When it comes to home safety, especially with older homes, remodelers are a key line of defense in helping prevent personal injury and property loss.

Consider the installation of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Today we take GFCIs for granted in wet locations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says electrocutions are down 83% since the introduction of GFCIs in the early 1970s.

More recently, the cousin of the GFCI – the arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) – performs another kind of safety task: helping prevent electrical fires. The U.S. Fire Administration reports electrical residential fires numbered nearly 25,000 per year between 2017-2019. Property damages from these fires exceeded $1 billion. The Consumer Product Safety Commission believes nearly half of all electrical fires could have been prevented by AFCI technology, saving untold hardship and grief.

Remodeling Peace of Mind

AFCI receptacles have been part of the National Electrical Code (NEC) for years. AFCI’s, for example, are now code-required across most household areas, including bedrooms (as of 2002), kitchen (2014) and laundry areas (2014). Electric code expert Frank Tse, director of code standards & compliance at Leviton, a leading manufacturer of residential and commercial electrical products, says to expect only a minor AFCI update in the NEC 2023 edition.

Today an AFCI receptacle is arguably one of the least expensive, most effective ways to help prevent electrical issues in remodeling projects. The technology halts dangerous electrical arcing within walls, at loose electrical connections or within damaged electrical cords. The AFCI device identifies a dangerous arc-fault and reacts immediately by interrupting power, helping prevent a fire ignition event.

Great for Remodelers

“An AFCI receptacle is a great replacement item for remodelers,” advises Bill Grande, long-time building products industry veteran and senior director of product management at Leviton.

“You’re often working in an older home with an aging wiring system. Older wiring along with fewer receptacles increases the odds of electrical arcing, which can result in a fire,” he explains. “An AFCI receptacle helps prevent that.”

AFCI technology represents additional benefits:

  • Outlet Branch Circuit AFCI (OBC). An AFCI receptacle that replaces the first outlet in a branch circuit provides “feed-through” protection to all downstream outlets as well as protection against series arcs on the wire feeding the AFCI.
  • Smart(er) Future-Proof AFCI Receptacles. A new generation of Bluetooth enabled AFCI receptacles from Leviton makes it easy to future-proof the device through periodic firmware updates, creating an even more robust defense against arcing. “Contractors connected with the Decora Digital app can now diagnose arcing issues. Firmware updates help address questions like ‘What’s going to happen with future devices or loads that are plugged into it?’ ‘How are they going to behave?’ ‘What kind of electrical signature will they have?’,” reports Grande. “A smart AFCI receptacle provides an increased margin of safety and insight.”

As the nation moves to a more sustainable, electrified future, it makes sense for remodelers to safeguard customers, projects and their reputation with the latest in AFCI technology.

Learn more about how AFCI receptacles and circuit breakers from Leviton can deliver more peace of mind to you and your customers.