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  1. #1
    Gene South's Avatar
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    Default Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ? I realize GFCI and AFCI's are different devices, but I have never seen an AFCI installed on a circuit that contains GFCI's (such as bathroom circuit,etc). Wondered what others thought and how they handled this when it comes up?

    Gene

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  2. #2
    Jim Port's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Generally speaking the AFCIs are not required on the GFI protected circuits. There should not be an issue adding the AFCI protection to those circuits.


  3. #3
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    When this question comes up I usually refer to afcisafety.org/nema. I'll do the same here .. Saves me from typing too much and misspelling too much and confusing people too much ...

    Your question is addressed on the page that comes up but lots of good info so I recommend to read your way down to where it talks about afci and gfci on same circuit.

    Also some good stuff in the menu on the left side of page that is very good reading for the HI. Good photos and videos accompany some articles.

    AFCISafety.org


  4. #4
    Bill Kriegh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Most of the AFCI breakers manufactured currently have a GFCI component built into them. This GFCI is set to function at 30MA instead of the 5MA of a GFCI breaker or receptacle and therefore won't count as GFCI protection required by the NEC.

    In theory you should be able to treat an AFCI as a regular breaker when installing devices downline. Upgrading existing wiring in a residence will often require a GFCI be installed on a circuit that got modified and now has an AFCI breaker as well (a circuit shared by a kitchen and dining room most often). NEC wording can force the combination so it isn't a code issue.

    In practice I'm finding more and more reasons to find AFCIs as a suspect technology and have found numerous cases where homeowners have elected to replace AFCIs with regular breakers, often within minutes after a final inspection. The problems are most often with 2 wire items of some kind (no ground wire) so a ground fault issue isn't the problem

    There is now a push to manufacture AFCI breakers that lack the GFCI component so that they may be used on multi-wire circuits. A pair of these breakers with a handle tie can be used with the neutral going to just one of the pair. A requirement in the 2011 NEC is driving this type of design. This also means there are 3 kinds of AFCI floating around that aren't necessarily interchangeable.

    Just a personal opinion here, but it almost appears that these devices need to be built with a data port so that they can be upgraded in place as the inevitable issues with them start cropping up. To date the only AFCIs I haven't had issues with personally are Cutler Hammer and Siemens, but I know folks with different experiences. I supported the concept of AFCIs initially and still see the added safety benefit but with the problems I see I suspect that more and more of them will wind up getting replaced with regular breakers, You HIs are gonna have your hands full with this issue at some point.


  5. #5
    Gene South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Bill and all. Thanks.


  6. #6
    ken horak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Not to side line the topic here but, AFCI changes are coming.
    Well the requirements are changing, that is!
    It will be required to provide AFCI protection when replacing receptacles on non afci protected cicrcuits! I need to check on the date and will post it.


  7. #7
    Bill Kriegh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    The new rule takes effect on Jan 1, 2014, assuming the code is adopted by the AHJ by that point in time and that the requirement isn't modified. Some of the other stuff is included also.

    2011 NEC 406.4 (d)

    (4) Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.
    Where a
    receptacle outlet is supplied by a branch circuit that requires
    arc-fault circuit interrupter protection as specified
    elsewhere in this
    Code, a replacement receptacle at this
    outlet shall be one of the following:
    (1) A listed outlet branch circuit type arc-fault circuit interrupter

    receptacle
    (2) A receptacle protected by a listed outlet branch circuit
    type arc-fault circuit interrupter type receptacle
    (3) A receptacle protected by a listed combination type
    arc-fault circuit interrupter type circuit breaker
    This requirement becomes effective January 1, 2014.

    (5) Tamper-Resistant Receptacles.
    Listed tamper-resistant
    receptacles shall be provided where replacements are made at
    receptacle outlets that are required to be tamper-resistant elsewhere
    in this
    Code.

    (6) Weather-Resistant Receptacles.
    Weather-resistant receptacles
    shall be provided where replacements are made at
    receptacle outlets that are required to be so protected elsewhere

    in this
    Code.



