September 3, 2020

What is an arc fault?

An arc fault occurs when loose wire connections or corroded wires contact and cause sparking, or “arcing”. This translates to heat and can cause potential electrical fires and is very dangerous. An example of arcing that you may be familiar with is when you hear a light switch or outlet buzzing. Although that doesn’t automatically mean a fire is imminent, there is definitely a potential danger that needs to be addressed.

Unlike a short circuit or a ground fault, arc faults may not trip a circuit breaker. You need something else to guard against arc faults and that’s an Arc Fault Protection Unit (AFPU), sometimes called an arc fault circuit interrupter or an arc fault detection device. An AFPU’s main function is to protect against the danger of an electrical fire, something circuit breakers and ground fault circuit interrupters do not do, which makes them very essential to have in a home, business, or other property.

What causes an arc fault?

A number of things can cause an arc fault and they can be pretty common. Some examples are loose plugs, worn insulation on your cords, exposed wires, cord pinching, pests chewing on cords, or a cord crushed under heavy furniture. These aren’t necessarily things you can notice right away, which makes it all the more dangerous. This is why arc faults are one of the main causes of electrical fires and are common in older buildings.

How does an AFPU work?

Arc fault protection units pick up electrical arcs in wiring, plugs, sockets, outlets, and appliances before potential flame ignition by isolating the electrical supply to the connected circuit. AFPUs detect this by using advanced electronic technology that monitors the circuit for normal and dangerous arcing conditions. They provide a higher level of protection than a standard circuit breaker and ground fault circuit interrupters that only stop the flow of current and prevent electrical shock respectively. 

Why do I need an AFPU in my home or office?

An arc fault protection unit is the only thing that prevents electrical fires from happening and keeps a home or building and everyone in it safe. Especially if your home or the building of your business is older than normal, arc faults can be quite common. It’s a simple device to install in your home, business, or other property, but provides invaluable protection. Think about the people and materials in your home or business that are important to you, that could be gone in an instant once an electrical fire occurs and goes out of control. If there was an easy way to prevent that from happening, wouldn’t you do it?

Some other places where it’s important to have an AFPU are dormitories, museums, galleries, schools, cinemas, restaurants, shopping centers, etc. They really are an indispensable device to have.

Types of AFPUs

Branch/feeder AFPU

This type provides protection for branch circuit wiring, cord sets, and power supply cords. 

Combination AFPU

This device provides protection for branch circuit wiring, cord sets, and power supply cords downstream from the device but doesn’t provide protection for upstream.

Outlet circuit AFPU

This device provides protection for the cord set and power-supply cords plugged into the outlet, but doesn’t protect feed-through branch circuit conductors or upstream from the device. 

Which AFPU is right for your property?

Whether you need an AFPU for residential or commercial application, Astley Electrical can help provide and install the proper device for your property. We’ll explain and help you understand how arc faults occur and how an AFPU isolates them and thus protects you from a fire. Call us on 02 9456 4586 to find out more.