The electricians don’t stagger the GFCI & AFCI breakers to where they are not side by side. In my area they are usually clustered together. Being the breakers have a load and their normal operating temp is higher than any other breaker under normal conditions. I would think staggering would help extend their life expectancy as heat is the primary killer of most electrical items. In my image I show two AFCI breakers side X side gathering temps from each other with a temp of 112 degrees. The single AFCI breaker isolated by its self with a temp of 95 degrees. I’m not implying that 112 degrees is excessive its not but I would say 95 degrees is better. So why not isolate them why are they most always clustered
The second image is of a double pole 240 breaker with equal amp draw on both legs for a kitchen cook stove and both legs have identical temps as they should have, but I don’t find many with the exact temp down to the 1/10th of a degree
My brother is one of the managers for the home breaker product line for Eaton/Cutler hammer; I’ve talked with him before about how warm these AFCI breakers get. I want to research it, but he was saying they are still considered operating properly up to 40 degree C over the ambient. He also says that in all of these electronically controlled units there is also a mechanical heat trip, so that it will always trip if it overheats.
From my apprenticeship, I can remember that for the new service the boss man had us position breakers for a new service in a very specific manner: Two-pole circuits starting in the upper right, kitchen below that, then the living areas on the left.
AFAIK, most sparkys have that OCD thing about clustering breakers by living areas, so when those breakers get replaced with AFCI’s, they naturally end up in clusters.
I would not concern myself with the grouping of AFCI’s and GFCI’s in a load center. The product is designed and testing for this type of situation and is not a problem. The internal components of these listed circuit breakers function as a normal circuit breaker as well as having the additional listings for the AFCI or GFCI. So you still have the considerations of placing these devices in an elevated ambient location (like in Arizona, on the outside of the dwelling facing the panel enclosure towards the Sun)…which can play a role on the trip threshold concern…but other than that they function just like any other breaker…just run a little warmer (sometimes much warmer) than others but will trip if needed…and at the desired level.
I was thinking more along the lines of problematic tripping in high ambient locations specifically in large homes 5K to 6K where additional panels are located in the attic areas that can reach 140+ in the summer plus the heat generated by multiple AFCI