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Thread: AFCIs???

  1. #1
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
    Tim Moreira Guest

    Default AFCIs???

    Hey gang,

    I have a few questions.

    1. I believe that in previous posts, in the new 08 NEC it will be required to have (new construction) AFCIs on all 15/20 AMP branch circuits. Is this correct or incorrect?

    2. I also read somewhere on here in the past that AFCIs have had a problem with "stacking" in terms of over heating problems. Is this correct or incorrect? Are the current breakers on the market still having this problem or has this been resolved?

    3. Does anyone know if Square D QO series AFCIs are prone to this alleged "over heating" problem or has this been resolved. Yes/No ????

    4. Reason being, I have a GE Sylvania (Zinsco) panel in my own home and will be changing it out very soon with a Square D QO series panel. I would like to change out the branch circuit breakers (15-20 amps) with AFCIs. Does this make any sense to you all????

    5. Anyone have any objections on having the refrigerator circuit on an AFCI???

    6. The reason for wanting to change out my panel is that my electric bill seems to be pretty high. High is a relative term for every one but in my case, I am paying the same amount as some of my coworkers who also have the same power company with the same rates. One guy I work with has twice the square footage and volume as my home (he has a two story house), he has 5 kids at home, his air is on 72 degrees 24/7 and his lights, appliances, and other stuff runs around the clock. I live alone (until recently) and have my air on 78 degrees with a program-able t-stat which is off 10 hours a day. My water heater is on a timer and is on for only 2 hours a day. I try not to run the dryer whenever possible and shut off all other "stuff" when not at home. I have a 10 seer AC (not the best I know) but my buddy as double everything and pays the same as me. My neighbors who also have the same panels in their homes pay what I pay too. I'm thinking that it is my panel that is the problem.

    I have taken my IR thermometer and shot all of the breakers to look for excessive heat gain. None found. I have gone into the attic and shot the ducts to look for leaks. None found. I have rolled in insulating and it is in place in the attic. I try to conserve energy when ever possible but still pay the same as my coworker. We have the same crappy single hung windows so I would imagine that we share the same heat gain, only he must have more since his house is twice the size?????

    Any thoughts on this. Anyone think that changing out my SE panel will have an impact in my electric bill? This doesn't make any sense to me. He has double everything and has his air on 72 24/7 with 5 kids coming and going all day long. Same electric company, same rates????

    Hope everyone is OK.

    My dad is in between homes and has moved in and commandeered my office. As I'm a night owl, he's asleep when I get home so I haven't been able to read or post here in a while. As soon as I can kick him out, I'll be back (Arnold S.)

    Thank you all in advance.

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    Last edited by Tim Moreira; 08-02-2007 at 11:55 PM. Reason: More questions
    Crawl Space Creeper

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Garland, TX

    Default Re: AFCIs???


    I've caught my utilities sending out average or extended billings. Gas, water, and electric.

    This has occurred at peaks when the costs were highest.

    My electric provider just installed a new meter because the plastic lens on the old one was so UV fogged no one could read it. We found out the reader had been putting in an average based on the neighbors and received a refund. Whether that was calculated right only the guys at NASA know.

    I'd read my meter(s) and see if the billing jives with the usage before I'd change equipment.

    Someone smarter than me would have to explain how a newer panel can decrease usage, therefore decreasing the bill.

    As far as the AFCI questions. I don't know any sparkys that are changing out their own equipment because it's such a better and safer product. Talk to 3 and you'll get 3 differing opinions. Pro, con, OK here but not for over there.

    All of this said, not much help. huh

    Good luck

    badair Garland, TX 75042
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Stucco-ACMV-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes...accept the good

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Orlando, FL

    Default Re: AFCIs???

    Some electricians have mentioned to me that the new AFCI requirement will increase their service calls, mostly due to nuisance tripping. Others didn't know about the change at all.

    I would look for a more typical issue with your energy usage and power bill, before condemning the panel. A/C, water heater, & pool pumps are the big 3.

    Maybe your attic insulation is poor, (it's very affordable to have extra blown in ) or the HVAC ducts leak in a spot you can't see, or the equipment is just old & tired.

    Does your co-worker have any trees shading his house?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Fletcher, NC

    Default Re: AFCIs???

    Not addressing the other questions yet, but changing your panel will not result in any power savings.

    Unless you had burned/arced contacts at all breakers, resulting in low voltage (high voltage drop) to all your high wattage appliances, in which case you would like know there were not operating properly anyway.

    If you have that much damage to the breaker contacts, that would suggest to me that you had a Zinsco panel, which is also what you stated you had.

    Have you removed those breakers to check the bus bar for arcing ... never mind, you need to replace that panel for safety reasons anyway ... but, after you replace it, look at the bus bar, you will likely see a lot of arcing and burning of the breakers to the bus bar, if you can even pry the breakers loose (they almost weld themselves to the bus bar).

    Regarding the AFCI breakers, all have the same heat generation problems when stacked one above the other. Newer breakers designed to meet the 2008 code (so I've heard) have reduced this heating problem. How much it has been reduced, I do not know.

    Jerry Peck
    Construction/Litigation/Code Consultant - Retired


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