Replace 2-pole breaker with AFCI breaker?


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Old 03-13-14, 10:59 PM
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Replace 2-pole breaker with AFCI breaker?

Hi,

My contractor installed a 2-pole 20 Amp breaker, where 1 slot is for my media closet outlet and another slot is for my dishwasher. (Please see attached picture.)

I had a few questions regarding this configuration:

1. I wanted my media closet outlet to be on its own circuit, separate from the dishwasher. Is this possible given that a 2-pole breaker is installed?

2. Will a running dishwasher and computer equipment simultaneously likely cause the breaker to trip?

Info on the dishwasher:
Volts: 120V, Amperes: 12, Watts: 1450 (max)

To make the 2-pole breaker trip, would the dishwasher and computers have to be using >40 Amps simultaneously?

3. Would it be recommended to replace the 2-pole breaker with one AFCI breaker for the media closet, and one 1-pole breaker for the dishwasher?

The media closet is in between 2 bedrooms at the end of a hallway, and will be used for computer equipment. So I though an AFCI breaker for the media closet might be safer?

Thank you in advance.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 01:04 AM
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There is only one two pole AFCI, but I don't remember the brand. If your circuit is wired in a 3 wire cable you most likely cannot use the AFCI unless your panel happens to be that one brand. If AFCI protection was needed the installers should have used two cables.

A two pole 20 amp breaker trips at 20 amps, not 40.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 08:07 AM
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Siemens/Murray have 2 pole AFCI. One option is to put in a sub-panel. Or install AFCI receptacles where it splits.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 08:30 AM
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1. I wanted my media closet outlet to be on its own circuit, separate from the dishwasher. Is this possible given that a 2-pole breaker is installed?
It is on its own circuit. The reason they are tied together is likely because they used a multi-wire cable which code requires them to be a common trip breaker.

2. Will a running dishwasher and computer equipment simultaneously likely cause the breaker to trip?
No. One leg would need to draw over 20 amps for the breaker to trip.

Would it be recommended to replace the 2-pole breaker with one AFCI breaker for the media closet, and one 1-pole breaker for the dishwasher?
Depends on what you mean by "safer". Yes, the circuit would be "safer" in that it would be protected by the AFCI for arcing in the circuit if something was to happen, but it would not protect your equipment any better from surges and the like. The circuit you have now is no less safe then all the tandem breakers you have above it in your panel.

It appears that Cutler Hammer BR does make a 2 pole AFCI breaker. Search "Eaton BRL220AF" Be sure to be sitting down when you see the price.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 10:12 AM
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Thank you very much for all of your replies. Yes, that 2-pole AFCI breaker sure does cost an arm and a leg.

I remember that the installers used a 12/2 wire for the media closet. Is it still possible for the dishwasher and media closet to be tied together and to be on separate circuits?

Thank you.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 10:59 AM
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I remember that the installers used a 12/2 wire for the media closet. Is it still possible for the dishwasher and media closet to be tied together and to be on separate circuits?
You are confusing separate circuits, with separate breakers. You have two 120 volt circuits. As opposed to one 240 volt circuit that people normally see on a 2 pole breaker. IIRC 2011 the NEC required circuits that share a neutral (multi-wire) to be disconnected by multi pole breakers. This is to eliminate the risk of shock by the neutral when there is a load on one of the other circuits.

If you open the panel you will likely see a 12/3 cable (black,red,white,ground) off the breaker going out. The cable, I'm guessing, goes to the dishwasher where one circuit stops, and then a 12/2 goes to the media center. The Dishwasher is on a dedicated circuit, as is your media center.

I'm not really sure what the concern is as your dishwasher is only 12 amps and should never trip the circuit. Unless there is something very wrong, then it would be a good thing that it trips as it will save your bacon.
 

Last edited by Tolyn Ironhand; 03-14-14 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 03-14-14, 12:18 PM
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Why would bacon be in the dishwasher? It doesn't make sense. Shaking head.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 01:48 PM
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Well you can cook fish in a dishwasher so maybe you can cook bacon too though I though you usually used your car manifold for that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N8q2xkirCQ
 
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Old 03-14-14, 06:39 PM
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I though you usually used your car manifold for that.
Exhaust manifold is great for C-Rations! On a 4 cylinder Jeep anyway.

Replace 2-pole breaker with AFCI breaker?
Is there a reason you specifically wanted AFCI protection on these two circuits? I am just assuming it is not required in your area or the contractor would have provided the protection. If it isn't required, I think I'd just replace the 2 pole breaker with two single pole breakers and a handle tie.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 09:19 PM
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If it isn't required, I think I'd just replace the 2 pole breaker with two single pole breakers and a handle tie.
That would effectively be what he has now.
 
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Old 03-14-14, 10:40 PM
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Thank you, Toyln, for your reply. I appreciate the info you provided.
It sounds like the current configuration ok.

@CasualJoe, the reason I considered using an AFCI breaker for the media center is that that it is right next to a bedroom, and the outlet is in a wall shared between the media center and the bedroom. In CA at least, I believe bedrooms circuits have to have an AFCI breaker by code. So I thought it might be safer to do so for the media center. On the other hand, we've already passed final inspection, though I doubt the inspector even noticed the media center.

In any case, I was considering replacing the two-pole breaker with an 1 AFCI breaker for the media center, and 1 one-pole breaker for the dishwasher. However, it sounds like it may not be necessary.
 
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Old 03-15-14, 01:22 PM
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If it isn't required, I think I'd just replace the 2 pole breaker with two single pole breakers and a handle tie.
That would effectively be what he has now.
Yes, that would be pretty close, but still not exactly the same. The only reason I suggested a handle tie with two single pole breakers is so the OP would meet code for having a common disconnect, but not have a common trip.

@CasualJoe, the reason I considered using an AFCI breaker for the media center is that that it is right next to a bedroom, and the outlet is in a wall shared between the media center and the bedroom. In CA at least, I believe bedrooms circuits have to have an AFCI breaker by code. So I thought it might be safer to do so for the media center. On the other hand, we've already passed final inspection, though I doubt the inspector even noticed the media center.
It sounds as if your installation satisfys the code (and satisfied the inspector), but the code is the minimum requirement. If you don't mind spending the money, the 2-pole AFCI would provide more protection.
 
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Old 03-15-14, 01:28 PM
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Joe,
If he were to do that, would he not have to shut off both circuits to reset one anyways?
I think what the electrician did was goofy. Personally I would have the media center on a dedicated circuit so you run less risk of having to shut it off and wait for everything to reset.
 
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Old 03-15-14, 01:38 PM
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It sounds like it already is a dedicated circuit. It is I part of a MWBC the way it sounds.
 
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Old 03-15-14, 02:21 PM
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Joe,
If he were to do that, would he not have to shut off both circuits to reset one anyways?
Yes, he probably would, but the NEC requires a common disconnect on a MWBC. At least by using the handle tie with two single pole breakers, if one circuit breaker trips it is easily identifiable as to which circuit is the problem. When using the also acceptable 2 pole breaker, it is not so easy to identify which circuit initiated the trip without removing each circuit from the breaker, one at a time, and doing some diagnostics on each circuit. I don't know exactly what the CEC requires on a MWBC.
 
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Old 03-15-14, 02:38 PM
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Ahh I see what you're getting at here.
MWBC needs a 2 pole here too.

pcboss, maybe I'm using the term wrong here. I'm referring to a receptacle with its own hot and neutral for the media center.
 
 

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