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When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?
Friday, June 22, 2018
The first requirement for AFCI breakers was in the 1999 National Electrical Code (NEC), to be effective on January 1, 2002. It applied only to all receptacle outlets in bedrooms.
The 2002 NEC upped the ante to include all outlets in bedrooms. The difference between a “receptacle outlet” and an “outlet” in the NEC is that a receptacle outlet is defined as “an outlet where one or more receptacles are installed,” but an outlet is “a point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment.” That would include the receptacle outlets, but also could be a light fixture, appliance, ceiling fan, or smoke alarm. Essentially every electrical appliance or device that has a connection in the bedroom.
Then the 2008 NEC expanded the rooms required to have AFCI-protection to also include “family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas.” The 2008 NEC also mandated that Combination AFCI breaker, an upgraded design that detects both series and parallel arc faults, be used instead of the older AFCIs—which only recognized parallel arc faults. To read more about it, see our blog post What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?
Kitchens and laundry rooms were added to the list in the 2014 NEC. There are also rather complicated rules for when the AFCI device can be in the panel, or the first receptacle outlet in a circuit, or a combination of both, which we won’t go into here.
While the year that the NEC added a new requirement is easy to define, each local juridiction’s building codes don’t necessarily adopt the latest edition of the NEC immediately. The state of Florida, for example, did not make the 2011 NEC effective until mid-2015. Other jurisdictions have sometimes waited even longer to adopt a newer NEC edition and, to complicate things further, they might make amendments that exclude parts of the newest requirements. So the year when the NEC first adds or changes a requirement can be several years before your local building department adopted that edition of the code and began enforcing it.
See our blog post What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers to learn more.
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