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Thread: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

  1. #1
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    Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    I'm trying to diagnose why my pool lights don't work.
    They haven't worked in the year that I've owned the pool.
    I have a Compool CP 3600 control panel indoors with a spa side remote. When I activate the lights from either location, the outside panel confirms with it's indicator light that it has recieved the command.
    I have 2 locations where 3-1" pvc pipes come into a waterproof cap, and the wiring is connected inside with screw-on caps. I have one located near the equipment pad, and one near the pool deck in a garden. I will report back later today with wiring details.
    So far, I can't confirm voltage or even continuity at any of the locations with my multimeter and continuity checker, which leads me to believe there is a problem at the power panel. I opened it up today and there were no obvious wires that were loose or detached. The breakers do show 120V when tested from hot wire to ground rail.
    I will be looking at the CP3600 manual to see which way it is usually wired so I know where to look, but I'd really like to know how builders usually set the wiring up, kind of an overview of the entire system.
    Pictures/sketches are good, as I'm no electrician by any means and the lingo may be foreign if it gets technical.
    I promise I checked the bulbs.
    Thanks.
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

  2. #2
    Senior Member spishex's Avatar
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Starting at your outside subpanel the power for your light typically:

    -Starts at a dedicated breaker (probably GFCI protected).
    -Goes to a relay inside the panel which closes when the light button is pressed.
    -Leaves the subpanel via conduit.
    -Pops up out of the ground into the junction box in your garden to connect to your light's cord above the water line.
    -Goes unbroken from that junction box all the way to the inside of the light.

    If the breaker is good, find the relay that it leads to and make sure it's closing properly.

  3. #3
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    I did actuate it yesterday at the subpanel by using the service mode. I didn't see or hear any of the 4 relays actuating. Wasn't sure if it ran through a relay. It makes sense that it does since it uses 110V Edison type bulbs. I'll get the manual out and isolate which relay it should be.
    Thanks man, I'll post back up later today after I check it out.
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

  4. #4
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    This is a pic of the junction box in the garden bed.
    I have a light in the spa as well as the pool.
    It seems like there should be a power in from the sub panel coming into this junction, right? Don't the leads in the pic look like typical leads to the niches? Is my power lead from from the panel missing?
    These wires have zero current when the lights are activated.
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

  5. #5
    Senior Member spishex's Avatar
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Hm. That's interesting. It does sort of look like the service line is missing. Go back to the panel, find the light breaker and follow the wire (if it exists) from the breaker to whichever relay it goes to. Check the load side of the relay for a wire and check the function of the relay itself.

  6. #6
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    I saw in the manual that the pool lights wiring runs through the GFI outlet on the side of the sub panel. I can't get it to test/reset.
    I chased the black wire from the GFI to the breaker, than back up to the relay. I get 120 up to the supply side of the relay, but no juice on the other. The wires do run to a conduit also.
    So it looks like I need to replace a relay and a GFI, right?
    -How does the relay detach? I'm assuming it's plugged into the circuit board as well as being fed the power/ground lines.
    -What are the chances that the relay is fine but the activation circuit form the board is messd up? Any way to diagnose that?
    -Should the GFI still test/reset if it hs no power applied?
    Thanks, Shell
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

  7. #7
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    The 3600 is a good unit.....Sounds more like a GFI issue. There should be a sub panel on the bottom of that unit. There should also be a GFCI breaker that controls only the pool lighting circuit.

    A few things...one, I am an electrician and when your messing with electricity things can get dangerous very quickley. May I suggest you cann a licensed electrician as he will be able to diagnose this in minutes...that said, pay attention:

    First, do not test continuity when dealing with line voltage circuits. The ONLY time you test for continuity is to check a wire for a break or to measure the resistance of a resistor (A.K.A. light bulb).

    Line voltage = 120 Volts A.C. (VAC) or 220 Volts A.C.
    Low voltage = 12 or 24 volts AC or DC

    Relay you have is a SPST (single pole single throw) relay and they work off (usually) a low voltage charge (from the computer) that energizes a coil that throws a N.O. (normally open) coil that makes it move to another contact to energize a line voltage circuit.

    First and formost, you need to test the GFI. When there is no power to a GFI it will trip but will not reset.

    The easiest way to test it, is to A) disconnect power to the Compool controller (from your main or sub panel) Remember....don't die over this.

    disconnect the leed from the pool lighting GFCI breaker (not GFCI receptacal). Place the breaker in the off position and than power back up the control panel. Place your meter in 120 VAC mode (or under 200 VAC's) Place one leed on the neutral buss bar and the other on the screw terminal you just loosened to remove the pool wire circuit. Meter should read zero or close to it. Flip the breaker ALL the way to the on position, you should note the meter now reads 120. Push the TEST button, it should click and reset back to zero. If you have power to the buss bar and the GFI has no power as noted in your post, than the issue is the GFI breaker. Replace with the same type and rating as the one installed (ALL breakers should match manufacturers) If you have a GE GFCI breaker, do not replace it with a Murry......You should be able to home depot it, but you may neet to search around.

