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Old 02-19-2008, 10:53 AM   #1
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


There is part question and part warning to novices.

Recently the code was changed to state that Arc Fault breakers (AFCI) need to be used for bedrooms in new construction.

Thinking that if new bedrooms should have AFCIs, it would be a good idea to swap out my old breakers and get AFCIs for each bedroom.

The problem is that the white pigtail wire on the new breakers is not long enough to reach the bar - and the black wire to the old breaker is not long enough to reach one of the few remaining empty breaker slots. Rearranging EVERY breaker to make it work isn't an option for me.

Any suggestions?

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Old 02-19-2008, 11:06 AM   #2
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


You can make a splice inside the panel. You can extend the neutral to the bar.

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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Splicing in a panel in a case like this is perfectly fine. IMO it is a better job than putting several splice boxes above the panel and extending the whole branch circuit because one wire was too short.


Last edited by arichard21; 02-19-2008 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:08 AM   #3
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Can't you just extend the white wire with a pigtail and wire connector to make it reach?
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:43 AM   #4
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


What you're doing is fine and the 2008 code has extended afci's to many more rooms of the dwelling. You need to make sure the bedrooms are not on multiwire circuits or your afci will not hold and will trip out.

Personally I would have not bothered worrying about it. First and foremost I would want a complete understanding of the wiring so I wouldn't create little gremlins by adding afci protection.

A splice in a wirenut is fine.

Last edited by Stubbie; 02-19-2008 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:06 PM   #5
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


The panel box is laid out with the neutral/ground bar on the left. In the middle are two columns of beakers. The breakers that I'm trying to replace are in the right-hand column about mid-way.

Sounds like the splice is the best bet - for some reason I had thought that this wasn't considered a good idea. Thanks for the help.
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Old 02-19-2008, 03:00 PM   #6
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Perhaps you can add another ground bar on the right side?
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Old 02-19-2008, 03:44 PM   #7
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


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Originally Posted by borninpa View Post
Perhaps you can add another ground bar on the right side?
That won't help for the neutrals though.
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Old 02-19-2008, 05:26 PM   #8
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
That won't help for the neutrals though.
Can't they land on the same bar in the main panel?
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Old 02-19-2008, 07:13 PM   #9
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Neutrals cannot land on an added ground bar. Only grounding conductors can.

The main factory installed bars are for both grounds and neutrals in a main panel.
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Old 02-19-2008, 09:21 PM   #10
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


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Originally Posted by arichard21 View Post
You can make a splice inside the panel.
Ok, someone please set me straight. I was always told that you cannot splice inside a breaker panel. In fact, I was told that when retrofitting a dated fuse or breaker panel, often the existing wiring will be short. The way I was taught to handle it is to install a wireway/junction box where the existing pipes connected to the old panel and make the splices therein to lengthen the circuits sufficiently to reach the new panel/breakers.

HELP!
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:55 PM   #11
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Jimmy, technically speaking you can splice in a panel. That said, the only reason to do this in a new installation would be a shunt trip breaker or something like this post is talking about. I have to look again at Chicago book for this one.

As to the OP, you do not need to keep updating your existing installation to meet current electrical code. Unless you are remodeling to the standards that would require you to do so.. AFCI breakers are obscenely expensive and just because 2008 says you've got to have them doesn't necessarily mean that your house does. So who says anyway?
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Old 02-20-2008, 05:44 AM   #12
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


This has been discussed NUMEROUS times and I have not heard of a place that forbids extending old wires to reach breakers.

Big Jim, that scenario IMO is CRAZY! Cut into pipe runs and add j-boxes??? Just to extend existing wires in a panel???
If this is so then it is just more crazy Chicago nonsense!

Sorry guys. It's just how I feel.
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Old 02-20-2008, 07:39 AM   #13
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Quote:
Originally Posted by goose134 View Post
As to the OP, you do not need to keep updating your existing installation to meet current electrical code. Unless you are remodeling to the standards that would require you to do so.. AFCI breakers are obscenely expensive and just because 2008 says you've got to have them doesn't necessarily mean that your house does.
My reasoning went something like - Whoever is writing the code knows more than I do (this is a large group) and thinks that AFCI breakers improve home safety - enough to make it law. If these breakers prevent a house fire (or give me a little peace of mind), they are worth the extra cost.

By the way - there's no market in counterfeit AFCI breakers is there? I got these on eBay (new-in-box) at a pretty reasonable price.

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Old 02-20-2008, 07:49 AM   #14
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Potomac101 View Post
My reasoning went something like - Whoever is writing the code knows more than I do (this is a large group) and thinks that AFCI breakers improve home safety - enough to make it law. If these breakers prevent a house fire (or give me a little peace of mind), they are worth the extra cost.

By the way - there's no market in counterfeit AFCI breakers is there? I got these on eBay (new-in-box) at a pretty reasonable price.

potomac101

I actually agree with you, if there is a chance that it will make things safer, well it's pretty cheap insurance IMO.



Regarding a splice in a box, look at it this way. Essentially, a panel is a huge junction box. Sometimes (not all) in older houses when new service is added and is placed in a different location the old box will be used as a big jbox to extend all the wires. I have seen it done nice and neatly, and seen it done where it was pretty scary.
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Old 02-20-2008, 04:01 PM   #15
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Arc Fault breakers (warning)


I haven't had any trouble with my service... Plenty of room for expansion...
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