In the electrical field things are always changing. Generally these changes are put into power by the Canadian Electrical Code book, which has newer versions being adopted into legislation every few years. In 2015, the 23rd edition of the CEC (Canadian Electrical Code) was released and it came into effect January 1st of this year. There were quite a few small changes this year in terms of wiring method and sizing of raceways for installations. However, the most substantial change in this new codebook has to do with the required installation of AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters) into all residential receptacle installations, with some minor exceptions. AFCI is intended to eliminate possible arcing in electrical circuits. Arcs are essentially sparks of electricity jumping through a small air gap. If the gap happens to have combustible material nearby, an electrical fire is possible. The use of AFCI is said to eliminate this possibility, although I do know the science or statistics behind the use of them.
This single rule, which they added to Section 26, has huge impacts in residential construction and renovations. All receptacle circuits in a residential dwelling need this protection. There is a few installation techniques that can be used, both having their own pros and cons. For the everyday consumer what this will mean is a huge addition of cost when purchasing a new house, or renovating the electrical system on their existing house. I believe this will easily increase the cost of each circuit containing receptacles by about $75, and unfortunately we have seeing an increasing demand for receptacles in our houses.
Is this extra cost now worth the extra protection that we gain? Its definitely not for me to decide, however I am excited to see what solutions electricians who work with this on a daily basis come up with the make the transition as “pain free” as possible.