GFCI for Hot Tub


  #1  
Old 02-29-04, 05:56 PM
smiholer
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GFCI for Hot Tub

I am getting ready to hardwire a hot tub... direct to the panel w/no receptacles. I was looking at GFCI breakers at Lowes today, and see over a $10 difference in 20A GFCI breakers: Siemens was $30, and GE was $40, and some other brand was even more. Why the difference?
 
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Old 02-29-04, 06:08 PM
noxx
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Merely the vagaries of manufacturing, breakers are proprietary so you have to buy the correct brand for your panel, not much shopping around you can do.

Although I must confess those sound pretty low, what size breakers were you looking at, and are you sure it's correct for your tub?

Don't forget your receptacle, one is required between 5 and 10' from the spa, with GFCI protection. There is a handy all-in-one kit that some HD type stores carry that serves as both your means of disconnect (with gfci) and your recep, for a little over $100.

edit - didn't notice that you had specified you were looking at 20A breakers. I agree with John, somethings unusual there.
 
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Old 02-29-04, 06:08 PM
J
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My thoughts:
  • Hot tub wiring is usually left to the pros. There is a long section of the NEC that applies just to this subject. What knowledge you may have about adding circuits to the family room is of almost no use here, because the codes are completely different.
  • Can your hot tub really operate on only 20 amps? I'm guessing that this is an indoor unit, what some people might call a jacuzzi?
  • I can't explain the difference in cost, but it doesn't matter much. You're stuck buying whichever breaker matches your panel.
 
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Old 02-29-04, 08:57 PM
smiholer
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To answer a few things, and ask another one myself...


-It's a Siemens box, just wandering why the $$$ difference

-It's 120/240V - 12/28A. I've talked to a few people that run either 120 or 240. It sounds like I'll be fine w/120, considering I can save a little money.

-The wiring is surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Everything is grounded properly.

-My reason for hardwiring it was for looks, wiring ease, and due to the current placement of the unit.

-Even w/a GFCI breaker, I still have to have a receptacle 5'-10'??? I was a little fuzzy on this one. I remember reading the code and it said something like "GFCI protected at 5-10'". I figured that meant if you're using a plug, it had to be within 5-10'. Do you know where I can get confirmation on this issue???

-Basically... if I have a GFCI protected circuit breaker, do I still need a GFCI protected receptacle at 5'-10'?

Thanks a bunch for the help!
 
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Old 03-01-04, 07:12 AM
R
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You had better check the power requirements again. Something is not right. I believe that at 120 volts twice as much current will be needed than if at 240 volts.

The unit must be GFCI protected, regardless of how far the receptacle for the plug is from the unit.

The plug must be at least five feet from the edge of the tub. If closer than ten feet, the plug must be a twist lock type connection. If further than ten feet then the plug does not need to be twist type. If outdoors, the plug must have an in use cover.

I do not believe that you can hardwire a hot tub, unless it is designed to be wired that way.

There are other requirements. You can look them up at your library, or perhaps the store that sold you the unit has them available.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 04:07 PM
noxx
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eek.

Most hot tubs are hardwired, meaning they do not use a receptacle but rather a fused or pull-out type disconnect. Because you are talking about using a 20A circuit however, I have no idea what sort of hot tub you are installing, certainly less than the suburban average.

The receptacle. A receptacle is required, and must be more than 5', but less than 10' from the tub, and of course, GFCI protected.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 04:36 PM
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Like Racraft said, it doesn't sound like you have the right sized equipment even if the rest of the installation is below code.
At 120v, the unit will pull twice the current it will at 240v. So if it is rated 28 amps at 120v, your breaker is under-sized (and your wire may be also). At 240v and 12 (14?) amps, you would need a double pole breaker anyway.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 04:39 PM
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Bottom line. make sure you know exactly what you need, from circuit and wire size to proper connections.

If in doubt, ask the electrical inspector who will be doing the final inspection.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 07:31 PM
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Guys! Just to clarify.
There are many tubs which can run on a 20 amp/120 volt circuit. Most come with a GFI ended cord with a 20 amp configuration plug. Many of these units can be wired for 20 amp 120v or 50 amp 240 volt. Most I do I wire for 240 volt.

You do not save much by running it at 120 volt. The heater runs constantly and it usually cannot keep up with heating when in use. Meaning the temp actually goes down when in use. Wired for 240 volt more heating elements are used and it can keep the temp up more easily.

smiholer, the extra receptacle is a general use receptacle and is in addition to the one feeding the tub. It cannot be on the circuit for the tub.
 
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Old 03-01-04, 09:38 PM
smiholer
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Thank you Seedy... you saved me a lot of time explaining what I was just about to explain about the tub. It can run on 120 or 240, and has been plugged into a standard oulet for years with a Leviton GFCI plug. Since my last post, I have done some digging and agree w/you about running it at 240V.

Can you clarify 1 thing for me? You wrote, "the extra receptacle is a general use receptacle and is in addition to the one feeding the tub. It cannot be on the circuit for the tub." I am not sure what you are refferring to. Can you please elaborate about an "extra receptacle"?

I would still like to run a dedicated circuit for it, which I would have to do anyways if I up it to 240. I haven't begun to look at it, but I imagine the cost to get me a proper set up (cord, plug, GFCI, breaker, etc.) will be high... especially for a 240 GFCI???

Thanks again for the help.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 10:19 AM
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I agree with speedy. Use the 240v. you will notice a BIG dif in heating speed. These dual voltage units are to get you started if you only have a 20a circuit available. I would only use these temporarily, though.
 
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Old 03-03-04, 10:50 AM
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Just in case anyone else still doesn't get the joke (it took me a while):

How is it that a device which requires 40A at 240V can be operated at less than 20A on 120V?

Simple: you have a device which uses _less power_ at 120V. In this case, the hot tub has a heater that is rated at some useful number of watts when connected to a 240V supply, say 7.2KW. You can then connect this same heater to a 120V supply. Resistance heaters are pretty well constant resistance devices, especially if they are immersed in water and thus held at pretty constant temperature. At the lower voltage they will draw half the current. The net result is that this heating element will now only supply 1.8KW... but it just sneaks in to the capability of a 20A 120V circuit.

Of course, you need so many watt hours to heat the tub, so the heater has to run a greater percentage of the time, and chews up the same KWH...

-Jon
 
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Old 03-03-04, 05:32 PM
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Originally posted by smiholer
Thank you Seedy...
Is that some sort of Freudian slip?!
Or is it a simple typo?
 
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Old 03-04-04, 09:29 AM
smiholer
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Sorry about that... simple typo.

I decide to have a pro take care of upping the unit to 220 w/a cord, and I will handle installing the new outlet, wiring, breaker, etc.

Thanks again everyone for you input.
 
 

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