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Thread: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

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    Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Hi all,

    Been doing a lot of reading on the forum as we're currently thinking about getting a spa. I'm sure I'll have a ton more questions once we progress (particularly on the chemical side of things, I'm currently studying the stickies on Chlorine and Bromine) but for now, an electrical set up question.

    I understand the spa would need 220v/50a or 60a service. In our house, we have our main panel and a subpanel. The subpanel has all the circuits that are fed by the generator during a power outage (I'm in Northeast PA and it happens, one time we were out for 5 days - in May!). It's a manual cut over so we wheel the generator out of the garage to the driveway, start it up, plug in the giant wire and then flip a switch on the subpanel to take us from power company feed to generator feed with only select circuits getting power. The generator can handle 1 220 circuit (Could likely do more if all else was off) so our well pump is on it (no over, no dryer, no AC). We plan to use the spa all year round. My plan is to put the double pole 60a circuit in the subpanel (understanding I need to then put a spa panel 60a GFCI breaker box outside about 6' from the spa itself and these are all #6/3 wire runs per several of the spa places we've talked to). My thought is that when we flip to subpanel/generator power, I would shut the spa breaker off but then depending on projected power outage time, I could flip the well off, turn the spa on - thus not overloading the generator - and allow the spa to run for a bit to maintain circulation and heat levels and not risk a freeze if there is an extended power outage.

    There shouldn't be an issue with this right? Since currently our well and many other things in the house run through the subpanel every day, I didn't envision this being a problem and also gave us a way to maintain the heat level during a power outage in freeze conditions.

    Also - do people usually pull UF-B wire (direct burial with the big gray outer part - and generally a pain to work with) through conduit out to their spas or just use runs of individual THHN wire in appropriate colors of W, R, Bl and G?

    thanks in advance!

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Welcome to TFP!

    I very much doubt that a wheel out generator can handle 60 amps. We have the largest fixed residential generator sold and it is only rated for 70 amps. Of course I might be wrong, check your generator manual or spec panel to see what it is rated for.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Most generators on wheels like that only put out 30 amps. Like Jason said, check the specs on it.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion View Post
    Welcome to TFP!

    I very much doubt that a wheel out generator can handle 60 amps. We have the largest fixed residential generator sold and it is only rated for 70 amps. Of course I might be wrong, check your generator manual or spec panel to see what it is rated for.
    Well shoot.... if I had my glasses on when I was looking at the panel last nite I'd have seen my well pump is a double pole 20a vs the 60a I thought it was. You're right, looks like our Dyna generator can only handle about 45a according to the plate on it. So that puts a kink in things.... My main panel is actually full. I could drop a few 15a breakers down but unfortunately, when our house was built, for some reason, one area has 2 15a breakers feeding it and they're on the same leg (so across from each other). We have no idea why it was done like that. I suppose I could take the 4 15s (double breakers, not double pole if that makes sense) to keep those together as needed and also a 15a above one of them and move them to the generator (I'd never be drawing all that anyway from the generator since when power's out, we're more conservative than normal). That would free up space in my main panel but then the issue becomes what do people do with their spas in winter when there's a power outage??

    And as an aside, I just looked again at my 200a main panel. The breaker that feeds the sub panel is a double pole 50a but then the switch in the subpanel to switch from power company to generator is a 60a double pole. Seems like it should have been matched but it's been 10 years so....

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    For a typical sub-panel a main breaker is not required, but a master disconnect is required. It is easier to sell a panel with a breaker in it, instead of making two kinds. When used as a master panel the breaker is the master breaker. When used as a sub-panel the master breaker is used as the master disconnect. In a sub-panel, it doesn't really matter if the breaker is rated higher than the circuit since it is only being used as a disconnect.

    A spa that is being kept up to temperature is usually going to be alright for several days to a week after it loses power, unless it is wildly cold out.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Well that's good to know, on all accounts. We get to 0F here but only overnite, it's extreme to see that for more than a day or so. And frankly, if our power is out like that again, there's going to be **** to pay given what they just did to my land to put up 140' tall transmission poles..... I was thinking we'd only be safe for a day or so.

    Looks like I'll be moving some circuits down to the sub panel.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Let me throw something out there about this generator running the spa idea.... I'm assuming the 50a or 60a is for when there's music going, lights on, 2 pumps at full speed. If it was just the heat (coming on as needed) and the one pump at low speed for its circulation cycle, that in theory is much lower of a draw right? Thus is could possibly be ok on a 45a gennie? So I wouldn't actually USE the spa, but it would maintain its heat (I'd drop the heat level as low as possible so it wasn't kicking on much if at all) and filter/circulation cycles.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Running romex or underground direct burial cable in conduit is not up to code in most places. And generally it uses a smaller gauge ground wire than #6.

