DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Before I spend the money on AFCI/GFCI outlets. I wanted to make sure that buying new circuit breakers wouldn't be a better option. The circuit breakers appear to cost about twice what outlets do. Is there any reason to use one over the other, or that one is better to use than the other?

From what I think I read, it sounds like AFCI are required in new contsruction/ new addition only. Is there an electrical code (that I probably wouldn't understand), that I should be looking up? My home is 20 years old, none of the circuit breakers say they are GFCI or AFCI, and all appear to be the same. I'll gladly spend the extra $20-$30 per circuit if it serves a purpose.

Please feel free to dumb down any answer more than you think is needed.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,785 Posts
AFCI protects the cabling from arcing faults like loose connections. Best to have them in the panel to protect the whole circuit.
GFCI protects the user electric shock. Many prefer to have them at the receptacle so you don't have to hunt the breaker down. GFCI is a more likely trip than a AFCI.
 

·
A "Handy Husband"
Joined
·
12,661 Posts
There is no requirement to do anything if you are not making electrical changes.

Sent from my RCT6A03W13E using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
AFCI protects the cabling from arcing faults like loose connections. Best to have them in the panel to protect the whole circuit.
GFCI protects the user electric shock. Many prefer to have them at the receptacle so you don't have to hunt the breaker down. GFCI is a more likely trip than a AFCI.
I know car audio. So protection at the outlet is like the fuse on the amp (to protect the amp) which protects problems only at the outlet. Protection at the circuit breaker is like the in-line fuse you put near the battery to protect the wiring from melting and creating an unintended circuit that will burn down your vehicle. Having protection at the breaker also protects the wiring.

Nothing in your circuit changes unless you change it, but if lets say there was ever a rodent that chewed through the wires, an outlet wouldn't do anything to protect it, but a circuit breaker would? Its the difference between protecting the outlet itself, or protecting everything else from what the wiring could do?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,336 Posts
When you have ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles you still have breakers (overcurrent; short circuit protection) in the panel.

Some branch circuits, notably two hots sharing one neutral (multiwire branch circuits) give you just two choices: GFCI breaker in the panel, or individual GFCI unit in each and every receptacle position. (Or do nothing; have neither on a pre-existing circuit.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,608 Posts
AFCI protects the cabling from arcing faults like loose connections. Best to have them in the panel to protect the whole circuit.
GFCI protects the user electric shock. Many prefer to have them at the receptacle so you don't have to hunt the breaker down. GFCI is a more likely trip than a AFCI.
GFCI breakers at the panel protect any "worker" who inadvertently comes in contact with the wires in a cable - such as when driving a nail into a wall.
A GFCI outlet will provide such protection only on the cable "downstream from" the outlet.

While there is not a high chance of a "worker" doing this, it has happened and unskilled workers have been killed in this country. This caused regulations to be changed to require RCD/RCBO (GFCI) Circuit Breakers on all (new/altered) final sub-circuits - including lighting only circuits.

No doubt it will take a few similar deaths in other countries before the regulations are changed in those countries.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-17/young-men-who-died-in-insulation-scheme/5322168
https://memberarea.necawa.asn.au/Ad...eries-regarding-rcds-and-the-new-wiring-rules - Note points 3.c and 3.d (Unfortunately, there is still point 3.e)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
558 Posts
Someone a bit more up to code than I am can check me on this as I am retired now. But from what I remember is that if you do install a AFCI receptacle (instead of a breaker) then the wiring method from the panel to the receptacle (AFCI) must be that of a armored such as MC and a metal box used at that receptacle location. It can't be romex going from the panel to the AFCI receptacle box.


Again, someone more up to date on code please double check me on this fact/code.
 

·
A "Handy Husband"
Joined
·
12,661 Posts
Someone a bit more up to code than I am can check me on this as I am retired now. But from what I remember is that if you do install a AFCI receptacle (instead of a breaker) then the wiring method from the panel to the receptacle (AFCI) must be that of a armored such as MC and a metal box used at that receptacle location. It can't be romex going from the panel to the AFCI receptacle box.


Again, someone more up to date on code please double check me on this fact/code.
That is true for new installs but not receptacle replacements where the walls are not open.

Sent from my Moto E (4) Plus using Tapatalk
 
  • Like
Reactions: afjes2015

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,147 Posts
GFCI breakers at the panel protect any "worker" who inadvertently comes in contact with the wires in a cable - such as when driving a nail into a wall.
A GFCI outlet will provide such protection only on the cable "downstream from" the outlet.

