How to define spaces in open floor plan to follow code?

staceyneilOctober 28, 2013

My mom and I are re-wiring her very old home as part of a major renovation. It is a small cape and we're removing some walls. per the attached plan, the kitchen is open to a small room that she will be using as both a breakfast area (close to the kitchen) and sitting room (towards the front door.)

Now that there's this whole AFCI for living spaces requirement, I'm nervous about how these spaces are defined.
For instance, in my current circuit plan, I have two 20A GFCI-protected branch circuits for the kitchen (in addition to dedicated DW/Disposal, MW, and lighting circuits.) On one of the small applicance circuits is the fridge, undercabinet light, and a single duplex receptacle on the wall next to the fridge in the open space: that's where the kitchen table will go. I was considering all of that to be "kitchen/breakfast" and the rest of the room to be "den". As such, the rest of the room would require AFCI breaker.

But where is the line drawn between the two "rooms"? Should I maybe consider the entire space to be "kitchen/breakfast"? In which case would the general use circuit supplying the rest of the room use a plain breaker rather than AFCI? And GFCI receptacles?

Open floor plans confuse things!

Thanks for your thoughts,

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Ron Natalie

Kitchen and dining area (and pantries) are part of the kitchen. Living rooms and dens are not. Where the border is defined is really up to your local authorities. I'd sit down with the building department and have them mark out a line.

If I were the authority, everything other than the wall tha runs from the Refrigerator around to the door to the living/dining area would be kitchen space, the rest would be living area.

Note that while every receptacle (with small exception)in the kitchen needs to be on one of the two (or more) small appliance circuit, only the countertop ones need GFCI.

This post was edited by ronnatalie on Mon, Oct 28, 13 at 19:30

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Thank you, ronnatalie!

Using your guess for division of space, then, I will need to move that receptacle that is on the other side of the refrigerator's end wall (where the breakfast table will be) off of the small appliance circuit and onto the AFCI-protected general-use circuit for the sitting room area, right?

Your guess does seem the most obvious. But I'll check with our inspector to be sure he agrees.

As far as GFCIs, I might end up simply protecting the entire circuit with a GFCI breaker, rather than use individual GFCI receptacles, just because I've found those to be more of a pain to wire, especially when you have multiple connections in a box. My mom and I are doing the wiring ourselves so trying to keep things as hassle-free as possible! I was originally going to use a 20A double pole GFCI breaker to feed both small appliance circuits to save wire, but that breaker is really expensive ($115!).... so I might go back to two separate 20A breakers after all.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:28AM
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