AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

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hurk27

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

The first set of breakers was changed out on the first red tag and the second set was from brand new batch that I switched around to see if it made a difference, But no matter what the Ideal Shure Test would not trip them. Putting the receptacle on a shorter wire would allow it to trip. So I know the breaker was doing it's job (as far as UL specs) but I haven't had time to do more research into it to see if other brands are affected?

It is Steve's statement that has me perplexed:

Most AFCI's are designed to trip at 75 amps fault current (and most mfrs. put a safety margin in so actual trip levels are at 35 to 60 amps) . It seems that with an indicator producing 75 amps, it would take significant impedance for an AFCI to not trip considering the 35-60A trip points they are designed for.
It sounds like this problem is already known and was swept under the carpet? Or why has the manufactures been allowed to divert from the original spec's of 75 amp's?
 

sandsnow

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Well it seems kudo's are in order for Wayne. UL has taken the AFCI tester issue seriously and required new marking on AFCI testers or the instructions. BTW, UL terms these devices AFCI "indicators" and not testers.

Caution: AFCI's recognize characteristics unique to arcing, and AFCI indicators produce characteristics that mimic some forms of arcing. because of this the indicator may give a false indication that the AFCI is not functioning properly. If this occurs, recheck the operation of the AFCI using the test and reset buttons. The AFCI button test function will demonstrate proper operation.

This is a great example that it does produce results when you report problems with listed products. Even if you don't agree with UL's solution, kudos to Wayne for taking the time to report this problem.

The contact person on this issue is Steven Brown, the person Wayne was in contact with.

The article appeared in the latest issue of "The Code Authority" Read it Here Code Authority
 

hurk27

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Well I appreciate the flowers Larry, but I have yet to here from Steve again?
I have sent a couple of E-mails to follow up on some of the question's he asked but have yet to get a reply :confused:
Thank's again.
 

hardworkingstiff

Senior Member
Location
Wilmington, NC
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

[QB] he insist that it is not because of a different brand as it does trip the ones close by the panel it is of a wiring problem or the breaker is bad.
If you were to switch breakers in the panel, and retest, would it show the breaker that didn't work did and the one that did didn't?
 

hurk27

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Ryan I have not heard a word from Steve in a while.
I know they do take some time to do a investigation as with the lighted clothes rod it took over two months before I received a reply.
Maybe I'll send another e-mail to Steve and see what's up? ;)
 

ryan_618

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

That would be great Wayne. I am thinking of writing a newsletter article for Mike about this, since I still get a lot of questions about it, and I have noticed that many manufacturer's still advertise their indicators as "testers". If you wouldn't mind keeping me informed, I sure would appreciate it.
Ryan
 

ryan_618

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

I am awaiting a reply from a representative from Ideal to address my question, which is "Whay are you still advertising your product as a tester, and not an indicator?" In the meantime, here is the newsletter that I am working on for Mike. I plan on including a segment about the above question, as soon as I get a response back from them.

AFCI Testers vs. AFCI Indicators

As I was reading a nationally recognized trade magazine the other day, I noticed an advertisement for an ?AFCI Tester? being advertised by a very prominent electrical product manufacturer. I was immediately reminded of an article written by Underwriter?s Laboratories (UL) dated March 21, 2005 that addressed this issue. The article can be found at http://www.ul.com/tca/winter05/news.html

To paraphrase the article, there is no such thing as an AFCI tester, other than the test button that is an integral part of the AFCI device itself. The reason for this is that an AFCI device is very complex, and recognizes the actual waveform of an arcing fault. While the advertised ?AFCI Testers? do produce a waveform similar to that of an arc fault, they cannot produce an actual arc fault. Because of this, the ?tester? may not trip the AFCI circuit breaker, despite the breaker having nothing wrong with it. For this reason, UL classifies these devices not as ?testers?, but as ?indicators?, which is much more accurate.

Circuit testers and indicators that are listed are listed in the UL ?General Information for Electrical Equipment? (White Book) under the category ?QCYU? for ?Outlet Circuit Testers?, which can be found on page 91 of the 2004 edition. Of particular interest in this section is the sentence ?These devices are not comprehensive diagnostic instruments?. These devices are tested under the UL 1436 standard, and are required to have included in the instructions the following clause (or equivalent):

?CAUTION: AFCIs recognize characteristics unique to arcing, and AFCI indicators produce characteristics that mimic some forms of arcing. Because of this the indicator may give a false indication that the AFCI is not functioning properly. If this occurs, recheck the operation of the AFCI using the test and reset buttons. The AFCI button test function will demonstrate proper operation.?

While these indicators may have some value for convenience to determine if the outlet in question is on an AFCI protected circuit, they are not to be substituted for the test button of the AFCI circuit breaker.



Ryan Jackson
Ryan@MikeHolt.com
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Ryan,
Why should we expect the AFCI "tester" manufacturer's be any more forthcoming with information about their products then the AFCI manufacturers's were about the functions of their products? It looks like (maybe) we will have a product available in 2008 that will provide they protection promised in 1994 when the first AFCI proposals were introduced.
Don
 

ryan_618

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

:D

Don, I agree with your feelings regarding the AFCI's and the lies we were all told.

I am being asked on a semi-regular basis about these tester/indicator devices, so I figured I would clear the air about them.
 

sandsnow

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Ryan
I asked our local Ideal rep about the testers.
Keep in mind he's just a rep. not factory personel.
I was told Sq. D for example would not cut loose with proprietary data so that an indicator could mimic the arc. Therefore, indicators are unreliable.
I'd be interested to see if something along those lines is in their response to you.

I could be wrong, but I don't think UL's weight extends to what a manufacturer puts on the advertising, as long as the truth is mentioned in the instructions.

Everybody makes claims about their products, as inspectors we always look at the "fine print" to see if a product is used correctly.

I do think you are doing everybody a service by spreading the truth about what AFCI indicators will and won't do.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

Originally posted by sandsnow:
I could be wrong, but I don't think UL's weight extends to what a manufacturer puts on the advertising, as long as the truth is mentioned in the instructions.
My thought here is the manufacturer can not have it both ways.

Either they call the unit an indicator as UL lists it and the wrapper can carry the UL tag

OR

The manufacturer calls the unit an tester but can not put the UL tag on the wrapper.
 

sandsnow

Senior Member
Re: AFCI testers (Ideal Shure Test)

What's more interesting is how the product is evaluated. Category PICQ Measuring, Testing and Signal Generation Equipment

These products have been investigated with respect to risk of fire, electric shock, and personal injury. Where such equipment is included in systems that involve other pieces of equipment or mechanical operations, the investigation of the risk of fire, electric shock and personal injury has included only the equipment specifically Listed in the individual Listings.

also

Equipment incorporating circuits to indicate wiring conditions in branch circuits, GFCI functions, or to indicate that a branch circuit is connected to an AFCI is additionally investigated to UL 1436, "Outlet Circuit Testers."

And to confuse things even more it's investigated under a standard for "testers".
 
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