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Where should an AFCI breaker be installed in the panel box (in Canada)?

Where should an AFCI breaker be installed in the panel box (in Canada)?

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  #1  
Old 01-22-14, 06:24 PM
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Where should an AFCI breaker be installed in the panel box (in Canada)?

Hi,

While tinkering with my electrical panel, I came across a different device, which Google seems to tell me is an AFCI breaker. See the following picture:
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My understanding is that the AFCI breaker will detect if there is current "leaking" from the circuit (as would be the case if part of the circuit was shorted through someone) and will trip the breaker. So it is not so much about amperage, but about the current exiting somewhere else.

However, I looked which circuit was connected to this different breaker, and it seems that it is connected to the wall outlets of the bedrooms (we have 3 bedrooms).

I don't understand why specifically the bedrooms are "protected" but not the other outlets in the house. We have a big open space / play room on the 3rd floor with at least 10 outlets in the walls, there would be more chance for a kid to insert a screwdriver THERE than in the rooms.

My home is located in Canada.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 01-22-14, 06:31 PM
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Our current code in force right now specifies arc fault receptacles in bedrooms only. That is due to change in the next code update in 2014 to almost all areas not protected by a GFI device.

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a circuit breaker designed to prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc and disconnecting the power before the arc starts a fire.
 
  #3  
Old 01-22-14, 07:02 PM
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Sounds like the CEC mirrored the NEC AFCI requirements that initially started with just bedrooms needing to be protected. You are most vulnerable when sleeping.
 
  #4  
Old 01-22-14, 07:34 PM
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Our current code in force right now specifies arc fault receptacles in bedrooms only. That is due to change in the next code update in 2014 to almost all areas not protected by a GFI device.
Correct me if I am wrong on this, but I believe the expansion of the use of AFCI circuits beyond just the bedroom outlets is required by the 2011 NEC, I don't have a copy of the 2011 code yet. BTW, bedroom outlets are receptacles, lights and smoke detectors. In addition, they must be of the combination type AFCI device which protects against not only parallel, but series arc faults as well. The earlier version AFCI breakers only protected against parallel arc faults.

My understanding is that the AFCI breaker will detect if there is current "leaking" from the circuit (as would be the case if part of the circuit was shorted through someone) and will trip the breaker. So it is not so much about amperage, but about the current exiting somewhere else.
Not exactly. The AFCI breaker will trip with a dead short, an overload or an arcing fault. A leakage to ground may trip an AFCI breaker, but not as quickly as a GFCI device. An AFCI device is not a replacement for a GFCI device and does not meet GFCI requirements.
 
  #5  
Old 01-22-14, 07:50 PM
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It is widely argued among those in the industry that AFCIs serve no purpose other than to legislate profits for those companies who make AFCIs. There is no concrete proof or statistic that they have prevented any fires or have saved any lives. There has been no statistical reduction in electrical fires since their mandate. All they do is nuisance trip when you plug a motor into them.

GFCI's on the other hand have a solid reputation of saving lives and there is undeniable proof of their function.

PJMax and Joe: AFCI requirements were changed in the 2008 cycle to include basically the rest of the house. I don't know how much more they could possibly add this year.. The 'bedroom only' requirement was only in the 2005 cycle.

CanadianUser: If you are concerned about your kids sticking things into the receptacles, then I suggest you change them out for Tamper-Resistant models. They have a shutter mechanism which only opens if both slots are pressed simultaneously.
 
  #6  
Old 01-22-14, 08:24 PM
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Do you vacum under your bed often?
If not there is probaly a bunch of dust bunnies, and likely a receptacle behind the bed/headboard.
Bed gets rocking for whatever reason
Smashes receptacle, receptacle sparks, ignites dust bunnies.
AFCIs help prevent the arc by tripping before it can happen.

In Canada, every bedroom requires a AFCI breaker. Couldn't tell you exactly why only one room in your house is protected, but the others should be on one.
Also, every receptacle in your house is required to be tamper proof except for inaccessible ones for appliances (fridge plug, microwave plug) or if they are 2m above the floor.
 