    I have installed 2 of my tubs and 3 for family. Run 1" schedule 40 pipe and pull 4 #6 wires thru it. A red (hot), black (hot), white (neutral) and green (ground). I went to a site called wire and cable to go.com they have all the colors and it makes it easy. The ground being #6 makes it a tad difficult to work with in the spa control panel, but I like the beefier ground. Just in case.

    When it comes to water and electricity combined, I say a little overkill is ok.

    Also google Mike Holt hot tub and you will get a wealth of info.


    30x20 vinyl IG, Hayward SD60 with Pentair Dynamo 340219 2HP pump, Compupool CPSC24 SWG, Hayward H200FDN heater. APC automatic pool cover.
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Yeah I've seen people drop the green to #8 between the spa GFCI breaker and the spa control panel and I think that's technically ok but I'm all for overkill, like you said. What I'm debating is running the schedule 40 and 4 individual wires out of the house and up under by deck (with pipe straps thus no trench there) to the spa GFCI and then bury a little conduit to get to the spa or possibly running UF-B out of the house and along the underside of the deck to the spa GFCI and then go to 4 individual wires in conduit to the spa. I think I have some #6/3 direct burial so the first thing I want to look at is the size of the ground wire. If it is smaller like you mention, then I'm throwing that idea right out the window.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Still wondering if anyone knows about one pump on low speed for circulation as far as amps drawn and if it could run on the generator.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    I would assume that a two speed pump in low would be ok. If 220 as discussed, depending on the pump it is probably 8-10a draw?? If you have an open circuit that will handle 15a then should be ok.

    Find the sticker on the pump with the model # and google it for the specs.


    30x20 vinyl IG, Hayward SD60 with Pentair Dynamo 340219 2HP pump, Compupool CPSC24 SWG, Hayward H200FDN heater. APC automatic pool cover.
    Central Illinois

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    If you know the watts it would be easy. Assuming heater is 3200W and pomp would be 1000W on speed 1 you would need 4200/220 = 19A generator to make sure that filtering and heating is continued during power outage.
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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    I originally planned to run UF cable to the hot tub and then decided I thought it would be better in conduit. For the record, if you plan to run UF in conduit (which is totally NOT hot it's intended to be used and will make you look like an amateur) then make sure you get big conduit, I tried to pull 8/3 with a ground through 3/4 inch conduit and that was NOT happening. I ended up pulling #6 THHN/THWN in conduit, MUCH easier and then it looks professional (i.e. you actually used the appropriate material) Pretty much all THHN is also THWN but make sure.
    18 x 36 Vinyl Inground, Coverstar Cover, 2 speed Pentair Pump, Hayward 425 Sq Ft Cartridge Filter, Hayward Heat Pump, Prologic PS8, T-15 Salt Cell, 2 Colorlogic LED lights, TF-100 Test Kit

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Quote Originally Posted by Blueskies21 View Post
    I originally planned to run UF cable to the hot tub and then decided I thought it would be better in conduit. For the record, if you plan to run UF in conduit (which is totally NOT hot it's intended to be used and will make you look like an amateur) then make sure you get big conduit, I tried to pull 8/3 with a ground through 3/4 inch conduit and that was NOT happening. I ended up pulling #6 THHN/THWN in conduit, MUCH easier and then it looks professional (i.e. you actually used the appropriate material) Pretty much all THHN is also THWN but make sure.
    Yep I think we've decided to just run the individual #6 with properly colored jackets and all and run it in conduit hung to the side of a main support beam of a the deck. I know what you mean about UF in conduit. When we ran the wire for the lights down the driveway and then under the driveway to the other side, we put it in conduit because were going under a sidewalk, down a 225' driveway and then across so we had to go in conduit in case we ever had to repull it and then we wouldn't have to rip up concrete and asphalt.... I think we tried to get #8 through 3/4 and it got stuck at the sweep. Would NOT budge either way once it was stuck good. Hooked it up to the hitch on the quad and had the quad doing wheelies. Ended up putting it around the hitch on the pick up truck to unstick it.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Sounds like you went with THHN. The issue with UF is that the ground isn't insulated. Pool or tub wiring has to have an insulated ground.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Newbie future spa owner - electrical question

    Haven't gone with anything just yet but yep, we'll be using THHN. Right now I'm trying to figure out if I want to use the main panel or subpanel for the breaker and I may have to upgrade the feed breaker in the main panel and the 2 "switch" breakers in the subpanel...

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