New Electrical Code Requirements With Arc Fault Breakers In Panels

Have you ever toured Fort Collins, Loveland or even Denver? The houses range from new to really, really old homes in some areas? What does this mean? The houses have decades of wiring from the 1900s to present. With this being the case, the codes have changed several times. What was deemed as safe a century ago is not the case now. The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) are starting new requirements every time the electrical code is revised.  As an electricians serving Northern Colorado in Fort Collins to Loveland to Berthoud to Longmont, there is one major electrical problem we face.

Let’s talk about panels. The biggest problem, I see in Fort Collins is these panels: FPE, Zinsco, Gould, Bulldog, Inter-matic Push Button Breakers, Challenger and GE Split Bus-Bar. Don’t forgot the older homes with Medium Type Fuses instead of breakers used with Knob Tube. The typical problem I see with these panels is the breakers are not sensitive enough to trip when needed.

If it is a non-arc fault breaker, it is designed to trip on over current draws, dead shorts and ground faults. If it is an arc-fault breaker, it is suppose to do all that plus sense arching on the branch circuit in parallel and series of all the devices, which are on that circuit.  These arc-fault breakers were designed in 1997. They started implementing them into code in 2002 to be installed in all bedrooms in homes.  Now the code states today, that all general lighting circuits shall have these arc-fault breakers installed in residential homes. The NEC talks about arc-faults on solar panel circuits on the DC side of the system to protect the power created coming into the panel. The funny thing is they have not designed an arc-fault breaker device for this yet. These arc-fault breakers do not fit any of these panels I mentioned above.