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GE’s ArcWatch technology enables simultaneous safety and reliability for electrical systems

Providing always-on, full-time, simultaneous safety and reliability, GE’s Industrial Solutions business announced the availability of its ArcWatch circuit breaker communication technology.

ArcWatch is the industry’s first technology to enable an electrical system design that helps to maximise selectivity, or uptime, while simultaneously providing continuous arc-flash mitigation protection.

Other arc-flash mitigating technologies provide protection with part-time or manual user activation, which creates a mode of either safety or reliability (selectivity), but not both at the same time.

Containment arc-flash mitigation systems primarily redirect it away from the operator to “enclose” the impact. These systems also are part-time or manual where human intervention can inadvertently negate their design. 

Before now, available technologies required a compromised solution of either/or in regards to safety and reliability, and while they could provide both within the same electrical system design, they could not do so at the same time. 

GE’s ArcWatch technology by design provides full-time, automatic, always-on protection and reliability for people, property and equipment.

Time is crucial in an arc-flash incident, and the ArcWatch technology works through a combination of communication algorithms across the GE portfolio of circuit breakers by using instantaneous zone selective interlocking (I-ZSI) and waveform recognition (WFR) to ensure only the circuit breakers nearest to the fault trip, which happens in as little as 4 milliseconds. This limits the incident energy in the event of an arc flash, protecting both people and equipment.

“Safety is crucial to electrical contractors when working on live equipment,” said Tim Ford, global molded case circuit breaker product manager, GE’s Industrial Solutions business. 

“In the past, increased safety meant decreased selectivity, but when servicing a high-demand client, uptime is critical. With GE’s ArcWatch technology, users no longer have to compromise between safety and reliability but can now greatly enhance both.” 

Systems embedded with ArcWatch technology reduce the impact of an arc-flash event to <8 cal/cm2, resulting in much lower requirements for using personal protective equipment. The use of fire-resistant clothing instead of a full-protective arc-flash suit makes it easier for electrical contractors to work with their hands, allowing for better functionality and safety.

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