I want the maximum electrical safety for our teenager's bedroom. I
understand that all bedrooms must now (in new construction) be supplied
from Arc-Fault Circuit Interruptor breakers, so I would like that
feature. But he will also be doing a lot of computer and amateur radio
and other experimentation there involving electricity, so I think that
GFCI protection would be an advantage as well. In the absence of
combination AFCI-GFCI breakers (Cutler-Hammer CH panel), is there any
objection to using an AFCI breaker in the panel and GFCI-protected
outlets (fed from the AFCI breaker) in his room?
I suggest you find someone local and talk to them. Your confusing arc faults
with ground faults. Ground faults are used to protect living creatures when
there water around.
Arc faults are designed when you put 1250 watts on that 1000 watt extension
cord the breaker will see the arc fault and shut down the circuit. I would
not use both in series with out an electrical engineer to review the
installation. The combination might be less than useful, I.E. tripping all
of the time.
It is absolutely fine to use Arc-Fault breakers and GFCI outlets on the same
circuit. They each provide a completely unrelated type of protection, and
one has no effect on the operation of the other.
Arc-Fault breakers detect arc-faults, and an arc-fault presents no direct
danger to the user of equipment attached to the circuit (unless he hangs
around long enough to be injured by the ensuing fire caused by an
arc-fault). GFCI outlets protect users of outlets and users of equipment
that is plugged into those outlets.
Neither of the above protective devices protect someone who comes directly
in series with the power supply if that person is not also making ground
contact. In other words, if you stand on a cardboard box and hold two
copper wires with damp hands and stick one of the wires into the hot side of
a receptacle and the other into the neutral side of the receptacle, a large
amount of current will flow through your body and you might die. Neither
the GFCI nor the Arc-Fault breaker will trip unless you keep holding the hot
wire and fall off the box and make contact with the ground.
If you want more electrocution protection then what a GFCI provides, you can
add an isolation transformer. Search google for <medical grade isolation
transformer> for more information.
I think an isolation transformer provides the same protection as a GFCI,
just maybe a little more so because a GFCI will allow a very small
leakage to ground. If you grab an output terminal of an isolation
xformer with one hand and the other terminal with the other hand, you're
To the original poster,
Install an AFCI in the breaker panel because the code requires it for
the kid's bedroom. Install a GFCI receptacle and see if it works --
they are cheap, and it doesn't cost you much to try it. It will
certainly provide some electrocution protection. If you start getting a
lot of false trips on either the GFCI or the AFCI breaker, replace the
GFCI with a normal duplex receptacle.
You are correct, Bob. Thanks for adding that detail.
There is no known way to protect someone from being shocked if they are put
directly in the path between the hot and neutral conductors if that person
is ungrounded. If there is any chance of being directly in the current
path, then appropriate protective gear (rubber gloves) should be worn.
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