Ahh, school is out, summer’s here, and you’re out to the great outdoors to enjoy a relaxing dip in a swimming pool or spa. Pools and spas come in every shape and size. Swimming pools range in size from wading pools for young children, to Olympic sized pools that accommodate many people. Spas also come in different sizes and can accommodate many people at a time. They all require some sort of electrical connection to keep the working properly. Electric pumps, filters, heaters, and lighting all play a part in their day-to-day operation and maintenance.
These electrical connections have got to be done according to the electrical code in your area. In most cases, a licensed electrician will have to do the installation for you. Check with your local code authorities to see if they prohibit anyone but a licensed electrician from doing the work before proceeding. Electrical codes for pools and spa are in place to protect those who are in and around these areas. Safety should be your number one concern for everyone in these areas. The following code requirements will let you enjoy a safe and relaxing summer full of pool and spa fun!
Overhead Power Lines
Any electrical wiring run over a pool or spa must be at least 22 ½ feet above the water level. This includes power lines and broadband wiring communications systems. Clearance height above diving boards is not less than 14 ½ feet above the platform or diving board, whichever is the highest. You see, it is likely that with pools, you’ll have one of these handy bug-catching nets. These are mounted on a long, aluminum handle and could easily be lifted into the air. A 10 foot handle and the height of the person using it could be deadly to the user if the lines were lower.
Overhead Telecommunication Lines
This also includes any telecommunication lines that are hung on the same poles. These lines that are often used for telephone, cable television, or speakers, must be at least 10 feet above the diving board, platform, and the water level. If there is a choice on where to run the overhead power or where to place a pool or spa, choose a place away from these lines!
Underground wiring must be run at least five feet from the edge of a swimming pool wall or spa. Let’s say it’s a line feeding a pole light around the pool. The exception is when the wiring attaches to the pool or spa to run a heater, pump, filter, or interior pool or spa lighting.
Electrical Connection Rules
Electrical connections made to and around water, like swimming pools and spas, must be protected by ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) devices. This comes in the form of a GFCI outlet or a GFCI type circuit breaker. If there is a fault in the circuit and you become connected to it, the devices will automatically shut the circuit off and likely save you from being electrocuted.
To ensure that power can be readily turned off in the case of an emergency, an electrical disconnect is required within sight of the pool or spa. It can be no closer than five feet of the pool or spa so that you cannot be leaning out of the water to turn power on or off.
Pool Pump and Filter Power
Most pool pumps require no more than a 20-amp circuit to run them. Some pumps are set up for 120-volt operation and some come equipped with a multi-tap connection. This allows you to run the pump at 120 volts or 240 volts with a few wiring changes on the pump connection itself. The 240-volt pumps usually run on a two-pole, 30-amp circuit. Again remember, the breakers supplying these pumps are all GFCI protected for your safety.