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  1. #1
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    Default Tje $1000 circuit breaker!

    Must be the economy, people are getting more and more creative.

    In addition to Homesafe claiming to hold a patent on the use of IR caners at home inspections and offering to sell you a license to use your IR camera for for "only" $79 a month, you too now have the opportunity to buy and use a $1000 AFCI tester as a consultant and subcontractor - just sign the non-disclosure agreement!

    http://www.afcitesting.com/

    Similar Threads:
    2018 ASHI InspectionWorld
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tje $1000 circuit breaker!

    Quote Originally Posted by fritzkelly View Post
    Interesting. I would think Square D may have something to say about their 'patented' technology!
    Ya' think? Like maybe - trademark infringement, product dilution/confusion and benefiting from the goodwill Square D has garnered in the course of their business?

    But... the only approved "test" for AFCI circuit breaker is by means of the self test circuitry built into the breaker, so placing the breaker in a box with test leads might actually be a patentable invention - they may actually own the exclusive right to test AFCI circuits "in this particular manner".

    The issue of course is the actual scope of the patent, for example could you please the breaker on a different box, with a slightly different sort of test lead?

    The problem is when somebody gets issued a patent, it then becomes the responsibility of anyone who wants to produce a similar device or even use a similar technique to challenge the patent, as crazy as it seems for example if the multimeter just been invented, and someone came up for instance with the idea of removable test leads, they might be able to patent that "innovation".

    The limits on the scope of such patents in a case like this are generally set by what is called "prior art" - has someone done this before? - and whether or not the innovation is "obvious".

    Unfortunately at the moment the operation of the patent office resembles the Three Stooges on a weekend bender - all kinds of stuff which clearly fails one or both both tests gets patented, and then it becomes quite expensive to challenge the patent.

    To take an example closer to home, though I have not seen this discussed on this board HomeSafe has received a quite broad patent which they claim covers most uses of infrared cameras at home inspections.

    Clearly, their patent cannot cover the vast majority of such use as it's "prior art"- IR cameras have been used in residential property inspections for 30 years, and most of the stuff covered their patents is self-evident and taught in elementary IR classes, - the problem is that now that they got the patent it could cost 50-200K to contest it, and in the meantime they are sending out this company is sending out letters to every home inspector they can find who advertises the use of IR cameras on their websites and demanding the inspector pay them a licensing fee of around $1000 a year to continue to do so.

    There is no doubt that this patent is absurdly broad (and likely also violates antitrust laws, as this company also operates a line of home inspection franchises) and it's extremely unlikely that it would be cost-effective for them to sue individual home inspectors, what they're really doing is attempting to shake down the manufacturers of IR cameras on the assumption that the manufacturers may decide its cheaper just to negotiate a blanket license to use their "patented technique" and pay them to go away than to fight the battle out in court.

    It's a ridiculous situation, but unfortunately it's the current state of patent law in America.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Tje $1000 circuit breaker!

    Quote Originally Posted by fritzkelly View Post
    It doesn't look like a device to test AFCI circuits to me. It looks like a device you clip to any circuit to test for arcing in the circuit. It just clips on as if you are installing an additional breaker in parallel with the standard breaker and supposedly trips if there is arcing. Pretty good idea if it works.
    Correct.

    You could accomplish the same thing by removing each breaker and installing an AFCI. If it trips there is arcing on that circuit. This setup just makes it easier.
    Except that you would need to carry one of each brand of AFCI breaker with you, and what do you do about the older panels for which no AFCI breaker is available?

    I wonder if you couldn't just rig one up to plug into a receptacle to test the circuit for arcing.
    Yes, and that's basically what this is. Except that plugging into a receptacle would mean you would need to check each and every receptacle as you do not know which ones are wired off which ones, and if you did not check every receptacle, you could miss some damaged wiring.

    Their answer is simple, and readily copied and improved on, without violating their patent, if they really even have one, and, besides, if you made a better one, I'm sure Sq D, Cutler Hammer, Siemens, GE would be interested in it and they would beat those guys silly with their patent attorneys.

    Here is how that works, and why it is so simple:
    - Disconnect a branch circuit wire from any breaker *or fuse* (old wiring and old fuse panels do not matter), first connect the green lead to ground (you are always supposed to connect the grounds first - for your protection), then connect the white lead to the neutral terminal bar (always do the neutral next, leaving the hot lead for last), now connect the red lead (most likely the red lead is the "switched" lead from the AFCI breaker in the tester), now switch the AFCI breaker to 'OFF', now - finally - connect the hot power lead (probably the black one) to the breaker or fuse terminal, or remove the breaker and clip it on the breaker tab to energize the breaker.

    Flip the AFCI breaker unit 'ON'. You have now applied power to that one circuit, and that one circuit only, and have an AFCI device checking it for faults.

    If the breaker does not trip ... be careful here ... that *could be* a "false negative" showing there is no problem when there actually may be a problem.

    If the AFCI breaker does trip, the circuit needs to be checked carefully.

    *EACH* circuit would need to be checked as above, simply repeat for each circuit.

    I would recommend LEAVING each tested circuit conductor off until through testing all of them, tagging each as to where it goes (which breaker or fuse).

    Did not find a problem ... *DO NOT ASSUME* that there is no problem, just assume that your test device *did not detect it*.

    I can see where that would be a quick way to isolate KNOWN (you now know it) defective circuits, but would not want to pronounce the other circuits as 'okie dokie' based on that testing.

    Want to make one up which is UL listed and labeled? It is soooo simple: Take a small 60 amp disconnect (one of the plastic ones will not scratch things up as much, GE makes them, other manufacturers may also, install a matching (same manufacturer) AFCI breaker. There you go. Both are UL listed components being used within their listing (your AFCI breaker only needs to take up one leg of the two legs, so why not install two AFCI breakers and be able to test two circuits at the same time.

    Now all you have to do is add one ground lead, two neutral leads, two hot leads (making sure each hot and neutral are kept match together) and two test leads (making sure they are also kept matched to their respective neutral and hot leads).

    To make it all easier to use, take a small hook and mount it to the enclosure to that you can hang the unit from any panel cover mounting screw. Now your hands are free to do the disconnecting and connecting of leads and circuit conductors. Do two circuits at a time, flip both AFCI breakers on, go on to the next two circuits, etc.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Tje $1000 circuit breaker!

    After further digging around on that site, I believe you are correct. If will be easier to tell once they get their FAQ up.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Tje $1000 circuit breaker!

    Quote Originally Posted by fritzkelly View Post
    Jerry, would you actually have to disconnect the lead, could you use it with the original breaker still in place?
    Why are there 4 leads?

    If you don't disconnect the circuit from the breaker or fuse, you will not be getting as good of a test on the circuit itself.

    Four leads:
    - hot for powering the AFCI breaker
    - neutral for powering the AFCI breaker and for monitoring the AFCI function
    - 'switch leg' which connects from the AFCI breaker to the circuit under test
    - and, of course, a grounding conductor

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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