While there is not a high chance of a "worker" doing this, it has happened and unskilled workers have been killed in this country. This caused regulations to be changed to require RCD/RCBO (GFCI) Circuit Breakers on all (new/altered) final sub-circuits - including lighting only circuits.

No doubt it will take a few similar deaths in other countries before the regulations are changed in those countries.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-17/young-men-who-died-in-insulation-scheme/5322168
https://memberarea.necawa.asn.au/Ad...eries-regarding-rcds-and-the-new-wiring-rules - Note points 3.c and 3.d (Unfortunately, there is still point 3.e)
@FrodoOne,

You are correct. Having a GFCI breaker in the panel will protect the whole cable while having a GFCI outlet will only protect the cable and devices from that point outwards. (Assuming everything wasn't wired by my homes prior owner. He thought the cover over the LINE portion meant they weren't supposed to be used...)

I think that most people believe that having access to the outlet is preferred for resetting rather than hunting down a panel and trying to figure out which breaker needs to be reset. Granted, that does leave a portion of the cable exposed to potential hazards but hopefully there isn't much cable length in that state.

Also, there is the cost to consider. I can get a 4 pack of slim 15 amp Leviton GFCI outlets for $50. A single GFCI Circuit Breaker can range from $40 to over $70. And yes, when it comes to safety, price should not come in to consideration, but, it does.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,785 Posts
Having a GFCI breaker in the panel will protect the whole cable while having a GFCI outlet will only protect the cable and devices from that point outwards
A GFCI does nothing to protect the cable. The breaker function protects the same as a normal breaker. An AFCI however since it detects arcing does protect the cable somewhat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,608 Posts
Also, there is the cost to consider. I can get a 4 pack of slim 15 amp Leviton GFCI outlets for $50. A single GFCI Circuit Breaker can range from $40 to over $70. And yes, when it comes to safety, price should not come in to consideration, but, it does.
Many years ago, when RCD protected socket outlets first became available, I had one installed in the bathroom and one in the garage, the latter also giving protection to the other sockets in the garage.
At the time these were relatively expensive compared to the cost of "normal" socket outlet. From memory, I think that they were about 3 times the price.

(Perhaps you should note that it is a requirement in Australia [and the UK] that each socket outlet be controlled by a switch - which increases the cost somewhat.)

I note that such RCD protected socket outlets are still available here, but they now cost more than 10 times the price of a "normal" socket outlet.

In comparison, a domestic RCBO can now be obtained for "only" about 3 times the cost of a normal socket outlet.

This is probably because the RCD or RCBO at a "panel" is a "requirement", which makes the RCD protected socket outlet an "option" for which there is now very little need in this country.

It is worth considering that, while the "Nanny State" may require us to spend money on safety devices such as RCDs/RCBOs/GFCIs and Smoke Detectors,
the regulations requiring such devices were introduced due to one or (usually) more persons dying because such protection/warning devices were lacking at the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
A GFCI does nothing to protect the cable. The breaker function protects the same as a normal breaker. An AFCI however since it detects arcing does protect the cable somewhat.
So, are you saying that an arc in a circuit won't trip a GFCI breaker? Sounds implausible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
In my experience with AFCI breakers or receptacles in existing wiring can be problematic. Sometimes they have nuisance trips and sometimes the don't trip at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
"Won't protect the cable" is speaking in very general terms. If you ever have a ground fault with a high impedance ground the cable can melt. However, they are designed for personal protection. Hard to cover all possible situations with electric, almost anything is possible.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
21,785 Posts
So, are you saying that an arc in a circuit won't trip a GFCI breaker? Sounds implausible.
That depends on the arc and where it is. If the arc is before the GFCI connections it will never trip GFCI.
If the arc is on the load side to ground then it will trip the GFCI. A GFCI detects a difference in current flowing on the not and neutral. So if the arc was from hot to neutral the current would be the same on both and the GFCI would not trip.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
740 Posts
The AFCI breakers are prone to shutting down even when no arcing is occuring and they take up a lot more space in the panel and you many not have room for them in your existing panel.

As mentioned, every outlet on a leg does not need to have a GFCI as the one nearest the panel protects all the other outlets on that leg that are downstream. What can be difficult is determining the wiring layout for an old house to know which outlets are downstream.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top