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Dual Function Arc Fault / Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Breaker

I have seen some disagreement between home inspectors and even electricians regarding the new requirements for Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter protection. This is especially true when we throw Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters in the mix! We all know what each circuit breaker does. In a previous newsletter / blog I discuss the AFCI requirements in detail. Where are AFCI’s required and when should a combination AFCI / GFCI breaker be installed? Basically AFCI’s are required for all 120 volt circuits where a GFCI is not required. However….there are times that a combination AFCI / GFCI is recommended or required. First some basics. We know GFCI’s are required in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens (within 6 feet of a water source), and damp locations (basements, outside, garages, etc). They should also be installed protecting pools, spas, and hot tubs. AFCI’s and Dual Function AFCI / GFCI’s should be installed in the following locations:

  • AFCI’s should be installed for ALL 15 – 20 amp / 120 volt branch circuits protecting bedrooms, sleeping areas, living, dining, family rooms, dens, hallways, closets, kitchens, laundry areas, and baths not requiring a GFCI (wall receptacles more then 6 feet from a water source). Basically all 120 volt circuits.
  • AFCI protection is required for any circuit when adding, changing, replacing, or extending any branch circuit that requires AFCI protection
  • If a circuit is added, changed, replaced, or extended that required GFCI protection, a Dual Function ARCI / GFCI should be installed. This may include circuits that have been extended from a previous service panel that now serves as a junction box.
  • Newer type AFCI breakers / receptacles are compatible with household appliances including refrigerators
  • Average cost of a Dual Function AFCI / GFCI is $38.00
  • The lifespan of a AFCI circuit breaker is the same as a standard circuit breaker

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