IntelliFLO VSF breaker keeps tripping, brand new circuit, sigh...

pisymbol

Gold Supporter
Jul 11, 2014
147
NJ
So yes, I have Googled this extensively. I have a Cutler & Hammer box which takes Eaton breakers. The pump trips every day at a random time - it does not always correlate with speed change or even weather (I had it stay on during a heavy thunderstorm and go off in the middle of a sunny afternoon). The circuit is a dedicated 20amp circuit with nothing else on it but the pump.

Here's the odd ball thing: The pump doesn't trip the the regular non-GFCI breaker, only the GFCI one (220CHF).

My question is has anyone solved this WITHOUT using the Siemens breaker which would require me to install a subpanel?

Can I run the pump without the GFCI breaker on it? It was like that before I bought the house for years with no issue (not that it makes it right).

Looking for some advice!
 

Newdude

Well-known member
Jun 16, 2019
762
NY
Yes you totally *could*. But its code for a reason. A failsafe reason. One that might electrocute a loved one. But there are many many out there that never got the upgrade, and many that went back after the Gfci started tripping. I know one person who switched back and one who went with 10 more Amps but neither way is safe.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
8,944
Northern NJ
Have you tried replacing the breaker with another Eaton GFCI breaker? If two GFCI breakers are doing the same thing then it says you have a problem that should not be ignored.

Did a licensed electrician install that circuit?
 

pisymbol

Gold Supporter
Jul 11, 2014
147
NJ
The circuit and breaker was installed by a very qualified licensed electrician. The pump was installed by a very qualified pool tech. We are talking 30-40 years experience between both of them.

We tried two different new Eaton GFCI breakers. They both trip - and randomly. Again, with a non-GFCI breaker everything works just fine with no issue. The GFCI needs to be there for my final (inspection) regardless.

Am I ignoring a problem? Maybe. But in my defense, I don't know what it is yet. The pump is a year old (last year it worked all season without the GFCI breaker not tripping once), the circuit is new, it's a dedicated line capped off at the pump.

Does anyone have any suggestions outside of installing a subpanel just so I can use the frigging Siemens breaker Pentair recommends behind it? I mean that is really....

One person suggested moving the line to see if it still trips?
 
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mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
22,038
Laughlin, NV
Pentair Intelliflo pumps should use a Pentair breaker. It is made by Siemens.

From the installation manual:
Pentair offers 2-Pole 20 Amp GFCI breakers
(P/N PA220GF) which offer 6 milliamp personnel
protection while meeting 2008 to current NEC
Standards for Pool Pumps.
 

pisymbol

Gold Supporter
Jul 11, 2014
147
NJ
Pentair Intelliflo pumps should use a Pentair breaker. It is made by Siemens.

From the installation manual:
Pentair offers 2-Pole 20 Amp GFCI breakers
(P/N PA220GF) which offer 6 milliamp personnel
protection while meeting 2008 to current NEC
Standards for Pool Pumps.
But that is silly. You have to realize that. The Siemens breaker doesn't fit all breaker boxes! I mean c'mon...I guess I can go the subpanel route.
 

Gigi32ky

New member
Aug 2, 2019
1
Louisville, KY
We are having the same issue. Installed a pool 2 years ago with a Pentair VS pump and from the 1st week began experiencing the breaker tripping. Called the electrician who did the install who didn't really have an answer for the problem, but since we were going to close the pool in a couple of weeks decided to wait until the next season and evaluate it then. The next season things seemed okay for a couple of weeks, then randomly began to experience tripping again. Called the pool installer and was told it was a "known issue" with Pentair pumps. Okay, whatever that means. This summer it has been more frequent and now I'm told we need to install a special Pentair breaker in our box. The problem is we have an Eaton box that only accepts CH breakers and the Pentair/Siemens breaker won't work. So I was on the phone all afternoon with both Pentair and Eaton trying to find out what we are supposed to do. Pentair says "your 2 options are find a similar breaker that will fit and has 6 milli amp protection (and made a point to tell me Not 4 or 8) or install a mini breaker box with a Siemens breaker". Eaton only makes a breaker with 5 milli amp or 30 milli amp. Call Pentair back and they can't confirm if the 30 milli amp with work. So it looks like we'll have to install a mini breaker box with a Siemens breaker and no telling how much that will cost. Would have been nice to know that 2 years ago when the electrician, who by the way only does installs for this pool installer did all the wiring for the pool. Edit by Jim R to allow approval...
 
