210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

All 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying dwelling unit kitchens and laundry areas now require AFCI protection.
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All 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying dwelling unit kitchens and laundry areas now require AFCI protection.

Code Change Summary: Revisions were made expanding AFCI protection to include, kitchens and laundry areas and also to apply to devices.

In the previous 2011 NEC, AFCI protection was required only for 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas.

Now AFCI protection has been expanded to include 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets and devices installed in dwelling kitchens and laundry areas.

Another change in 210.12 is that the arc-fault circuit interrupter must be installed in a readily accessible location. Whether an AFCI type circuit breaker is used or the new outlet branch circuit type AFCI receptacle is used to provide AFCI protection for the circuit, the device providing the AFCI protection must be readily accessible.

Similarly, single phase 15- and 20-amp, 125-volt receptacles installed to serve kitchen counters and in laundry rooms must also have GFCI protection and the device providing the GFCI protection must also be readily accessible.

In many cases, electrician will be using the new GFCI/AFCI dual-function circuit breakers for these areas of a dwelling that are required to have both AFCI and GFCI protection. This will ensure that all required protection is provided and that all devices requiring monthly testing will be readily accessible.

Below is a preview of the NEC.  See the actual NEC text at NFPA.ORG for the complete code section. Once there, click on the “free access” tab and select the applicable year of NFPA 70 (National Electrical code).

2011 Code Language:

210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.

2014 Code Language:

210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection. Arc-fault circuit-interrupter protection shall be provided as required in 210.12(A) (B), and (C). The arc-fault circuit interrupter shall be installed in a readily accessible location.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets or devices installed in dwelling unit kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by any of the means described in 210.12(A)(1) through (6).

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210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

Below is a Real Question from our Electrical Continuing Education Courses for Electrical License Renewal:

One of the following 120-volt, single phase branch circuits does NOT require AFCI protection. Which of the following does NOT require AFCI protection?

A: A 20-amp branch circuit supplying kitchen outlets in a dwelling unit.
B: A 20-amp branch circuit supplying a laundry outlet in a dwelling unit.
C: A 20-amp branch circuit supplying kitchen devices in a dwelling unit.
D: A 30-amp branch circuit supplying a laundry outlet in a dwelling unit.
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