or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Tweaks and Do-It-Yourself › Breaker Tripping
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Breaker Tripping

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
In a year old house. We have a 20 amp AFCI breaker for our living room. The breaker will trip when we have the home theater system on and are changing the inputs on the plasma or turning off the blu-ray player. I've tried multiple outlets with a meter when it happens and it's never reading more then four amps when it trips. Any ideas on what the issue could be?

System would push 1600 watts maxed out but I'm only seen it push as much as 1200.
post #2 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1999 View Post

In a year old house. We have a 20 amp AFCI breaker for our living room. The breaker will trip when we have the home theater system on and are changing the inputs on the plasma or turning off the blu-ray player. I've tried multiple outlets with a meter when it happens and it's never reading more then four amps when it trips. Any ideas on what the issue could be?

System would push 1600 watts maxed out but I'm only seen it push as much as 1200.

AFCI's are notorious for tripping, they trip at the slightest fluctuation, lots of people are complaining about them and have the same problems. In Connecticut they're trying to remove them all together from homes.

Is your 20 amp circuit a dedicated circuit? How big is your home theater and how many pieces of electronics and equipment are plugged into that circuit outlet? Only thing that should be on that circuit is your home theater and that's it.

I was having the same problem except mine was a 15 amp AFCI on 14 awg and it was powering a 60" inch plasma, cable box, recessed ceiling lights and a hallway light so it was stressed to the max, the electrician who wired our basement was following NEC code but he never wired a home theater and wasn't knowledgable on dedicated circuits. He removed the 15 amp breaker and slapped on a 20 amp breaker which is a big NO NO! So we contacted another electrician who took off the 20 amp breaker and put on a proper 15 amp non-afci breaker and we haven't had any problems since.

Contact a licensed state electrician to check the wiring and see what he says.
post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1999 View Post

Any ideas on what the issue could be?

According to a knowledgeable electrical inspector, teacher on the subject and consultant on the subject, "...there is convincing evidence that an AFCI tripping simply indicates that a ground fault or arc-fault exists and that the AFCI is doing its job." You can read the article here. There is much more on the subject on Mike Holt's site if you are interested. Here is a link to a Square D document on how to troubleshoot.

AFCIs trip on very specific circumstances indicative of an arc fault under the control of a microprocessor monitoring the line. They will trip on problems which will go unnoticed with a standard breaker. The also have a GFCI function built in. The problem causing the tripping could be a arc fault or a ground fault. Wiring problems are not unheard of in new houses. It is also possible the problem is in the equipment. That said, there does seem to be the odd case of nuisance tripping here and there.

Some people choose to treat the symptom by replacing the AFCI with a standard breaker. Hopefully it does not come back to bite them. It is also likely a violation of code because AFCIs are typically not installed unless required by code. Some people chose to diagnose the problem properly and treat the cause. Unfortunately, many electricians don't seem to be too good at doing this.

FWIW I have AFCIs in my house and have never had a nuisance trip.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
The same breaker provides power to the garage (including the garage door opener) and ceiling fan in the living room. At the the time nothing else was on except the home theater.

My guess is that is has somethign with the new TV. We just replaced our old 27 CRT sony with a new Panisonic P58S2.
post #5 of 23
Check with your electrician. We had problems, told the electrician, he talked to the supplier, found out that the units were all from a bad batch, got new ones, problems gone.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1999 View Post

The same breaker provides power to the garage (including the garage door opener) and ceiling fan in the living room. At the the time nothing else was on except the home theater.

My guess is that is has somethign with the new TV. We just replaced our old 27 CRT sony with a new Panisonic P58S2.

When we were having our problems with the breaker tripping so we could figure out what was wrong I contacted multiple electricians over the phone and talked to home theater installers over at audioaficionado.org, PolkAudio.com who also wire home theaters and they said when putting in a home theater you should have dedicated circuits specifically for the electronics plugged into it and nothing else on those circuits. The electrician we had to come fix our problems with our breaker tripping is a licensed state electrician who wires the schools for the city and mentioned how AFCI's are causing problems and lots of people have been complaining about them. He put on a non-afci breaker and we haven't had any problems since.

You should NOT have your electronics plugged into the same circuit that your garage door and other things are on because HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) garage doors and vacuum cleaners can create internal transients through out the house, this is common knowledge and told to me by a rep at Eaton when I contacted them as well. Eaton has a section on their website dedicated to explaining this.

The solution would be to contact a licensed electrician to put in seperate dedicated circuits (seperate dedicated non-afci circuit breakers) on the same phase. Make sure the 20 amp circuits are on 12 awg or 10 awg.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1999 View Post

My guess is that is has somethign with the new TV. We just replaced our old 27 CRT sony with a new Panisonic P58S2.

If the only thing that changed was the TV, and the AFCI is tripping now when it wasn't previously, I think that is a fair guess. Could be something inside the TV, or something outside that has been affected by the change. You might want to contact Panasonic and see if they have heard of this kind of problem. You also might want to try disconnecting all inputs to the TV (HDMI, antenna, cable, etc.) except one at a time to try to narrow it down. Is the AC cord for the new TV 2-prong or 3-prong? How about the old one?
post #8 of 23
Quote:
You should NOT have your electronics plugged into the same circuit that your garage door and other things are on

Circuit breakers don't isolate anything until they trip. All circuits are in parallel.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by razr67 View Post

Circuit breakers don't isolate anything until they trip. All circuits are in parallel.

That's what I always say! But the surge's over-voltage has a much longer path to the A/V equipment if it's on a different circuit.

