I know they have arc-fault circuit breakers that will replace a typical
breaker in a Load Center for a residence.
But I have read that there are recently available ones to replace the
regular wall outlets.
Also, apparently, combination arc-fault and GFCI's for wall outlets.
Have searched Google and the others, but can't seem to find any offerings.
Anyone know who offers, and perhaps the Link to ?
These were first recognized in the code in 2005 with an additional
requirement that the device be within 6' of the panel and fed with a
metalic raceway or metal armored cable.
The intent is to have a way of installing AFCIs on a circuit fed from
a fuse panel or a panel too old to have AFCIs available.
I don't see a 6' rule in the 08 code, other than for flexible metal conduit.
I think the idea of steel cable or metal conduit is just to give added
protection prior to the protecting AFCI, which will be required almost
everywhere. I haven't researched the new code yet, but it would also appear
that you could run a multiwire branch circuit to a location, then split two
AFCI circuits off of it, although all multiwire circuits will require double
You can run some metal raceways to the 1st (AFCI) outlet in a metal box.
It apparently doesn't have to be max 6' from the panel anymore.
I still haven't looked carefully at "where". My impression is AFCI are
required about everywhere a GFCI isn't.
The double pole breaker would have to be AFCI (which may be what you
intended) unless the multiwire is in raceway as above. The intent is to
protect the whole branch circuit.
There is a fine-print-note for smoke alarms - I believe hard wired smoke
alarms on AFCI circuits are required to have battery backup.
It appears in the 08 book, that you'll be able to run from the panel to the
first box, using AC cable, etc, and multiwire circuits are Ok provided you
connect to a double pole breaker, so I'm assuming you can run a multiwire to
a couple of adjacent bedrooms, and stick two AFCI outlets in one box, and
protect the two circuits from that location. Most likely, when all circuits
have to be AFCI protected, the cost of the breakers will be cheap enough,
that I shouldn't bother to be too cleaver
I just had a CEU class this past Saturday on the 2008 code for New Jersey
and of course the subject of arc fault circuit breakers was a hot topic.
The instructor had met with people from the state recently and said that the
combination arc fault protector requirement will most likely get passed into
law this fall when the code gets adopted. BTW a combination arc fault
circuit breaker is NOT an AFCI/GFCI device. It actually protects against
different types of arc faults which is one of the reasons NJ did not require
them previously. In the past some manufacturers AFCI's only protected
against one type of arc fault and other manufacturers AFCI's protected
against another type of arc fault. The combination arc fault circuit
breaker covers them all.
Even though it is mentioned in the code, according to the instructor there
currently is no arc fault wiring device to replace receptacles. As the
teacher said "Why would you want one?" Using a wiring device instead of a
AFCI breaker leaves the most loaded section of the wiring unprotected
against arc faults.
It will be interesting how many jurisdictions don't require AFCIs for as
many locations as the 2008 NEC. From the comments on the code change,
the expansion is controversial.
"Branch/Feeder" AFCI were required starting with the 2002 NEC for
bedrooms. They were required to detect arcs at a 75A level, so they
would only detect "parallel" arcs (H-N, H-G). Ground fault detection was
also required at 50mA (but commonly provided at 30 mA). As you know,
that is not the same as a GFCI (5mA). The idea was apparently an arc
with a ground present might soon result in ground current.
"Outlet circuit" AFCI were defined but were not required and I don't
know if they were made. The required arc detection level is 5A, so they
will detect a "series" arc (loose connections).
"Combination" AFCIs 'combine' the protection of "Branch/Feeder" and
"Outlet circuit" - so they detect "series" arcs (also with 50mA ground
fault). They are required by the 2005 NEC starting Jan 1, 2008. I don't
think anyone had them out much before that.
Then there is the vast (half-vast?) expansion of where AFCIs are
required in the 2008 NEC.
Greg had a good answer - if you can't get a CB type AFCI for your panel.
Or if they won't fit. The AFCIs available for my panel are 1 inch wide
(single pole) while the existing breakers are 0.5 inch wide. There are
3 empty half-slots in the panel, so with some rearrangement I could put
up to 3 AFCIs in the panel - and then it would be completely full.
For new construction, you could just install a larger panel, but this
isn't so practical for retrofit.
The other problem is that I have a bunch of two-pole 15 A breakers
protecting Edison-type split circuits, which would have to be replaced
by two-pole AFCI units - if they even exist.
Besides, I thought AFCIs were primarily for protection against arcs in
portable wiring - extension cords, portable lamps and appliances, etc.
Are they now supposed to protect against arcs in permanent wiring too?
If they exist, you may have to take out a sub-prime mortgage to afford
them. The requirement is new wiring so existing multiwires shouldn't be
a problem unless you replace the panel. (If you replace the panel I
suspect it is up to the inspector whether you have to protect existing
I believe the major risk is plug-in stuff. But they are also intended to
protect the supply wiring. The original AFCIs were "Branch/Feeder". The
2008 NEC allows unprotected wiring to an outlet type AFCI using some
some metal-protected wiring to a metal box.
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