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We just bought a house, May 2019, the first week the AFCI breakers began to trip. Outlets & switches both. The biggest concern is our new LG refrigerator. It trips about once a week, sometimes even more. Called the city inspector who said AFCI was now code. Ok, so how do we fix this tripping problem? With the lights it’s not that big a problem but the refrigerator is another story. We can’t go away even for a few days cause the fridge will probably go out. I put a corded light on top of the fridge, plugged into the same outlet as fridge, 15 amp service AFCI, when that light goes out I know it’s time to go down into the basement to reset the breaker, dedicated also. So what is the answer? The electrician who wired the house refuses to come back to change or check his work. The neighbor said his paper shredder tripped a fault. A clicker switch to turn lights on & off from a chair tripped the AFCI breaker. It can be anything. If the NEC is going to make these changes, why not put the breaker on the first floor? But my original question is, why is the refrigerator tripping every 3/6 days, randomly.

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    Is this a dual-mode cAFCI+GFCI breaker? Is the refrigerator on the same circuit as some of your kitchen countertop receptacles? – Harper Jul 15 at 16:16
  • What make and model is your panel? What model is the fridge, for that matter? – ThreePhaseEel Jul 16 at 0:37
  • NO, The CAFCI CIRCUIT BREAKER, DEDICATED LINE FOR FRIDGE ONLY, PANEL IS A MURRY, BRAND NEW HOUSE, LG DOOR IN A DOOR MODEL – Dave P Jul 16 at 18:54
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This is a serious case of "dueling safety systems". Normally a $100,000 Cat engine has all sorts of safety shutoffs e.g. For low oil level. But this one is a fire pump, protecting a $100 million warehouse. Saving the warehouse is more important than saving the engine, so it doesn't get those shutoffs.

Same applies to Radon vent pumps, smoke detector circuits etc. And with the fridge. It has one job, protecting your food safety. It is a safety system and shouldn't be disconnected.

You just need to find a pretense in Code to allow that.

NEC 110.3(B). Equipment must be installed and used according to its labeling and instructions.

Read the instructions for your refrigerator. If it says "Do not put on an AFCI breaker" then remove the AFCI breaker and change it for a plain one.

Otherwise contact the manufacturer and ask them and get them to say "do not put on an AFCI breaker".

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I have seen a fair amount of tripping with AFCI protected circuits. Primarily with motor loads and solid state dimmers. It is true that AFCI /GFCI protection is mandated by code in just about every residential location. I would check to see if your state has an exception like mine does. In Oregon devices known to have problems are exempted from AFCI & GFCI protection. If this exception was not there I would suggest to a home owner to go to a dedicated circuit with a standard breaker as I could not do it (although I have wired the dedicated circuit and shown the home owner how to change the breaker) in a different state that doesn’t have the exception. Some will say it is the device but motor loads especially loads with variable speed control cause AFCI’s to trip because the electronics can not tell the difference between an arc and the wave shaping electronics. So yes sometimes code mandates devices that in this case can cause more harm in my opinion (food poisoning). So I would check to see if there is an exception in Oregon it usually requires a dedicated circuit and I think this is a best practice for fridge & freezer circuits to start with, possibly changing the breaker or converting the outlet to an AFCI type sometimes this can solve a problem but no guarantees.

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When you called the City Inspector did you say that this was a refrigerator? The NEC does NOT require a GFCI on refrigerators in residences if the circuit is dedicated to the refrigerator. But if the receptacle that your refrigerator is plugged into is on a common circuit that feeds other receptacles in the kitchen, that might be the issue, in which case your electrician just got cheap / lazy. He could have (should have?) run you a separate circuit for ONLY the refrigerator, not for the entire kitchen. That could still be changed, but it's harder to do now.

But if that refrigerator receptacle is on its own breaker, it does now have to have an AFCI to pass inspection (hint hint). But also however, it does NOT need to be an AFCI breaker, you can now get an AFCI receptacle. One known issue with AFCIs is that there is a maximum wire length from the AFCI to the load (50ft for 14ga wire, 70ft for 12ga) because of capacitive effects that take place in conductors, but that can get worse when there are high currents, such as the motor inrush current when your compressor starts in the fridge, resulting in the distance issue being shorter. Changing to a more local AFCI device cuts that distance down.

Another common issue with AFCIs is showing up with LED drivers, because they are ALL made in China where there is little regulation on how they are made and they often emit high frequency common-mode electrical "noise" that AFCIs interpret as coming from an arcing fault. This issue is not only for lamps (i.e. your bedroom outlets), but for LEDs that are used in nice fancy features on refrigerators such as back-lighting for displays. Several refrigerator mfrs have had recalls because of this issue of the stupid cheap little LED drivers for their fancy features causing the AFCIs to nuisance trip. Whirlpool (and all of their sub-brands like KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Maytag or Magic Chef) had a major recall a couple of years ago because of this, as well as Samsung more recently. Check your fridge manufacturer for recalls.

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