ELECTRICAL SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE DEVICES
These are some of the many things that should be considered when you’re thinking about the safety of their home. Many of these items that can not only make you safe, but also help you sleep better at night, and quite frankly, can also make living in your home much more convenient, much easier, and much more functional. Contact us for an electrical home inspection to ensure you have all of these safety and convenience features incorporated into your home.
- Childproofing the home
- Tamper resistant (TR) outlets
- Whole house surge protection at the electrical panel
- Smoke detectors
- Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets
- Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers
- Arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers
- Timer switches
- Smart switches
- Ring doorbell systems with cameras
- Landscape lighting
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WHAT IS AN ARC FAULT?
An arc fault is a discharge of electricity between two or more conductors. The easiest way to understand what exactly this means is through an analogy. Think about a spark plug or the starter on your grill. Both shoot a little spark across conductors, and the point of that spark is to start a fire. Ironically, that is exactly what arc faults in your electrical system do. Arc faults are a leading cause of electrical fires, and it’s important to understand where they can occur and how to prevent them.
What causes arc faults and electrical fires?
There are actually quite a few things that can cause arc faults and ultimately electrical fires.
- Poor electrical connections, such as those that can arise from backstabbing electrical devices.
- Nails or staples from the home’s original construction could damage the insulation or wiring
- Nails from a picture hanger
- Rodents chewing on wires behind walls.
How to protect your home against arc faults.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) breakers protect against arc faults. They are a National Electrical Code (NEC) requirement and have been required in some capacity in all new homes since the 1999 NEC. Over time, the NEC has expanded the requirements for arc fault breakers to include more areas of your home and now the NEC 210.12 stipulates that circuits for most general gathering places throughout the home require arc fault protection. This includes family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, kitchens, laundry areas, and other similar rooms.
What are the best AFCI breakers for my home or business?
There are different types of Arc Fault (AFCI) breakers, each with its own merits. There are standard arc fault breakers that protect from hot to ground or neutral to ground parallel arcs. There are also combination arc fault breakers that protect against parallel arcs as well as conduction that’s broken, so frayed wiring for example, or series arcs.
There are also dual-function arc fault breakers. Arc Fault (AFCI) plus Ground Fault (GFCI) protection. You are likely familiar with the GFCI outlets because these are what you would find in your house in wet areas. Breakers can also be GFCI protected. So GFCI is to protect against shock or electrocution, whereas AFCI is to protect against electrical fires. More questions about Arc Fault Breakers? Give us a call or shoot us a message, and we’re happy to answer any questions.
WHAT DEVICES SHOULD YOU HAVE IN YOUR HOME?
First let’s talk about safety devices you can have in your home as a convenience. For example, if you have an outdoor lantern pole, a lantern on the home, or a pole down by the end of the driveway, you can put that light on a timer switch. That way it comes on at the correct time at night and shuts off in the morning or whatever length of time you decide. Something like this is great not only because of safety, but it’s also nice to have it as a convenience. That way you don’t have to turn it on and of yourself and you can even control it from your phone in some circumstances.
Another convenience/safety example is a Ring Doorbell (or similar product). When you pair this with garage door lights and cameras, you can keep an eye on your property, and know what’s happening even when you’re not home. They can also record events that happen at your property. If there is some sort of incident, you’ll have the video to review and see what happened and who did it. Just having these cameras and garage lighting in place will give you peace of mind.
Dimmers are another great electrical safety and convenience product you can add to your home. Nobody necessarily likes to leave lights on at night, but what do you do when you want to see at night? When you have dimmers, you can leave lights on low in places like kitchens, living rooms, and even some exterior areas. That way when you’re walking around at night, or even coming home late at night, you’ll be able to see and not trip and hurt yourself.
Childproofing your home, having tamper resistant outlets to ensure that children are not able to stick foreign objects into the outlets, and whole house surge protection. By having the whole home surge protection in place, you’ll limit the damage of a lightning surge or strike or a surge from the utility company. Essentially what’s happening is the electricity is controlled as it enters your home.
Another important safety precaution you need is an interconnected home smoke detector system. It’s very important that they are all interconnected, so when one smoke detector goes off, all of them go off. That way if you’re living in a two or three level home and you’re up on the top floor in your master bedroom and a fire starts in your furnace room in the basement, you’ll be notified, and have time to evacuate the premises and ensure your family can get out safely.
A good smoke detector system will have a detector in each bedroom and each hallway. And you should also have a carbon detector incorporated into the hallway smoke detectors as well. Additionally, if your furnace is blocked from the rest of the living area via walls and a door, a smoke carbon detector should be located by your furnace or any electrical panel.
Another safety feature you should ensure is incorporated into your is ground fault circuit interrupter outlets to limit the risk of shock. You’ll typically want these around water, kitchen sinks, bathrooms, garage, and outdoors. You’re at a much greater shock hazard when you’re not standing on carpet or wood floors. If you’re standing out in the grass, kneeling in the grass, out in the garage, or near any water hazards, you increase your risk of shock and fault circuit interrupter breakers are important.
These circuit interrupter outlets also protect the home from arcs in the circuit. Arcs are different from ground faults. Arcs are from gaps in the wiring where it tries to jump from the wire to the outlet. Anything that arcs in the electrical system will trip the breaker and de-energize the circuit.