HELP with Arc Fault Circuit Interruptors!
I may have a situation here, perh. you can help - I really didn't understand the workings of AFCI's and I think I need help here.
I ran a 12/3 romex (perfectly legal and code so far), with of course, a red, black, white and bare wire. As it turns out, I used the black wire to power all the plugs in a bedroom, and the red wire to handle the lights.
Now, the code is to have an AFCI for all plugs in a bedroom. BUT, an AFCI breaker is a different beast; instead of taking one wire, it has the common (white) wire pass through it as well, with that coiled white wire going to the common bus from the breaker itself.
OK, so for my remaining red wire, I hook that up to a standard 20A GE breaker, but what happens is that when I turn on the red wire circuit, the AFCI trips due - I guess - to an unbalance which the AFCI is detecting.
Is there any way to run an AFCI on a shared (2-wire) system like this, or must I run an AFCI on it's own circuit with a unique common? What is the way to solve this situation?
Samf, I am not an electrician; however, to the best of my knowledge your set up won't work for the reason you have already stated. You are going to have to spit the circuits and run 2 12/2 with ground cables. Or, you are going to have to buy a double pole arc fault breaker (very pricey). If all of the cable is behind finished areas, you may want to just buy the breaker. I am not sure if G.E. makes a 20 amp double pole arc fault breaker ( I can't imagine that they don't). This would be the simplest solution, both circuits receive arc fault protection and would remain on different phases with the shared neutral. Good luck!
Two-pole AFCI breakers are available in BR style. I am not sure if they are rated for use in a GE panel. I know they will fit though. A two-pole costs about the same as two single poles.
A question though. Do you need AFCIs? Meaning does your area require them, or do you just want them?
Sam: The code requires ALL bedroom outlets to be protected by AFCI's. As stated, You will have to remove the 12/3 and replace with 12/2, or abandon the red wire in your 12/3 and run a new 12/2, or tie your lights and outlets together, or buy a 2 pole AFCi breaker.
Since pete beat me to my response, his question is a valid one.
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