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New CAFCI breakers

John Kogel

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New Canadian Electrical Code 2015 rules - Canadian lurkers here ought to know this. Many areas of BC have adopted the 2015 rules. I can't speak for all of the minor kingdoms.

A big change is that now all receptacles, wall outlets, in the living space are required to have CAFCI protection. The old Arc fault breakers with green or blue test buttons are obsolete. The new breakers have a white button.

No longer just the bedroom circuits. Permanently installed appliances do not need arc faults.

"CAFI or CAFIC Suffix

Schneider Electric (Square D) type QO, QOB and HOM circuit breakers with suffix CAFI or CAFIC detect parallel arcing plus series arcing (branch/feeder/outlet).

The push-to-test button is white.

The CAFI breakers will trip under these conditions:

(1) The breaker detects a downstream overload or short circuit (per trip curve)

(2) The breaker detects a downstream current to ground in the range of 30-50ma or greater, regardless of the load.

(3) The breaker detects an upstream or downstream arc in that circuit that meets certain preset conditions ("arc signature"), plus at the same time the breaker is carrying 5A or more of load current, even if very briefly. The 5A value is per UL1699 for combination-type arc-fault circuit breakers.

CONCLUSION: Square D/Schneider Electric CAFI Combination Arc-Fault Circuit Breakers are designed to provide protection against overloads, short circuits, parallel arcs (H-N), and series arcs (H-H same phase), and will trip on current to ground in the range of 30-50 mA or higher."

The old ones do not protect against series arcs.

Electricians are separating all lighting circuits from the wall outlets. Lights are OK on standard breakers in Canada.

Smoke alarms must be on a standard breaker, not on arc faults, but that may vary with the AHJ, so check it out.

A new CAFCI wall mounted outlet can be used to protect the downstream outlets only if the feeder from the panel to that first outlet is in conduit.

The old AFCI breakers are still for sale at the box stores and will continue to sell to DIY goofs, so keep eyes pealed for them. Cheers.

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