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#183683 01/19/09 11:28 AM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Z
Zapped Offline OP
Member
I had an inspector, in a municapality still on the 2005 NEC, request I put the smoke detectors on an AFCI breaker in a 3-house new-build project.

Although this makes a certain degree of sense, granted the definition of "oulet" in a bedroom was altered in '05 to be defined as any place wire sees a junction box, I have never had this request before. I've built about 15 new residential projects since '05, and not once have the smokes been required on an AFCI.

Have I just been lucky that an inspector hasn't required this thus far, or is this actually an uncommon request elsewhere in the country?

As always, thanks for your replys

P.S. I always, as a habit, dedicate a 15A circuit for all the smokes in a house and never couple them to another bedroom branch circuit.

2017 / 2014 NEC & Related Books and Study Guides
Zapped #183684 01/19/09 11:47 AM
Joined: Apr 2002
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Based on the def of 'outlet', I have to agree with the inspector. We do not have AFCI required here in NJ yet....butit's coming very soon!


John
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Z
Zapped Offline OP
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Oh boy John, are you in for it!

The problem isn't the so much the routing and increased cost (up to 1000% $ increase) of the AFCIs as compared to a standard breaker, it's also the 10%-20% failure rate of the AFCI breakers within the first year. On this same project, with 4-5 AFCIs on each of the 3 houses, I've already had to replace one of the originally installed AFCI breakers, and the meters went in a week ago!

Hopefully, the manufacturers will start to concentrate on improving the reliability of their products now that they've spent so much of their time and resources pushing through the code changes.

Good luck!

Zapped #183690 01/19/09 12:47 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
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The '08 adoption here is supposed to include AFCI finally; as of Friday, I have not heard of a firm adoption date.

The EC's were upset & boisterous at a Continuing Ed course I did, about finally having to bite the AFCI bullet. As an AHJ, I had a few jobs were AFCI's were optionally installed by the plans/specs, & I have not heard of any complaints..yet.

THe Jersey guys are getting hit with AFCI, Tamper, Weather, all at once, pending the '08 adoption.



John
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
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"I have not heard of any complaints" laugh

I heard that from a property manager Friday, while discussing a tenant who -literally- was leaving bodies in the parking lot. I was objecting to my truck being inside the crime-scene tape at the time. Oh, well, that's another story ... suffice it to observe that the 'right' folks are often the last to know.

Whatever the issues in the AFCI debate, the NEC has called for all bedroom 'outlets' to be AFCI protected since the beginning of the AFCI rules. "Outlet" has been defined, from the start, as a point where electricity is used, so lights and smoke detectors are 'outlets' in the NEC, just as much as receptacles are. Switches, by comparison, are not considered outlets (even if the switch is a dimmer, or an illuminated one).

Passing inspections is another matter. With all due respect to inspectors, I have exactly ZERO faith in the inspector catching even the most glaring of goofs. It has been my observation that inspections are unnecessary for the conscientious tradesman - and inadequate for the rest.

NEC aside, AFCI's have been the subject of much local ammendment. It has been common for locales to exempt smoke detectors from the AFCI requirements. In a similar manner, I have often observed bedroom light not being AFCI protected (contrary to local code), and not being caught at inspection (presumably due to the difficulty of testing).

All I can say is: the AFCI experience underscores the need to get involved. With all the fuss over AFCI's, there are comparatively few proposals or comments made to the code committees each cycle. We ought to be drowning them with our objections!

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,507
G
Member
Hey Reno- Couldn't you sugar coat it some???

I feel your pain - too bad about you being in the crime seen and all but I think lashing out at the inspectors was not the way to vent.

For the record, the AFCI's work, they save lives and it's about time the installers start doing a better job of wiring them up. Stop whining. The guys short out the neutrals to the EGC in the box and don't pay attention to their workmanship, etc. etc and then blame the devices. The competent installers are not having problems and Michigan has been asking for AFCI's since the 2003 adoption.


George Little
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
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George, I apologize if I came off as ranting against inspectors. I didn't mean it that way.

Rather, I have a great objectio to those whose attitude is "it's OK if the inspector doesn't catch it." I expect professional work, without regard for whether or not there will be an inspection.

Whether someting works, or not, or is a suitable matter for making law, are issues for another thread. I was trying very hard to avoid the whole AFCI debate.

Rather, my point was ... know the code in your area - AND be part of the process. It's a bit late to be just discovering the scope of the AFCI rules - apart from whether you agree with them.

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
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Zapped Offline OP
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With all due respect George, I'm well aware of proper installation of AFCIs. The fact that, once replaced, all of the AFCIs that I replaced them with are still active, leads me no other option but to believe that they do, in fact, have an inordinate failure rate.

Had the same circuit caused a failure on a replacement AFCI, I would have to direct the blame to myself and my installation practice and circuit wiring. However, this is not the case, so the AFCIs appear to be the issue.

Although they may be a good idea, I still believe that the manufacturers are slow in improvement and fast in legislation.

Zapped #183709 01/20/09 12:30 AM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,507
G
Member
No apology needed Reno, I know from reading your post over the years that your a very fair individual. We both remember going through this with GFCI's and that the manufacturers are far from innocent. As "Zapped" stated, if you have a tripping situation, one needs to find out the source of the problem and then make the adjustment accordingly.

As for inspectors they are guilty of not properly testing the AFCI breakers by pushing the test buttons on the breakers and then checking to see if the circuits are indeed disconnecting. Might even get them to stay fit by climbing stairs. smile


George Little
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,283
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Oh, I have something to look forward to when the '08 is adopted here and AFCI's are mandatory.


John
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