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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been running an old Pioneer receiver on my home theater setup for years. I just replaced my 50" Vizio plasma with a Samsung 58" plasma. My 15A AFCI breaker now pops whenever there is just about any current pulled by the receiver.


My question first Q is this: when I add up all of the loads, I show a a max SS current draw of about 8A, which assumes 500W for the TV and all channels of the receiver running at max rated RMS power @ 100V - all to create pretty liberal assumptions. Is it possible that the peak current draw is that much higher than RMS? I am not listening very loud, and people who have measured the power consumption of the TV on this forum find 300W-400W.


Other Q's:

I am not intimately familiar with how a AFCI breaker works. Is it possible that the TV or receiver may be creating an issue that could be fixed by swapping out for a regular breaker?

Could there be something wrong with the new TV's power supply?


Any ideas are welcome. The wiring is 14AWG, so I cannot go to a 20A breaker. The theater room is a small bedroom upstairs, so rewiring the branch circuit is not easy. If there isnt anything that can be done setup-wise, the only other option would be to use an outlet in the neighboring room on another branch circuit by swapping the outlet to the other side of the wall. I also pulled the TV off of the surge protector (still on same circuit) to make sure that the surge protector wasnt part of the problem w/ max load.
 

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AFCI's sense a rapid increase in current demand. I am not surprised they trip when powering a lot of electronic gear as in a home AV system.


I would replace the AFCI breaker with a standard breaker. Depending on where it is, i.e. bedroom, it may be a code requirement depending on the age of the home. But still replacing it with a standard breaker is not a serious safety issue. After all, AFCIs have only been around fro a few years. Then if you sell the house, simply put the AFCI back.
 

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How old is the AFCI breaker? You can test it by pressing the button on it, like a GFCI outlet. If it works you have a wiring issue or equipment issue.


Here are a couple of links describing AFCI, very helpful (for me at least)

AFCI troubleshooting

AFCI Safety


Here is a quick description of how an AFCI works (from AFCISafety.org):

Quote:
How does an AFCI work?


In essence, the detection is accomplished by the use of advanced electronic technology to monitor the circuit for the presence of “normal” and “dangerous” arcing conditions. Some equipment in the home, such as a motor driven vacuum cleaner or furnace motor, naturally create arcs. This is considered to be a normal arcing condition. Another normal arcing condition that can sometimes be seen is when a light switch is turned off and the opening of the contacts creates an arc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the responses thus far. It is an Eaton (CH) brand. The house was built over the summer, and I have been here for 4 months. Basically all new. The setup ran the 50" plasma for 4 months, a 55" LED Samsung for 10 days (returned), and now the 58" plasma.


I am not sure what to think about what the real problem is. The TV is slightly larger than the old, but not that much (not 5A difference). I guess a different PS could create a more sensitive setup, but I am still doubtful of that explanation.


As long as there is a ray of hope that the AFCI type breaker may be the problem, I can simply replace with a standard breaker for a start. I can just swap it back out if I ever leave. I still would love to hear any additional ideas, as I would love to pinpoint the problem, rather than patchwork it, if it is an equipment issue.


As an update, I tried running the TV on a different branch circuit to see what happened. I quickly discovered that the panel labels are not 100% (surprise, surprise), as the outlet ended up being the same circuit. The important result is that it means that I need to go back and revisit my load calcs, as I may have missed some loads.


At this point, my work items are as follows:

1) Swap the AFCI breaker for a standard.

2) Figure out exactly what is on that branch circuit.

3) Maybe extension cord another branch circuit (AFCI and non) to see if the setup works properly.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiewilson3 /forum/post/18136068


Thanks for the responses thus far. It is an Eaton (CH) brand. The house was built over the summer, and I have been here for 4 months. Basically all new. The setup ran the 50" plasma for 4 months, a 55" LED Samsung for 10 days (returned), and now the 58" plasma.


I am not sure what to think about what the real problem is. The TV is slightly larger than the old, but not that much (not 5A difference). I guess a different PS could create a more sensitive setup, but I am still doubtful of that explanation.


As long as there is a ray of hope that the AFCI type breaker may be the problem, I can simply replace with a standard breaker for a start. I can just swap it back out if I ever leave. I still would love to hear any additional ideas, as I would love to pinpoint the problem, rather than patchwork it, if it is an equipment issue.


