Nuisance Tripping Arc Fault Breaker Findings

November 10, 2022


Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) Findings:

1. All manufactures experience nuisance tripping with their Arc Faults to some degree.

2. This not a “defective” breaker issue. Our Supplier Partner, Siemens, has tested hundreds of breakers returned from the field, that were returned as “defective”; Not one breaker has been identified as “defective”.

3. Testing has shown that Arc Fault Breaker tripping is due to the following:

  • An actual arc which indicates the breaker is doing its job
  • Overcurrent (the appliances drawing more amps than allowed)
  • Electronic Noise caused by the loads on the circuits

Appliances and Home Electronics don’t have to meet any operating standsards in order to prove they can operate with Arc Fault Technology.

  • It is probable that certain appliances create wave forms similar to arcing as part of normal operation. This causes nuisance tripping.
  • It is possible other devices in the home are creating strong enough wave forms, in the panel, that can be picked up by the breaker. These can be perceived as an arc and cause nuisance tripping.



AFCI Breakers vs Standard Breakers

AFCI vs Standard Circuit Breaker: Your new home may differ from your previous home, in that your new home has arc fault breakers. Arc Fault breakers are required in homes built after 2015 and may react differently causing tripping where they hadn’t in your previous home. This new incompatibility is due to the differences in the breakers functionality and the protection they provide.

  1. Conventional circuit breakers only respond to overloads and short circuits, therefore they do not protect against arcing conditions.
  2. An Arc Fault Circuit Breaker (AFCI) is a circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects electronic arc signals. Those signals are a signs of loose connections or damaged wires in a home. Loose connections, which can develop over time, and damaged wires or cords can become hot enough to ignite house fires. AFCI’s are devices designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in the home electrical wiring. The AFCI circuitry continuously monitors the current to detect unwanted arcing conditions. Once detected, the AFCI opens its internal contacts, thus de-energizing the circuit and reducing the potential for a fire to occur.

Siemens Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers

The Siemens Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers, available through EB Horsman & Son, offer enhanced flexibility and safety features specifically for breaker boxes and electrical panels. These breakers allow two separate circuits to be fed from a single breaker position, replacing the need for individual breakers. This space-saving design is ideal when replacing or upgrading breakers in electrical panels.


Benefits of Siemens Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers:

Space-Saving Solution: With the ability to feed two circuits from a single breaker position, the Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers minimize the need for additional breakers in the electrical panel or breaker box. This is particularly advantageous in situations where space is limited.

Enhanced Safety Measures: Siemens has incorporated connection indicators into their Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers, providing clear visual confirmation when load wires are correctly inserted. This helps reduce the risk of improper installations and ensures safer electrical systems in breaker boxes.

Versatile Installation Options: Contractors can choose between the Pig Tail and Plug-On Neutral versions of the Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers, depending on the specific requirements of the breaker box or electrical panel. This flexibility allows for seamless integration into various electrical systems.

Convenient Availability: To provide easy accessibility to customers, Siemens Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers can be purchased online through the EB Horsman website. Additionally, customers can visit any of the EBH branches to acquire these breakers, ensuring a quick and hassle-free procurement process. Whether you are replacing a circuit breaker or performing a circuit breaker replacement as part of a renovation or upgrade, Siemens Tandem AFCI Circuit Breakers are readily available.


Troubelshooting Tips

Best Practices:

  1. Beware that the circuit is not overloaded with an excessive amount of electronics (load or current). The breaker is only able to support a specified amount of wattage, and if exceeded, the breaker will trip.
  2. All electronics purchased should be CSA listed, or equivalent, and comply with CSA standard C22.2 No. 270, or they may cause unnecessary tripping.
  3. Make sure furniture is not on or pushing against electrical wires.
  4. If any blackened plugs, very damaged wires, or noisy circuit breakers are discovered, an electrical problem has occurred and the homeowner should call an electrician.
  5. Check that all connections between a light socket and a light bulb base are tight including garage door openers. An arc can occur in a loose connection, which will cause the AFCI breaker to trip.


Electrical Contractors Best Practices:

  1. Ensure wires are secure on receptacles, recommended that wires are secured with the screw, friction fit backstabbing is not recommended.
  2. 20amp arc faults on Microwave circuits. This reduces nuisance tripping due to microwave overcurrent.
  3. Separate HRV and Hot water tanks onto separate circuits.
  4. Separate lighting and switches onto non-arc fault circuits.
  5. Route wires in strategic areas so homeowners and other trades are less likely to pierce through a wire.
  6. If possible, perform work after the other trades, i.e. HVAC and plumbing, have completed.
  7. Ensure properly maintained tools are used, i.e. sharp blades.


Suggested Ways to Handle Recurring Nuisance Tripping:

1. A Dual Function breaker has been proven to hold on circuits where Arc Fault breaker nuisance tripping is occurring

  • CAUTION – we do not recommend using the Dual Function breaker on all circuits. It has proven to be an effective alternative on circuits where the current appliances are not compatible with Arc Fault technology and are causing nuisance tripping.

2. Re-test your breakers before resorting to the Dual Function breaker as a solution
3. Visit Electro Federation Canada for more information about Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)


Statement regarding Siemens AFCI Breakers:

“Siemens is committed to providing an AFCI breaker that meets the required codes and customer expectations and is continually updating and improving our product. As technology changes and new appliances and equipment are introduced, some appliances may not be compatible with ArcFault technology.”

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