rewiring a switch on Arc fault circuit

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  #1  
Old 10-31-07, 09:06 AM
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rewiring a switch on Arc fault circuit

Have a three switch box. Two switches are on a normal breaker circuit and operate lights; one is on an arc fault breaker because it feeds a duplex outlet. All of the bare ground wires are ganged together. My goal is to have the duplex outlet wired to one of the other two switches so it is powered when that switch is on.

There are at least two ways to solve this, depending on code requirements, so here are my questions. My location is Eastern PA.

Option 1: Add a second duplex off the desired switch and convert the existing duplex to direct feed from the arc fault circuit. The new duplex would be in an open loft area, not in a bedroom; does code require it to be on the arc fault circuit?

Option 2: If an arc fault breaker is required for the duplex, I can replace the normal breaker on the other circuit with an arc fault breaker. Will this work OK? I've read of arc fault problems with shared common. (Building is two years old so should be up to current code.)

Thanks for any help.

Ray
 
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  #2  
Old 10-31-07, 08:23 PM
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My goal is to have the duplex outlet wired to one of the other two switches so it is powered when that switch is on.
I don't understand the goal. What all do you want the each switch to control when all is done? What circuit do you want each switch to be on?

You have three switches, two lights, and one receptacle. It seems that switch#1 currently controls light#1, switch#2 controls light#2, and switch#3 controls the receptacle. You want switch#2 to control the receptacle. If that's true, what should switch#3 then control? Nothing? And what should control light#2. And what circuit should everything be on when you're done?

And why do you want to do all this?
 
  #3  
Old 11-01-07, 03:38 AM
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Let me clarify

"My goal is to have the duplex outlet wired to one of the other two switches so it is powered when that switch is on."

John, I'll continue with your labeling to clarify the picture. The three-switch box is at the top of a staircase. In that box, >Switch 1, a three way, operates a foyer light over the staircase.
>Switch 2, on the arc fault circuit, operates a duplex in the loft at the top of the stairs. I want the duplex to be ON whenever the foyer light is on so a table lamp in the loft, that is plugged into the duplex outlet, will come on when the foyer lights are turned on.
>Switch 2 will be changed to operate new recessed ceiling lights in the loft.
>Switch 3 does not change.

So, my questions:
1. By code, does the loft duplex outlet need to be on an arc fault circuit?

2. If I change the switch 1 circuit to have an arc fault breaker, will it likely work, e.g., how common is it to just replace a normal breaker with an arc fault breaker and have it work successfully?

Best
Ray
 
  #4  
Old 11-01-07, 04:18 AM
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The loft most likely counts as a bedroom, requiring the AFCI protection.

AFCI breakers are getting better at eliminating false trips. Why don't you put the foyer light on the AFCI circuit?

You still have not determined (or you haven't told us) that our plan is doable, at least not without running new wires. A three way switch into the mixture complicates the issue. Depending on the current wiring, not may not be possible.
 
  #5  
Old 11-01-07, 04:59 AM
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yes, it's doable

Thanks Bob

I've already explored the wiring for all three switches. The only new wiring will be the added circuit on Switch2 for the recessed ceiling lights. The box is rated for 28 wires at #14; even with the new wire my total count, including switches, will be less than 28.

Question: are there guidelines or code specifics on how many lighting circuits or lighting fixtures can be on a single circuit? Some are infrequently used, e.g., a porch light.

The project is a tad more complicated though because the AFCI circuit to the loft duplex is three-wire, with the red lead switched for that duplex and the black (hot) line feeding through the duplex box to other duplex outlets in the bedrooms.

Your suggestion of just adding the three way lighting switch to the existing AFCI circuit is not possible because the hot line feeding this three-way is in the other (downstairs) switch box; this box only has the switched line out to the foyer lights.

Given that the duplex must be on an AFCI circuit, here's my plan:
1. convert the existing duplex outlet to full time power, eliminating the need for Switch2, e.g., dead end the red switched wire at both ends.
2. Convert the three-way lighting circuit to an AFCI breaker.
3. Add a new duplex outlet just for the loft table light and tie it to the three-way switch. This is convenient because I can put the new duplex exactly where the table lamp is located in the loft.
4. Add switch2 to the existing lighting circuit and use it to power the new recessed lights in the loft.

This approach eliminates any changes to the existing bedroom wiring, which will remain on the original AFCI breaker. It adds one, isolated duplex that will be AFCI protected.

Question: If I dead-end the red wire in the box, does it still count toward the box wire total?


Ray
 
  #6  
Old 11-01-07, 05:47 AM
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The wire count is part of the picture.

The actual wiring is another part. You still have not provided enough information for us to comment if this is doable. However, you may have told us that it is NOT doable.

Does the neutral for the foyer light pass through this box is the question you have not answered.

However, your telling us that the feed to the loft receptacle is three wire complicates things. You cannot simply move the switched receptacle to the foyer circuit. You must move the entire loft feed to this circuit. I don;t think you want to do this.

Your revised plan should address the issues, as long as everything in the loft is AFCI protected (including the lights), and as long as you do not exceed box fill requirements. Yes, count the dead end wires.
 
  #7  
Old 11-01-07, 02:57 PM
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Good questions, Bob

First, I had also posted my original AFCI question to a PA code inspection site; they confirmed AFCI is only a requirement for bedroom outlets and wouldn't be needed for a duplex in the open loft. (I believe it was put on the AFCI circuit to avoid the cost of additional wiring.)

The foyer lighting is a chandelier hanging from the second-floor ceiling. In further investigating the attic wiring, I located the chandelier mounting box and wiring, which was a single 14/2 line. Even better, that 14/2 line had been spliced in the attic; I just opened the splice box and added a new 14/2, which I ran down the loft wall to a new duplex. That new duplex, of course, goes on when the foyer light goes on, one of my goals. And I did not have to modify anything in the three-switch box to accomplish it.

For the new loft recessed lighting, in the attic I also found the 14/3 going to the AFCI duplex, where the red is switched and the black is a hot feed-through to other outlets. I cut that cable in the attic and ran the hot side into a new junction box. In that box I tied the red lead to a 14/2 line for the new recessed lighting. And I tied the black lead to another 14/2, which goes to another junction box and is spliced back to the 14/3 to the original duplex. In this last junction box and in the duplex box I dead-ended the red; also put the duplex on the hot black. Here again I made no changes to the three-switch box, but the original duplex switch now operates the recessed lights and the AFCI circuit is intact.

All the wiring is done and working. Tomorrow is cleanup.

Thanks for asking the right questions.

Ray
 
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