AFCI question

Does anyone know if the fans in hydronic heating system wall units have to be included in the AFCI protection of bedroom circuits?

If they are 120 volts fed by a 15 or 20 amp circuit they do.

This is a grey area. IMO they do not, as I do not consider this an outlet.
Here is the exact wording:

*“All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms…”

*Unless the heater fan were fed off the receptacle or lighting circuit I would not consider it an “outlet” as it is hard wired.

Also, be sure to know if your area is even enforcing and requiring AFCIs and/or if the code was in place when the house/renovation was built.
IMO you can’t just suggest AFCIs should be required now for an older house. They are far from a perfected technology.

A receptacle is just one kind of “outlet”. Anything that uses electricity is an outlet. That includes lamp holders, smoke detector or heaters.

All branch circuits that supply 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere outlets. . .

I agree with Greg on this. I would say that the heating system would be included if it’s on a 125 volt, 15 or 20 amp, bedroom circuit

This one confuses me. If the afci detects a fault you have no smoke detector.

Sorry guys. I strongly disagree.
Anything hardwired is NOT an “outlet”.

By your definition a furnace or airhandler is an outlet? I don’t think so.

Yes Larry. In most areas requiring AFCIs the smokes are included. Well not actually the smoke itself but the box it is mounted and wired to.

This is why new construction typically requires battery back up units.

Pete, You will always lose that fight with an electrical inspector. If it uses electricity the point that it connects to the building wiring is an outlet. That can just be a box with wirenuts in it.
We use the article 100 definition.

Good lesson even if you the sparky are right go along with the inspector argue and you will find out that you know nothing and he will make life not so nice.
Rule one the boss is always right
Rule two even if the boss is wrong rule one still applies
Roy Cooke Sr

I would think that this is about as far into the interpretive process a home inspector would want to go. In that the fans can be considered outlets, I would note that they were not on an AFCI and recommend that they be - strictly in the best interest of safety and totally without regard to code.

Article 100 is pretty unambiguous about the definition of “outlet” and that is what they are talking about when they use the word in a rule.
In any other context you can use the word however you like.

Greg, I am well aware of the definition in Art. 100. There is also the Handbook commentary which I know is not the code, but it is the code makers notes. It states:

Sorry, I still don’t agree. And I do NOT lose very many fights with inspectors.
Actually I don’t get into too many either.

Roy, I do not buy into that philosophy. If I feel I am right I like to state as such. I see too many guys bowing to inspectors whims. This is what perpetuates some inspector’s power trips. If no one calls them on misinterpretations they will keep making the same mistakes.
I don’t get the comment that by arguing I find out that I “know nothing”.
If I happen to be wrong then I learned something. If the inspector is wrong then he learned something.

Besides. The inspector IS NOT my boss!

I love this. It is a great lesson in why home inspectors should never cite or refer to “code” in an inspection report or discuss it, verbally, while performing an inspection.

When two experienced electricians who are fully indoctrinated cannot agree on the meaning of one single sentence in the code book - what can a home inspector look forward to by citing it, except grief?

Is it safer to have the fans on an AFCI? If so, say so. If not, let it go. Code be damned.

The smoke detectors can be on a separate AFCI circuit.

See pic:


I agree with GREG as well on this one. The NEC is very clear about 240V load for items like window units NOT having to be on the AFCI…but if the unit in question is 120V and 15A or 20A it would be required.

As for the smokes, I dont know about other contractors but we place the smokes on its own AFCI circuit and end it in the attic for the attic light…now if the AFCI circuit goes off…the smokes will chirp…now I know greg…sometimes they go PAST the chirp…but we are taking basic understanding for the home owner here and they SHOULD learn to replace their batteries yearly…and the chirp or sound by the smoke should notify them.

With that said…I do not believe I have seen any issues of a house burning down and someone dieing because a smoke did not go off due to a non-working AFCI installation…in fact this is why we like to have our own circuit for them…but again thats just me maybe…

As for the comment by Mr.Bushart, it has nothing to do with being (2) electricians…the AFCI is a changing issue all the time and it is about to change again in the 2008 NEC…point is it is becoming more and more clear with time…

But the way I teach it in my local school and to local AHJ’s that attend is that the SMOKE as Greg stated is an outlet…and must me on AFCI…regardless of the “RANDOM” what IF’s…

Larry…might be additionally helpful to your image to post the actual verbage MR. Holt uses to explain this as well…so I posted it below.

