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Thread: Pool light wiring

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    borjis's Avatar
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    Pool light wiring

    Currently the pool light is working, however the GFI circuit breaker test button doesn't work at all.
    There is no water in the lens.

    It's a standard 120v 500watt halogen...no transformer box.

    I installed a new replacement gfi breaker (same type/rating) and it would always trip itself. It would not reset.
    I returned it for a refund (kinda spendy)

    One of the causes for tripping I read is if you have too many black wires coming together.
    In the sub panel there were a ton of them...like 8 in total.

    So I have thought of re-wiring just the pool light itself so it gets power through the GFI receptacle (wall plug) in the pump room.

    As far as I can tell there are two cables coming from the light fixture.

    A thick black cable with white, black & green wires, then a white cable with one conductor. That white cable is the one
    that went to the gfi breaker. A standard light switch is hooked in as well.

    I'll be very careful of course (have some experience wiring gfci receptacles) so does it sound like I could just
    find the hot+common source going to the light and wire that to the gfci receptacle?

    I just want to try and see if it works and solves this problem. I realize if I have moisture in the wiring then
    nothing is going to work. In the meantime the light is off limits to use if anyone is swimming.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    That white cable is the one
    that went to the gfi breaker.
    This doesn't make any sense to me. Posting a photo might help.

    Other than that, your plan sounds very reasonable.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    Your wiring seems strange, and I'd want to sort that out before going any further. The black cable with three conductors would normally be the only thing going to the light. There are no terminals available to hook anything else in. Where do the three wires in the cable go?

    I think I'd pull the light out of the niche and see what's going on there before going any further. If you have a junction box off the deck or under the diving board, take a look there as well.
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    Something doesn't sound right about that light wiring.
    Is there a junction box near the light aboveground? If so have you pulled the cover off it to see how it's wired in there?
    Is the white pigtail from the breaker hooked up to the neutral bus?

    The 3 conductor cable should be the wires that are connected to the GFCI. The black should be hot and the white should be neutral. Green goes to ground.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    The "extra" wire is presumably the insulated bonding wire. The problem with that theory is that it should have been green and should not run to the breaker. Still bonding is the most likely possibility.
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    borjis's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    I just realized I should have posted a diagram ha ha. (which I do have)

    ya I think that black cable is indeed the light cable, I will confirm this then post back here.

    I'll trace that white cable to the sub-panel and confirm what it's going into....I meant it goes to a bus bar (I think), not gfi breaker. But will confirm that tonight.

    There are no other junctions outside. It goes from the pump room right to the light.

    Ya Jason I wonder about the White wire being the bond as well. This pool light was installed in 1973. it's old.

    If I use a test meter will I find continuity between the bond wire coming into the pump room and that white cable? (will that confirm its the bond wire to the light?)
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    Currently the pool light is working, however the GFI circuit breaker test button doesn't work at all.
    There is no water in the lens.
    It may have been wired wrong or defective. Pictures of the wiring would help here. The test button simply shunts part of the power back to the neutral which causes the imbalance that the circuit needs to trip. If the test button works the GFCI is good


    It's a standard 120v 500watt halogen...no transformer box.

    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    I installed a new replacement gfi breaker (same type/rating) and it would always trip itself. It would not reset.
    I returned it for a refund (kinda spendy)
    Again, possibly wired wrong. Not necessarily on the end you worked on but possibly somewhere down the line in a junction box. The other possibility is there is an actual current leak causing the trip. A lot of times people mistakenly think that a tripping GFCI is defective when it simply is doing what it was designed to do. There is an old myth out there that motors can not be connected to GFCI's. Old refrigerators were a good example. People thought since it always worked that the inrush current was what was tripping them. In fact it was the insulation breaking down in the motor windings that was causing the trips.


    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    One of the causes for tripping I read is if you have too many black wires coming together.
    In the sub panel there were a ton of them...like 8 in total.
    Again, more of a myth than fact


    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    So I have thought of re-wiring just the pool light itself so it gets power through the GFI receptacle (wall plug) in the pump room.

    As far as I can tell there are two cables coming from the light fixture.

    A thick black cable with white, black & green wires, then a white cable with one conductor. That white cable is the one
    that went to the gfi breaker. A standard light switch is hooked in as well.
    Sounds like something is wrong here. I would start by checking all junction boxes and seeing where that extra white wire is originating/terminating at. The white wire in the cable is the one that should be hooked to the breaker. It might be possible that someone ran a separate white to repair something that may have been cut or compromised.


    Quote Originally Posted by borjis View Post
    I'll be very careful of course (have some experience wiring gfci receptacles) so does it sound like I could just
    find the hot+common source going to the light and wire that to the gfci receptacle?

    I just want to try and see if it works and solves this problem. I realize if I have moisture in the wiring then
    nothing is going to work. In the meantime the light is off limits to use if anyone is swimming.
    Moisture in the junction boxes can cause tripping problems. However, wet wires in conduit will be OK as long as the properly rated wire was used. I would start at the deck box and make a temporary connection there to a GFCI and see if it holds. Then move back to the next connection point and do the test again until the problem section of wire (if there is one) shows up
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    borjis's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    thanks for the comments.

    My plan is to make a temporary connection from the GFI receptacle to the pool light and switch and see if that
    works....if it does, I'll make the connection permanent / proper.
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    borjis's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    confirmed, that white single conductor wire is connecting to the neutral bus bar in the pool pump room sub panel.
    16x32 IG Vinyl, 13,000 Gals. Hayward S-244T sand filter, SP2810X15 pump
    (1.5 HP motor) Raypak PR266AEN (266k btu) gas heater. TF-100 Test Kit.
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    borjis's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    ok so I temporarily wired up the light & switch to the GFCI receptacle and it worked!

    Pushing test button turned the light off, then resetting it, came back on again!

    YAY!

    Made my day as it's now "safer" and I didn't have moisture in the wiring causing the problem.
    16x32 IG Vinyl, 13,000 Gals. Hayward S-244T sand filter, SP2810X15 pump
    (1.5 HP motor) Raypak PR266AEN (266k btu) gas heater. TF-100 Test Kit.
    Dolphin E10 Cleaning Robot.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Pool light wiring

    Good news! Thanks for posting the follow up.
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