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I am in the process of re-wiring a 100 year old house. I want to make sure everything is done to the new NEC codes. I need to know if arc fault protection is required on lighting circuits or just outlets. I live in a very small town and we share a building inspector with several cities in the county I live in. So I can't call him. He is on vacation for a couple weeks and was hoping to continue my project instead of waiting for him to return

  • every city is different need to connect your local inspector. and if you are doing it by the book you will have to pull permits and to have the permit competed you have to have a inspection so. other option is talk to a local electrician he should know the codes – joe Jun 7 '17 at 22:12
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    @joe no, not every job requires permits and an inspection. The OP is asking about the latest NEC, which is completely separate from permits and inspections. – mmathis Jun 7 '17 at 22:22
  • @joe -- some very rural areas don't even have a defined building code! – ThreePhaseEel Jun 7 '17 at 22:38
  • that might be true but i will not give advice on the subject nor should anyone. unless you have sudied NEC code witch i have not so. the point being if you try to sale the house and its not to code in your city and you did not pull permits in that city. you can not sell house for value. so its best on home owner part to get it inspected and to code now before he tries to sell house in 2 years – joe Jun 8 '17 at 1:29
  • To all: In the state I have done business in by law: all work must be permitted unless the AHJ has made adjustments to the state code. So if you are in a non jurisdictional area, the state will handle the permitting and inspection (the NEC 2014 verbatim, changes to 2017 Sept 1 this year). There are grandfather codes also but most AHJ consider remodel over 50% to be a new installation and all work will be done to the latest approved codes. As a contractor or as a master electrician, we are bound to follow the law. – Retired Master Electrician Jun 8 '17 at 13:48
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You may be thinking of GFCI, whose purpose is to protect humans from shocks, and is mostly relevant on receptacles.

The purpose of AFCI is to protect structures from bad wiring by tripping when wires arc from a bad connection. That is relevant anywhere there is wiring. In fact, it's a pretty good substitute for rewiring buildings with problem wiring, such as really old houses or those with aluminum. They would not be useless on lighting circuits.

Anyway, NEC 2014 requires AFCI for all outlets in bedrooms and many other habitable rooms. The word "outlet" in NEC connotes any appliance that is served by electricity, including installed laods like lights, smart switches and the like. This applies to new construction and remodels, not minor work.

In my opinion, the urgency for AFCIs in new construction largely relates to builders' love of very cheap parts and wiring methods, and I'm specifically talking about backstabs. Though receptacles which wholesale for 38 cents each aren't helping.

You can haggle with your AHJ (the inspector) about whether AFCIs are needed for a panel upgrade. I would want to add AFCIs because it would mean I would then feel comfortable not replacing the old wiring.

  • Out of curiosity, what is the gripe with the cheaper outlets? – Machavity Jun 8 '17 at 1:33
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    Put it this way, the problem with backstabs isn't the wire :) This guy did a teardown and A/B of the better $3 receptacles... handymanhowto.com/electrical-outlets-side-wire-versus-back-wire – Harper Jun 8 '17 at 1:55
  • @Harper your answer is spot on. FYI to all: A few years before I retired I feel into this trap in a local municipality. Most AHJ believe the term outlet should be just for receptacle type outlets. But this particular municipality interprets outlet is all outlets. Example - A lighting fixture is a lighting "outlet". – Retired Master Electrician Jun 8 '17 at 13:37

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