Wiring a new garden fountain

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  #1  
Old 09-05-06, 01:53 PM
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Wiring a new garden fountain

I plan to put an outdoor fountain in my garden in the front yard. The garden is adjacent to the living room which has a receptacle. Can I pigtail from the receptacle to get power to the fountain.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-05-06, 01:57 PM
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Can you? Yes, most likely. Should you? Maybe, maybe not.

What is the present load on the circuit serving the living room recepacle? Does it serve a television or home entertainment center? Does it serve a computer system? What other areas of the house does it serve?

Sometimes it just as easy, or even easier, to run a new circuit than it is to tap an existing circuit. This is especially true when running power to an outside area when it is necessary to provide GFCI protection.
 
  #3  
Old 09-05-06, 02:35 PM
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In theory, yes. Do you plan to install an outdoor GFCI receptacle and plug the fountain into that? How is the fountain supposed to be installed? Is it hard-wired?

There are a few basic requirements for running wire outside. You need to protect any wiring from physical damage, which usually means PVC or RMC for most applications. You also have to use wire that is approved for wet locations, usually UF cable or THWN individual wires. Going underground, depending on the wiring method you may be anywhere from 6-24" below ground with your wire.

Tapping off an existing circuit is another matter entirely. Do you know what other appliances, lights, receptacles, etc, are on this branch circuit? You need to figure out that first before you can decide if you can add any more load to that branch circuit. Let us know what size breaker is serving that circuit, and what loads are on it. If adding this fountain puts you over 80% of the circuit's rating, you'd be better off running a new branch circuit.

Assuming that you have to run a significant distance underground, and want to minimize digging, I'd lay rigid metallic conduit (RMC) in a 6" trench, and pull #14 THWN wires (hot, neutral, grounding) to an approved in-use GFCI outdoor receptacle mounted on a post. This of course assumes that your local jurisdiction doesn't have different rules - some places restrict what you can bury or make it go deeper, etc. Your conduit also needs to protect the wire above ground too, from the point it leaves the house to the point it enters the outlet box.

If this sounds like too much work, you should probably look at hiring it out.
 
  #4  
Old 09-05-06, 04:25 PM
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When I get home I will check the sixe of the breaker serving that circuit. I believe there is a computer and a television on that circuit but i will check. How can you tell if you are over 80% of the rating?
When you say adding a new branch circuit does that mean a new breaker from the box. If so the breaker box is in the back of the house and that would be a major project.
 
  #5  
Old 09-05-06, 04:56 PM
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The 80 percent rule does not apply for branch circuits. It's a good idea to follow it, but it is not a rule. What you do not want to do is to overload a circuit.

If you have a computer or a television on the circuit, then do not tap it. You will regret it.

Yes, a new circuit means a run from the panel.
 
  #6  
Old 09-06-06, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by lbphathead19
How can you tell if you are over 80% of the rating?
You need to figure out all of the appliances, lights, etc., that are commonly being run on that circuit. If you know which outlets and lights are on that circuit, it's not that hard. If you don't know what's on that circuit - well, it's time to find out. You should always map out your breaker box so you know what controls what. First, find out which breaker the outlet you would like to tap is on. I like to plug in a radio to the outlet, loud enough so I can hear it from the breaker panel. Flip off breakers until you kill the power to your radio, then you know what circuit it's on.

Now, with the circuit still off, go and check outlets. You can use one of those cheap plug-in testers that tell you if an outlet is wired correctly, a voltage probe, or the radio. You've got a voltage probe (since you're planning on working on wiring, right?), so just use that. Check EVERY outlet (top and bottom) and see what is deactivated. Also check all of your lights, fans, appliances, everything. If you had an older house, or a 'handyman' special, you may find outlets or lights on opposite ends of the house that are run from this circuit.

OK, now that you know everything controlled by that outlet, you can start to calculate power consumption. Start with lights, add up the wattage rating of every bulb installed that could be operated. Appliances are harder, because smaller ones usually aren't nameplated with their power consumption. A good list of common appliances and their wattages is located at
http://www.city.ames.ia.us/ElectricWeb/energyguy/appliances.htm (just cut and paste into a browser window).

Add up the wattage of everything on that circuit, then divide by 120 volts. What you've got left is amps (amps x volts = watts). Assuming this is a 15A breaker, you should avoid going over 12 amps. That's because you may come along and plug in an extra fan, vacuum cleaner, portable heater, etc, to this circuit in the future. It's good to leave a 20% cushion to avoid nusiance trips when intermittently using other portable appliances. The code still lets you go to 100%, because it's not a safety issue as long as you've got properly sized wires connected to the proper size breaker.

If you really don't want to have to run a new branch circuit from your main panel, you could look at ways to reduce consumption on that circuit. Replace old incandescent bulbs with compact flourescents. See if the TV or computer can be relocated to another circuit.
 
  #7  
Old 09-06-06, 12:30 PM
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You might want to check 2005 NEC (NFPA 70) Article 680 for some other specifics if you're interested in being code-compliant. For example 680.12 now requires that fountains etc. must have a disconnecting means readily accessible, within sight of the equipment, and not less than 5 ft horizontally from the inside walls of a PERMANENTLY installed ... fountain.

Quoted from Leviton's Mike Holt "Captain Code" illustrated guide available online.
 
  #8  
Old 09-06-06, 02:30 PM
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Changing a breaker

I have a 15A breaker and i am adding a fountain to the circuit. Is is possible to replace the breaker with a larger one (20A). I have never done anything like this, is the scope of the job too big. I saw the replacement breakers at the store, is it as simple as buying a larger size breaker and replacing.
 
  #9  
Old 09-06-06, 02:33 PM
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A 15 amp breaker is for number 14 wire. The larger 20 amp breaker is for the larger number 12 wire.

If you put number 14 wire on a 20 amp breaker, you risk burning your house down. I would, in my professional opinion say that burning a house down is a bad idea ...

You need to run a new circuit for your fountain.
 
  #10  
Old 09-06-06, 07:37 PM
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lbphathead19,

I merged these two posts, as they are the same issue.

Please consider hiring an electrician to do this job. Or at the very least do not undertake it until you have learned a lot more.

You have demonstrated that you do not yet posses the knowledge to do this work.
 
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