The AFCI function and the over-current function are two very different tasks built into package. The AFCI can trip with very little continuous current.
post #10 of 23
I suspect the source of the problem is leakage current. Some amount of leakage current is normal in any device that uses the equipment grounding conductor as ground reference. It is also possible if there is any other path to ground, say a cable TV connection. It usually won't cause an AFCI to trip. But AFCIs do have a a GFCI built into them that will trip at 50 mA, sometimes less depending on the manufacturer and model. Could be a problem in a single device, or could be the combined effect of normal leakage current in more than one device. What I find interesting about this case is that it only happens when switching inputs or turning off the BD player.

Note that the 50mA that AFCIs must trip at is higher than the current at which GFCIs meant to protect human life must trip at. There really is a problem if the AFCI is tripping because of leakage current.
post #11 of 23
Putting your AV gear on a separate branch circuit has merits, but I think it would be relevant to OP's problem in only two cases, leakage current from non-AV devices, or something that looks like an arc fault (real or not) in a non-AV device. Putting the AV gear on its own circuit might reduce total leakage current to below the AFCI's trip threshold for ground faults. The advantage in the latter case is obvious.

It could also be possible that the total leakage current of all the AV gear is now such that the only solution might be splitting the gear between two branch circuits.
post #12 of 23
jas1999 have you contacted a electrician yet? I hope you can get a licensed electrician to inspect it in person give you his or her professional opinion because you don't want a possible fire hazard. The state electrician who fixed our problem with our breaker replaced the AFCI.

I haven't talked to one licensed electrician yet on any forum or in person who recommends using AFCI's for a home theater.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am getting an electrician to look at it. We're going through the builder since the electric has a two year warranty on it.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1999 View Post

I am getting an electrician to look at it. We're going through the builder since the electric has a two year warranty on it.

If possible, have him monitor the ground current while you duplicate the actions which trip the device. Have you connected cable to the system? If so, maybe it is injecting a ground current into your branch ground, and the AFCI is reacting to that. If you have cable, check where it comes into the house, make sure it has one of those grounding thingy's connecting it to the earth electrode the meter pan connects to.

It could also be a bad AFCI. One friend of mine told me 5% of the GFCI's he's installed failed out of the box. I would not be suprised if AFCI's were in the same boat.

Cheers, John
post #15 of 23
A little bit OT, but I just read that in 2014 we will be dealing with AFCI receptacles.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
...in 2014 we will be dealing with AFCI receptacles.
Did that make it in? If so only affects existing homes. If you have to replace a receptacle in a location in which the 2011 NEC requires arc-fault protection, the new receptacle has to be protected. An AFCI receptacle is one way of complying. OTOH if the branch circuit is protected by a combination AFCI breaker, you are good to go. The receptacle seems like a compromise for sites which cannot be upgraded to AFCI breakers economically.
post #17 of 23
Article 406.4
(4) Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection. Where a receptacle outlet is supplied by a branch circuit that requires arc-fault circuit interrupter protection as specified
elsewhere in this Code, a replacement receptacle at this outlet shall be one of the following:
(1) A listed outlet branch circuit type arc-fault circuit interrupter receptacle
(2) A receptacle protected by a listed outlet branch circuit type arc-fault circuit interrupter type receptacle
(3) A receptacle protected by a listed combination type arc-fault circuit interrupter type circuit breaker
This requirement becomes effective January 1, 2014.
post #18 of 23
So, if you have a panel for which combination AFCIs are readily available, the preferred solution would be to install the AFCI breaker and a regular receptacle, so all the wiring on the branch circuit is protected. If you have a panel for which combination AFCIs are not readily available, the preferred solution would be to replace the first receptacle on the branch circuit with an AFCI receptacle so that all the wiring downstream is protected.

Well, if you don't want to deal with this in the future, I guess you could install hospital grade receptacles everywhere for it takes effect...
post #19 of 23
I'm an electrician. AFCI problems are a common occurrence across the board.
A staple driven too tight , etc, and I humbly state that all manufacturers have not worked out all problems even though the new USA codes took effect in 2008.
I would not advocate breaking code dictates, however, we have lived for years with simple breakers which controlled our appliances.
AFCI are designed with the thought that should some entity drive a device through a wire, it would protect within all fault ranges.
Now. a residence built in 1951 would have different appliances that would be utilized. A house built in 1980 would have a different intercom.
Try a BR type AFCI breaker if it will interchange. Eaton Corp. developed the technology. And if this still would not work use a non AFCI.
See what happens
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by sopspark View Post

I would not advocate breaking code dictates, however, we have lived for years with simple breakers which controlled our appliances.

I would suspect that the makers of these things are the ones that push for making them mandatory - more about money then safety.
post #21 of 23
The author of that article has the engineering knowledge of a florist. The article says absolutely nothing....why would you even link to it?
post #22 of 23
Another common reason for AFCIs to trip is that many TVs have a small switching PS that powers the main power supply with the heavier current load of the entire set through an on board, old school PC board mounted relay. As the contacts age (electrically) they begin to produce tiny arcs on power up/ down operations as the contacts can pit. If you are handy and willing,, a device called a Quencharc can be installed across the normally open contacts of this relay. The Quencharc is basically a non polarized )AC) capacitor in series with a resistor in a sealed and insulated package.
post #23 of 23
I had a similar problem to Jas1999. I bought a 10 year old house. Two rooms were on AFCI breakers. One room's breaker would trip when I turned on my PC; but a second PC did not trip the breaker. At first I assumed the first PC was the problem. I went through similar trouble shooting as described in this thread. In the end it was a weak breaker. Installed a new breaker and both PCs work now. I think my first PC power supply is not as clean as the second which exposed the weak breaker. The breaker(Siemens) was $45.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Tweaks and Do-It-Yourself
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Tweaks and Do-It-Yourself › Breaker Tripping