AFCI breakers

analogmusicmanFebruary 26, 2014

I know that current code requires GFCI protection on the 2 required 20A circuits running along the countertops in the kitchen. but,what about AFCI breakers? should EVERY circuit in my kitchen remodel have such protection? like the fridge which will have it's own 20A circuit,it won't have any GFCI but should it have an AFCI breaker back at my subpanel?


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Ron Natalie

Specifically the countertop receptacles require GFCI protection, the entire small appliance circuits (which feed other kitchen receptacles) doesn't need that protection.

Whether you need AFCI protection or not depends on what version of the code your area is using. AFCIs were initially only required for bedroom (2008). This was expanded to most living areas but not kitchens (2011) and the in the process of being adopted 2014 code requires it in kitchens as well.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 7:21AM
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AFCI breakers seem very highly prone to nuisance trips so putting a dedicated fridge or freezer outlet on one would be plain stupid, no matter what the code says.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 8:59AM
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Ron Natalie

They are getting much better. My original mod2 GE AFCIs tripped frequently. I replaced them with the mod3's and the problem went away. Frankly, these *@$&%@*@ TR receptacles are driving me more nuts than the ArcFaults.

You'd be well advised to put some sort of readily seen indicator or an alarm on any refrigeration. Even a breaker trip can cause you issues.

GFCI is NOT required for refrigerators now (and most likely never will).

When your area adopts NEC 2014, you *WILL* need to add arc faults to the refrigerator unless you use conduit or one of the cable type that gets you exempted. It's up to you to see if you wish to do this for the refrigeration circuits.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:22AM
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Well, I have a frig in my unfinished basement. That area requires GFCI so I have my frig on a dedicated GFCI circuit. I think that is overkill, but I didn't see any exclusion for it.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Ron Natalie

And I have a freezer in my garage on the GFCI required there. Can't say it's "nuisance" tripped much. This is one of those houses from the 70's where every GFCI outlet is all on one circuit (the GFCI is in the downstairs powder room). It doesn't take long for us to realize when the power is off...other things stop working which as I pointed out is a good way to protect yourself.

I've had more problems over the years with people failing to close the door than power problems.

As I stated at least with arc faults, if you are in a non-GFCI area, you can always legally avoid having one by using the proper wiring methods.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:38AM
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I, on the other hand, have come home from a 2wk vacation to find the GFCI tripped and I had a freezer full of rotten food (the smell and the flies!). We paid ServiceMaster to haul that fridge away without ever opening the doors. That's when I put in a dedicated line and new GFCI hoping for the best. And when I get my sister to check on the house, I make her come downstairs and physically check.

This post was edited by jreagan on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 13:12

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Can you hard wire a freezer and avoid the requirement of either AFCI or GFCI? The code I looked at referred to receptacles needing them. My hard-wired furnace in the basement is not on a GFCI circuit and just passed inspection without a question.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:13PM
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Ron Natalie

You can't beat the AFCI requirement by hardwiring. The requirement is that all OUTLETS must be protected. You can avoid it by using conduit or other tougher cabling.

Hardwiring can avoid GFCI in most places (most places that require GFCI only apply to RECEPTACLES).

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Thanks-- conduit is easy, so that sounds like a great way to go. (I'm about to have my electrician put a freezer circuit in the basement, so I'll ask him to look into this.)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:11AM
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I keep reading about AFCI nuisance trips. I have been using AFCI breakers since 1997, before the 2008 NEC requirement, and have not encountered a single nuisance trip in all that time. Those first generation AFCIs were upgraded to the latest generation combination breakers, and coninue to have no issues.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Ron Natalie

Well you were lucky. I had them trip just on switch throws for lighting and such. Plugging a vacuum also tripped them.
The newer versions were much improved, but the originals were a pain in the rear.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Apparently the AFCI breakers I have also include GFCI functions. Mine are from 2002.
For a laugh at my expense, I had fluorescent lights in closets that would not work when tested the day that the house was connected to power. So I used my trusty, favorite, tester which is two 15 watt appliance bulbs in series. Touching the leads of the tester to the hot and the ground to test for power will trip a GFCI. And it did trip the AFCI breaker. Since the test light did not even blink at the closet, I tested at the panel and discovered the tripping problem. After some frustration, I found that the ballasts were powder coated and not making proper contact with the fluorescent fixture housing (new fixtures) and thus were not grounded. Correcting that solved the problem. So older testing techniques may not work with all the newer devices.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 5:18PM
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