As an update, I tried running the TV on a different branch circuit to see what happened. I quickly discovered that the panel labels are not 100% (surprise, surprise), as the outlet ended up being the same circuit. The important result is that it means that I need to go back and revisit my load calcs, as I may have missed some loads.


At this point, my work items are as follows:

1) Swap the AFCI breaker for a standard.

2) Figure out exactly what is on that branch circuit.

3) Maybe extension cord another branch circuit (AFCI and non) to see if the setup works properly.

have this happened before you upgrade your TV?

Try to plug your TV in other circuit that have AFCI protection, such as bedrooms, if that AFCI still pop, it's likely a problem with your TV, such as internal arc.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiewilson3 /forum/post/18136068


At this point, my work items are as follows:

1) Swap the AFCI breaker for a standard.

2) Figure out exactly what is on that branch circuit.

3) Maybe extension cord another branch circuit (AFCI and non) to see if the setup works properly.

Or determine which appliance is leaking too much current. All appliance leak some current to the safety ground wire. Typically tens of microamps. If the total leakage exceeds milliamps, then the AFCI sees a human safety threat - then trips.


Your amperage currents are no where near to being excessive. However interesting information can be obtained by powering each one at a time in various orders. And doing same after removing other non-entertainment devices from that circuit (even if not powered on).


AGFIs can also detect a short between neutral and safety ground. Both wires are electrically different. That fault may only become apparent as the neutral wire current exceeds a certain amperage.


You fault says something is wrong. Fix the problem. Rarely are AGFIs defective. A most common reason for tripping are appliances leaking too much but marginal amounts of current into the safety ground. Or (for example) leaking excessive current into (or from) the cable or other non-power connection.
 

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The arc fault detection function of an AFCI isn't really about too much current leakage. A microprocessor looks for wave forms typical of arcing between parallel conductors (hot and neutral, hot and ground), and in the case of the newer combination AFCIs, also series arcing due to a break in a single conductor. It is supposed to ignore similar, but benign, arcing like that from motors.


FWIW a GFCI does trip based on an current imbalance between hot and neutral. And there are a few AFCIs that also have GFCI functionallity, but most don't.


AFCIs have had some notable failures, but those were failure to operate when they should have, resulting in recalls. Replacing the AFCI with a standard breaker will likely make the symptoms go away. But as has already been suggested, it is best to fix the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. Taking the AFCI out of the equation is like putting a penny in a fuse socket because the fuse keeps blowing.


If the installed AFCI is a combination type, it is possible that something as simple as a loose connection between a plug an a receptacle could be causing it to trip. That could look like a series fault. What kind of receptacles are installed in the house? Are they at least spec grade? If not, I would replace them with spec grade or better. May or may not solve your immediate problem, but it is a good idea anyway, at least for your AV equipment.


Other possibilities are that there is an actual problem with the wiring or a piece of equipment, or the AFCI is misinterpreting the normal operation of some device as a fault. What do you want to bet on? I would at least make sure all the wiring on the circuit, including every connection in every J-box, was right before pulling the AFCI.


FWIW considering that your problem starting when swapping TVs, I would first check that the connection between the power cord and the TV is solid, the replace the receptacle it plugs into with a spec grade or better receptacle (I use hospital grade, an even higher grade, primarily because I got them for a buck a piece).
 

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Replace it with standard breaker.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by In2Photos /forum/post/18138561


If the house is new I would be calling either the builder or the electrical sub contractor to have them come out and look at it. Should be under warranty. Don't spend money on it if you don't have to!

+1 on that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by westom /forum/post/18137838


Or determine which appliance is leaking too much current. All appliance leak some current to the safety ground wire. Typically tens of microamps. If the total leakage exceeds milliamps, then the AFCI sees a human safety threat - then trips.


Your amperage currents are no where near to being excessive. However interesting information can be obtained by powering each one at a time in various orders. And doing same after removing other non-entertainment devices from that circuit (even if not powered on).


AGFIs can also detect a short between neutral and safety ground. Both wires are electrically different. That fault may only become apparent as the neutral wire current exceeds a certain amperage.


You fault says something is wrong. Fix the problem. Rarely are AGFIs defective. A most common reason for tripping are appliances leaking too much but marginal amounts of current into the safety ground. Or (for example) leaking excessive current into (or from) the cable or other non-power connection.

