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Old 03-15-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


Well this is probably a question for the folks at Square D but....

I'm seeing (plastic retail) packaging for the CAFI breakers with an announcement of the contents as either CAFI or CAFIC.

Are there any differences between the two products? Do they represent different revisions or versions, and should I be hunting for one vs. the other?

Square D's website is full of dead links so I don't find it useful in finding an answer to this question. Searching for both descriptions on the net in general shows retailers offering both designations, but Square D only hits with product information for the CAFI designation.

-Jeff

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Old 03-15-2011, 09:36 PM   #2
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


I would think the AFIC was the newer combination arc fault while the AFI is the older non-combination style.

Combination types are required under the newer editions of the NEC.

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Old 03-15-2011, 09:50 PM   #3
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


The Square-d site clearly distinguishes between AFI breakers and the combo fault breakers: ie. HOM120AFI vs. HOM120CAFI.

What's not clear to me is the difference between ie: hom120cafi vs. hom120cafic.

-Jeff
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:57 PM   #4
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


The CAFCI is the latest verison and per NEC code they will requred combation arc fault circuit inturpteur. (if your state do required it )

The AFCI is standard Arc falut circuit intrupter which they will sense parallel arc faults

The Combation verison will sense both series and parallel arc faults.

I will have to find it one way or other due majorty of my links are in French so give me a day to find it in English verison.

Merci.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:00 AM   #5
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


I'm familiar with the distinction between traditional AFI breakers and the new combo types. Square D (now Schneider: I wonder if they'll be burying the Square D name, which would seem like a horrible idea) currently offers both types.

I was at a big box hardware store today, and they carry the breakers in the retail packaging that announces them as CAFIC in bold type (I should have looked at the label on the breakers themselves) BUT.... if you search the S.D site for CAFI you get 38 hits. If you search for CAFIC you get _no_ hits. If you search for AFI you get 243 hits.

I simply cannot find any reference to the CAFIC breakers on S.D.'s site, despite the fact that this product is on the shelves.

Surely someone else must have noticed this changeover and wondered about it....

Well, I'll try to email S.D. directly about the issue. But if the website is any indication, there's quite a bit of shakeup going on over there.

That and I'll see if I can find item numbers associated with the CAFI and CAFIC packaging: I did a little scratching around on that one but I guess it's time to do some real spelunking. I won't be at all surprised if the CAFI and CAFIC packaging have the same part numbers.

If S.D was going to change the name from CAFI to CAFIC I can't imagine why they didn't change it to CAFCI or whatever the NEC calls it and be done with it. (Just got my 2011 NEC last week, was hoping to be about half way through it by now but have hardly had the time to open it. My previous version of the NEC literally fit in a jacket pocket: lost it some years ago but must have been ~'86.)

The deeper I dig, to this point at least, the more confused I get. I'm up late, not early, I'll take a fresh look in the AM. I'm quickly losing faith that S.D in particular has a product which incorporates both CAFI protection (to 20 mA) and GFI (5 mA) in the same product. Old references (which is more or less all I'm finding) suggest no such breaker exists commercially, or that only 1 mfr. has them.

I know it's not uncommon to put GFI outlets on a CAFI circuit, but I assumed the latest "technology" from all the makers included both.

It's interesting that in my browsings I haven't seen the case of arcs at the outlet when an energized appliance with a (big) motor is unplugged explicitly addressed. I'm not sure if that's a common cause of fires (given the fact that the effect is usually short lived and quite obvious) but it's very unnerving and compromises the equipment (plug at least) in such a way that future arcing is encouraged. The hassle of replacing plugs alone is worth the extra $$$ to me for CAFI in the long run. Assuming, of course, such an arc trips them.


-Jeff
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:32 AM   #6
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


I've installed some of the combo types. I can report that my beefy table-saw trips it. There's an old thread about it.

ALSO. My Mac power cord has tripped it when it caused an arc at the outlet. the cord had become mostly dislodged and when one of my dogs stepped on the cord it caused an arc.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:53 AM   #7
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Hmm I thought arcing at the outlet was strictly associated with inductive loads.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:18 AM   #8
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


To tell the difference between a SQ D AFI and AFIC breaker is the color of the test button. Red is a AFI and Green is a AFCI. The first "C" before AFI or AFCI means the type of packaging (plastic clamshell).
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:04 AM   #9
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Hivolt: Aha! Now we're getting somewhere. I suspect you have it reversed, probably the last C designates clamshell: the first C is present on both "variants".

While I was searching the S.D site for CAFI, the top ten links or so had am ominous "FAQ" Q/A to the effect of "Which revisions of the CAFI breaker are subject to nuisance tripping?" just below the active link. Clicking the link brings up the product info, but no reference to bad breakers.

So, still one thing left for me to worry about.

What started me off on this whole thing was browsing... hmm, shall we say new in box "secondary market" ads for QO vs HOM. It appears that the QO's can be had at least as cheaply as the HOM stuff. That more or less gives gives me the green light budget-wise to replace all the panels in my house (two FPE's, a HOM, and a Seimens) with all QO gear. The HOM and the Seimens panels _should_ be moved anyway (one in kitchen closet, one a few inches higher than code and could also stand an upgrade to raintight because my back porch isn't raintight anymore, will likely soon be demolished and I haven't decided whether to replace in kind or remodel: remodeling may permanently expose the panel.)

During my brief tenure as a "journeyman" for a huge and despicable local company (I came away convinced that most of the behavior I noticed was driven by crystal meth), I came across an aluminum bus panel that had deteriorated quite horribly in less than 10 years. The only time I'd seen AL rot out so bad was one time I'd left an aluminum clamp at the bottom of a stainless steel bucket with a bit of water and (apparently) an airtight seal on top. Only a few weeks, maybe a month or two, this clamp of about two ounces was reduced to about 1 oz. of metal and a pile of white powder. I was later told that these were ideal conditions for such deterioration: lacking oxygen to replenish the oxidated film on the aluminum, it electrolyzed itself to death in short order.

I hate sounding alarmist but I had to tell that homeowner I considered it an emergency. She asked how great, I told her that in my opinion the chances of the breaker box overheating in the next 3 years at %50, placing the risk of it happening in the next few days at about 1 in 2000. She was already complaining of circuits going dead one by one, and that wiggling the breakers sometimes woke the circuits up. That experience convinced me: no AL buses in MY house.

Dunno if breaker panels are a significant source of fires: in theory the material contained is not very flammable but it was pretty incredible to see the ghastly ghost of a thing.

-Jeff
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:33 AM   #10
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Square D CAFI vs. CAFIC breakers


You are correct about having it reversed, damn these bifocals.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:40 AM   #11
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Although the QO and HOM breakers are roughly the same price. The real price difference is between the loadcenters. HOM is much cheaper than QO loadcenters.

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