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Arc Fault Circuit interrupter (afci) Breakers

Two different types (one good, one not so good)


Branch Feeder style AFCI breakers. The first generation of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) used since 2002 was the Branch Feeder AFCI. The issue with this style of AFCI was that it could not detect series arcs. This type of arcing would be associated with loose connections or damage to a single wire. It was designed to detect line (hot) to neutral arcs referred to as a parallel arc. This is most common in a case where a nail or staple got driven into the cable and is causing an arc between the hot and neutral wires.


The next (current) generation of AFCI is the Combination Type. This AFCI will detect both series and parallel arc conditions, providing a wider range of arc detection. These types of AFCI are required on homes built since 2008. Also, since 2008, coverage of AFCI’s is expanded to all “living” type rooms except for kitchens, basements, bathrooms and crawlspaces. All 120 volt, single phase, 15 and 20 amp branch circuits installed in all dwelling unit rooms should be Combination type AFCI. This includes family rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways as well as any similar dwelling room. Additionally, the use of Combination Type AFCIs is specified whereas the previously only the Branch Feeder type were required. Although there is no requirement to upgrade the older Branch Feeder AFCI to the newer Combination AFCI or install them in the new required locations, it is recommended.