New arc towards electrical fire safety

Hundreds of devastating house fires are caused by power outages in Australia every year, according to the Fire and Emergency Services. It goes without saying that a new type of electrical protection aimed at preventing certain types of electrical fires is gaining in popularity.

It didn’t seem like long ago that the only defense in home electrical safety was the humble fusible wire.

In fact, many fuse boxes or distribution boards installed in older homes in Western Australia still use rudimentary ceramic style fuses, which are there to protect the wiring from overloading an electrical circuit. Fortunately, in the 1980s, this unique wonder gave way to better technology in the form of Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs) that can quickly restore power after they’ve done their job, just by pushing a button or switch to reset.

Electrical safety was further enhanced in the 1990s with the Safety Switch or Residual Current Device (RCD).

A GFCI protects life and property by detecting ground leakage, an often dangerous situation where a potentially exposed piece of metal equipment can become energized or shorted. The power is shut off in milliseconds and minimizes the risk of fatal electric shock.

As a result, recent changes to Australian AS / NZS 3000: 2018 standards have made it mandatory for all final sub-electrical circuits in new residential properties or renovations to be protected by an RCD, which now includes additional devices such as lighting, hot water. electric vehicle systems and chargers. Most new homes today typically install combination MCB and RCD units, called RCBOs, to reduce space usage and cost inside the electrical panel.

Another smart technological advancement, an Arc Fault Detection Device (AFDD) searches for small arcs in your home’s wiring and cuts off power when it suspects dangerous levels are occurring. These arcs are usually not visible to the naked eye, as they occur inside an electrical cable itself – an outlet or junction box where knuckles can occur.

Clipsal by Schneider Electric’s director of standards Gary Busbridge said a common example was the flexible extension cord you ran through the sliding door for a while, or that old multi-power outlet board with the folded plug which is a bit questionable.

“An arc can occur both inside a damaged cable between two electrical conductors when the copper wiring fails, or where the cable could improperly join a plug or connector,” he said. -he declares. “Other factors could be rodent activity, poor build quality, aging cables or loose connections. Over time, the arc can cause charring which could lead to an electrical fire. “

Mr Busbridge, who also chairs the Australian Standards Wiring Rules Committee – the body responsible for creating and reviewing decisions about electrical safety regulation – said sadly it was possible that lives were lost. lost due to fires caused by arc faults.

“While AFDD is a great new recommendation in the defense of electrical and fire safety, I hope to see them also become mandatory for certain types of buildings during a future revision of the standards,” he said. .

To make the adoption of this new, life-saving technology simpler and more convenient, Clipsal – manufacturer of electrical safety products in Australia since 1920 – recently released a single MCB, RCD and AFDD combined into one unit. The device, which must be installed by a licensed electrician, is also compact in size, which means it will fit into many existing electrical panels and provide optimum safety improvement in new homes.

CONTACT Clipsal by Schneider Electric, 137328,

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