Protecting tenants and property from electrical fires with a new arc fault detection device

David Enefer, Devices Product Manager at Wylex

Electrical fires are still far too common for comfort. In fact, Government statistics show that electricity causes more than 13,000 fires every year in the UK, which is nearly one in five of all fires that harm people or cause damage to property.

No housing association, local authority or other responsible party wants to see an electrical fire breaking out in a property they own or manage. Tenant safety and wellbeing must always be paramount.

Electrical fires can be caused by ‘arcing’, which is when improperly made connections, damaged insulation, crushed cables, DIY mishaps, vermin damage, and other factors can lead to overheating and ignite nearby flammable materials. However, arc faults can be difficult to guard against because miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) and residual-current circuit breakers (RCDs) cannot detect them.

Arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) are now readily available. AFDDs automatically disconnect the power supply when a dangerous arc fault is detected. However, they are often not installed. Even though electrical installers recognise the benefits of AFDDs in helping to prevent fires, 90% say they have never fitted one. Common reasons given include that they ‘take up too much space’, are too costly or that there is no demand for them to do so.

A clear regulatory recommendation

The case for ensuring that AFDDs are installed became stronger in the UK when the 18th edition of the wiring regulations recommended the use of AFDDs as a means of providing protection against fires from arc faults. In doing so, regulators are acknowledging that AFDDs will aid compliance with the wiring regulations and protect people & property from the risks associated with electrical fires.

Indeed, ignoring the regulatory recommendations could result in responsible individuals being held to account if it’s discovered that a fire could have been avoided and there was no justification for an AFDD not having been installed.

Wylex’s smaller, highly effective AFDD

At Wylex, we have designed a new ‘mini AFDD’ that is much smaller than other models on the market, taking up up only one way in a consumer unit.

It also provides installation efficiencies, with the new device being three technologies in one module: AFDD, MCB and RCD. This means that it provides overload, short circuit, earth leakage and arc fault detection all in one single device.

AFDDs are built and tested to recognised product standards just like MCBs and RCDs, with nuisance tripping being prevented by built-in measures that require several simultaneous ‘signatures’ to trip.

As part of the Siemens group, Wylex operates to the highest quality and safety standards and benefits from being part of a global manufacturing network. We make it our mission to not only meet safety standards, but exceed them.

Taking preventative action

If you have responsibility for properties and tenants, or are designing or installing their electrical installations, then safety will be a prime consideration for you too.

Using our new AFDDs, building in additional protection against electrical fires caused by arcing now makes sense on every level. Their smaller size makes installation practical and easy; their combined functionality makes them extra effective; their quality features make them incredibly reliable.

Regulators are now recommending installing AFDDs & encouraging you to heed their advice and taking steps to ensure the best possible protection for tenants.

Retro fitting of compatible AFDDs is quick and simple. For the sake of fire prevention, the personal protection of tenants and the safeguarding of property, why not take action now?