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Old 01-29-2014, 10:05 PM   #1
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Hi! I have a dilemma. I extended three of the circuits in my house (built in 1985), adding two lights to one and outlets to the other two. I called the inspector and he told me that my city is on NEC 2011 now and I'm required to upgrade the breakers for all three circuits to CAFCI ones. All three circuits are shared neutral 14/3's. That means I need two-pole 15 amp CAFCI breakers (Square D QO panel). The problem is, I can't find them anywhere, and while a document from 2002 on Schneider's website says that they were going to provide 120/240V two-pole's, they don't seem to exist.

Assuming they don't exist, what are my options? Beg the inspector? Run three brand new circuits just for two lights and two outlets in random far-off places in my house (yuck!)? Replace my load center with one from a different brand that does offer two-pole CAFCI's? Build a time machine to take me back a couple years to when NEC 2008 was still in effect? Hand off this problem to a professional and let them attempt to figure it out? :/

Thanks!

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Old 01-29-2014, 10:15 PM   #2
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


You are correct in your limited options. I'd consider installing a small subpanel that would accept 2 pole AFCI's instead of replacing the main panel.

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Old 01-29-2014, 10:21 PM   #3
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


What about using single pole breakers with handle ties?
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:30 PM   #4
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


It looks like that's possible for GE breakers (http://apps.geindustrial.com/publibr...ET-719|generic), but I couldn't find anything on Square D ones.

k_buz: yeah, that's looking like really the only option. This $150 project (incl. permit) is ballooning way out of control... :/
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:34 PM   #5
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


k_buz: additional question, if you don't mind. The wires aren't going to be long enough to reach a subpanel, so what would the best solution be to extend them? An outlet box above the main panel where I run all three 14/3's in and connect them to extension wires using wire nuts?

Ooo, and one more: any brand recommendations?
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:18 PM   #6
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


I'd simply splice the circuits in the panel. As for brand recommendations, I don't have any. I actually don't even know who all makes 2 pole AFCI's.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:46 PM   #7
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Cool, thanks. Here's my plan:

- buy a GE main lug panel and put it on the other side of the stud next to the main
- put a double-pole 60A breaker in the main panel
- run 6/3 NM-B wire from the main to the lug
- run three 14/3 NM-B wires from the main to the lug, spliced with wire nuts to the three existing 14/3 wires coming into the main
- connect the 14/3's to six GE CAFCI 15 amp breakers, joined with handle ties as GE allows

That all sound good? That'll cost ~$350 ($240 for the CAFCI breakers). Yuck :/
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:16 AM   #8
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Its my understanding here that if we only extend circuits no ACFI is needed only when adding a NEW circuit ... you may want to clairify that with inspector ...
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:39 AM   #9
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


It's that way here as well, but unless there is a local amendment, the 2011 is specific.

Quote:
(B) Branch Circuit Extensions or Modifications Dwelling
Units. In any of the areas specified in 210.12(A), where
branch-circuit wiring is modified, replaced, or extended, the
branch circuit shall be protected by one of the following:
(1) A listed combination-type AFCI located at the origin of
the branch circuit
(2) A listed outlet branch-circuit type AFCI located at the
first receptacle outlet of the existing branch circuit
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:42 AM   #10
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Quote:
Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
It's that way here as well, but unless there is a local amendment, the 2011 is specific.
yea we are 2008 but all signs point to adoption of 2014
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:08 AM   #11
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


So glad Connecticut is on the 2005...
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:11 AM   #12
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Call the inspector and ask what he thinks you should do.
This is a STUPID code and needs to be bucked. NO WAY this should have been implemented until they had the parts to do it reasonably.
Forcing you to install a subpanel or replace the main panel just to add a few lights or receptacles to an existing circuit is unreasonable IMO.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:36 AM   #13
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Quote:
Originally Posted by IGx89 View Post
Cool, thanks. Here's my plan:

- buy a GE main lug panel and put it on the other side of the stud next to the main
- put a double-pole 60A breaker in the main panel
- run 6/3 NM-B wire from the main to the lug
- run three 14/3 NM-B wires from the main to the lug, spliced with wire nuts to the three existing 14/3 wires coming into the main
- connect the 14/3's to six GE CAFCI 15 amp breakers, joined with handle ties as GE allows

That all sound good? That'll cost ~$350 ($240 for the CAFCI breakers). Yuck :/
Single pole AFCIs will NOT work on MWBCs.
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:11 AM   #14
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


The combo units are still too new, and not anyplace that I know of, are making it a requirement that you have to use them. All of the places I have heard about, are still only using the conventional AFCI or GFCI breakers, in those areas that are required to have that protection.

My area has adopted the 2011 now, but the homeowner as long as they are competent in doing the work, do not have to pull a permit or hire an electrician. Matter of fact, our area does not really issue permits on anything, unless you are building or tearing down a garage, or building an addition on your home.

The problem is that you have a lot of AHJ's that see that there are new devices out there, and you will find that half of them want them, the other half only wants the older rules followed under the 2008. Then you have those that do not want them at all, and just have GFCI's installed for those areas that require them.

Murray makes the 2-pole Combo units. http://w3.usa.siemens.com/powerdistr...es/m-afci.aspx
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Old 01-30-2014, 09:27 AM   #15
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No Square D QO 2-pole CAFCI breakers - options?


Thanks everyone for your comments, really appreciate it! I called Square D and they confirmed that they don't have double-pole CAFCI's, but did say that there's a note in their system that one's currently in development and may be coming out this quarter (doesn't help me now though).

I then called my inspector (for Apple Valley, MN) and, sadly, he wouldn't budge on the requirement. Only option he gave me was the subpanel route. I'm all for doing things officially and by-the-book, but this definitely is leaving a bad taste in my mouth, silly requirements like this :/.

Because I'm cheap and the idea of putting in a subpanel just for this is silly, I'm going to see if I can just add a brand new circuit and connect everything to it. It's a hallway outlet, stairway recessed step lights and a bathroom closet outlet, so my plan is to run a new 15 amp circuit for all those devices and call it good. Really wanted the step lights on the same switch as my outdoor lights, but oh well. Only concern is if the bathroom closet outlet falls under the 20 amp outlet requirement, but from what I've read I think it counts as a separate area from the bathroom area (there's a door and it's 10ft from the sink) so hopefully the inspector will be fine with it.

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