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BoxMN

Arc fault / AFCI code requirement question

19 posts in this topic

I didn't want to hijack the other A/c Thread, but have a questions about AFCI. I am building a cabin, actually my general contractor is... so I don't personally have to worry about the specific wiring myself... But he mentioned that starting in January of 2009 ALL rooms will have to have AFCI, not just bedrooms. I didn't press him for more info, as his point was just that it will cost me a lot less since I am building now rather than next year.

But I was just wondering if that indeed was a new code coming up, and if it will be significantly more costly to build next year if all rooms do need AFCI to be addressed. Mine is just small place, so he said it was not that big a deal, but for big houses he said it could jump the electrical price quite a bit.

Thanks, just wondering what you guys think/know about about it.

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I think I read that and so I assume its true,If your place is small I'd do it now! In the future if you build on you'll have to comply then, and that will be more costly than the present.I believe wireing is norm its the AFCI that costs I recently saw some on sale and they wer'nt that costly 40-60 bucks Not sure tho.

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I don't know about your question, but if you ask build now or later for anything. It's always cheaper now, unless you don't have money. Everything is going up in price by the year if not the quarter.

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consult the electrician that is subbed by the general; or contact your area electrical inspector. i believe the afci rule as per the 2008 code went into effect july 1st.

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The code is generally adopted 7/1 of the year it comes out. You might be ok as long as you got your permits before then (I think).

FYI

Section 210.12(B) (dwelling units)

All 120, single phase, 15- and 20-amp branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc fault circuit interrupter, combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.

If your rooms aren't covered in that they are likely to be atleast partially covered under the GFCI sections.

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If you're contracting the electrical work already, the cost to install AFCI protection is a minimal addition at best. I wouldn't worry too much about it. If your budget is that tight then you have bigger problems on your hands.

Bob

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Thanks for that information. I knew the at some point the AFCI would be required on more then just the bedroom circuits.

Additional cost would be around $50 a circuit for the AFCI breaker.

A story.

During the second floor addition on my house I had mixed feelings about the AFCI breakers required in the bedroom.

A year ago I had a lightning strike very close. It took out two TVs, a garage door opener, one computer, and some other smaller things. The AFCI breakers tripped but nothing on those circuits took any damage.

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Thanks guys. I did not know it was just the breaker, I thought it was different wiring as well.

And no Bob, my budget isn't that tight, I just like to know as much about why I am required to add cost, any cost, to my bottom line smile

The contractor and electrician and everybody are licensed and not side job guys. I just like to learn as much as I can, both from them (but in different city, so not tons of face time) or from other places. The info here has informed me a ton,thanks!

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Quote:
And no Bob, my budget isn't that tight, I just like to know as much about why I am required to add cost, any cost, to my bottom line

Not poking at you here. Just wanted you to be aware so you aren't taken for a ride by an over-enthusiastic contractor.

Can you get AFCI receptacles to protect the rooms similar to GFCI receptacles? This could be far less expensive. For example, a GFCI circuit breaker is about 5X the cost of a GFCI receptacle and either one can be used to protect the entire circuit on the load side.

Bob

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I appreciate it, trust me.

And my contractor is actually about keeping me on budget and keeping cost down, as he is the one who brought up that getting the permit before July would save me some money. At first it was thoguht it was more money, but given the size of my place, it isn't that big a deal. He did say that there is still a question in many people's minds as to the effectiveness and also the reliability of the AFCI. He said some people swear by them, and some feel it is just more stuff to go wrong.

I will ask him more next time we talk, but if it is just $50 per circuit that is not a big deal in the grand scheme. ...though my home here doesn't have ANY, and so far no problem smile ..thus, do I really need them unless "required"?...

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That debate has been going for some time just as it did when GFCIs first hit the scene. One consolation is that although they are another component that can fail, a GFCI or AFCI tripping nuisance is far less serious than the result of the uprotected circuit failing. Heck, circuit breakers can fail but how safe and comfortable would we be without them?

Bob

An electrician friend once put it this way.

If every time you get in your car you put it in reverse and back out of the driveway without first checking for traffic and you never get hit, does this mean it is safe to back out of your driveway without looking?

