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    AFCIs and 2008 NEC

    AFCIs and 2008 NEC

    New postby Nolan Kienitz on Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:14 am


    RE: AFCIs and the 2008 NEC ...

    From what I've been told and am trying to clarify from the 2008 NEC ... AFCI protection is "not required" for lighting circuits in kitchens, garages, baths, etc..

    GFCI protection at the normal "wet" and "exterior" areas and AFCI protection in "all other" locations in a dwelling.

    Nothing is further stated about requiring AFCI protection on "lighting" circuits in kitchens, baths, etc.. ???

    Can you help clarify that view for me?
    Nolan E. Kienitz - ICC R5 Residential Combination Inspector, TREC #7095
    Nolan's Inspections, LLC
    Nolan Kienitz
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    Re: AFCIs and 2008 NEC

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:31 pm

    Hi Nolan,

    You have picked up on one of the things missing in the NEC when the wording was chosen for locations which require AFCI protection, which are areas other than those which require GFCI protection ...

    ... oops ... except that the rooms which require GFCI protection only require GFCI protection of the "receptacle outlets", not "outlets", however, those rooms were excluded from the rooms and areas which require AFCI protection.

    Every time a code change like that is made, the following code cycle addresses it, or maybe the code cycle after that one, but it eventually gets corrected.

    The cause is that if that long list of rooms was not stated, and then include "or similar rooms or areas" that builders, architects, contractors, etc., would look for ways to get around installing the required protections, and the code panels are correct - there are many who spend their lives looking for every conceivable way to avoid doing what is right and correct. However, in my opinion, it would have been much simpler to include all circuits which did not have GFCI protection on all outlets as requiring AFCI protection.

    Have a circuit which goes to the exterior and catches an exterior receptacle outlet and has GFCI protection for that receptacle outlet? No problem, AFCI protection is not required. Have that same circuit now also go to the exterior light which is not GFCI protected? Now there is a problem- either install GFCI protection for the entire circuit or all outlets, or install AFCI protection and make sure that the AFCI protection and the GFCI protection do not interfere with each other.

    Oh if only it were that simple. Instead the code writers are left trying to define each type of room which does not get GFCI protection and leaving out those rooms which do, and end up leaving out the outlets in those rooms which do not have GFCI protection.

    It 'could be argued' that the non-GFCI protected outlets in those rooms - basically lighting, smoke detector, ceiling fan, etc., outlets - are in "or similar rooms or areas" and therefore require AFCI protection ... and that is not a stretch either, as those ceiling and wall mounted outlets would be "similar ... areas". I would entertain arguments like that as requiring AFCI protection for those "similar ... areas" and as being the intent of the NEC as the intent was not to have both GFCI and AFCI protection on the same circuits provided the outlets had GFCI protection, and the lighting outlets do not have that GFCI protection.

    I believe the building official/chief electrical inspector could win that one requiring AFCI protection over the contractor saying they do not require AFCI protection.

    At least that is my opinion, but I am only addressing what the code says here ... however, ... is that not what the code is saying?

    The key is that the code is not requiring AFCI protection for outlets in the kitchen, does require GFCI protection for "receptacle" outlets in the kitchen which serve the countertop surfaces but not GFCI protection for outlets of any type which do not serve the countertop surfaces, which leaves the discussion of "or similar ... areas" open for discussion.

    Are not outlets in the ceiling in the kitchen the same as outlets in the ceiling in the living room? Which is specifically stated as requiring AFCI protection "family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas".

    The 2008 NEC Handbook states, at the end of its commentary, "There is no prohibition against using AFCI protection on other circuits or locations other than those now specified in 210.12(B).", which means that there is no problem installing AFCI protection on the kitchen lighting outlets, as discussed above.
    Jerry Peck - CodeMan

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