My state still uses 2017 NEC
I am finishing up rough-in electrical for my new building, all drops are complete, I'm ready to do the panel. I am making a list of breakers and receptacles to buy and have a question
Since this is a guest house I was planning to install AFCI receptacles in all of the rooms that they are required, and then use a standard 15A breaker in the panel.
That would be fine for GFCI, if you were after GFCI protection. It would be a waste of GFCI receps, but it's a reasonable waste in many circumstances.
AFCI is a totally different technology protecting a totally different thing. AFCI does not work anything like GFCI. AFCI needs to be either
a) at the breaker
b) in steel conduit all the way from the breaker, steel box for the first recep, and then AFCI at the first recep.
c) several extremely improbable options involving "magical" matched sets of breaker+recep (both with exotic features) that are either $500, vaporware, or both.
Some people misinterpret c) to mean you can use any ole AFCI recep without the magical partner breaker. No you cannot!
This is all NEC 210.12
This way if a guest trips a receptacle they can easily reset it and I don't have to walk over to the guest house to reset a tripped breaker (the panel is in a utility room that guests will not have access to).
No, that doesn't work. Guests must
be able to access their own service panel. NEC 240.24(B). Not having that is just a very terrible design.
Hotels can get away with it because both these are true: a) "continuous building management supervision" (call front desk, get reset), AND b) no cooking facilities. Not OK: "I'll reset it when I get home from work/movie/dentist".
Also, Fire Code requires main disconnect access (by occupants, i.e. firemen in the occupant's space) so if you make your panel inaccessible to occupants, you must have a disconnect on the outside of the building, so tack a couple hundred more bucks onto the project. Be cheaper to just move the panel.
Further, realistically the way utility rooms actually get used, people are going to park mowers or stack boxes in front of the panel. That's a codevio, because you must have a working space of 30" wide by 36" deep in front of the panel floor to ceiling. Your inspector would be wise to reject a layout that encourages that getting used for storage.
The best way to meet the working space requirement is to put the panel in a passageway (e.g. a hallway) that would never be blocked because people need to walk through there. In this 2BR apartment there are only 2 short sections of wall that meet that description. The panel is in one of them.
But, to comply with 2017 NEC do the 15A receptacle circuits require an AFCI breaker in the panel or will the installation of AFCI receptacles pass inspection?
The inspector will want to see a steel box and your EMT conduit all the way back to the panel. Don't get me wrong, I love EMT, it's my favorite stuff. But it's an acquired skill
lol. Your first EMT project will be full of swear words. But man, if you stick it out, it's a *nice* system.
On the upside, you can put up to 4 circuits in an EMT pipe before hitting thermal limits (1/2" can accommodate 9 wires before hitting space limits, and the shell is ground, so 8 wires = 4 circuits). So you can have 1 EMT run connect the first receptacle of 4 different circuits.
Also, if you go EMT -> AFCI/GFCI recep, you get to use plain breakers... which also means you can use all the old school tricks - MWBCs, double-stuff breakers, etc. You can put three MWBCs (6 circuits worth) in a 1/2" EMT or four MWBCs (8 circuits worth) in a 3/4" EMT pipe.
I know that using standard, tamper-proof 15A receptacles and an AFCI breaker is probably less expensive, but I don't want to have to walk outside in the rain or late at night/early in the morning to reset a tripped breaker so it's worth the extra cost to me if it complies with 2017 NEC.
Then put your panel in a better location
You could put it outdoors if you really want to
, but weather exposure chews up AFCI and GFCI breakers, so I wouldn't.
Receps are cheaper ($20) if you disregard the labor/learning curve of doing EMT conduit. AFCI breakers are $40-ish. AFCI+GFCI are $50-ish.