Thanks for confirming, Jim. One more question. For the kitchen, is that to say that every countertop outlet in the kitchen is to be a GFCI outlet, or just GFCI protected in that they are protected so long as they are feed from the load terminals on an upstream GFCI outlet?
GFCI outlets are not required anywhere. You don't need to use them at all.
What Code requires is GFCI *protection*. That can come from
- a GFCI standalone (often called a deadfront)
- a GFCI breaker (I.e. a GFCI+breaker combo device that fits where breakers go)
- a GFCI switch (which is a switch that provides GFCI and is rated as a disconnect)
- a triple combo device: GFCI protector + switch + single receptacle
- a GFCI + receptacle combo device (or what you call a "GFCI outlet")
- whatever else they come up with
All these GFCI devices have a pair of terminals (hot and neutral) called LOAD. Anything fed off these LOAD terminals will inherit GFCI protection from the device. For the first three, obviously, you have to use LOAD or the device is pointless.
The last two it is optional. If you only want GFCI protection at the built-in socket(s) then don't use LOAD for anything!
I strongly recommend you never, ever, ever use LOAD for anything - ever - unless you specifically intend
to protect that specific
downline. The LINE terminals are made for double-tapping -- for this reason!!!
The usual fail is that an outlet goes out and someone goes in dervishes trying to figure out why, they finally call an electrician who finds a GFCI in a closet or behind a piece of furniture where the meathead used LOAD just because he didn't know where else to put the 2 extra wires. Never do that! LINE only!
Likewise, for this reason, don't use LOAD if this GFCI is where no one would ever think to look for it. The GFCI reset for your kitchen outlets ought to be either in the kitchen or at the service panel.
Oh, and one other thing. Anytime a plain outlet is protected by GFCI, it MUST have the marking "GFCI Protected" and must also have the marking "No Equipment Ground" if that is true. I strongly recommend it also have the marking "Reset (located) at Hall Closet" or whatever applies. Those blue stickers which are included in every GFCI box are both ugly and flimsy; I use white cover plates and white P-touch labels I make myself. Homebrew is fine.
Which of the two approaches you've outlined is more common / which would you recommend?
I am cheap. I like to use downline protection when it makes sense. For instance this here building has a Pushmatic panel. A short EMT nipple goes to a steel junction box containing a GFCI recep. Its LOAD wires feed a purple/gray THHN pair that feeds the various GFCI protected outlets at kitchenette and bathroom.
But I've also read enough forum posts and Q&A of "Why did my outlets go dead?" (ultimate answer: GFCI in wackadoodle place) that I am opposed to GFCI protection being located in *non-intuitive* locations.
And refrigerators must avoid GFCI at all costs. So I will cheerfully put a GFCI recep at every single outlet location if it means keeping a fridge (at the last outlet) off GFCI.
This viewpoint is echoed by AHJs, who will often give you a waiver for a non-GFCI outlet in a basement/garage, if it's dedicated to a fridge and labeled as such.
Should I use AFCI/GFCI combination outlets instead of GFCI?
AFCI and GFCI are exactly the same, except for one letter
I jest, but that's how people actually think about it. In fact, AFCIs have about as much in common with GFCIs as fire sprinklers do
AFCIs prevent fires. They listen to the wire for the electrical sounds of arcing. If you've ever heard a crinkle-crunch when you plug in headphones or hook up speakers, that's the sound.
They were originally conceived for electric blankets. Field data proved this wrong: actually, the vast majority of (good) AFCI trips were for failing wiring in the walls
. So they switched the requirement from "bedrooms" to "all circuits where possible" (exempting 240V circuits, and circuits that require GFCI protection, because they were concerned about the availability of 240V and GFCI+AFCI combo devices).
AFCI is only required in new construction and remodels, but if it's required, it's required on the whole circuit
starting at the panel! You can't even put an AFCI at the first receptacle location (if it's mandatory) because that would leave the wiring from panel to 1st recep unprotected.
So an AFCI receptacle
is about as useful as a spittoon.
make sense on the first receptacle of the circuit on a "well, this is the best we can do" basis... *if* you have an obsolete panel like my Pushmatic for which AFCI breakers are simply not available. But even then, I prefer my "short EMT nipple from panel to steel box, site the AFCI there" method. The service panel is the right place for AFCI
From what I’m reading, it sounds like I shouldn’t bother with doing anything with AFCI at this time, albeit more due to reliability than cost.
Au contraire, I think AFCI is a highly worthwhile investment. NFPA is trying to "move the numbers" on house fires. AFCI is an amazing tool for it. Where it would do the most good is older houses with older wiring. But they can't legislate that way due to procedural rules. So they are stuck demanding it on new construction, where it mostly detects backstabs lol. Backstabs already have a strong tendency to fail safe.
When I hear "aluminum wiring" or "cloth covered wires" or "knob & tube" I'm practically up out of my chair saying "AFCI. Now. Make it happen." You get AFCI on aluminum wiring, you can take a breath. Now you can bide your time fitting Alumiconns and CO-ALR receps, because the AFCI is gonna catch 95% of what you're worried about. It's only detection, it's not a replacement for good work, but it sure takes the scare off.
I don’t want to get AFCI into every required circuit in the house at this time, but I don’t mind doing a combination outlet instead of GFCI in the cases I am planning on doing GFCI. Thoughts?
It's all about placement. Poor AFCI placement is a waste of money.