Arc-Fault Problems


#1

Will Sense detect wiring problems like Arc-Faults? Several years ago I had an outdoor outlet that was arcing and nearly started a fire. The breaker had tripped a couple of times but I thought it was due to an underground cable leading to a yard light that I had hit with a shovel. I fixed the cable and turned the breaker back on. Later I heard the arcing when I was trimming a shrub. The outlet was black from all of the arcing.


#2

Hi @Paul2 - great question!

We’re actually working on some technology for fault detection even as we speak! As part of this, we’re asking for users to submit reports to our free beta service called HomeCheck:

From there, and with your permission, we can take a look at the Sense data around the incident, report back to you about what we found, and also use this information to help us build automated detectors for future implementation.

If you or anyone else has another arc fault incident, or some other electrical malfunction after Sense has been installed, please consider submitting it for HomeCheck so we can get these features built out. We’d love to be able to use Sense’s detection capabilities to make homes safer and more secure.

Glad you caught your particular issue before it caused a fire, and thanks for mentioning this!


#3

Thanks for the reply. I’m encouraged that you are looking into this because it could save lifes. My issue was several years ago long before I installed Sense.


#4

While Sense is very good at detecting appliance states and energy use, a UL1699 listed AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) is what you really need to detect arcing problems and disconnect the circuit in question before a fire starts. There will be no cool web pages or graphics of the current waveforms to view, but you will be protected. Conventional circuit breakers can only protect a circuit if the current goes above the rating of the circuit, so at least 25A for a 20A circuit. GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) will provide people protection, and also can provide arcing protection where the fault goes to ground. But only Combination AFCIs will detect and protect you from all arcing faults.
I work for Square D, but you should be able to find an AFCI at your local Lowes, Home Depot, or Menards for what ever brand of electrical panel you happen to have. I highly recommend you do this.


#5

That’s a great point @twldyn - thank you for calling that out. While we’re working on fault detection just to help keep our customers informed of potential issues, an AFCI is the best solution for actually preventing the malfunction from causing a fire.


#6

Doesn’t the NEC require arc fault and ground protection in kitchen and bedroom circuits now?


#7

To replace all of my breakers with AFCI breakers would cost well over $1000 plus labor. Until then it would be nice if Sense could make me aware of a dangerous situation.