I'm trying to stay on top of the electricians rewiring our house and correctly interpret the NEC 2017 for arc fault breakers. There is a permit and an inspection when they done, but I want to understand it myself and stay on top of it.

Should there be an arc fault breaker on every breaker, or are there exceptions where it's best not to? (and not required by code)

Reading the code bathrooms aren't required? Why not?

What about furnace, air conditioner and stove?

Finally, outlets in a basement woodworking room?

I want everything done to code and as safe as possible.


  • Is your stove gas or electric? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 13 '18 at 2:31
  • Also, do you have a central fire alarm panel in your house? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 13 '18 at 2:33
  • stove is electric, dryer is gas. Smoke detectors are interconnected and hardwired, there is no central panel for them. They are already on arc fault breakers. – user20127 Jun 13 '18 at 2:48
  • Tell them to give you a dedicated circuit for each refrigerator or freezer with a 1-socket receptacle at each location (so nothing else can be plugged into it). I would certainly never say to remove AFCI or GFCI protection from those circuits once you clear inspection. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '18 at 2:54
  • 4
    One time we had a warehouse with $50 million of goods burn to the ground. The diesel fire pump had refused to start. Troubleshooting revealed that the engine's "low oil level" sensor had tripped it. We added a quart of oil and it started right up, and cheerfully pumped pressurized water into the ash-covered wreckage of the sprinkler pipes. But hey. The interlock saved a $20,000 engine. This is the problem with safety devices on safety devices. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '18 at 3:03

Like GFCI's, AFCI's coverage is being added to Dwelling Units each NEC revision.Under 2017 NEC Article 210.12 (A) "Dwelling Units" almost all 120V 15 and 20 amp branch circuits supplying outlets (see NEC definition for outlets) must be AFCI protected.

The only circuits not needing protection in a dwelling at this time are Bathrooms, Garages, Crawl Spaces, Attics and Outdoor.

Definition: Outlet: A point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment. Although receptacles are outlets not all outlets are receptacles. Example light fixture outlet.

Note: AFCI Protection must be installed within 50' of the devices it's protecting.

Hope this helps.

  • So to clarify in answering part of the original question "What about furnace, air conditioner and stove?", the answer would be not for those devices because they are not 15 or 20 Amp, correct? – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Jun 13 '18 at 14:12
  • Thanks for the answer. What about furnace, air conditioner, stove and workroom with tools? – user20127 Jun 13 '18 at 15:04
  • @user20127 - Alright, so the question is. Are the furnace, air conditioner, and stove on a standard 120V 15 or 20 amp circuit? If the furnace, AC and range are on 240V or 120/240V or if they are on a 30A or higher breaker, then no. But say the AC its a window unit on a dedicated 120V 20A circuit then yes. Now I know that there is a lot of discussion from the AHJ in the different municipalities in this area. So it would probably be a good idea about how they are interpreting AFCI protection in your area. After all they have the final say in the discussion. – Retired Master Electrician Jun 13 '18 at 21:37

The simple answer is living areas require arc fault breakers. Places like kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, family rooms and great rooms. Places the family hangs out. Garages, unfinished basements, attics, outdoors do not. One of the biggest hiccups is the individual interpretation of the inspectors. They are the governing authority. Usually they are more than happy to take a call and explain how they interpret the codes.

Dedicated circuits such as furnaces, A/C, electric ranges, welders and so on or not common use circuits and do not require arc protection at this time.

  • Dedicated circuits like the furnace, A/C electric range or not considered circuits used for common use. – Boschert Electric Feb 10 at 1:02
  • You couldn't put most A/Cs, ranges, or welders on an AFCI to begin with since you don't see them in >20A – ThreePhaseEel Feb 10 at 2:15

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