220 V spa disconnect question


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Old 04-24-09, 08:15 AM
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220 V spa disconnect question

I recently bought a spa, and I am going to install it in my backyard. One of the spa's options was an enhanced control box that has its own GFCI protection (one of the selling points of the spa). The control box connects to every electrical component in the spa (heater, light, and control panel).

Question 1: I talked to an electrician about having the circuit installed, and he says that even though the spa's control box has its own GFCI, the code still requires him to put a GFCI disconnect (as opposed to a non-GFCI disconnect) on the circuit. Is this true? My city uses the 2002 National Electrical Code.

Question 2: If the answer to question 1 is yes, is there any way to get a variance, exception, or waiver to code provisions? In my case, the code would place an undue burden on me because it would require me to spend extra money on an unneeded component. The spa has its own GFCI protection, and putting GFCI protection on the circuit would probably be several hundred dollars extra.

Question 3: The owner of the company who sold me the spa said that it is not a good idea to have two GFCI devices in series on the same circuit. He said that other customers of his had told him that they had two GFCIs, and the GFCIs tended to trip each other. Does this sound right? The electrician didn't think so.
 
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Old 04-24-09, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mp1980 View Post
I talked to an electrician about having the circuit installed, and he says that even though the spa's control box has its own GFCI, the code still requires him to put a GFCI disconnect (as opposed to a non-GFCI disconnect) on the circuit. Is this true? My city uses the 2002 National Electrical Code.
No, as long as the tub GFCI is listed by a safety lab such as UL. I'll quote NEC Article 680.44 (A) directly:

Listed Units. If so marked, a listed self-contained unit or listed packaged equipment assembly that includes integral ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for all electrical parts within the unit of assembly (pumps, air blowers, heaters, lights, controls, sanitizer generators, wiring, and so forth) shall be permitted without additional GFCI protection.

You may want to have some sort of documentation or the UL certificate from the tub manufacturer when the inspector comes by to prove that your tub meets the qualifications. That information is usually printed somewhere in the installation or user's manual. Also some manufacturers print an "inspector's brochure" explaining the relevant articles for new or exotic products which inspectors may not have encountered before. Check the website or call the helpline to see if such a document exists.

putting GFCI protection on the circuit would probably be several hundred dollars extra.
Probably more like $80 more, but still I understand your point.

The owner of the company who sold me the spa said that it is not a good idea to have two GFCI devices in series on the same circuit. He said that other customers of his had told him that they had two GFCIs, and the GFCIs tended to trip each other. Does this sound right? The electrician didn't think so.
No that's not true anymore, although it did have some truth with much older GFCI devices. The modern GFCI designs are much more resistant to false trips.
 
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Old 04-24-09, 08:52 AM
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Question 1: I talked to an electrician about having the circuit installed, and he says that even though the spa's control box has its own GFCI, the code still requires him to put a GFCI disconnect (as opposed to a non-GFCI disconnect) on the circuit. Is this true?

Tell the electrician that you want to know the exact NEC Article that requires a GFI-type dis-connect , and if he does cite the Article, then "report back" to us with the info he provided-- thanks!!
 
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Old 05-08-09, 09:34 PM
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The problem is not quite resolved yet, but I think I'm getting close. I looked at a hard copy of the 2002 NEC and photocopied article 680 for my reference. Section 680.44(A) does indeed say that I would not need an a GFCI breaker on the circuit (very useful information--thanks!).

I called the electrician and told him this, but he still wasn't convinced. He claimed that my city is actually using the 2005 NEC and enforcing some code issues based on the 2008 NEC. He is stern in his insistence on putting a GFCI breaker on the circuit and said "I'm not going to argue with you about it". When I asked him about the issue of GFCI devices tripping each other, he said he didn't think it would be a problem, but suggested disconnecting the GFCI device in the spa. I said I don't want to do that because altering the spa would void its warranty, but he didn't seem to care about that issue, either.

After that conversation, I called the plan inspector for the city. At first, he said I would need a GFCI breaker on the circuit. I asked him which code the city uses, and he said the 2002 NEC (not 2005, as the electrician had claimed). Then I told him about section 680.44(A), he checked with the electrical inspector, and told me that I am correct--the circuit doesn't need a GFCI breaker. He even sent me an e-mail with that information and carbon-copied the inspectors, so now I have it in writing.

Now I'm thinking I'll get an estimate from one more electrician, and show this information to the new electrician. If the previous electrician's bid is better, I'll have to decide whether it's worth fighting with him again to get him to install the circuit without the unneeded GFCI breaker.
 
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Old 05-09-09, 06:46 AM
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If you have to fight with that one electrical contractor at this point it will only get worse. Even if his price is good I would still pass on him. Get as many bids as it would take for find a company that you feel comfortable to work with. Don't let price be the only deciding factor.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mp1980 View Post
I called the electrician and told him this, but he still wasn't convinced.
Honestly, I'd pass on him. It took me all of about 2 minutes to look that up in the code book and confirm the installation instructions were correct.

After all, why would a manufacturer install an expensive component in their product that didn't meet code?

but suggested disconnecting the GFCI device in the spa. I said I don't want to do that because altering the spa would void its warranty, but he didn't seem to care about that issue, either.
Your judgment is obviously correct in my opinion.
 
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Old 05-10-09, 08:47 PM
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I will agree with Ibpooks's comment and he is correct on that matter and I did double check the NEC code and it is correct answer.

If that electrician give you a fit with that just get other electrician they can able do it right.

The main item is double check the spec sheet or " builder " sheet that will useally give you a crictial info there.

If it was for me I will just set up spa subpanel sans GFCI breaker just install the convetinal breaker { that spa subpanel set up can work either way so if some reason have to change the spa and need exteral GFCI breaker the subpanel is ready for it}

And make a note in subpanel stateing that the spa do have interal GFCI device in there so that way in case inspector or someone try to find the GFCI device they can see it where it located.

Merci,Marc
 
 

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