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AFCI Breakers

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Dennis Wiggins:
First off; I am not an electrician.

I found this, regarding AFCI breakers in residences.  I don't know what is code for commercial space. 

210.12(B)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, sun rooms, 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.

Note 1:  Not all states require this.

Note 2:  AFCIs resemble a GFCI/RCD (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupt/Residual-Current Device) breaker in that they both have a test button although each has a different function. GFCIs and RCDs are designed to protect against electrical shock of a person, while AFCIs are primarily designed to protect against electrical fires caused by arcing. Some outlets must be protected by both a GFCI and an AFCI, such as an outlet near a wet bar in a family room.

-Dennis

Stephen Swaffer:


AFCIs have not been required by the NEC in commercial spaces yet-their purpose is completely different than GFCIs-and they do the most good when used with NM cable wiring-wiring that is prone to being damaged by nails or screws usually not used in commercial applications.  I haven't yet read the 2014 code but I am hearing that virtually every receptacle in residential will be required to be either AFCI or GFCI protected depending on the location.

They do cost more of course-and I have personally dealt with situations where AFCI's would have been very helpful-but I am not going to argue for or against them!

Mike Sokol:

--- Quote from: Stephen Swaffer on December 07, 2013, 01:21:52 AM ---They do cost more of course-and I have personally dealt with situations where AFCI's would have been very helpful-but I am not going to argue for or against them!

--- End quote ---
First generation AFCI's were very poor at differentiating between the normal sparking of something like a light switch turning on an incandescent bulb, and a partial short inside a wall that's sparking and creating a fire hazard. I think the later gen designs are much better, but have not personally done any testing on them. I would say that running a sound system from AFCI breakers could be fraught with circuit breakers tripping at inopportune times. For instance, how many times have a stage amp's power plug been pulled out of the receptacle accidentally without being switched off first? That spark would probably be enough to shut down your back-line power feed.

The entire argument over the actual need for AFCI's to begin with has always been a money vs. any actual reduction of electrical house fires issue. Plus the random AFCI tripping from normal light switch sparking doesn't make a homeowner happy when they have to reset the breaker every week.

For now, code is only requiring AFCI breakers in branch circuits feeding bedrooms in homes and such. But I can see code extending this to wall circuits in venue stages pretty soon. Then it's going to get interesting when the back-line power goes out during a music set.   

Tim McCulloch:

--- Quote from: Mike Sokol on December 07, 2013, 02:13:59 AM ---

For now, code is only requiring AFCI breakers in branch circuits feeding bedrooms in homes and such. But I can see code extending this to wall circuits in venue stages pretty soon. Then it's going to get interesting when the back-line power goes out during a music set.   

--- End quote ---

Compartmentalization... each duplex outlet protected by its own AFCI (like GFCI outlets can be done today).  If it's a genuine problem, the NFPA committee might carve out an AFCI exemption for specific uses in particular special occupancies as has been done for GFCIs.

Cailen Waddell:
Or suddenly every PAC will own a small power distro they tie into a disconnect to provide power and all the outlets will be taped over...

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