My friend has an inground swimming pool. The filter and pump are located
about 15 feet from the pool and are in a little (3 sided + roof) encloser.
There is an electrical panel there that has two 240 breakers (1 for the pump
and another for a no longer installed pump for the autocleaner) and two 120
15a breakers (1 for in-pool lights and 1 for the light in the encloser).
The problem is this panel is not on it's own circuit. It is on the same
circuit as the central air conditioner, which uses a 100a breaker in the
main panel in the house. The pool panel is wired to the shut-off box that
holds the fuses for the air conditioner's condensor unit. I'm not an
electrician, but this doesnt seem to be up to code. He bought the house this
way and has run the air conditioner and pool pump at the same time with no
problems for the last 10 years. Is this setup normal? Thanks.
I don't know how pools are normally wired, but I see a couple of big
potential problems. 100a is an awfully big breaker. Is everything from
the main panel to the pool panel wired with #3 or #4 copper wire, or #2
aluminum? I doubt that the AC is even wired that big. First you need
to see what size wire goes to the AC disconnect. If it's big enough,
you can tap it there for the pool (not sure if it's kosher, but it would
certainly work) but you need to provide overcurrent protection for the
wires from the AC to the pool -- or else run wires big enough to handle
the whole 100A from the breaker in the main panel.
What size fuses are in the AC?
What size breakers are at the pool?
It also sounds like you don't have a GFCI to protect the pool. 2-pole
GFCI breakers are expensive. I looked at one the other day and it was
about $100 for a 60A with its own cute little metal enclosure. I don't
know if you can have an unbalanced load (some 110V outlets and/or
lights) on a 2-pole GFCI, or if they are strictly for pure 220V loads.
I bet the previous owner bought a 100A breaker because it was the
biggest he could find, and the original AC circuit was probably (just
guessing here) 30A or 40A. If you have #10 or #8 wire on a 100A breaker
like I think you have, it is a fire hazard.
If I was gonna make this work, I'd either run a whole new circuit for
the pool, or I'd make sure the wire from the main panel to the AC panel
was big enough (and replace that 100A breaker with a smaller one if
necessary) and replace the AC panel with a small outdoor panel that can
hold two 2-pole breakers. Use one for the AC disconnect, and a one for
the pool (maybe a GFCI breaker for the pool). The breaker here for
the pool protects the wires going to the pool's panel and lets you use
I just wanna say one more time, that 100A breaker sounds scary.
Pools are supposed to be on their own circuit. The biggest issue is the
grounding conductor. It MUST be unbroken to from the service to the pool
equipment and of the proper size. It is not uncommon to feed a pool with a
20-100 amp 2 pole breaker and then set a subpanel at the pool equipment with
the appropriate breakers. The light needs a GFCI for protection. Personally
I will not swim in a pool with the light on, I figure my life is worth more
than 8 bucks. It is time to repair this obvious code violation and become
safe again. I can guarantee that if there is an accident, and the claims
adjuster comes to the property and finds this foopa; your buddy will be
There wasnt any GFCI's in the panel. There was a ground rod attatched to the
subpanel, so the ground isnt unbroken all the way back to the main panel. I
thought multiple grounds were generally a no-no.
The pool light isnt run directly from the 120. It goes into a box that I
assumed was some kind of transformer and then from there into the pool. I
guess I'll tell him to call an electrician.
In the main panel it wouldn't be, and isn't required.
Generally they are a no-no. But different jurisdictions always have their
quirks depending on what the local inspectors think is safest, and their own
translation of the NEC prevails.
I would suggest looking into the original permit filing / inspection of the
pool at town or county records department. Or find out if/when the central a/c
was mentioned or added later. Also it's possible the installing electrician put
a service sticker on the pool panel or main panel, might want to call them to
pick their brain.
It's not and it never was, unless the A/C compressor was installed after the
pool panel was installed.
That's because the whole thing is on a 100a breaker, so it's not tripping.
There may be a serious fire hazard here.
It was once OK to wire pool pumps on 220v w/o a GFCI but not anymore. The pool
panel should be on it's own circuit and must be fed directly from the 1st
service on the house where the neutrals and grounds tie together. This is
usually the main panel but sometimes there's a meter main, which makes the
house panel a subpanel which you cannot feed a pool panel from.
You're grandfathered, but I'm telling you that it was never legal to tie a
compressor or anything else into the middle of a pool panel feeder.
I installed pool panels for a summer back in the 80's, the fact that you *have*
a pool panel suggests to me that the job was done correctly and to code in it's
initial installation, and then altered at a later date by an unknowing
homeowner or a hack posing as an A/C mechanic.
I'm giving answers from NEC 680 off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure
This can be legal if the wires to the AC disconnect are large (like #2 copper)
and the feeder going
to the pool is attached upstream of the AC disconnect breaker. The feeder to the
pool by today's
code must be insulated. In previous NEC editions, the feeder could contain a
covered ground wire
(like in Romex or USE cable). But you must have 3 insulated wires (two hots and
a neutral) and the
4th insulated or covered.
Pool pumps can still be on a non-GFCI circuit if they are hard wired. A GFCI is
a good idea, but not
required. It is also my understanding that only the pool light ground wire must
be unbroken back to
the panel sourcing it and it must be on a GFCI breaker. I don't believe there is
a problem with
multiple subpanels in the pool feeder along the way to the pool subpanel. You
must make certain that
neutral and ground are not bonded in the pool subpanel (and there better be 4
feeder wires). The
grounding wires (including the ground rod wire) need to all go to a bus bar that
is attached to the
subpanel chassis. The neutral bus must be isolated from the subpanel chassis.
An air conditioner disconnect is not gonna have a neutral, is it? I
*think* central air compressors are pure 220V loads. That means only 3
wires supply the air conditioner circuit, and the pool circuit must derive
its neutral and ground from the air conditioner's equipment ground.
I guess it's *possible* the AC is wired with three insulated #3 or #4
copper wires plus a big equipment ground because it was designed to be a
100A circuit supplying both the AC and the pool.
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