GFCI Protecting Entire Pool Panelboard then use standard breakers?

TheGingerElectrician

Master Electrician Electrical Contractor, TN
Location
Tennessee
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I am having trouble getting a hold of 2 pole gfci breakers for our pool equipment. Most of our pool panels are fed with no more than 60 amps. I am trying to figure out if we can just gfci protect the feeders that feed the pool panel and put standard breakers for the pool equipment inside the pool panel. All the pools we do now have low voltage lighting so the 120v load issue is avoided. All the motors are 240v. Some of the pool panels are automation panels that require 120v for the panel controls but to my knowledge that doesn't need gfci protection. Anybody have any advice on this? I've read all of 680 and didn't find anything conclusive.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Location
Tampa, FL, USA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
AFAIK, two pole GFCIs at any residential amperage still require just 30ma of leakage to trip. And IIRC, they have a place to attach the neutral of the feed so I would expect a leak on either 120 V leg to trip the breaker. I see no reason why you couldn't use a two pole GFCI to feed a pool panel and call all the downline breakers GFCI protected.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Contractor
Besides being a bad idea it is done often. If there is a pool light then technically it could be an issue.

680.23(A)(3) GFCI Protection, Lamping, Relamping, and Servicing.
Ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel shall
be installed in the branch circuit supplying luminaires operating
at voltages greater than the low-voltage contact limit.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
Can you use the spa panel in this post? :

I bought it from the Orange store (Home Depot). Here's the link to the product.

In the product description it states the breaker protects single pole and 2-pole loads against ground and overcurrent fault
...
...


I think these Home Depot stores might be near you based on your website:
Square-D_60A_spa_panel.png
 

brantmacga

Señor Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical Monke
You can gfi the feeder; if you ever use a line voltage luminaire, you have to install a gfci within the pool panel for that circuit.

Most pool builders here are installing this way. The contractor I wire pools for specifies having individual GFCI’s where required so if something other than the filter pump trips, it doesn’t shut the whole system down.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

macmikeman

Senior Member
It may work fine but I wouldn't want a minor ground fault on a post or wall light to shut the entire panel down.
Not my habit to put post lights or wall lights on pool panels, but if it is your habit, I salute you and quietly walk away.
If anything, anything at all on one of my pool installs develops a ground fault , I want to have the whole pool system shut the heck down and stay unusable and off until the offense is dealt with and replaced or repaired. No half measures when it comes to swimming pools.
 

Little Bill

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Tennessee NEC:2017
Occupation
Electrician
Not my habit to put post lights or wall lights on pool panels, but if it is your habit, I salute you and quietly walk away.
If anything, anything at all on one of my pool installs develops a ground fault , I want to have the whole pool system shut the heck down and stay unusable and off until the offense is dealt with and replaced or repaired. No half measures when it comes to swimming pools.
I don't take half measures, I GFCI everything required on a pool. I just do it on each piece of equipment or circuit. Major things are anything to do with the pump system or pool lights. A pool panel is no different than any other panel in regards to adding things to it. So I certainly don't hesitate to add lighting or anything (within amps rating or reason) to a pool panel. I just prefer not to have something as simple as a ground touching a neutral to shut the whole panel down. It can also be a nightmare to troubleshoot if there are several circuits to search through.
If you GFCI the whole panel, carry on! Different strokes and all that.
 

rnatalie

Senior Member
Location
Catawba, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Engineer
You can be killed just as dead from current leaking from one branch circuit to another which will not trip a feeder GFCI.
I'd not do it even if it were legal.
 

rnatalie

Senior Member
Location
Catawba, NC
Occupation
Retired Electrical Engineer
As I said, current could leak from one branch circuit conductor to another through the pool water and you and not trip a GFCI only on the feeder.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Placerville, CA, USA
Occupation
Retired PV System Designer
As I said, current could leak from one branch circuit conductor to another through the pool water and you and not trip a GFCI only on the feeder.
(y), I guess.
Although it would require a simultaneous double fault in two different locations to both generate a voltage gradient and not trip the feeder GFCI when the first fault occurs. A single line to neutral fault where the two insulation breakdowns are far enough apart to generate a voltage gradient is almost certain to pass enough EGC/equipotential grid current to trip a feeder GFCI.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
As I said, current could leak from one branch circuit conductor to another through the pool water and you and not trip a GFCI only on the feeder.
(y), I guess.
Although it would require a simultaneous double fault in two different locations to both generate a voltage gradient and not trip the feeder GFCI when the first fault occurs. A single line to neutral fault where the two insulation breakdowns are far enough apart to generate a voltage gradient is almost certain to pass enough EGC/equipotential grid current to trip a feeder GFCI.
I agree.
However, it's possible that deteriorating conditions could cause the leakage on each phase of a 2-pole GFCI breaker to slowly creep up over time so that the leakages match each other closely enough that the breaker doesn't trip. These leakages could be from L1 to L2 through the pool. Or one phase could have leakage to the EGC or the earth, and the other phase have leakage to the pool.
Whether the likelihood of this scenario is worth considering is another matter.
 

Mystic Pools

Senior Member
Location
Park Ridge, NJ
Occupation
Swimming Pool Contractor
We have been using the Midwest Electric (GE) 60 amp GFCI for about 15 years now, to protect the entire pool panel. In my case, a Jandy 100 amp capacity sub panel. HD carries them.
No issues with nuisance trips. Changed one practice regarding receptacles at the equipment sets. The GFCI panel has additional slots for breakers above the GFCI, so we wire a GFCI receptacle off that and don't have to worry about trips. The receptacle is independent and won't affect the pool equipment. Any post lights or additional receptacles around the pool area, can be wired in the same fashion.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
As I said, current could leak from one branch circuit conductor to another through the pool water and you and not trip a GFCI only on the feeder.
If it is doing that there is pretty good chance at least 4-6mA is also going to go to ground - which will trip the GFCI.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
My bigger concern when it comes to undesired tripping and GFCI protection of a feeder instead of individual branch circuits is the accumulation of leakage that would be allowed on an individual circuit to build up to enough leakage on the feeder to trip the feeder GFCI.

Say you have 6 circuits and each one has capacitive leakage of 1 mA. With GFCI on individual circuits none of them trip. With a GFCI on the feeder, you are at the trip threshold. When you come to troubleshoot you will likely examine each circuit individually to determine which one has the fault but you don't find any individual circuit that is causing problems, then when you put everything back to normal you back to being right near the trip threshold again.

I think by installing this way you possibly setting yourself up for callbacks that may be difficult to find the problems.
 
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