Everything You Need to Know About AFCI Circuits

Each year, electrical fires impact homes and businesses in Raleigh and across the country. In many cases, such fires are preventable. Today, city and state regulations require arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) in new construction. Even if you have an older property, however, you can install AFCI circuit breakers to offer additional protection.

What Are AFCI Circuit Breakers?

AFCI circuit breakers break the circuit they protect if heat is produced from arcing. AFCIs can detect arcing when a device overheats at the plug, when the wire is disrupted by construction or a rodent’s chewing or when another arcing incident occurs. By breaking the circuit, AFCIs shut down the outlet before a fire or damage can happen.

The AFCI Breaker Versus the Outlet

You can install an AFCI circuit breaker in the main service panel. There is also a different electrical safety device known as the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This device is installed in the outlet and it detects and addresses currents flowing along the incorrect path.

AFCIs and GFCIs are different ways to keep your home safer from electrical fires. You can use both, and both types of electrical safety devices may be necessary in your home.

Where Are AFCI Circuit Breakers Required?

The National Electric Code (NEC) is the federal standard for electrical installations. According to the most recent edition of the NEC, the 2023 edition NFPA 70, these regulations require AFCI circuit protection in all new home construction including:

  • Laundry areas.
  • Dining rooms
  • Sunrooms
  • Sleeping areas, including dens, guest rooms, living rooms and other rooms.

According to the NEC, AFCI protection is necessary for 15- and 20-ampere branch and 120-volt, single-phase circuits for devices and outlets. Older and historic homes may not require these breakers, but experts still recommend them. Newer homes should have AFCIs in compliance with NEC guidelines. You won’t be required to have AFCI protection for rooms located outside of the home such as garages or certain bathroom spaces where water is present. For those instances, you’ll be better off using a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Where Should AFCI Circuit Breakers Be Installed?

In addition to those areas where AFCIs are required by NEC standards, you will want to install them for every outlet and device, if possible. Any larger device can overheat, and rodents can chew through any wiring in your home or business, whether your property is newer or older. AFCIs are simple and effective ways to offer added protection against the property damage and personal loss a fire can cause.

How Are AFCI Outlets Installed?

Installing an AFCI outlet will require a voltage tester, the outlet, a light source and a flathead screwdriver. After you shut off the power at your panel, you will need to find the line wires which take electricity to an outlet and the load wires which take it to a device. You will need to remove the old outlet and replace it with a new one, which may require some physical strength.

If you’d rather leave it to the experts and need a circuit breaker installation in Raleigh, Wiretech Company can help. Since 1990, our team of professionals has been helping customers with exceptional service and respect. Our honest and professional team will handle your electrical service needs in a timely, friendly manner. Many of the customers who work with us never want to go back to any other company. Contact us today to schedule installation.