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To protect a bathroom outlet, should I put an AFCI/GFCI breaker in the breaker box or do I put in an AFCI/GFCI receptacle?

Can a AFCI/GFCI receptacle be divided into 2 circuits with a 20A breaker for each side of the AFCI/GFCI receptacle?

  • Related question: diy.stackexchange.com/q/46669/43874 – JPhi1618 Mar 19 '19 at 18:15
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    Please add detail to your question. It's not clear what you're asking, and if you meant to include a link to a product you haven't done so. – isherwood Mar 19 '19 at 18:26
  • Personal preference as long as the circuit is protected. I prefer to use a receptacle so that in the case where GFCI trips, I can deal with it while still in the bathroom. – dabi Mar 20 '19 at 3:52
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    @dabi That is perfectly fine for GFCI. But AFCI really should be as close as possible to the panel (best is in the panel instead of a regular breaker) in order to provide the maximum protection. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Mar 20 '19 at 14:35
  • GFCi and AFCI are different things. The differences matter. A GFCI/AFCI receptacle would be stupid, because it would put the AFCI protection in the wrong place. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Mar 26 '19 at 22:07
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You can use a breaker or an outlet. It's up to you. For outside outlets on my house I chose to use a breaker so I could use regular cheap outlets in the weather, but in the bathrooms I stuck with the outlet style because it was a direct replacement and I didn't have to mess around with the breaker panel again.

AFCI/GFCI outlets only have two sets of screws - Line and Load, so there is no little tab to break off and separate them into two circuits like on a standard outlet. You can't feed them with 2 breakers.

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To protect a bathroom outlet, should I put an AFCI/GFCI breaker in the breaker box or do I put in an AFCI/GFCI receptacle?

AFCI protects wires in the walls so you want it either in the panel or close to it.

GFCI protects people so breaker or first protected location is equally OK.

GFCI definitely needed for bathroom receptacles. AFCI not necessarily needed for bathroom.

Can a AFCI/GFCI receptacle be divided into 2 circuits with a 20A breaker for each side of the AFCI/GFCI receptacle?

If you are asking about splitting top & bottom to two different circuits, I don't believe that is an option on typical AFCI or GFCI receptacles. Where a simple duplex receptacle as two sets of hot & neutral screw terminals that are connected when used with the tab in place (default factory configuration) and can be split by breaking/removing the tab, an AFCI or GFCI instead uses one set of terminals for line and the other for load. However, if you use a double-pole AFCI/GFCI breaker in your breaker panel and run a /3 cable to the receptacles then you can wire up a regular duplex receptacle in a split configuration to get 20 A on the top and 20 A on the bottom.

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  • FWIW, my understanding is that bathrooms are one of the few rooms that don't yet require AFCI protection (per 2017 NEC). I can't seem to reason why you wouldn't want one there, however. – Sam Mar 19 '19 at 20:59
  • @Sam I suspect that part of the original reason for exempting bathrooms from AFCI is that since they have to have GFCI (the top location where GFCI really makes sense, besides kitchens), requiring both would be "too much". Except that they added kitchen & laundry rooms to the AFCI requirement, and it really isn't clear why bathrooms would be any different. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Mar 19 '19 at 21:13

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