Arc Fault Protection

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Arc fault protection refers to the safety measures taken against the possible explosions that can occur inside a switch box when someone is working on a live system. The explosions propel a mixture of combustible residue and particles into the air, and are capable of effecting a considerable sized are. Anyone exposed to the output of an arc fault related explosion is placed in considerable danger.

Arc fault protection is a high priority for systems. It is especially crucial for systems that operate in close proximity to large groups of individuals. Arc faults cannot fully be prevented, but can be diminished if the proper security measures are taken. Even though the nature of arc faults makes them impossible to predict or plan for, proper protection significantly reduces the possibility of serious injuries resulting from arc fault mishaps.

Implementing Arc Fault Protection

Arc faults occur if the insulation between the conductors is interrupted and there is no bolted short circuit. Although the primary cause of arc faults is human error, they can also be caused by interference from animals, dirt, proximity to conductive objects such as tools or parts, and overloaded conductor paths. However, the protective measures apply to those times when someone is working on the system, as they would be placed in danger.

When a low voltage system is being worked on under live conditions, there is a danger of the insulation between the conductors being interrupted without the presence of a bolted short-circuit. As a result, the temperature inside the switch box climbs drastically, leading to a rapid build-up in pressure. This pressure then triggers the explosion, propelling dangerous residue and particles into the area. The danger can be reduced by containing the explosion with the assistance of an arc fault protection based switchbox design.


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