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FYI

Section 210.12(B) (dwelling units)

All 120, single phase, 15- and 20-amp branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc fault circuit interrupter, combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.

Remember, outlets are not receptacles, a receptacle is an outlet. With that being said, an outlet is any place where electrical power is pulled from. Lights, receptacles, smoke detectors and CO detectors all need to be AFCI protected. Even if you have a closet with a light in it, that light has to be protected.

Bob T or PerchPounder. I haven't done any residential work for years so I'm not familiar with AFCI breakers. Can you protect a GFCI with a AFCI breaker? Do they make GFCI/AFCI receptacles?

I noticed 210.12(B) Does not have kitchens, bathrooms or attached garages listed, are they exempt or are they covered under a different code article for AFCI?

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Very good point MNF common language and the way the code reads will often get people very confused. Im not totally sure what the answer to your question would be. I have done little to none residential since I was organized. 210.8(A) still covers areas of a dwelling unit that need to be GFCI protected they all appear to remain the same. (bathrooms, garages, outdoors, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, kitchens (coutertops), Laundry utility and wet bar sinks, and boathouses.) I would love to copy all of the GFCI requirements but the article is just far too long and in depth for my liking.

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This is where most of the issues come in here. Residential is far different than what commercial inspectors want.

I know where you are coming from though. I have union guys try to tell me stuff all the time and most of it means nothing to me in residential and vice versa.

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I have not done residential for a few years now, but as I understand the new code does not require afci on gfci circuits. AFCI's are for detecting small arcs, which any motor will do internally right? We did a large apartment building, and about 5% of all of the afci's were bad right from the factory. They would not reset, stay on for an hour then trip, hum, etc. I had to install AFCI when I finished my basement, When the ceiling fan would be on for more than a few hours it would trip. Replaced it and now it works. I have also heard that computers will cause them to trip also. I think someone who had a lot of money to be made making these breakers pushed this into the code. (conspiracy theory). grin

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Sparky, I am not in the know, but that is sort of how it was explained to me, almost exactly wink

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The only residential wiring I have done was my own and at that time (1990's) AFCI was not required however, I do frequent an electrical forum that discussed this requirement quite a bit. I searched through some of the archive threads in that forum and yes you can use GFCI receptacles on an AFCI protect protected circuit. The two technologies do not conflict with each other.

GFCI by its name designation (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) monitors the "Hot" and "Neutral" currents on the circuit, which should be identical. If there is a difference of more than about 4 or 5mA it is assumed to be due to a ground fault that is providing an alternative return path and the GFCI opens the circuit.

AFCIs (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) use advanced electronic circuitry and are programmed to monitor the circuit for "abnormal" arc faults. Motors, light switches, and other components will experience "normal" arcing. Arc faults are not necessarily going to be to a grounded point but can also jump from hot to hot. When a sustained arc occurs, an uncontrolled arc flash can be the result and these can be upwards of thousands of degrees F. Naturally, this can ignite a fire. A GFCI protects persons from electric shock due to an appliance becoming unexpectedly energized. An AFCI protects circuits from uncontrolled abnormal low current arcing that will result in fire.

To my knowledge, AFCI receptacles are available but, unless this has recently changed, there are none that have been UL approved yet.

Bob

Additional note: Arc flash can occur with very low current levels and so the circuit breaker may not react and the ability to detect arcs is why AFCIs are gaining so much popularity. Having OCPD, AFCI, GFCI protection on the circuit is about as close to perfect protection we can get today.

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Lets simplify this.

Yes you can have GFCI receptacles on a AFCI breaker.

Think about it. If the receptacle is in an area that requires a GFCI receptacle, and code states AFCI breaker on that circuit, thats what you do.

I'm not aware of any AFCI receptacles either, but since you'll need a AFCI breaker(protecting the entire circuit)its a mute point.

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I'm not aware of any AFCI receptacles either, but since you'll need a AFCI breaker(protecting the entire circuit)its a mute point.

It may be insignificant enough to be moot, but since the devices probable don't make conversation they most likely are also mute.

Note - I am not an English major.

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