EuropeOn members discuss effectiveness of Arc Fault Detection Devices

Electrical contractors have always been highly invested in electrical safety. Indeed, 30% to 50% of domestic fires across the EU have an electrical origin. As our electrical installations are in some cases inspected only every 25 years, they can come under strain after decades of operation and in some cases botched DIY jobs or careless usage.

While there are already different options available and mandatory to improve the safety of electrical systems, such as residual current devices or circuit breakers, some stakeholders have been pushing for arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to make their way into electrical safety and building standards. While an extra degree of safety can be warranted, there is some uncertainty about their specific added value and functionality, especially as AFDDs come with quite a higher price tag.

This has prompted EuropeOn members, through our Technical working group, to organise a roundtable featuring various stakeholders to present their varying views on the potential obligation to include AFDDs in standard electrical systems.

We kicked off our roundtable with a presentation by Olivier Doyen, a representative of CECAPI (the European Committee of Electrical Installation Equipment Manufacturers), on the benefits of AFFDs and how technology can improve protection against fires.

This was followed by a presentation from Chris Edwards, an electrical safety expert from the AESM (the UK Association of Electrical Safety Managers). His presentation focused on the inclusion of AFDDs in social housing in the UK.

Then, our presenter from the UK Institute of Engineering and Technology, Leon Markwell, gave us some insight into the standardisation process around AFDDs in UK standards.

We closed off our roundtable with presentation of our members from Finland and from the UK. Gary Parker from ECA, the Electrical Contractors Association (for England, Northern-Ireland and Wales), presented the cost-benefit analysis he carried out to inform the standardisation process that covered AFDDs in the UK.

Then the Chair of our Technical WG Esa Tiainen, from our Finnish member association STUL (the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Finland), presented his national situation surrounding the inclusion of AFDDs in national standards and raised some important questions about the effectiveness of AFDDs.

This very comprehensive and insightful roundtable allowed us to examine this question from a multitude of angles and gain a better understanding of this very topical question. We are looking forward to further discuss this and exchange our views on this question in our upcoming meeting of the Technical working group. A recording of this roundtable is available for EuropeOn members only, upon request.