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Thread: 2011 Code concerning Arc-Fault Breakers

  1. #1
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    2011 Code concerning Arc-Fault Breakers

    When I read the 2011 code, I thought that every circuit not protected by a GFCI, would have to be Arc-Fault protected. My electrical inspector came by yesterday to inspect a job and said "That in state inspected area's with a state inspector, this would not be the case, only the Bedrooms and the Smoke circuit would have to have Arc-Fault, the rest of the circuits not protected by GFCI, can be a standard breaker. Have I mis-understood something here? Clarification would be helpful concerning the code, and about state inspectors and state inspected area's. I live in TN.

  2. #2
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    "It has to be either GFCI or AFCI." Nope. WRONG. Convenient shorthand that's not far off, but it's not what the NEC says.

    Clarification? My gripes with these requirements aside, the NEC is pretty clear. It sat 'XXXX will be GFCI protected' and 'YYYY will be AFCI protected.' Some outlets need neither, and some need both.

    For example, the kitchen receptacle for the refrigerator need not be GFCI protected, though it CAN be on the small appliance circuit. In practical terms, this usually means the fridge is GFCI protected.

    Another example are the dining room receptacles. They have to be on a small appliance circuit - which usually means they're fed by a GFCI-protected circuit from the kitchen. They don't HAVE to be GFCI-protected, but they can be. (One can debate whether a 'serving sideboard' is a 'counter,' requiring GFCI protection). They ARE required to be AFCI protected, though - so the dining room might be both GFCI and AFCI protected.

    An example of outlets that need not be either GFCI or AFCI protected are the lights and receptacles in stairways. Consider jobsite economics, though, and I doubt anyone will pull a separate circuit to the stairwell, though.

    This thread is a good illustration to read what the NEC actually says, rather than rely upon new releases.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockingdave View Post
    When I read the 2011 code, I thought that every circuit not protected by a GFCI, would have to be Arc-Fault protected. My electrical inspector came by yesterday to inspect a job and said "That in state inspected area's with a state inspector, this would not be the case, only the Bedrooms and the Smoke circuit would have to have Arc-Fault, the rest of the circuits not protected by GFCI, can be a standard breaker. Have I mis-understood something here? Clarification would be helpful concerning the code, and about state inspectors and state inspected area's. I live in TN.
    Maybe you have amendments there?

    But as far as the 2011, I think it is close to acuate to say if a GFCI is not required an AFCI is, there are exceptions to that but it is a quick rule of thumb. Here is what the NEC says.

    210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

    (A) Dwelling Units.
    All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and
    20-ampere 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.

    Exception No. 1: If RMC, IMC, EMT, Type MC, or steel
    armored Type AC cables meeting the requirements of
    250.118 and metal outlet and junction boxes are installed
    for the portion of the branch circuit between the branchcircuit
    overcurrent device and the first outlet, it shall be
    permitted to install an outlet branch-circuit type AFCI at
    the first outlet to provide protection for the remaining portion
    of the branch circuit.

    Exception No. 2: Where a listed metal or nonmetallic conduit
    or tubing is encased in not less than 50 mm (2 in.) of
    concrete for the portion of the branch circuit between the
    branch-circuit overcurrent device and the first outlet, it
    shall be permitted to install an outlet branch-circuit type
    AFCI at the first outlet to provide protection for the remaining
    portion of the branch circuit.

    Exception No. 3: Where an individual branch circuit to a
    fire alarm system installed in accordance with 760.41(B) or
    760.121(B) is installed in RMC, IMC, EMT, or steelsheathed
    cable, Type AC or Type MC, meeting the requirements
    of 250.118, with metal outlet and junction boxes,
    AFCI protection shall be permitted to be omitted.


