Do I really need a circuit breaker and a GFCI for the pool light?

EBD

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2017
54
Gilbert
#1
I need a second opinion. I have an Intermatic CTL Distribution Control Panel which feeds three circuit breakers for my pool equipment and accessories. One of the circuit breakers feeds a GFCI connected to the pool light. I was advised to remove the GFCI as the circuit breaker should do the job and therefore avoid phantom issues with the GFCI etc. Is this advisable? Not having the GFCI connected to a submerged light kind of scares me.
 

domct203

Bronze Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 3, 2015
3,959
CT
#2
I'm going to give this post a bump, hopefully our electrical experts will see it and lend a hand.

My gut tells me no way.... no way would I remove that GFCI.

Why are you being advised this? Are you having problems with 'phantom' trips?

Are you certain that your pool is properly bonded?
 
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EBD

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2017
54
Gilbert
#3
Not at this point. I am not having issues with phantom trips but had issues with the GFCI not able to reset for a while. That problem is behind me now so I was just trying to wire a new switch to a new LED pool light I had and I submitted the wiring diagram and I was asked why I had both and advised to get rid of the GFCI .
Since I am not 100% sure of everything that goes with bonding a pool, and assuming that is all pretty much underground such as behind the pool niche and grounded to rebar etc, I would say I am not sure at all. Is there an easy way to tell?
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,096
Franklin, NC
#4
In a word, yes - GFCI is required for the lamp circuit.

From the code:
Branch circuits that supply underwater luminaires operating at more than 15V for sinusoidal alternating current, 21.20V peak for nonsinusoidal alternating current, 30V for continuous direct current, and 12.40V peak for direct current interrupted at a rate of 10 to 200 Hz or less [680.2 Low-Voltage Contact Limit] must be GFCI protected.
 

JoeGolan

Bronze Supporter
Nov 2, 2016
200
Palm Coast, FL
#7
Not at this point. I am not having issues with phantom trips but had issues with the GFCI not able to reset for a while. That problem is behind me now so I was just trying to wire a new switch to a new LED pool light I had and I submitted the wiring diagram and I was asked why I had both and advised to get rid of the GFCI .
Since I am not 100% sure of everything that goes with bonding a pool, and assuming that is all pretty much underground such as behind the pool niche and grounded to rebar etc, I would say I am not sure at all. Is there an easy way to tell?
It almost sounds like you are saying you have a GFCI circuit breaker feeding a GFCI outlet. If that is the case then yes remove one of them. Multiple GFCI's chained downstream (load side of 1st GFCI outlet or breaker feeding line side of 2nd GFCI outlet) on the same circuit may cause false tripping.

Your light should be protected by a GFCI breaker or outlet as pointed out by tim5055

Newer GFCI that I have seen require holding in the reset button for a few seconds for them to reset.

Bonding has nothing to do with how a GFCI works

For those interested, here is a great explanation of how a GFCI works by Mike Holt, an renowned expert in the electrical field.

How GFCIs Work
 

gwegan

TFP Expert
Apr 19, 2013
2,769
Sacramento, CA
#8
Chained GFCIs can cause false trips. So if you have chained GFCIs I would remove one.

If they are saying a GFCI is not required because it's a low voltage lighting curcuit that is technically correct. See tims quoted language above. But you must have a pool rated transformer and we would generally still recommend a GFCI on the curcuit.

Because the new GFCI outlets are self testing I prefer them over the breaker based GFCIs in this situation
 

Pool Clown

In The Industry
Sep 5, 2008
1,836
Silicon Valley, CA
#10
Often there are outlet(s) required to be within a certain distance from waters edge. Scary huh? There is a reason for this. Those outlets also need to be gfi protected. The reason they are required in some areas is, if you wanted to have say a radio at the pool, you would use this protected outlet instead of running an extension cord all the way from your shop, where that outlet may not be protected. I just explained all that because that gfi circuit would probably have the pool/spa lights on it as well. You mentioned that you were having problems with that gfi "phantom" tripping, but has seemed to resolve itself. It could be that, if you had outlets around the pool on the same circuit as the light, that one of the outlets may have been causing your trips. Perhaps the outlet, while protected against rain or moisture (with a rain tight cover) was still getting enough moisture intrusion to trip. This could be from a cover not quite covering the outlet or something plugged in, leaving the cover open.

Also, every outlet, light, or what ever is connected to the gfi circuit needs to have its neutral return to the gfi breaker or gfi outlet, not the neutral bus in the panel, but directly to the breaker/ outlet. The breaker or outlet has its own neutral terminal that connects to the panels neutral buss. If you have a component of the circuit who's neutral is not returning to the gfi, That too could be your intermittent or phantom trip. This is worth checking out because the component whos neutral is not returning to the gfi's neutral terminal wont be gfi protected even though the gfi sets or re-sets.

Does that make sense?
 
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EBD

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2017
54
Gilbert
#12
Yes Pool Clown, the only neutral connecting to the panel is the one coming out of the GFCI. The receptacle is exactly how you described. It was required by code and it's connected to the GFCI as well.

- - - Updated - - -

Seems there's still mixed opinions but better safe than sorry so might be safer to leave both in place. Thank you all.
 

jasong

Well-known member
Mar 10, 2017
97
House Springs
#15
The answer on needing a GFI for your light is "it depends". If it is a low voltage LED type light with a transformer at the control panel, then no GFI is required but you need to use the correct isolation trasformer {px300 transformer}. If the 120v power goes into the niche you need the GFI
 

gwegan

TFP Expert
Apr 19, 2013
2,769
Sacramento, CA
#16
Whoa Whoa Whoa

We are getting waayyyyy too confusing here.

Jasong is technically correct the code does not require a GFCI on a low voltage lighting circuit. However, as a general rule most of us on TFP recommend a GFCI on all pool circuits even a low voltage lighting circuit. The why is simple -- we don't know when the next Yahoo is going to come along and tap that circuit for say a convenience outlet and all pool outlets, indeed all outside residential outlets, require GFCI protection. It could be next year it could be in ten years but some guy or gal will add that outlet. The code does not prohibit a GFCI on a low voltage lighting circuit and its an extra margin of safety.

And second, for those still on here I think there is general consensus that you do not generally want cascading GFCIs. Its not required by the code here and may increase the chance of phantom trips.

Finally I encourage all to read pool clown's post above he makes some very good points.
 
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EBD

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2017
54
Gilbert
#18
It's a single pole circuit breaker. Similar to the ones in the main panel. It doesn't have a reset button or anything on it. It is my understanding that all circuit breakers have Ground fault built in them. Is this not correct?