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Thread: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

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    Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    Hi TFPers,
    I always attempt to read threads to research and educate myself and hopefully stitch together the answer to the question I need. At this point I think I know what to do, just need some confirmation. I could use some help at the electrical panel.

    Current setup is a pool built in the mid to late 90's (I think) and the pool subpanel (GE) has 3 individual breakers, all are 20A GE single pole. Breaker 1 controls the pool lights, spa blower, and an GFCI outlet. Breakers 2 and 3 (each single pole) are run to my timer box to supply power for pump, heater, and stenner. After reading, I'm pretty sure this is not code worthy and more importantly, not safe - which is why I think I need to change it.


    My plan is to swap the breakers for GFCI ones, and I want to make sure I am getting the right ones. I think I need the GE THQL1120GFP for breaker 1 and the GE THQL2140GF for breaker 2(3). Here are the links for details:
    https://www.amazon.com/GE-Industrial.../dp/B000H5R3OE
    https://www.superbreakers.net/thql2140gf.html

    My assumption is I need a 20 and 40 amp respectively to match the current amp ratings. I'm betting I could probably get away with a 30amp for the breaker 2(3) - I calculated the load of my equipment and it is ~17amps. Assuming 30 is ok, then I should get this, right? http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-30-Amp...0GFP/100176128


    Hoping some of you electrical types can weigh in here. Thx!
    15K gal rectangle with 1K gal spill over round spa | K-2006 Test kit | IG plaster | B2983 1.5HP 2 speed pump| Triton TR100 sand filter | Pentair MiniMax 400k BTU heater | Stenner 45MPHP10 w/ 15g tank | Dolphin M400 robot | screened pool cage covers pool entirely to keep it debris free and adds SPF | sun exposure estimate 8hr daily.

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    TFP Guide

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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    Breakers are sized for the wire that is attached to them. The wire is sized to meet the needs of the equipment it is connected to. You need to look into how the wiring is done in the timer it is possible that the timer is switching 2 independent 20 amp 110v circuits. If you need to change to a dual pole breaker you keep it as a 20amp breaker. When sizing a dual pole breaker you don't add the two sides together. I support your desire to add GFCI protection but you need to investigate further how everything is wired.
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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    Is it possible that your entire sub panel is protected by a GFCI breaker in your main panel. If this is the case, you would not have to do anything.

    If you do want/need to change the breakers, I would not upsize them from what you have without verifying the cabling back to the main panel. You also mention that all the breakers are single pole, but two of the links you provided are for double pole breakers. Are you are trying to replace 2 single pole breakers with 1 double pole? 2 - 20A singles do not equal 1 - 40A double. You also need to verify that your panel does accept the THQ style breakers.

    While I do recommend that you install the GFCIs as needed, I would also recommend that you contact a licensed electrician to do it. An improper installation will at the least cause false tripping and at the worst, a fire or electrocution.
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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    I did the wiring at the switch during a replacement about a month back and it is only a single 12 gauge romex (hot, neutral, grd) to the switch box, so I do not believe it is not 2 x 120 circuits. I also measured with a voltmeter at the switchbox and it is 240V.

    I opened the subpanel up yesterday to review the wiring. Essentially the one line leading to the switchbox has the black going to 1 20a and the white going to the other 20a (of breaker 2 and 3 respectively)

    The subpanel is protected by a 50a GFCI on the main panel. If this is good enough, then I am ok not messing with it any of it, but I read on another thread that GFIs are needed on the breaker supporting the equipment.
    15K gal rectangle with 1K gal spill over round spa | K-2006 Test kit | IG plaster | B2983 1.5HP 2 speed pump| Triton TR100 sand filter | Pentair MiniMax 400k BTU heater | Stenner 45MPHP10 w/ 15g tank | Dolphin M400 robot | screened pool cage covers pool entirely to keep it debris free and adds SPF | sun exposure estimate 8hr daily.

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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    Quote Originally Posted by Gigem94 View Post
    The subpanel is protected by a 50a GFCI on the main panel. If this is good enough, then I am ok not messing with it any of it, but I read on another thread that GFIs are needed on the breaker supporting the equipment.
    This is the setup I have...that should be all you need. The sub panel is protected by the GFCI already...putting another one in or closer shouldn't make any difference, in
    fact it would not be recommended to add another one where protection already exists. Just make sure to test it every 6 months or year.
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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    When retrofiting you need to ensure that what you are installing matches the existing equipment. So as stated above you must insure the wire size is correct and the breakers match the load.

    Adding GFCIs will result in a marginal increase in safety. However, if its safety you want I would skip breaker based GFCIs on the convenience and lighting circuit and use a GFCI receptacle that meets the 2015 UL 943 Standard. That standard includes self monitoring and prevent miswiring. They are sold by Leviton. As far as I know no breakers now sold meet the UL 943 standard.

    Using a GFCI breaker in your main panel to protect the pool subpanel is not the best practice. The NEC requires that the GFCI be "readily accessible." GFCIs should be as close to the protected equipment or people as practicable and they should be conveniently located so users an operate them in a convenient manner.

    You are probably in compliance with the code at the time of installation, technically that is all that is required.
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    TFP Guide

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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    In residential 220v wiring there is no neutral wire. Other than it not being wired into the proper 2 pole breaker the way the circuit is wired is acceptable. There are millions of homes with 220v wiring where both black and white wire go to the dual pole breaker.

    Is there any 220v equipment on the pad? Is the pump or heater actually running on 220v? As I said before the standard intermatic timer can safely switch 2 independent 110 circuits. You will get 220v when you measure voltage between those wires. Pictures would answer a lot of questions about the panel being wired correctly or not.
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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    If a white wire is used in place of a red wire for 220v each end should be wrapped with black electrical tape indicating that it is hot.
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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    So the consensus here is:
    - rely on the 50a GFI breaker in the main panel and not install any GFI's on the sub panel
    - upgrade the 2 single poles breakers to a 20a double pole (not GFI)
    - wrap 22o white wire ends in black tape
    - hire an electrician

    Anyone disagree?
    15K gal rectangle with 1K gal spill over round spa | K-2006 Test kit | IG plaster | B2983 1.5HP 2 speed pump| Triton TR100 sand filter | Pentair MiniMax 400k BTU heater | Stenner 45MPHP10 w/ 15g tank | Dolphin M400 robot | screened pool cage covers pool entirely to keep it debris free and adds SPF | sun exposure estimate 8hr daily.

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    TFP Guide

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    Re: Upgrading Breakers to GFCI

    GFI protection is best as close to the protected device as possible. The main panel GFI is good and much better than nothing. Individual GFI breakers in your subpanel is better but not necessary. You don't have to do anything to the 50amp feeder breaker if you choose to change the breakers in the subpanel. As long as they are wired correctly you wont get any ghost trips from them being wired in series. Hiring a qualified electrician is always a good idea when questions like this arise. I might not be an electrician but I play one on the internet sometimes.
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