    (B) Branch Circuit Extensions or Modifications — Dwelling
    Units.
    In any of the areas specified in 210.12(A), where
    branch-circuit wiring is modified, replaced, or extended, the
    branch circuit shall be protected by one of the following:

    (1) A listed combination-type AFCI located at the origin of
    the branch circuit

    (2) A listed outlet branch-circuit type AFCI located at the
    first receptacle outlet of the existing branch circuit

  4. #4
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    Arc Fault

    I am surprised that no State Inspectors have commented on this (Augie) ..... But here in the City of Chattanooga , Tn. We only require AFCI Circuits for the Bedroom Circuits and anything in the Bedrooms (Smokes) .... We made this change by City Ordinance .....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockingdave View Post
    When I read the 2011 code, I thought that every circuit not protected by a GFCI, would have to be Arc-Fault protected. My electrical inspector came by yesterday to inspect a job and said "That in state inspected area's with a state inspector, this would not be the case, only the Bedrooms and the Smoke circuit would have to have Arc-Fault, the rest of the circuits not protected by GFCI, can be a standard breaker. Have I mis-understood something here? Clarification would be helpful concerning the code, and about state inspectors and state inspected area's. I live in TN.
    First of all, you're in Tn, and Tn is on the 2008 code. That being said, Tn. decided to keep the 2005 codes for AFCI circuits. That being only the bedrooms have to have AFCI protection. Most of the local municipalities that I know anything about did the same in regards to the AFCI rules. You should be able to get a copy of the State's amendments and just check with each city jurisdiction that you work in for theirs.

    Edit: You should know Augie47, he is close to your area. Maybe he's the inspector you talked to.
    Last edited by Little Bill; 09-22-11 at 12:06 AM.
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by renosteinke View Post
    "It has to be either GFCI or AFCI." Nope. WRONG. Convenient shorthand that's not far off, but it's not what the NEC says.

    Clarification? My gripes with these requirements aside, the NEC is pretty clear. It sat 'XXXX will be GFCI protected' and 'YYYY will be AFCI protected.' Some outlets need neither, and some need both.

    For example, the kitchen receptacle for the refrigerator need not be GFCI protected, though it CAN be on the small appliance circuit. In practical terms, this usually means the fridge is GFCI protected.

    Another example are the dining room receptacles. They have to be on a small appliance circuit - which usually means they're fed by a GFCI-protected circuit from the kitchen. They don't HAVE to be GFCI-protected, but they can be. (One can debate whether a 'serving sideboard' is a 'counter,' requiring GFCI protection). They ARE required to be AFCI protected, though - so the dining room might be both GFCI and AFCI protected.

    An example of outlets that need not be either GFCI or AFCI protected are the lights and receptacles in stairways. Consider jobsite economics, though, and I doubt anyone will pull a separate circuit to the stairwell, though.

    This thread is a good illustration to read what the NEC actually says, rather than rely upon new releases.
    Where does it say that you don't need AFCI protected outlets in stairways
    "Appliances and wiring will burn out to protect fuses"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrix View Post
    Where does it say that you don't need AFCI protected outlets in stairways
    Where does it say you do? You might be able to bundle it under "....similar rooms or areas."
    I can build anything you want if you draw a picture of it on the back of a big enough check.

    There's no substitute for hard work....but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up trying to find one.

    John Childress
    Electrical Inspector
    IAEI / CEI / C10
    Certified Electrical Inspector

  8. #8
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    Oddly enough, the stairways not being 'similar' to a hallway or entry area is the exact example given by the NEC handbook.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by renosteinke View Post
    Oddly enough, the stairways not being 'similar' to a hallway or entry area is the exact example given by the NEC handbook.
    Well there you have it.
    I can build anything you want if you draw a picture of it on the back of a big enough check.

    There's no substitute for hard work....but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up trying to find one.

    John Childress
    Electrical Inspector
    IAEI / CEI / C10
    Certified Electrical Inspector

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by renosteinke View Post
    Oddly enough, the stairways not being 'similar' to a hallway or entry area is the exact example given by the NEC handbook.
    I don't buy it and I don't think many inspectors around here would either. That being said, the stairway is not a room so I see the argument but the light must be in the stairway. Now suppose the stairwell was open to another room. One could argue that the light is in the room thus afci.

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