Reply by CaptainKlutz

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Posted on AFCI In basement wood shop?

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1756 posts in 1974 days

#1 posted 01-15-2018 05:51 AM

Requirements depend heavily on where you are located. Each city, county, state uses slightly different rules, BUT most as based on National Electric Codes. NEC codes and code summaries are freely available online for your reference.

msinc is current on NEC code notation regarding AFCI.
In simple terms: 2014 version of NEC requires AFCI protection on any circuit branch that contains an outlet where an extension power cord might be used for 120VAC 15/20 AMP power in a “enclosed regularly inhabited” space. Only “exception” to using AFCI is for locations near water (kitchen, bath, laundry, below grade basement, garage, outside); where GFCI protection is required for all circuits.
In 2015 they added requirement for AFCI on light circuits located in same enclosed inhabited areas of home. Most localities consider unfinished basement or garage is not “inhabited” space as listed in NEC list, and that AFCI on lighting is not required in the uninhabited (unfinished) areas.

AFCI or GFCI protection can be provided at central panel (via breaker), or via a special AFCI/GCI rated outlet. The false trip problems for AFCI breakers has improved in last 2 years since they become nationally required. They still have challenges with some universal motors, but most of the locations that these motors are used require GFCI protection which is much less sensitive to false trip issues. If you have an area (basement?) where a trip to breaker panel for reset is extremely inconvenient, use of AFCI outlet with local reset might be best option even if costs a little more than breaker installation.

You mention power tool circuits: 240vac circuits do not require AFCI or GFCI protection; unless the circuit terminates at an outside location. So 240vac 30amp table saw outlet in enclosed garage does not need GFCI, but same plug on outside of house or in a open carport does need GFCI protection. As long as your basement is considered generally dry, should likely not need GFCI for basement 240VAC circuits with an outlet per code.

If you have any questions on what is required for your remodel job, call you local building inspector. 98% of the ones I have dealt with actually prefer that DIY folks seek advice to ensure they meet code, .vs. drama/costs of a failed inspection. You also might find that your local government is slow to adopt newest codes, and AFCI may NOT be required at all. There are few places still using 2012 codes. :)

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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