Hot Tub Installation Questions

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Old 07-13-12, 11:56 AM
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Hot Tub Installation Questions

Before I start, I want all of you to know that my neighbor is a licensed electrician and will be coming over to do my final connections and to check everything thing out for me. He travels a lot and is a relatively new neighbor so I didn’t want to take advantage of his good will. So, I am trying to get all of the materials, dig the trench and lay the pipe, get the box mounted, etc. to help as much as I can. He is out of town for the next week so I was hoping I could get some direction from this forum in the meantime. I am also an engineer by training and really like to learn new things and to really understand how my house functions.

Current Situation:
The previous owner of my house had a concrete hot tub pad put in and ran 6 AWG THHN Red, Black, White and Green wires about 80’ in hard PVC 1” conduit from a non-GFCI 50amp Square D Home main panel. They ran a stub about 12” out of the ground about a foot behind the pad. When I bought the house, it had the wires exposed and live. I turned off the power and put an outdoor junction box on the stub.

There is currently no sub or spa panel near the hot tub. Further, the used hot tub that I bought (2004 Jacuzzi J-335) has the steps and controller in the front which is also where the power cabinet is located. The previous hot tub owner had a 6’ run of non-metallic liquidtight from the power cabinet out the front corner to a PVC stub.


FUTURE STATE:

PANEL SIDE
The hot tub is far from the main panel but in a corner so I am going to add a spa panel about 6.5’ from the back of the hot tub mounted to a 4x4 post. The spa panel can either have a 50A or 60A GFCI breaker with two additional slots to lightening etc. later. I bought a good quality, waterproof 4x4 plastic junction box to put on the existing stub then will run underground PVC conduit to the spa panel on the post. I will then run hard PVC conduit back to the concrete slab behind the spa.

According to Jacuzzi, it requires 50A to run all heaters and pump at once. However, two different Jacuzzi dealers told me to use a 60A breaker as a general rule and most of the new ones will need a 60A breaker to run pumps and heaters at the same time. I also wanted to have enough juice for some minor lighting or outlets (at a safe distance, of course) so I was thinking of upgrading my main panel to a 60A non-GFCI and using the 60A version of the spa panel. Then someone told me that I should not oversize the GFCI or it will delay in tripping. Again, I can confirm with my neighbor but I would like to have all my supplies for when he returns.
1. IS IT SAFE TO USE THE 60A GFCI FOR THE 50A SPA? I want to pick one of the other. I will buy the MidWest brand 50 or 60A spa panel at Home Depot
2. 6 AWG THHN should be OK with 60A main breaker at 85’ – is there any reason I cannot upgrade my panel to 60A. I can leave it at 50A for now as I don’t have plans for the 110V nor anything more than 50A at the spa. This is an easy upgrade later. Just wanted a sanity check.
3. The licensed contractor at Home Depot said not to oversize the GFCI breaker and stay at 50A and he said even having an amp or two for the 110V outlet running a radio, etc would probably not trip the 50A breaker when the heater and pump runs and he suggests going this way. Is this accurate? Is there a problem oversizing this to 60A to do it once?

HOT TUB SIDE
I cannot hook up my hot tub in the front or the side so I need to get the wires to the back. The problem is that I would need 12’ of liquidtite with about 10’ in the tub and 2’ external to the PVC stub.

My town has a few exceptions but basically uses California Title 24, Part 3, 2010 California Electrical Code which is based on the 2010 NEC. In this code, it states that I can only use a total length of 6’ of liquidtight. But my neighbor didn’t think it was an issue to run longer than 6’ but suggested I could do partial hard PVC conduit plus 6’ of liquidtight. Upon further review, it seems a bit messy and would have a few connections under the spa. The spa has alight by teh way of that matters.

Another contractor who works at Home Depot also said he didn’t think longer liquitight whip would be an issue and he got an inspector to approve up to 18’. Keep in mind that I will only have 2’ external. The supply house and some forums discuss how the 2011 NEC clarifies that the liquitight should be no longer than 6’ EXTERNAL to the tub which people say is the spirit of the 2010 code.

I feel that it is more waterproof to not monkey around with having both hard PVC and liquidtight in the tub and just have a single 12’ long length of liquidtight direct from front panel to the PVC stub in the back.
4. Suggestions/opinions on whether it is better to go one direction or another? Longer liquidtight or Liquidtight to PVC conduit combo?
5. If PVC conduit, I would need to have (2) 45 degree elbows prior to connecting to liquidtight. Is that an issue?

Lastly, as I started to prepare the are to dig the trench and run the hard PVC conduit from the junction box to the spa panel and back, I realized that the 4x4 post is set in concrete so I cannot get the PVC right up the post. Is it acceptable to run it as close as possible and either heat/bend the conduit up to the post or use metal offsets? OR, can I use two more lengths of 6’ liquidtight (one from junction box to spa panel and one from spa panel to spa) and connect them to the hard conduit under ground?

