Combination Arc Fault Circuit Breaker tripping

Nick70068

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I hate CAFCI circuit breakers!!!! I have been having sporadic tripping of a CAFCI 20 amp breaker that is connected to my computer system and router. Every so often while accessing the NVR the breaker trip and would shows Arc-Fault as the cause. This is in a newly built house, and the NVR is in another room which is impossible to run a network cable from the NVR to my router. So I used a TP-Link Powerline adapter between the NVR and router. The setup works great, except for the sporadic tripping. I isolated the problem to the Powerline adapter, and replaced it with a WiFi router setup as a client bridge which is working satisfactory.

I would replace the CAFCI breaker with a regular circuit breaker, but I was told that the codes require them in all living areas. I was also told that insurance company might have a problem if there were ever a catastrophic problem in the house.

Has anyone ran into the problem with nuisance tripping of these CAFCI or AFCI breakers?
 

The_E

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I hate CAFCI circuit breakers!!!! I have been having sporadic tripping of a CAFCI 20 amp breaker that is connected to my computer system and router. Every so often while accessing the NVR the breaker trip and would shows Arc-Fault as the cause. This is in a newly built house, and the NVR is in another room which is impossible to run a network cable from the NVR to my router. So I used a TP-Link Powerline adapter between the NVR and router. The setup works great, except for the sporadic tripping. I isolated the problem to the Powerline adapter, and replaced it with a WiFi router setup as a client bridge which is working satisfactory.

I would replace the CAFCI breaker with a regular circuit breaker, but I was told that the codes require them in all living areas. I was also told that insurance company might have a problem if there were ever a catastrophic problem in the house.

Has anyone ran into the problem with nuisance tripping of these CAFCI or AFCI breakers?
Oh my God, yes! It's a common occurrence unfortunately. I've been in dozens and dozens of homes where the homeowner complains about them. Vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, what have you..... pop goes the breaker! I wouldn't pull the AFCI, but I might try replacing it. I don't know what or how the sensitivity to an event works, but anecdotally some folks have had good results replacing a finicky AFCI breaker with a different brand. Might be worth a try?
 
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mikeynags

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I would double check with your local building department to make sure. Typically you wouldn't think they would be necessary in living spaces but more for rooms like kitchens, bath, outdoor outlets, etc.
 

tigerwillow1

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I have three Siemens AFCIs for the bedrooms, with zero trips in 10 years. I once went to test them, making all sorts of parallel-circuit arcs and sparks and was never able to cause a trip. Made me wonder what exactly it takes. Maybe it's the series arc detection in the CAFCIs that causing nuisance trips. I can imagine just plugging something in or flipping a switch could look like a series arc fault (because it IS a series circuit arc fault).
 

The_E

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I have three Siemens AFCIs for the bedrooms, with zero trips in 10 years. I once went to test them, making all sorts of parallel-circuit arcs and sparks and was never able to cause a trip. Made me wonder what exactly it takes. Maybe it's the series arc detection in the CAFCIs that causing nuisance trips. I can imagine just plugging something in or flipping a switch could look like a series arc fault (because it IS a series circuit arc fault).
We have EATON brand AFCIs and haven't had any false trips in 8 years. Siemens and EATON are generally considered the two premier brands, maybe that has something to do with it? I know a few of our clients that had issues were using SquareD products.
 

Nick70068

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I googled the problem I was experiencing and several people have complained that the TP-Link and Siemens AFCI breakers were having the exact same problem. I guess the AFCI see's the data modulation across the power line as an ARC.

FWIW, I haven't had any more problem since I replaced the AFCI with a WiFi router acting as a client bridge.
 

TonyR

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This sounds weird. Or do I have my acronyms scrambled?
I think he means he quit using a power line adapter and instead deployed a wireless bridge in its place for network communication (he offered that maybe the power line adapter's modulation on the power lines was being detected falsely as an arc fault by the AFCI breaker).

At least that's what I got out of it.
 

Podagrower

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Replacing an AFCI/CAFCI breaker with another brand isn't a viable option, the breakers are Almost interchangable. They will generally fit physically, but the connection to the bus may not be correct. It might work for a while, but I've seen it burn out the breaker and panel in 12 months. Having said that, swapping the tripping breaker with another one is how I'm fixing my AFCI tripping issue (in my case, 1st gen AFCI are getting swapped with CAFCI as they crap out).
 

Nick70068

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I kept the CAFCI installed as per recommendation of an electrician. Instead I got rid of the Powerline adapter and now using a old WiFi router configured as a client bridge (DD-WRT firmware). Works great now!!!!
 
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For the record, despite the interchangeability of breakers when you read the fine print on the load center label it will likely say for use with listed breakers only. IE Using a GE or Eaton breaker in a Siemens load center is not UL listed. Should there be a failure resulting in an insurance claim the adjuster will point to misapplication of product. If you were the installer they could hang the cause on you.
As an employee of one of the above mention companies I have seen it happen more than once.
 

Nick70068

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For the record, despite the interchangeability of breakers when you read the fine print on the load center label it will likely say for use with listed breakers only. IE Using a GE or Eaton breaker in a Siemens load center is not UL listed. Should there be a failure resulting in an insurance claim the adjuster will point to misapplication of product. If you were the installer they could hang the cause on you.
As an employee of one of the above mention companies I have seen it happen more than once.

I wish the manufacturers do a better job in reducing nuisance tripping. I have had 2 circuits that experience this, one of which I was able to solve by installing a RF/EMI filter inline. The other was the powerline adapter that I swapped out for a router.

When I was researching my problem I saw a myriad of complaints from people having nuisance tripping. Some people tried different manufacturers, but as you and I know, breakers aren't always interchangeable. Only option is to either replace the device that is causing the problem, which can be very expensive, or swap out the CAFI with a standard breaker from the same manufacturer.
 
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I hear you Nick, the AFCI and GFI technology has improved leaps and bounds since inception. Hell at one time in the early age of portable cell phones and the late age of hand held 2 way radios we had one hell of a problem with radio communications causing the GFCI breakers to trip. If you were near a panelboard with GFCI breakers and keyed up your two way radio the GFCI would open.
 
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