Opinions on AFCI breakers

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Old 12-05-11, 07:22 PM
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Opinions on AFCI breakers

I am going to be in my panel for another reason, and was looking at info on the AFCI breakers now being installed by code on new construction. Our house is a 2006 build and does not have them. Can anyone offer any info on whether or not to install some or not? If so and not doing all breakers, which ones to do (bedroom etc). Thanks.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 08:45 PM
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AFCI breakers protect your home against fires caused by damaged wiring and cords, and also provide a pretty good level of GFCI protection against shocks due to water contact. They also introduce a small chance of nuisance trips. By the most recent code (2011), AFCI breakers are required on all 15A and 20A circuits which serve receptacles or lights in any living space room (bedroom, den, dining, living, rec room, etc). They are not required in kitchens, baths or "utility" areas. You are not required to upgrade the existing breakers, but you can if you choose.
 
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Old 12-05-11, 08:50 PM
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Our house is a 2006 build and does not have them.
Just curious, what code was your house built under?
 
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Old 12-05-11, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
AFCI breakers protect your home against fires caused by damaged wiring and cords, and also provide a pretty good level of GFCI protection against shocks due to water contact. They also introduce a small chance of nuisance trips. By the most recent code (2011), AFCI breakers are required on all 15A and 20A circuits which serve receptacles or lights in any living space room (bedroom, den, dining, living, rec room, etc). They are not required in kitchens, baths or "utility" areas. You are not required to upgrade the existing breakers, but you can if you choose.
Thank you for the input. I know I am not required to upgrade, but from what I saw they seem pretty worth it. You mention nuisance trips, is that common ? I just don't want to spend 25 to 30 per breaker and have nothing but a can of worms. On the flip side, I like the rapid trip when working. I know, my choice, just looking for a nudge either way lol
 
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Old 12-06-11, 07:20 AM
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Just throwing out another opinion...

The main reasons for developing and requiring AFCIs was I think two major electrical issues: First, there have been a lot of house fires due to poorly maintained extension cords being shoved up behind a bed or desk, over time bending and wearing through the insulation, causing a spark. Similarly, extension cords run under carpets, high traffic areas, etc. I've also heard that they help with the issue of putting a nail in the wall when hanging a picture and hitting a wire.

In my house, I'm careful with electrical cords, use flat plugs when needed, rarely use extension cords, etc. I sleep just fine knowing that I don't have AFCI protection. On the other hand, I'm fully up to code/date on my smoke detectors, interconnected between floors, batteries replaced, etc.

Of course, it all is what helps you sleep at night. I understand the AFCI technology has gotten better over the past few years reducing nuisance trips.

Good luck either way!
 
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Old 12-06-11, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Zorfdt View Post
Just throwing out another opinion...

The main reasons for developing and requiring AFCIs was I think two major electrical issues: First, there have been a lot of house fires due to poorly maintained extension cords being shoved up behind a bed or desk, over time bending and wearing through the insulation, causing a spark. Similarly, extension cords run under carpets, high traffic areas, etc. I've also heard that they help with the issue of putting a nail in the wall when hanging a picture and hitting a wire.

In my house, I'm careful with electrical cords, use flat plugs when needed, rarely use extension cords, etc. I sleep just fine knowing that I don't have AFCI protection. On the other hand, I'm fully up to code/date on my smoke detectors, interconnected between floors, batteries replaced, etc.

Of course, it all is what helps you sleep at night. I understand the AFCI technology has gotten better over the past few years reducing nuisance trips.

Good luck either way!
Thanks. I use those flat plug cords too. I think I will do a couple for now, maybe the kids room that has one cord and lamps etc.
 
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Old 12-06-11, 07:46 AM
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I've got about 6 GE AFCI's in the panel, new in 2005. There has only been one false trip, and that was due to a lightning hit the property took a few years ago. It did burn up a power supply I had feeding the boat as a charger. So, no issues with the GE breakers.
 
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Old 12-06-11, 07:54 AM
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Good to know. I would be using Square D homeline breakers. I read they were recalled back in '04 but have since been corrected.



Originally Posted by telecom guy View Post
I've got about 6 GE AFCI's in the panel, new in 2005. There has only been one false trip, and that was due to a lightning hit the property took a few years ago. It did burn up a power supply I had feeding the boat as a charger. So, no issues with the GE breakers.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 07:08 PM
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Do you know the answer to my earlier question?


Just curious, what code was your house built under?
 
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Old 12-11-11, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
Do you know the answer to my earlier question?
Sorry, I missed that. Not positive, but I think it was 2005 or 2006 build.
 
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Old 12-11-11, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by madmatt76 View Post
Sorry, I missed that. Not positive, but I think it was 2005 or 2006 build.
Then I am a little surprised you don't already have AFCI breakers for the bedroom outlets.
 
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Old 12-11-11, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
Then I am a little surprised you don't already have AFCI breakers for the bedroom outlets.
With how cheap this builder was, I am not surprised.....rolling eyes
 
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Old 12-11-11, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by madmatt76 View Post
With how cheap this builder was, I am not surprised.....rolling eyes
Inspectors generally don't care what it costs for a builder to comply with code. Was your house built with permits and inspections?
 
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Old 12-11-11, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
Inspectors generally don't care what it costs for a builder to comply with code. Was your house built with permits and inspections?
Yes that I know of because it was inspected. As I understand it, these were not required in new construction until 2008 here
 
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Old 12-11-11, 08:06 PM
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That's a definite possibility. The local jurisdiction may not have adopted the latest code till much later or they could have amended the version that was adopted. If I remember correctly, AFCI breakers first appeared in the 2002 NEC, but weren't required till about the early part of 2003. I am working strictly from memory on this, but I do remember they weren't required till mid way into the code cycle.
 
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Old 12-11-11, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
That's a definite possibility. The local jurisdiction may not have adopted the latest code till much later or they could have amended the version that was adopted. If I remember correctly, AFCI breakers first appeared in the 2002 NEC, but weren't required till about the early part of 2003. I am working strictly from memory on this, but I do remember they weren't required till mid way into the code cycle.
I think when I have to go in to remove an unused breaker and move one I might as well put a couple of AFCIs on the kid's room circuits while I am in there
 
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Old 12-14-11, 04:31 PM
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I'd just like to add that most AFCI breakers have GFCI functionality, it's not as good as a GFCI outlet or breaker. Most (almost all) of the AFCI breakers require a 50mA difference to trip as a ground fault, where a GFCI outlet or breaker usually trips at only 5mA.

As far as breakers labeled as AFCI combination, this means a combination of serial and parallel arc fault. I believe all newly made AFCI breakers are now required to be AFCI combination breakers.

They do make AFCI combation with GFCI breakers (that do trip at 5mA), but it seems Lowe's and Home Depot doesn't carry them. They're supposedly available online, and some breaker manufacturers still haven't made them.

So, if you use an AFCI breaker, unless it's one of the rare ones that trips at 5mA, still make sure to use GFI outlets where you would otherwise need one.
 
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Old 12-14-11, 05:33 PM
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The real question is how necessary are AFCI breakers and are they something forced on the consumer by the electrical manufacturing industry.
 
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Old 12-14-11, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Mitchell View Post
The real question is how necessary are AFCI breakers and are they something forced on the consumer by the electrical manufacturing industry.
Very true. You know, it's just a pure coincidence that a regular 15A breaker is $3, but the CAFCI 15A breaker is $36.
 
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