Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Protection
Learn About the
Changes in the 2008 National Electrical Code
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Top 2008 Code Changes
Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Protection
By Mike Holt
Arc fault circuit interrupter protection requirements
for 15A and 20A, 120V dwelling unit circuits were expanded again.
Section 210.12(B) now reads as follows:
"All 15A or 20A, 120V branch circuits that supply outlets in
unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries,
bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar
areas shall be protected by a listed AFCI device of the combination
The 120V circuit limitation means AFCI protection isn't required
for equipment rated 230V, such as baseboard heaters or room air
conditioners. In addition, AFCI protection is not required in rooms or
areas protected by GFCIs. Though not required by the Code, both AFCI
GFCI protection can be provided for the same branch circuits or
receptacle outlets, as the different protection technologies are
In addition, a new Fine Print Note clarified dwelling unit AFCI
protection requirements of fire alarm circuits, and the rules on
locating the AFCI device were rewritten to relax the restrictions.
"FPN No. 3: See 760.41 and 760.121 for power-supply requirements for
fire alarm systems."
Smoke alarms connected to a 15A or 20A circuit must be
if the smoke alarm is located in the bedroom of a dwelling unit. The
exemption from AFCI protection for the "fire alarm circuit" contained
760.41 and 760.121 doesn't apply to the single and multiple station
smoke alarm circuit typically installed in dwelling unit bedroom areas.
This is because a smoke alarm circuit isn't a fire alarm circuit as
defined in NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code. Unlike single and
station smoke alarms, fire alarm systems are managed by a fire alarm
"Exception No. 1: The AFCI protection device can be located at the
first outlet if the circuit conductors are installed in RMC, IMC, EMT
steel Type AC, and the AFCI device is contained in a metal outlet or
Type MC cable without a bare aluminum grounding/bonding conductor
does not fall within the scope of this exception because the armor
is thinner than that of Type AC cable.
"Exception No. 2: AFCI protection can be omitted for branch-circuit
wiring to a fire alarm system in accordance with 760.41(B) and
760.121(B), if the circuit conductors are installed in RMC, IMC, EMT,
steel armored Type AC cable."
This new Fine Print Note alerts Code users to the fact that AFCI
protection is not required for the "fire alarm circuit," but caution
must be exercised because 760.41 and 760.21 don't apply to the single
and multiple station smoke alarm circuit typically installed in
unit bedroom areas. This is because a smoke alarm circuit isn't a
alarm circuit as defined by NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code. Unlike
single and multiple station smoke alarms (smoke detectors), fire alarm
systems are managed by a fire alarm control panel, which qualifies it
a fire alarm system.
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What's Wrong Here?
By Joe Tedesco
Think you know how this installation violates the
NEC? Visit EC&M's
Web site to see the answer.
Hint: Is it live, or is it Memorex?
By Mike Holt
Q. What is the maximum number of bathroom
receptacles that can be placed on the 20A, 120V bathroom receptacle
circuit in a single-family dwelling?
Visit EC&M's Web
site to see the answer.
By Steven Owen
Q. When bonding a swimming pool shell, which of
the following shall be considered conductive materials due to water
permeability and porosity?
- poured concrete
- pneumatically applied or sprayed concrete
- concrete block with a painted coating
- concrete block with a plastered coating
- all of the above
Web site for the answer and explanation.
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Shows and Events
Learn About the Changes in the 2008 National Electrical Code
In two informative and interest-filled days with Mike Holt,
you'll learn about major NEC changes that will impact your work,
you're an electrician, contractor, engineer, designer, or
maintenance person. You'll also earn continuing education hours and
professional development hours.
Two conferences are scheduled for later this year:
--September 4-5 in Portland, Ore.
--September 8-9 in San Antonio
For more information and to register online, go to http://CodeChangeConferences.com
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