Update 2002 NEC -

The word “receptacle” was deleted and the words “listed device that protects the entire branch circuit” were added. This subsection now reads:(A) AFCI Definition. An AFCI protection device provides protection from an arcing fault by recognizing the characteristics unique to an arcing fault and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.

(B) Dwelling Unit Bedrooms. All branch circuits supplying 15 or 20A, single-phase, 125V outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms must be AFCI protected by a listed device that protects the entire branch circuit. Figure 210–4

Author’s Comment: This applies to all outlets, including smoke detectors.

Intent: The change extends AFCI protection to all branch circuit conductors that supply 125V outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms, whereas the 1999 NEC only required AFCI protection for all branch circuits conductors that supply 15 or 20A, single-phase, 125V receptacle outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms. Currently there are three types of AFCI protection devices.

AFCI Branch/Feeder Type (AVZQ) – This protection device is typically has the AFCI protection integral with a circuit breaker. It is designed to protect the branch circuit wiring against the unwanted effects of arcing, with limited protection to power supply cords connected to the receptacle.

AFCI Outlet Branch Circuit Type (UL – AWBZ) – This AFCI protection device is typically a receptacle with integral AFCI protection that is intended to protect both the power supply cords connected to the receptacle and the upstream branch circuit wiring.

AFCI Outlet Type (UL – AWCG and AWBZ) – This device is likely to be a receptacle with integral protection that is designed to protected cord sets plug into it, not the upstream branch circuit wiring

Author’s Comment: At the time a dwelling unit is wired, it is hard to tell from looking at the bare walls whether a room will be used as a home office or a bedroom. Also, if you are looking at an efficiency apartment, a room may well be furnished with a foldout couch that is used for sleeping on every night, making it look as much like a bedroom as a living room.

If you wire bedroom branch circuits with one circuit for lighting and receptacles, this change will have little effect. But the practice of separating the lighting from the receptacle circuits in dwelling unit bedrooms will now require two AFCI circuit breakers. The 125V limitation to the requirement means that AFCI protection would not be required for a 240V baseboard heater or room air conditioner.

For more information, click here, go to the “Miscellaneous” section and visit my “AFCI” links.

Good additional info…thanks, Paul. :wink:

Build smoke alarms that work off 220 volts

Here is one – you or your kid are sleeping – the breaker does his thing – you now have no lights, no smoke alarms and a fire

I like the second AFCI to supply power for the alarms. That is a good idea but does cost a little.

Perhaps there is a LARGE (BIG $$) market for a loss of power alarm. It is built into my battery backup for the computer so why not a stand alone unit??

Just a small battery a relay and a sounder. Made in China for $0.12


Actually doing the what I call " Dedicated " AFCI for the smokes does increase the cost by (1) AFCI but not really in regards to wire as you would have to loop them same difference...PLUS it established an extra circuit in the attic as thats nice......always nice when someone calls me back to add another plug in the attic....I go sweat and make it look harder than it is and them come back and CHARGE EM....thehehe..opps...electrical secrets getting out....:)

The actual COST of making them 240V would probably not offset the actual cost of AFCI’s and if you buy in the volumes I buy in they give yu good deals on them and I look for the prices to come WAY down like GFCI’s once the 2008 NEC is adopted…but its many years off for VA…so the key thing is I simply work an additional AFCI into the price…no biggie…ME GETS PAID!

Now their are low power versions…in fact they are in my house BUT I have 120V in them as well…the low voltage is beside the light box and wraps under and into the light box…but many LOCAL AHJ’s will FROWN on the low voltage smokes and still demand it be 120V …with battery back up of course.

Wow…and with that SENARIO you listed I would have also played the lotto that given night…lol…remember we can get HIT simply walking accross the steet…it can happen…

The stats have shown that the reason the AFCI has come of age and is always improving is because of the issue of fires doe to extention cords and so on…in the actual bedroom…sure it is expanding and Joe T can probably elaborate more on it because i don’t really follow the 2008 NEC until it is adopted somewhere then I start to study it…but for right now…it is about all we have…

The great thing about the dedicated AFCi circuit for smokes is…almost NO load on the circuit at all…no draw and no potential issues for false trips and so on…and really…does not add much to cost.

In fact I do many of my smaller bedrooms if they are small and have like 4-5 plugs per room… and I know I am going to use (2) AFCI’s…I will do the lights on one AFCI and the Receptacles on the other AFCI…removing the lighting loads from the receptacle reduces the “draw down” effect on the lights in many cases…again depends on what you plug in…but hey…I dont do it ALL the time…the house has to dictate it to me first…depending on the layout.