    Next, you should test the lamps in the pool / spa. It's easier to do this at the panel.... Find the leeds that go into the conduit and disconnect them from the compool wiring (not the ground). Place meter back into cont. mode or resistance (under 200 ohms) and place leads on each exposed wire. Polarity is not a concern. If you get a zero reading...you have some issues with a short, if you get a bunch of numbers way up there you have an open circuit or a break in the line. At that point you would examine it a little further....like at pool j-box. Of the bulb cracked and filled with water the GFCI is doing exactly what it was designed to do, so don't be a hot dog and bypass the GFI to test the lamp...a meter will tell you exactly what is going on. This is important, you could easily energize the water, and it can kill.

    If you are dead set on the relay being the issue, get a diagram of it and post a link, I will tell you how to troubleshoot it. Please understand there is no shame in calling a guy to come out and look at things like this. EGO's and minimal past experience can persuade one into thinking they can do it.....electricity doesn't care about egos or experience. Every now and then I get bit and it hurts. reminds me to slow down and be safe. Paying 85 bucks for a guy to come out and look at your issue and tell you exaclty what is wrong may save your life...maybe not. I have spent hundreds of hours studying code and thousands of hours of experience in learning this stuff...there are no short cuts. I do not mention these things do be a ***.....I just don't like hearing about people getting hurt or killed. If you post up more pics of your panel / wiring / conduit It may be alot easier to describe things to you...

    Good Luck....be safe.

  8. #8
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by shellsingleton
    This is a pic of the junction box in the garden bed.
    I have a light in the spa as well as the pool.
    It seems like there should be a power in from the sub panel coming into this junction, right? Don't the leads in the pic look like typical leads to the niches? Is my power lead from from the panel missing?These wires have zero current when the lights are activated.

    There is no way to tell from that pic if power is comming from the panel. That is the correct kind of wire. One branch could be from the panel, the next is off to one light. The pass through one, can just be heading to the other pool j box for the other light. usually the guys running the conduit are the most inexperienced and lowest paid, that TO MEE, looks like a mistake in the conduit run....no need for a pass through, but if that's how the conduit was ran, there is nothing you can do about it now. It's actually a clue in how your place is wired

  9. #9
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Thanks for the help.
    The breaker is not a GFI, and it says not to use one in the installation instructions. The power is routed through the GFI outlet then to the lights. It's shown that way in the schematic also.
    Also, I have not seen any other j-box near the pool. I have recently stripped all the landscaping to bare dirt and remulched so I've had a pretty good view of what's around there.
    That being said, do you need to modify your instructions to diagnose further or canI just adapt what you said to my situation?

    FYI, when I did the continuity check, I did have the breakers off. I didn't have as good of a grasp of what the wiring was in the panel last night as it got dark so I may need to check for continuity again today.
    It's not an ego thing. It's a DIY thing. I like being self reliant. I like to learn things.
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

  10. #10
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Quote Originally Posted by shellsingleton
    Thanks for the help.
    The breaker is not a GFI, and it says not to use one in the installation instructions. The power is routed through the GFI outlet then to the lights. It's shown that way in the schematic also.
    Also, I have not seen any other j-box near the pool. I have recently stripped all the landscaping to bare dirt and remulched so I've had a pretty good view of what's around there.
    That being said, do you need to modify your instructions to diagnose further or canI just adapt what you said to my situation?

    FYI, when I did the continuity check, I did have the breakers off. I didn't have as good of a grasp of what the wiring was in the panel last night as it got dark so I may need to check for continuity again today.
    It's not an ego thing. It's a DIY thing. I like being self reliant. I like to learn things.

    No worries....you understand I am not trying to belittle you (hard to convey in text) just make sure you're safe.

    And yes, the instructions need to be modified. As per NEC code Each light shall have its own junction box. Also per code said box shall be installed no less than 18" above the finished grade...this one can be hit or miss. Sometimes I see these things installed 6" below the grade...during construction versus the final product can be two different things.

    Quick test for the GFCI recept...shut down power to it. Pull the gfi out. The bottom two terminals )line side) may still be energized so don't grab them at the same time...it will hurt if it is hot. The top two terminals are the LOAD side. Test in VAC mode the bottom two terminals, if it is zero...you are safe. re-energize the GFI and tese the bottom terminals again (polarity is not a concern). You should see about 120. Press the reset button. If it will not reset, than you have either a bad GFI or a short in the line the GFI is protecting. Meaning the GFI is working and doing its job. Another way to test is to remove the LOAD side wires and retest. If the GFI will now reset, the GFI is fine, and you have an issue with the protected circuit.

    I gotta tell ya, its rare to see an internal relay fail...but not unheard of...more often than not it is a GFI. I use Cooper or Pass and Seymore. I hate Vutron / Leviton GFI's nothing but problems IMO.

    Give that a try.

  11. #11
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    Re: Basic schematic for typical pool light wiring?

    Thanks, I will, and report back probably tomorrow.
    7x7 spa drains>16K IG, Gunite/Plaster, Compool 3600, Purex Triton Minimax Plus 350, Sand Filter, 8 Gal Liquidator

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