I am about to begin a project that will include one or two new circuit for outdoor lights and receptacles attached to the main building. I will probably installing a new home run line from the panel for this circuit.

Is there any reason not to use a combination CAFCI/GFCI breaker instead of specialized receptacles, other than price (which is fairly inconsequential for one or two circuits)?

If these breakers are used, am I free to use all standard receptacles downstream (with appropriate outdoor covers as applicable)?

There are no shared neutrals planned for these circuits.

  • 1
    Why do you need/want AFCI protection outdoors?? – Speedy Petey Sep 5 '14 at 19:58
  • I certainly value GFCI protection outdoors. Outdoor equipment is more likely to get wet, is more likely to be used in a situation where I am well earthed, etc. The risk is at least as high as in a kitchen or bathroom. – keshlam Sep 5 '14 at 21:36
  • @SpeedyPetey My understanding is that CAFCI helps protect against arcing in walls and boxes that could start a fire. My exterior walls (on which the exterior fixtures and receptacles are mounted) are no more fireproof than my interior ones. Also, the combo units only cost about $10 more than the straight GFCIs. – bib Sep 6 '14 at 0:41
  • Combination arc fault protection does NOT provide the protection that is required where gfci protection is needed. – user24125 Sep 6 '14 at 1:06
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    @user24125 There are combination breakers that provide CAFCI and GFCI protection, as well as amperage overload protection. Those are the ones I am considering. – bib Sep 6 '14 at 1:34

Nuisance trips are generally easier to reset at a receptacle than in the breaker box.

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  • 1
    Not true. The panel is a one stop shop. Receptacles are scattered about, and may require searching to find the one that's tripped. – Tester101 Sep 5 '14 at 21:11
  • I'm with @Zhentar. I'd much rather have the GFI at the point of use rather than at the panel. AFCIs we don't have much choice these days. – Speedy Petey Sep 6 '14 at 2:15

A location that requires combination arc fault protection and gfci protection needs both. CAFCI breakers do not provide the gfci protection required by the NEC. A gfci needs to open the circuit with a ground fault between 4 mA to 6mA to provide the required protection. A cafci may not react at this level read the specifications to see if yours does.

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  • The type of breaker he is referring to does provide ground-fault protection for personnel -- the emerging common name for it is a DFCI -- Dual-Function Circuit Interruptor. – ThreePhaseEel Jan 28 '15 at 1:17

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