of my suppliers has told me that Cutler Hammer arc fault breakers have had some tripping issues apparantly related to RF.
I didn't go into it with them as I have only 1 of them installed on a job.
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:29 PM   #33
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Siemans has two-pole AFCI breakers in both 15 and 20 amp and ground faults ARE a source of AFCI nuisance tripping although AFCIs do not meet GFCI technical requirements. Siemans also has an arc fault tester, but I've never used one.

They can be odd. I had a situation where three new branch circuit home-run conductors had been hit by a screw and under some conditions, the breakers held, but tripped when the HO turned on the DRYER!

The wires were damaged EGCs to neutrals.

http://www.sea.siemens.com/us/Produc...tionisincluded

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Old 01-21-2010, 05:27 PM   #34
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Is the OP the same Mike Brown that has been in the news so much lately?
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Old 01-21-2010, 05:29 PM   #35
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Is the OP the same Mike Brown that has been in the news so much lately?
nO, THAT'S SCOTT, HIS COUSIN.
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Old 01-21-2010, 06:28 PM   #36
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If memory serves, when the combo AFCI requirement went into effect, GE still hadn't gotten their technology to a point where their own units were viable. So they bought the Siemens and stuck their logo on them.
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Old 01-21-2010, 07:46 PM   #37
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nO, THAT'S SCOTT, HIS COUSIN.
Damn that's right. I knew it was something Brown.
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:20 AM   #38
 
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Default 2008 NEC Arc Faults

Can some one tell me what rooms are required to have arc fault breakers
In the past its been arc faults in bedrooms, ground faults in kitch, bath garage, exterior. Is there a change for 2008 NEC?
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:46 PM   #39
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family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, similar areas(???)
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Old 01-22-2010, 12:48 PM   #40
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Can some one tell me what rooms are required to have arc fault breakers
In the past its been arc faults in bedrooms, ground faults in kitch, bath garage, exterior. Is there a change for 2008 NEC?
........

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210.12(B) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.
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