All Replies on AFCI In basement wood shop?

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AFCI In basement wood shop?

by CTWith3
posted 01-11-2018 05:44 AM

14 replies so far

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1303 days

#1 posted 01-11-2018 01:10 PM

I was not aware of any code concerning AFCI’s on lights. It is my understanding that they have to be on outlets in bedrooms. GFCI’s have to be on outlets in bathrooms, kitchens and outdoors because of the proximity to water. I could be wrong, I usually am. Personally, I don’t care for AFCI’s at all. You especially don’t want them on anything that could run an electric motor, it will just trip them. They sense an arc and few electric motors don’t produce an arc. Vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, fans, etc. will trip them immediately. I guess you can use them anywhere if you are really trying to be super safe, but I think in a shop you are not going to get much done. Even GFCI’s don’t like the heavy start up surge over a period of time, they will start to trip out.
I am not a licensed electrician, but I am county approved to wire my own stuff. I have a bunch of rentals that I built new over the years, haven’t done one in the last three though. None of mine have AFCI’s on the lights. Hard to believe this place where I live would let that slide. I will check the code, but haven’t heard anything regarding AFCI’s having to be on lights or in basements {unless it’s a bedroom and then it has to have a window too, not all basements do}

Edit; “AFCI protection is currently required for all 15 and 20 amp branch circuits providing power to outlets* in residential family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, and similar rooms or areas.Jan 7, 2014”

“May 22, 2015 – In addition, devices located in these areas, not just outlets, must now be AFCI protected. This means, for example, that a basement lighting branch circuit with a switch located in the living room at the head of the stairs leading to the unfinished basement would require arc-fault protection.

If this is true, I don’t know how you would ever even turn anything on, it’s just going to trip the AFCI…you might have to install them until you get the inspectors out of there and then switch them out so you can go to work. Even a light switch makes a spark and will trip it.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2501 posts in 962 days

#2 posted 01-11-2018 01:40 PM


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View CTWith3's profile


26 posts in 1729 days

#3 posted 01-11-2018 02:44 PM

I’m moving all my lighting in my basement to the sub panel in the basement.

View Hermit's profile


240 posts in 2125 days

#4 posted 01-11-2018 06:19 PM

In California, GFCIs are required in garages. In my case detached shop. I put a GFCI every 4’ around the shop. I opted for not installing downstream receptacles for the reason of if a gfci trips or goes bad requiring replacement you lose power to all those downstream receptacles. A gfci at every location allows me to just move the cord to a neighboring location and keep working until I have time to replace the bad gfci. The additional cost of a gfci is minimal. Mine are all 20 amp plugs and I haven’t tripped one yet.

-- I'm like the farmer's duck. If it don't rain, I'll walk.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3314 days

#5 posted 01-11-2018 06:29 PM

About two years ago I had a completely new feed put into my house, with a new 200 AMP panel installed, and an existing 100 AMP sub completely rewired. Most of my shop runs off that, save for my welder which has a dedicated going into the big 200 AMP panel. All new grounds, neutral bars, etc. They also pulled out a lot of old dead circuits. (House was built in the 50’s, and has had three additions.)

Don’t even remember the inspector mentioning anything about AFCI’s, although he failed it twice for other items the electricians I hired missed.
Overall, huge improvement and I don’t trip breakers anywhere, none of them even get warm. My heat pump breaker does get a just a hair warm if the aux heat comes on during a really cold night. Not an AFCI in my house. GF’s, yes.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View jmartel's profile


8978 posts in 2950 days

#6 posted 01-11-2018 06:39 PM

The new AFCI’s won’t just trip immediately from turning on a tool. I just replaced my panel earlier this year in my house with all AFCI’s. Haven’t tripped one yet despite what msinc says. Personally I think it’s worth it to just install them regardless of code.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View bigblockyeti's profile


6624 posts in 2520 days

#7 posted 01-11-2018 06:53 PM

My parents house was completed in 2014 and has AFCI receps nearly everywhere, anything with a universal motor has caused issues; blender, hand held (& stand) mixer, coffee grinder, hairdryer, vacuum, almost every tool and sometimes even the toaster. A real PITA if you ask me!

Whom ever wired my house should be beaten with a rubber hose, I had half voltage in the downstairs bath and it turned out to be a bad exterior recep. Lost power to every recep on the screened in porch and found a buried GFCI where everything else but the lights was downstream, another huge PITA!

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View TungOil's profile


1382 posts in 1295 days

#8 posted 01-11-2018 09:23 PM

The new AFCI s won t just trip immediately from turning on a tool. I just replaced my panel earlier this year in my house with all AFCI s. Haven t tripped one yet despite what msinc says. Personally I think it s worth it to just install them regardless of code.

- jmartel

That was not my experience in my latest shop, which was wired last year with arc fault recepticals per code. Nearly every tool I own would trip a breaker occasionally. I finally got tired of walking to the panel to reset the breakers so I had my electrician swap them out. I’ll replace them if I ever move.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View CTWith3's profile


26 posts in 1729 days

#9 posted 01-12-2018 11:48 PM

So … then I guess I will be saving a lot of money and trips to the sub panel.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3316 posts in 2294 days

#10 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. :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View CTWith3's profile


26 posts in 1729 days

#11 posted 01-15-2018 10:09 AM

There you go. My basement is below grade, and it’s only other usage is storage.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1303 days

#12 posted 01-15-2018 12:58 PM

Don’t worry fellas…the forums resident electronics genius will be along any second now to straighten us all out!!!!
I should apologize because electronics alone is cutting him short…he actually knows all there is to know about all there is to know and if you doubt it just ask…he will tell you.
I had wondered why he hasn’t electrocuted himself yet, given some of the advice he has put down…but then it hit me, closest he could ever get to electrocution would be static from his key board.

View CTWith3's profile


26 posts in 1729 days

#13 posted 01-15-2018 06:58 PM


View lew's profile


13143 posts in 4555 days

#14 posted 01-16-2018 02:00 AM


- CTWith3


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

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