Important AFCI information:

For those who use might use the so called “AFCI Testers”, such as:

  • Certain Ideal SureTest models
  • Amprobe BT-AFT1 arc fault tester
  • Etcon AF120 arc-fault tripper and receptacle tester
  • Fox Meter Inc ‘Arc Smart’ AS-1000
    May wish to view this important letter from the UL. This outlines that these testers may not be properly testing AFCI protected circuits.$file/AFCI_IndicatorsUL_Letter050321.pdf

As referenced in the UL letter linked to in the above post, here is the UL required disclaimer as it appears in the documentation to certain Ideal SureTest models:

The manufacturers say these are “indicators” not “testers” and you can’t trust the result.

This is why all HI’s should be testing at the device itself and not with testers. The proper method is still to use the test buton built into the GFCI or AFCI itself and not rely on ancillary testers for confirmation .

What is the procedure to test at the device? Simpy pushing the test button?

Yes, that is what the UL letter says, in a nutshell. In summary, it says that IF your tester does not trip the device, use the test button on the device. IF the test button on the device itself doesn’t work, then (and only then) can you condemn the device.

This is why I posted this today. Not all manufacturers call these “indicators”. Some of them call them “testers”. I’d be happy to provide links to each of the four manufacturers who presently make such equipment, if you so desire.

It use a Sure Test and have stopped trying to trip the AFCI’s with it. Works less than 30 (or so) percent of the time.

Trip it with the ‘test’ button on the breaker in the panelboard and check the outlets in the bedroom for power. If none, then they work.
Reset the breaker and test a few to insure they are re powered, done.

Other than stacking them 4 high, I haven’t yet found a “bad” one… :shock:

And yes I worked Sunday afternoon of the Holiday weekend, but paid for it today with 3 hours of Mall Drag…:mrgreen:

3025 Riverwood 050.jpg

Sorry for the confusion Marc, I was referring to the AFCI manufacturers.

This information may have just saved me some money as I was looking into getting a suretest to specifically test afci outlets.


The suretest is a nice tool but thats all it is…another tool and when used properly it can tell you alot, diagnose symptoms in a system ( i use it alot for 3 phase work…improper G-N Connections ) and so on.

While you could and many do with a simple 3 light tester, the SureTest is a bit more…like a 3 light tester on steroids as it does provide you wish some good info “IF” you know how to use it properly.

However with that being said…many feel that as “PART” of the “IF” factor puts the HI over the SOP…well personally anytime an HI does something that is over the listed standard of practices is well…“going over the SOP” so where do you draw the line.

Basically as an HI you want to be the best you can, knowledge is KING my my mind so if you get a suretest…learn all that it can do from the simple stuff to what exactly a too high PEAK Voltage means, an elevated G-N reading and so on…you wont use them on your reports and in HI inspections but it is good info to learn.

Again the SureTest is just a 3 light indicator on steroids and is not as easily fooled as some cheaper 3 light units…but in the end they all can be fooled…BUT are they worth the money…in my opinion if used right they are indeed worth the money.

Are they a tool EVERY HI will need…no…not everyone like in everyone wont buy a gas sniffer or a thermal gun and so on…to each his own.

Prime example…if infrared scanning above the SOP…yep…but more and more are doing it…the more training someone has on an item the more they are qualified to use it.

BUT…if you were buying one JUST to test AFCI’s and that was the ONLY reason…don’t waste your money !

Why rely on an unreliable gadget, when the simple thing to do is test at the panel…you’re going to look at the panel anyway. “Testers” always seemed to me to be an unnecessary expense gadget.


Thanks for the information concerning the suretest. I am undecided about the suretest. I understand the value of a good tool as long as it benefits my service and knowledge base without jeopardizing my generalist status. I may still get one for general use.

My sure test never tested AFCI’s from the outlet correctly from day one.
If you attempt to analyze the impedance on the ground circuit it will trip the AFCIs circuit if the AFCI is working properly.

As the approved testing method for AFCIs is from the button in the panel, that’s the way I inspect them. However, it comes in handy in a very large house to be able to trip it from the wall outlet.

The sure test provides an abundance of information about electrical circuits and power available which gives me a whole lot more insight on the power supply throughout the house. In this day and age of high copper prices, skimping on wire size is common and backstabbing outlets is prevalent. I have been finding a rash of excessive voltage drop in new construction down to 90 V AC!

This information may be outside the scope of inspection, however when you can explain to the general contractor why is electrical subcontractor can’t get full voltage across the house, they are impressed.

Excessively long runs.
Double taps on the neutral.
Improperly torqued electrical connections.
A crushed electrical conductor from improperly attached staple.

My sure test results has put a screeching halt to electrical contractors who show up on the inspection with six guns blazing! When you can provide the statistical information on the circuit and the electrical contractor can’t even evaluate the circuit, all discussion ends and they get to work on finding and correcting the issues.

Now as for testing GFCI circuits with the devices test button; I have tested countless GFCI’s with the test button that tested okay but don’t shut the power off to the device, won’t trip with an external tester, and once evaluated are found to be improperly wired. AFCI’s might test with their button, but GFCI’s lie!

They are very reliable for testing receptacles and doing general walkaround testing. Regardless of the unit always test it at the actual receptacle or breaker test button…no matter what.

Now many use the GFCI or even the AFCI buttons on the units for additional confirmation but as many have said there are situations where the test feature on the Suretest or other testers will not function properly which then means you simply have to test the way the manufacturer intended the device to be tested…with its own built in testing function.

Are all breakers with a “test” button on them AFCI breakers? Or are some breakers with a test button on them GFCI breakers? The reason is , I thought AFCI came out a few years ago, and I see breakers that are very old with test buttons. Either way I push them all and I have had about 6 not trip in the last couple weeks new and old.


All AFCI's have test buttons, the older breakers you are refering to are more than likely GFCI breakers. You have to remember that even FPE ( quite ironic given the breaker issues with them ) came out with an GFCI breaker.

thank you

The inexpensive plug ins and testing the buttons works for me. I just freak out when I trip a GFCI and it takes forever to find the re-set location. #-o

Personally I would not test an AFCI in the breaker panel. Hands out! :wink:

Erol…you Chicken…Squak…Squak…:wink: