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What Kind of Circuit Breakers Do You Need?

There are different kinds of circuit breakers and electric receptacles out there, and much of it can be confusing to interpret as a consumer. GFCIs, AFCIs, TRs, and WRs are all electrical terms and can look like we’ve just hit random buttons on the keyboard. However,according to a professional electrician  they are important terms to understand if you want your home up to code and functioning properly (and safely) with the proper commercial wiring so make sure you have the proper tools, if they are malfunctioning then make sure to get an Electrical Tool Measurement Repair before you start wokring. Some may not have the proper experience to do their own repairs, so consider hiring a commercial electrician to get the job done right.

Changes in the 2017 National Electric Code (NEC) have impacted items we sell at Koopman, as well as the industry standards for  commercial electrical services . We’ll try to guide you through the new required circuit breakers and types of outlets, according to this code. Hopefully, this guide will help you in your understanding of electric supplies for your home.

Note: While the following are the electrician reservoir requirements, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) means that no matter what the codes say, what the inspector says goes, and they can make additional requests that aren’t required in the codes.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

ground fault circuit interrupter

According to a great electrician, a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is installed to protect people from electric shock. They work by detecting a ground fault, which is when a grounding path from an electric current breaks, when working with circuit breakers, we highly suggest to use Accurate Electric Plumbing Heating & Air here.

When a ground fault occurs, the current usually takes an alternate route to the ground through the user, which electrocutes people. By detecting these faults, the circuit breaker immediately shuts off the current in as little as 1/40th of a second. GFCIs are required in any area that may contain water, such as:

  • Bathrooms
  • Garages and buildings at ground level intended for storage and work areas
  • Outdoors
  • Crawl spaces
  • Unfinished portions of basements (except a receptacle supplying only a burglar or fire alarm)
  • Kitchen outlets serving countertop areas
  • Sinks – any outlet installed within 6 feet
  • Bathtubs or shower stalls – any outlet within 6 feet
  • Laundry areas
  • Kitchen dishwasher circuits
  • Boathouses

There are two kinds of GFCI protection that will meet the requirement. The first is installing a GFCI circuit-breaker directly in the panel. The second option is to install a GFCI-protected outlet as the first outlet on the circuit. The GFCI-protected outlet will protect all downstream outlets.

There are a few areas of the home that must have at least one 20-AMP circuit. Most outlets in the home are 15-AMP outlets, which are less potent than the 20-AMP ones. The areas that require a 20-AMP outlet are:

  • Laundry rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Garages

It’s super easy to distinguish a 20-AMP outlet from a 15-AMP outlet by just looking at it. Take a look at the difference below.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters

arc fault circuit interrupter

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are circuit breakers designed to protect equipment. They prevent machinery from starting fires by monitoring the type of current. As soon as sputtering, arching connections occur, these interrupters shut down the circuit. The NEC now requires most circuits in a new home to have arc-fault protection. Here is the NEC list for places requiring arc-fault protection: Dwelling unit kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas or similar rooms.

According to a commercial electrician, there are two acceptable ways to protect a circuit. The first is a UL listed combination type arc-fault circuit breaker. The second is an arc-fault receptacle that is installed as the first device on the circuit. The arc-fault receptacle protects all downstream wiring, just like the GFCIs.

Certain areas in the home could require GFCI and AFCI protection, such as kitchens and laundry rooms. The most common installation in these cases is an AFCI circuit breaker with GFCI protected devices. Also, according to the NEC, in cases where an existing circuit in a home is “modified, replaced, or extended,” you must update the entire circuit to AFCI protection.

Tamper-Resistant (TR) Outlets

Under the 2017 NEC, almost every single receptacle in a home must be a Tamper-Resistant device. This includes single receptacles as well as combination devices (switch and receptacle). There are a few things you need to know about tamper-resistant outlets. Many times, you need to replace receptacles. In these instances, you must use a tamper-resistant receptacle, even if the old device you’re replacing was not tamper-resistant. Also, many commercial spaces such as child-care facilities, educational facilities, assembly places, lobbies, auditoriums, and dorm rooms require them.

Weather-Resistant (WR) Outlets

Weather-resistant receptacles have plated contacts and screws that resist corrosion, and plastic faces that withstand UV exposure. When replacing a receptacle, if the location would require weather-resistant devices under the 2017 NEC, then the replacement must be a weather-resistant device, even if the old device was not. All outdoor receptacles must be weather-resistant and must be visibly marked.

Wrap Up

We’re here to help at Koopman! We will get you stocked with the right circuit breakers and outlets and get you’re home safe and up to code. If this information still seems confusing to you, then give us a call or stop by any of our Koopman locations. We’d be happy to assist you!