Most AFCIs also have GFCIs built in. This too could be what is tripping. GFCIs are notorious for false tripping when powering electronic gear. Especially when you have many items such as in an HT rack. The leakage inside some consumer gear is margional for a GFCI and when several units are paralled together, the leakage is enough to trip a GFCI. These AV units are most likely to be UL listed so they are still safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I had a chance to get home during lunch and run an extension cord to a regular 15A breaker. The setup works fine on a regular breaker branch circuit. I turned the volume on the stereo up pretty high and no tripping.


I will try another AFCI branch circuit this evening with the extension cord. This will let me test to see if it is a bad AFCI. My biggest fear is that another AFCI will work fine, pointing to a bad wire or connection in the branch circuit. At least under warranty!


I will also take home a multimeter with CTs and see if I can do a component by component startup and measure the current draw at the breaker. This should give some good insight wrt to any overload issues.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamiewilson3 /forum/post/18140961


I will also take home a multimeter with CTs and see if I can do a component by component startup and measure the current draw at the breaker. This should give some good insight wrt to any overload issues.

Nothing in your post suggests an overload. Everything in my post says the problem is probably elsewhere. Please do suggestion tests in my post to find the problem - which is clearly not about overloading.


The concept is leakage. Your breaker is typically tripping due to excessive leakage current. That non-AGFI breaker does not detect leakage. To find leakage current, use the meter to measure microamps flowing through all other wires - safety ground, antenna lead, etc.


Identify a total leakage current - single digit milliamps. Your meter must be so good to measure AC in tens of microamps - which should be maximum leakage from each appliance.


Notice the relevant numbers - microamps and milliamps. Measuring amps provides no useful information - as even your extension cord test only further confirms.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie /forum/post/18140273


Most AFCIs also have GFCIs built in.

Not true. Yes, it is true that they will trip on certain ground fault conditions, the level depending on the particular product. But that is not the same as being a GFCI. GFCIs trip on very specific conditions to protect human life from electrocution. AFCIs protect the dwelling from fire. AFCIs only have GFCIs built in if they are dual listed.
 

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AFCIs sound like a PITA for a simple plasma. Why would you want these in a spare bedroom?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by westom /forum/post/18141720


Nothing in your post suggests an overload. Everything in my post says the problem is probably elsewhere. Please do suggestion tests in my post to find the problem - which is clearly not about overloading.


The concept is leakage. Your breaker is typically tripping due to excessive leakage current. That non-AGFI breaker does not detect leakage. To find leakage current, use the meter to measure microamps flowing through all other wires - safety ground, antenna lead, etc.


Identify a total leakage current - single digit milliamps. Your meter must be so good to measure AC in tens of microamps - which should be maximum leakage from each appliance.


Notice the relevant numbers - microamps and milliamps. Measuring amps provides no useful information - as even your extension cord test only further confirms.

I figured that the obvious stuff would not be the issue, but I always check the easy stuff first. I did wrap up my easy stuff testing this evening. I ran a ammeter on the plug load to the HT. It pulls up to 4.5A with everything on and a bright screen. Definitely not OC. I then hooked it up to another AFCI branch circuit and it tripped while pulling 2.8A.


So, it is not:

1) overcurrent

2) the branch circuit wiring/outlet/breaker


Now for the help part.....


I am a ME, so I need a little help running the leakage current testing. I will have to verify the specs on the multimeter, which I can do tomorrow. It is a commercial spec Fluke, but I am not sure about micro-A capability. Assuming it is capable, can you provide a basic test procedure....


How do I measure current through antenna lead, etc?

Where should I be measuring my line loads (+,-,G), at the panel or somewhere else?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by westom /forum/post/18141888


AFCIs are required by code for all bedroom circuits. Choice is not a option. Only grandfathering avoids the requirement.

Gotcha. I have a heated gutter system for my house and the electrician installed AFCIs.. They are quite expensive compared to a standard breaker... particularly the 30 amp AFCIs.


We built our house in 2001/2, so thankfully we did not need to install these.. another scam for the local inspector / city and a useless expense. They did get us on fire detectors, we have 12 in our house all connected in series.


I bet a 20 amp AFCI might solve the issue here as a large initlal current draw may be tripping the 15 amp AFCI breaker. Even with 14 awg wiring.
 
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