  8. #8
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Usually you would not need both. But if a circuit is on an AFCI breaker because it's feeding outlets in a room or rooms used for sleeping, and it also feeds an outlet in a bathroom (or any other outlet requiring GFCI), then it should have a GFCI either between the AFCI breaker and the bathroom outlet or at the bathroom outlet itself. I had this arrangement and the electrical inspector was happy with it.


  9. #9
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Norman View Post
    Usually you would not need both. But if a circuit is on an AFCI breaker because it's feeding outlets in a room or rooms used for sleeping, and it also feeds an outlet in a bathroom
    The bathroom receptacle outlet should not be on the same circuit as any receptacle which requires AFCI protection.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    The bathroom receptacle outlet should not be on the same circuit as any receptacle which requires AFCI protection

    "should not", or, not required?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  11. #11
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    The bathroom receptacle outlet should not be on the same circuit as any receptacle which requires AFCI protection

    "should not", or, not required?

    "should not"

    Not for any time period for which AFCI protection has been required.

    As I recall (without looking it up) bathroom receptacles have been required to be on their own circuit since the 1996 NEC (possibly since the 1993 NEC, but I think 1996 it when that came in).

    Being as AFCI protection was not required back then one "should not" find bathroom receptacles on an AFCI circuit in a house where AFCI protection is "required". Now, adding AFCI protection to an older house, yeah, that would be okay - I was trying to clarify and reduce erroneous expectations which may have been implied by what Frank said.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    I see Frank is in Canada, does that make a difference?


  13. #13
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    I see Frank is in Canada, does that make a difference?
    Good point - that very well may make a difference.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Thanks Jerry

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  15. #15
    John Kogel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    I see Frank is in Canada, does that make a difference?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Good point - that very well may make a difference.
    Yep. Canadian rules for Bathroom circuit GFCI's and AFCI's make it OK for Frank but not for y'all in the USA.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Yep. Canadian rules for Bathroom circuit GFCI's and AFCI's make it OK for Frank but not for y'all in the USA.
    Yes it is true that per current code in Canada the outlet required in a "bathroom with washbasin" and in a "washroom" must be GFCI protected but does not have to be on a separate circuit. It appears that in the USA prior to 2006 a circuit supplying outlets in a bedroom and a bathroom may also have met code. But code compliance is perhaps not the main point of the original post.

    I am a novice inspector who was taught that rather than trying to establish whether old circuits would meet the latest version of the electrical code, we should be inspecting for other issues such as safety, capacity, damage, etc. not code compliance.

    If this is valid, then rather than discussing codes, the question still remains in my mind as to whether anyone thinks there any safety issues due to the presence of both GFCI and AFCI on one cicuit, i.e. when a bedroom outlet and GFCI protected bathroom outlet are on the same existing circuit fed from a newly added AFCI breaker. Our local electrical inspector was OK with it but then that's one opinion only.


  17. #17
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Norman View Post
    If this is valid, then rather than discussing codes, the question still remains in my mind as to whether anyone thinks there any safety issues due to the presence of both GFCI and AFCI on one cicuit,

    I'm not aware of any and can't think of any safety issues with that either - seems to me that it only increase the safety aspect ... the GFCI protects the people and the AFCI protects the wiring.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  18. #18
    Steve Traylor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?


  19. #19
    Ron Pfister's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Older homes that have no grounding wire should use AFCI in the circuit required to have a GFCI usually only work with a ground. But, one is as good as the other in any use even used in combination.


  20. #20
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should AFCI breakers be installed on circuits that have GFCI's ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Pfister View Post
    GFCI usually only work with a ground.
    Ron,

    Incorrect - the GFCI device will trip with no ground, the person serves as the ground.

    A *GFCI tester* will not work without a ground, but if you test the GFCI with its test button, the GFCI device will work and will trip (unless the GFCI is defective).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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