I just received my AFCI 20A duplex outlet and downstream OBC protector:
Leviton AFTR2-GY SmartlockPro
Outlet Branch Circuit Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter Receptacle,
20-Amp, 120-volt, Grey
At first I was miffed about not noticing it was grey-colored, but then I
decided it would be useful to know which outlet were AFCI "master" outlets
at a glance.
I took a 14AWG three-wire cord and plug from an old A/C unit and wired it to
the outlet which I installed into a plastic duplex outlet box. Now,
anything plugged into the outlet would be arc-fault protected. But I soon
realized that to test the protection of outlets that would be downstream, I
needed to connect outlets to the LOAD terminals of the AFCI. So I took an
outlet strip that had a broken plug, cut that off and attached the cord to
the LOAD terminals inside the plastic box. Now, anything that generated an
arc plugged into either the duplex outlet or the outlet strip (no surge
protection - just six outlets and a switch/circuit breaker).
The next phase is to figure out some testing parameters and arc-testing
situations. For the test item, I thought I'd use an old plastic hairdryer
that can pull 1500 watts and that has a pretty sparky motor. Same for a 70
year old Black and Decker 1/2" drill (I'll have to take pictures - they just
don't make things like they used to) that has a notorious spark.
I will also test those items and a 1500 watt space heater with old, corroded
extension cords and outlets that have been replaced for "cause" in the past.
a reason to save dead stuff!). As Bud pointed out, the AFCI's
need a fairly large "base" current (5A) to respond to an arc fault. I
believe all three test items qualify. I am not sure I am going to create a
carbon arc - only because I can't seem to find my stash of carbon rods at
the moment. I might try to arc some pencil leads but that would have very
I also want to test the rig I've built with GFCI's. To that end, I will use
my push button GFCI tester both with the AFCI plugged into a GFCI outlet and
a GFCI outlet plugged into the AFCI test rig.
From looking around it seems that cost-wise, GFCI breakers with AFCI outlets
in the cheapest way to go. I can't figure out why the AFCI outlets are
cheaper than the breakers, but that seems to be the case. My best guess is
the size factor - they have to "shrink" the AFCI components to get them to
fit into a breaker slot.
The outlet itself is a little larger than a GFCI but seems much heavier -
will try to remember to weigh them. It has a bump on the back that would
make it a tight fit for passthrough use. The unit comes with double screw
clamps that are sort of like a back-stab outlet, but the wire is inserted
under a screw down brass clamp (no hook needs to be formed as with some
screw terminals so that's one less point of probable failure). The unit
ships with the reset button tripped as a precaution.
The outlet is quite stiff - it comes with a child-proof sliding shutter on
the hot slot and has a T-shaped neutral hole to accept 5-20P NEMA plugs
(IIRC). Not sure if that means the outlet's going to hold plugs more
securely or if the added force needed to insert the plug is going to result
in - you guessed it - partially inserted plugs and potential arcing.
Any ideas about what other tests I might perform are welcome. I'm just not
comfortable relying on an on board "Test Button" to determine whether the
AFCI is still protecting against arc faults. I'd like to be able to come up
with some test rig or procedure that will simulate real-world arcing