Quick question on how you electricians would wire a hottub outdoors.
Our current set up is 220v and is wired from the main panel, using 6/3,
to a GCFI sub panel, then uses 6/3 from the sub panel to the tub.
We just had a house inspector look at ours and he says it's all wrong.
The wires at the main panel tap into the "feed" side, and are not on a
breaker, then go out to the GFCI. I'm guessing what he wants is for the
wiring to be on a breaker, essentially putting the tub on 2 breakers,
one at the main, and one at the sub. Does this make sense?
He also thinks the 6/3 isn't big enough, but I'm not to worried about
that, since that is what the installation schematic for the tub called
for, and the people at the electric supply store agreed at the time that
6/3 would be best.
I tested the GFCI when we left the house and it was working, but is inop
now. Do these tend to go bad outdoors? It is in a weather box, and is
designed specifically for hottubs.
Thanks for your time.
It sounds like you do have a problem. There are ways to "tap" without a breaker
but none of them let you use a cable. (6/3?)
If your sub was close to the panel and connected with a conduit I would be more
comfortable thinking it might be OK.
How far is it from the main panel to the subpanel? If more than (iirc)
10 feet, you need a big breaker in the main panel to overcurrent-protect
the feeder wires to the subpanel. If it's less than 10 feet, the
breaker in the subpanel *might* be enough overcurrent protection to let
you get by with using the feedthru lugs, but I doubt it.
If it's a long distance from the main panel to the subpanel, you might
need larger wires to minimize the voltage drop. What is the current
rating of the spa?
Running cables (instead of individual wires) in a conduit is not really
a good idea because it can't dissipate heat as well.
Does you spa need a neutral wire?
If the GFCI is wired correctly, maybe all you gotta do to make this
legal is put about a 50A 2-pole breaker in the main panel to protect the
feeder wires. (If they were individual wires in conduit, or SE cable
(type R if you need a neutral) without a conduit, you could use a 60A
Thanks Bob, good info. The tub does not use a neutral wire, and when
the GFCI was installed it worked fine, in fact it worked just a few
months ago when I tested it, just won't trip now when the button is
pushed, so I guess it's toast.
Thinking about it now, I think it's actually 6/4 wire that is there,
since the neutral is not used between the sub and the tub...I think.
The sub is maybe 15 feet from the main, and the wirirng runs through a
conduit along the wall, then through the wall to the outside. I don't
know the current rating on the spa, as I don't have the paperwork here,
it was left with the house. But whe we did the install, everything was
done per the the paperwork that came with the spa.
I remember when the installer saw the wire I bought, he thought it was
overkill, but said better to big than to small.
Trying to second guess the inspector may just cost you more time and money.
Find out from him/her specifically what is wrong with your installation.
Try www.homewiringandmore.com they have a bulletin board which may help you
get some of the information you need.
They helped me out a ton when I was doing a relatively complicated
electrical install (100 amp sub panel to basement, with our spa feeding from
the sub). I passed my inspection on the first try, mainly due to the help I
got from that web site.
SE cable does not have a seperate neutral and ground SER does.
I will not wire pools or spas unless I use metal conduit and seperate
conductors. I do not give a damn about a 4-10 dollar gfci protecting my
life. I will not even enter a pool/spa unless the lights are either off or
low voltage. I want that double path for the ground currents to travel. Just
my paranoia, your results will vary
The what did he tell you to do to fix it.
How far away is the load from the panel? My last spa installed was 154 feet
from the panel. I used #2 because of the load.
Time to call a pro and have it done right before some one is injured or
he said that the wiring to the GFCI at the tub can't be on the feed side
of the main braker box.
the GFCI sub panel for the tub is about 10 feet away for the tub. I
think he is more concerned about the 6/3 that is running between the
main panel and the sub panel.
This was installed by a professional quite a few years ago. I think
the GFCI outside just failed and needs to be replaced. Problem is I'm
2500 miles from the house, and the electricin that did the original
install moved out of state a few years back.
The problem is that the main wires is coming off the feed, this is not
A legal way is to have a sub panel. You removed two single pole breakers in
the original box and put a double pole breaker in it sized to what the local
code allows to feed a separate panel. The fuse does not protect the panel
but protects the wire going from the new double pole (230 volt) breaker to
the other panel. The spa then is fed from this sub panel along with the
other two circuits that were removed to make room for the new double pole
Before doing this however, check with that inspector, being that we can't
see what you have there are too many variables.
You see, with the spa wires connected to the 'feed' you have no protection
for the wires or a direct short. You could have 10,000 amps go through in
1/60th of a second before the fuses on the electric companies poles blow, by
this time you, your house is toast. This is why he wants the wires
downstream from the main house breaker/disconnect.
I understand what you're saying, but the tub *is* on it's own sub panel,
and the entire thing is downstream of the house main. The main issue is
that the tub is *only* on the GFCI sub panel. The wiring from the
breaker box inside the garage, which or course is downstream from the
main disconnect, to the sub does not have a breaker. I have a hottub
guy going out to install a breaker, hopefully this weekend.
You said they are 6 gauge wires, and your main breaker is probably more
than 60A. So the feeder wires are not big enough to go straight off the
mains without a breaker.
Maybe I'm missing something...
That is not exactly true. We are talking about a "feeder tap" and these are the
He did say it was over 10 feet so we skip ahead a bit. (the <10 ft rule doesn't
(2) Taps Not Over 7.5 m (25 ft) Long. Where the length of the tap conductors
does not exceed 7.5 m (25 ft) and the tap conductors comply with all the
(1) The ampacity of the tap conductors is not less than one-third of the
rating of the overcurrent device protecting the feeder conductors.
(2) The tap conductors terminate in a single circuit breaker or a single
set of fuses that will limit the load to the ampacity of the tap conductors.
This device shall be permitted to supply any number of additional overcurrent
devices on its load side.
(3) The tap conductors are suitably protected from physical damage or are
enclosed in a raceway.
Since this is a 200a panel and 200/3 is 67a #6 ain''t gonna work for most AHJs
. If it was #4 and met the other requirements it would be OK.
Ok so the gfci shit the bed, no biggie just change it right? NOT , if
the 6/3 at the main panel is wired to the line side (before the breaker)
tthen how the heck are you gonna turn off the power to the gfcl?
The above would be one of several reasons a breaker is required at the
main panel not to mention the 6/3 between the line side of the main and
the gfci has no over current protection. It would be a damn shame if
something happened between the main and the gfci causing a short and the
only thing protecting you is is the cut out mounted up on a pole three
Do yourself a favor and have a real electrician look at it.
Even an idiot would have tapped in after the main breaker, wouldn't he?
Only stuff like fire safety pumps gets to tap in before the main
I figure the panel had passthrough lugs and the electrician (?) used
them to save about $8 for a breaker.
I agree, get a real electrician to look at it; I think it's only gonna
need to add a breaker, and maybe replace the gfci. The wires and
subpanel are probably OK.
Probably my fault for saying "main" panel. It's tapped off of the house
breaker box, not the main that is next to the meter. So, yeah it is
downstream of the actual "house main".
I don't think this is a huge deal, but like I said, the inspector didn't
like it, so were going to have a breaker added at the circuit breaker
So is it fairly common for outdoor GFCI's to go bad? I've never had to
replace one inside, other than for appearance.
Anything electronic can fail.
I had a GFI go bad and we never used it! I went upstairs and smelled
something and it was coming from the GFI located in the bathroom.
So, yes, anything can go bad, this is why there are codes to help prevent
as many injuries and deaths that could take place without them. Your
inspector is not being a jerk, he see's something there that could be a
potential disaster to persons or property.
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