6. Hard PVC conduit with offset or transition to 6’ liquidtight?
7. Can I couple the liquidtight and PVC conduit underground or do I need to stub out the conduit and use a 4’ length of liquidtight?


Thanks!!!!
Scott
 
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Old 07-13-12, 04:23 PM
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I can start to address some of your issues.

The 6' limit of flex should be the max, whether under the skirt or outside or a combination of lengths.
 
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Old 07-13-12, 07:03 PM
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According to Jacuzzi, it requires 50A to run all heaters and pump at once. However, two different Jacuzzi dealers told me to use a 60A breaker as a general rule and most of the new ones will need a 60A breaker to run pumps and heaters at the same time.
I would take instructions from the manufacturer over those of a dealer. When they say it requires 50A to run all heaters and pump, do they mean 50A is the amount of current drawn or do they mean use a 50A circuit. I wouldn't put over 40 actual amps on a 50 amp breaker or 48 amps on a 60 amp breaker. You need to know FLA and size your circuit and breaker from there, but it sounds like it has already been done and you need a 50 amp GFI Breaker. BTW you reference both 2011 and 2010 NEC, there is only a new NEC every three years. The latest is 2011 and the previous one was 2008.
 
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Old 07-13-12, 09:49 PM
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Pcboss,

How would you suggest I keep within the 6' limit on the liquid tight and still be able to make it from the front to the back of the tub within the skirt? Hard PVC? If so, are there special fittings to make the connection between hard PVC and control box? Or is that not necessary?

On the other hand, The 2011 nec states just external to the spa so they must recognize the benefit of the liquid tight inside the spa, no?

Thanks


Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
I can start to address some of your issues.

The 6' limit of flex should be the max, whether under the skirt or outside or a combination of lengths.
 
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Old 07-13-12, 09:56 PM
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They suggest 50A breaker The specs show peak combined draw for all pumps etc at about 42 or so ( don't have it in front of me) +\- 10%

2008 sorry.

But is there a danger to buying the 60A gfci so I have it if I get another hot tub?

Thanks


Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I would take instructions from the manufacturer over those of a dealer. When they say it requires 50A to run all heaters and pump, do they mean 50A is the amount of current drawn or do they mean use a 50A circuit. I wouldn't put over 40 actual amps on a 50 amp breaker or 48 amps on a 60 amp breaker. You need to know FLA and size your circuit and breaker from there, but it sounds like it has already been done and you need a 50 amp GFI Breaker. BTW you reference both 2011 and 2010 NEC, there is only a new NEC every three years. The latest is 2011 and the previous one was 2008.
 
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Old 07-14-12, 06:00 AM
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They suggest 50A breaker The specs show peak combined draw for all pumps etc at about 42 or so ( don't have it in front of me) +\- 10%

2008 sorry.

But is there a danger to buying the 60A gfci so I have it if I get another hot tub?
The danger is you aren't protecting the load. It would be similar to putting your electric range in the kitchen on a 60 amp breaker. Midwest makes both a 50 amp and 60 amp spa panel. I don't know whether the actual box and interior are the exact same or if they are rated differently as well. The catalog numbers on the spa panels seem to indicate separate 50 amp and 60 amp rated panels, but I think the catalog number is just indicating the size of the GFI breaker that comes in it. IF both panels carry the same 60 amp rating on the interior, I'd use the 50 amp breaker spa panel now and change the GFI breaker to 60 amps if you get a new spa that requires a 60 amp circuit. I suspect to keep costs down and simplify manufacturing that both spa panel interiors are rated for 60 amps, but I don't know for sure.
 
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Old 07-14-12, 08:09 AM
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Understood.

Both look exactly the same except the breaker. Thanks!

Any chance you could chime in on liquid tight vs hard PVC inside the skirt to get from the front to the back of the spa? Can I achieve the same moisture protection of the liquid tight with certain hard PVC fittings?

Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
The danger is you aren't protecting the load. It would be similar to putting your electric range in the kitchen on a 60 amp breaker. Midwest makes both a 50 amp and 60 amp spa panel. I don't know whether the actual box and interior are the exact same or if they are rated differently as well. The catalog numbers on the spa panels seem to indicate separate 50 amp and 60 amp rated panels, but I think the catalog number is just indicating the size of the GFI breaker that comes in it. IF both panels carry the same 60 amp rating on the interior, I'd use the 50 amp breaker spa panel now and change the GFI breaker to 60 amps if you get a new spa that requires a 60 amp circuit. I suspect to keep costs down and simplify manufacturing that both spa panel interiors are rated for 60 amps, but I don't know for sure.
 
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