How to Wire and Install an AFCI Outlet?
What is an OBC AFCI Outlet?
AFCI or OBC AFCI is known as “Outlet Branch Circuit AFCI” or “Outlet Branch Circuit Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter“. AFCI is different than the conventional outlet receptacle as it is used to provide protection to the branch circuits against the arc faults.
Arcing faults occurs unintentionally in a circuit when the motor switch opens or a line (hot) wire cuts and touches the neutral. In this case, the AFCI will detect the arc fault and cut off the main power supply to the connected devices and equipment, hence prevent the chances of electric fire.
The wiring connection of both GFCI and AFCI outlets are same but they don’t provide protection against electric shock, overload or short circuits. Therefore, both GFCI and AFCI breakers and outlets are feed through overload protection from the main panel i.e. they are directly connected to the main MCB in the home panel box.
OBC AFCI detects upstream series and downstream series and parallel arc faults and provides protection against electrical fires. AFCI are available in breakers, outlet, combination switch and blank face receptacle. We will show the different wiring diagrams and application of all the above mentioned components in details.
- According to NEC 2014, AFCI protection is must in all new construction, dormitories and dwelling units, bedrooms, living rooms and other similar locations in residential areas.
- AFCI and GFCI should not be installed with life saving and other sensitive equipment (where continuous power supply is must for proper operations) that lost power.
- An AFCI and GFCI can be used on the same circuit as they don’t interfere with each other. You may use the combo of both AFCI/GFCI for the purpose as well.
- It’s must to know the Line and Load terminals of an AFCI outlet. The load must be connected to the load terminals of AFCI outlet to be protected by AFCI. Any load connected to the line terminals of AFCI are not AFCI protected as they are connected to the direct main supply.
- To avoid false tripping operation, do not install and wire an AFCI, GFCI, GFPE (Ground Fault Protection of Equipment) or Combo of both AFCI/GFCI circuit breakers on shared Neutral wire with other circuits.
- We have used Red for Hot, Black for Neutral and Green for Ground for illustration only. Follow your own area wiring color codes according to NEC, IEC etc.
Now let’s see how to wire an AFCI receptacle in different ways like AFCI Outlet, Blank Face AFCI, AFCI with GFCI and Dual Function AFCI/GFCI outlet as follow.
Wiring an AFCI Outlet with Ordinary Outlets
In this AFCI outlet wiring diagram, two conventional outlet receptacles has been connected to the load terminals of AFCI outlet. This way, AFCI outlet, the conventional outlets and any load connected to it is AFCI protected.
Wiring an AFCI Outlet with a Light Switch
The following simple wiring shows that a single pole (SPST) switch is used to control the ON/OFF operation of a light bulb while protected by AFCI outlet. It is clearly shows that the light switch has been connected to the load terminals of AFCI outlet. Keep in mind that any load connected to the line terminals of AFCI outlet is not AFCI protected as it is running by direct main supply.
Wiring a Blank Face AFCI with Combo Switch Outlet and Light Bulb
In this special AFCI wiring diagram, a blank face AFCI outlet has been used to protect the light bulb controlled by combo switch and outlet (you may use any other load according to your needs). The combo switch is connected to the load terminals of AFCI while the light bulb is controlled through the ON/OFF switch in the combo switch outlet. The outlet can be used to connect other loads as well which is AFCI protected. In simple words, the combo switch/outlet, light and AFCI outlets are AFCI protected.
Wiring an AFCI Outlet with GFCI Outlet & Standard Outlet
As mentioned above, an AFCI can be wire and install with GFCI as they don’t interfere with each other in a circuit. The wiring connections of both AFCI and GFCI are same i.e. the load must be connected to the load terminals.
In this basic wiring diagram, a standard outlet has been connected to the GFCI load terminals while the GFCI has been connected to the load terminals of AFCI. This way, the standard outlet receptacle is protected by both AFCI and GFCI.
Note: If you it looks weird to wire both AFCI and GFCI in a circuit, you may use the combo AFCI/GFCI outlet for this purpose as follow.
Wiring a Dual Function AFCI / GFCI outlet with Conventional Outlet & Light Switch
To reduce the number of outlets or make complex things simple, you may use the combo AFCI/GFCI outlet instead of separate AFCI and GFCI receptacles.
In the following diagram, a combination of AFCI and GFCI outlet has been used to protect the ordinarily outlet and light switch. The ordinary outlet receptacle and light switch has been connected to the load terminals of Combo AFCI-GFCI outlet through Hot, Neutral and earth/ground wires hence, all the outlets and light switches are both AFCI and GFCI protected.
- Switch off the main circuit breaker to make sure the power supply is OFF before wiring a GFCI outlet.
- Use the suitable voltage and ampere rating of switch with appropriate wire size and proper size MCB according to the load rating.
- Use the correct polarity i.e. verify the Load and Line terminals while installing a GFCI for protection. In other words, connect the wires to the correct side of outlet for proper operation.
- Regular maintenance, check and test is recommended while test the portable GFCI before each operation.
- Contact the authorized and licensed electrician for GFCI installation if you are not sure about the wiring diagrams.
- The author will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information or if you try any circuit in wrong format. So please! Be careful because it’s all about electricity and electricity is too dangerous.
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