tester for arc fault

Has anyone come across a tester that tests for an arc fault condition. If we have circuit breakers that will trip when an arc fault occurs why don’t we (or do we) have a handheld tester with the same ability.


The manufacturer recommends using the test button on the breaker itself.

SureTest 61-165

From Siemens:


How do I test to determine if my AFCI circuit breaker is functioning properly?

To test an AFCI, make sure there is power to the load center, or panelboard. Turn the AFCI handle to the “ON” position. Press the blue test button. Pressing the test button simulates an arc to the AFCI sensing electronics, causing the breaker to trip. The AFCI breaker is functioning properly when the circuit is interrupted and the handle moves to the tripped center position. To reset, turn the AFCI off and turn it on again. If the AFCI does not trip when the test button is pressed, it should be replaced. Refer to a qualified electrician for servicing. You should test your AFCI breaker monthly to insure protection against electrical arcing faults.

Should an AFCI breaker trip when using a hand-held tester?

To clarify, these devices are only indicators and not “testers.” Please see the attached letter from UL that addresses this issue. Click Here
The hand-held indicators currently on the market, do not generate a genuine arc and, therefore, the only true way to verify the operation of any AFCI (Branch Feeder and Combination Type), regardless of brand, is to use the Push-to-Test button.

I’m not looking for an afci tester, I’m looking for something that I can plugin to an outlet or at the breaker to determine if an acr fault condition exists on a typical circuit.


That would be a tall order. For one, you’d have to be sure the circuit had a load. You’d have to be sure the load was at the very end of the circuit, or else you would risk missing a downstream arc, and you’d have to be sure the load was sufficient to draw an arc. You’d probably want the load to be the maximum the circuit is designed for.

I think the easiest way would just be to install AFCI breakers.

I think your right. The reason I ask is I’m coming across an alarming number of overheated, scorched and mini flameups of receptacles on homes in the 30 years old range. The conductors are not pigtailed to the receptacles and its always the neutral side of the receptacle and usually there is a larger applaince on the same circuit (garage refrig or something).

I may add a caution regarding older recepticles and switches to my reports.