Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters
What they are, why you should care, and how to install them.
Synopsis: Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are now required by most building codes. An electrician explains how these devices function and how they should be installed. Also included is a discussion of the costs vs. benefits of AFCI breaker design.
I could hear my garage light from across the room: a loud snap followed by a long frying sound. I removed the fixture to look at the wiring. It was a problem I’d seen before: another bad light fixture in which an arc had jumped through a loose, press-fitted rivet joint.
The danger is fire
Arcing is a luminous discharge of electrical current crossing a gap between two electrodes. According to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), arcing can involve temperatures of several thousand degrees Celsius. An unintentional discharge is called an arc fault, which can cause a fire in your home.
Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs), a part of the 2002 National Electrical…