Starting with this issue, we are featuring a different Code change each month from Mike Holt, one of our contributing editors and NE Code experts.

210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (AFCI) Protection

  1. AFCI Definition

    An AFCI protection device provides protection from an arc fault by recognizing the characteristics unique to an arcing fault and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.

  2. Dwelling Unit Bedrooms

    All branch circuits supplying 15A or 20A, single-phase 125V outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms must be AFCI protected by a listed device that protects the entire branch circuit.

Intent: The change extends AFCI protection to all 125V outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms, whereas the 1999 NEC only required AFCI protection for all branch circuits that supply 15A or 20A, single-phase 125V receptacle outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms. The Code defines an outlet as “a point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment” [Article 100]. This includes openings for receptacles, luminaires or smoke detectors.

The practice of separating the lighting from the receptacle circuits in dwelling unit bedrooms will now require two AFCI circuit breakers. The 125V limitation to the requirement means AFCI protection would not be required for a 240V baseboard electric heater.