  #7  
Old 01-22-14, 08:25 PM
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There is no concrete proof or statistic that they have prevented any fires or have saved any lives. There has been no statistical reduction in electrical fires since their mandate. All they do is nuisance trip when you plug a motor into them.
Those same arguments were used when GFCI devices appeared in the NEC. I think it'll take several more years for the statistics to catch up. My main objection is the additional cost to a new home. BTW, I think you are correct, the expansion of the use of AFCI breakers was in the 2008 NEC. There was a long list of amendments when the 2008 code was approved in my area and as I recall the expansion of AFCI breakers was one of them. That all being said, I saw a demonstartion on AFCI breakers at the Eaton Warrendale
Experience Center and that demo made me a believer in their effectiveness. My big objection is the cost.

Power Systems Experience Center
 
  #8  
Old 01-22-14, 09:14 PM
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My big objection is the cost.
Cost, and not being able to use cheaters.
 
  #9  
Old 01-22-14, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr.Awesome View Post
Do you vacum under your bed often?
If not there is probaly a bunch of dust bunnies, and likely a receptacle behind the bed/headboard.
Bed gets rocking for whatever reason
Smashes receptacle, receptacle sparks, ignites dust bunnies.
AFCIs help prevent the arc by tripping before it can happen.
Lol I gotta call BS on this one. Dust bunnies are not flash-combustible. It is incredibly rare for thrown sparks to cause a fire in any situation. Not only that, but an AFCI will not keep sparking from a dead short from happening.

The touted purpose of AFCIs are to prevent arcing between the conductors of damaged wiring. For example, a lamp cord that has become frayed, or a Romex cable that had a nail driven through it. In this kind of damage, it is not the thrown sparks that are a problem, it is because small arcs can cause the wire to heat up and start everything burning.

Statistically VERY FEW electrical fires actually start this way. Certainly not the 50% claimed by the NFPA. However they are using the "if it prevents just one, it was worth it" mantra to justify them.

In Canada, every bedroom requires a AFCI breaker. Couldn't tell you exactly why only one room in your house is protected, but the others should be on one.
Also, every receptacle in your house is required to be tamper proof except for inaccessible ones for appliances (fridge plug, microwave plug) or if they are 2m above the floor.
Most likely the bedroom circuit was rework done after AFCI requirements were added to the code. Tamper proof receptacles are also a relatively new item, so it's possible the outlets predate their requirement in code.
 
  #10  
Old 01-23-14, 05:34 AM
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The touted purpose of AFCIs are to prevent arcing between the conductors of damaged wiring.
An AFCI breaker will not prevent arcing, but it will stop the flow of current if arcing occurs.

It is incredibly rare for thrown sparks to cause a fire in any situation. Not only that, but an AFCI will not keep sparking from a dead short from happening.
Again, the AFCI breaker will stop the flow of current if arcing occurs and will also trip on a dead short as will any circuit breaker.

Statistically VERY FEW electrical fires actually start this way. Certainly not the 50% claimed by the NFPA
I'd like to see your documentation.
 
  #11  
Old 01-23-14, 03:14 PM
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Its an added safety feature for piece of mind. The cost is ridiculous though. I do believe due to the higher cost of AFCI and tamper proof receptacles it is a money grab to import the new rules, moreso than the safety of the people.
But if it does make you a little bit safer, why not do it?
 
  #12  
Old 01-23-14, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
An AFCI breaker will not prevent arcing, but it will stop the flow of current if arcing occurs.
That's what I meant.

Again, the AFCI breaker will stop the flow of current if arcing occurs and will also trip on a dead short as will any circuit breaker.
I was addressing the ludicrosity of his claim that the shower of sparks from a receptacle shorting out due to being smashed would not ignite any amount of dust bunnies. Nor will an AFCI prevent said shower of sparks.

I'd like to see your documentation.
I will find it and post it. Off the top of my head:

Electrical fires only account for about 12% of all residential fires (smoking, children playing with fire, and other careless acts account for about 40%, and the kitchen accounts for about 30%). Of those electrical fires, only about 20% actually start in the bedroom (children playing with fire accounts for something like 60% of ALL fires that start in bedrooms; candles are up there too), and causes usually involve space heaters and lamps. Those attributed to permanent wiring are mostly caused by faulty connections (glowing connections) and incompetent wiring practices (ie: mixing copper and aluminum wiring in unapproved manners, not using junction boxes, etc).

So why don't we mandate locking up firebug kids and smashing the fingers of people who smoke in bed instead of mandating profits for AFCI companies based on farce?

And don't even get me started on global warming..
 
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