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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
14,012
Bedford, TX
G,

What you don't seen to understand is that it is not really pump issue. My guess is that maybe 1% of the IntelliFlo installs have this issue. All VS pumps by design generate harmonics that can, if the conditions are just right, cause the GFCI breaker to false trip. The problem is really more related to how clean the power at the site is and how the wires are routed. And if anything other than then pump is connected to the pump's GFCI breaker.. The "special" Pentair breaker was just an effort to help eliminate this problem..

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,665
Houston, TX
Pie,

List your settings on your VSP: What are all the start/stop times & respective pump speeds.

Also, the Pentair DB 20AMP GFCI breaker is a Seimens breaker...if you buy a Siemens, it is less than the Pentair but the same thing...they are both a max 6mA

Also, tell me about where you equipment pad is installed relative to the summer sun...tstex
 

MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
970
Arizona
Also, the Pentair DB 20AMP GFCI breaker is a Seimens breaker...if you buy a Siemens, it is less than the Pentair but the same thing...they are both a max 6mA
tstex
Regarding your statement, I hope that you are correct. I am using the Siemens breaker and I have not had a problem so far (fingers crossed 😁) . However, I have seen a thread or two over the last year where an OP was using the Siemens breaker and their IntelliFlo would trip it on a regular basis and for no obvious reason. After replacing the Siemens breaker with the Pentair PA220GF, the breaker tripping stopped.

Although these breakers are supposed to be identical, there is one theory that Siemens separates or "culls" the breakers that perform higher on the QC tests and puts the Pentair name on them. No proof that this is true and no way to verify. Had I been aware of this information before purchasing and installing the Siemens breaker, I would have spent the extra $40.00 and obtained the Pentair breaker just to be on the safe side.

Please see these posts from Jimrahbe, who speaks to this possible practice by Siemens.

Again, who knows if this is theory is valid but it sure is something to think about.

I will say this however, if my pump started tripping the breaker (for no obvious reason), the first thing I would do is replace the Siemens QF220A GFCI breaker with the Pentair PA220GF GFCI breaker and although I can't say for sure, I have a sneaky suspicion that it may very well correct the issue.

Just a thought to possibly consider.
Thanks and take care...
r.

EDIT: Hi chemillion
Please take note of this discussion / theory, before you go out and purchase the breakers for your three IntelliFlo pumps. I think I may have already made note of this information for you to consider somewhere, but I just wanted to give you the extra "heads up" and food for thought. r.
 
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tstex

Silver Supporter
Aug 28, 2012
1,665
Houston, TX
My AZ,
Jim is one of the many well respected folks on this Board, and that was my thread he replied to regarding breaker tripping. But my pump is an EcoStarless and it has a known defective controller problem, so it trips regardless-the Pentair IF is a much better pump.

Next, and as Jim stated he had no proof of it, I would find it tremendously expensive for anyone to say Pentair or Siemens can thoroughly test a 20amp DP GFCI breaker in an environment that truly emulates what the VSP are subjected to w the 4-6mA range. I find that almost impossible to believe where their testing is stringent enough and over a period of time that qualifies for reputable testing; if they did, you'd be buying a used breaker. Also, each time a breaker trips, it becomes more prone to trip again.

There are many things that create the discharge of electrical harmonics to exceed/ground and trip the breaker above 6mA's. The first preventative is Surge Protection. Make sure you have a min 50K Amp protection; I have 2 80K amp surge protectors.. Two, if your VSP is not protected from the intense sun, this add'l heat is not good. Third, do not run your VSP at 3000rpms ever, even during prime. You can, but it just increases your odds of heat build up and electrical discharge. Four, if you run your pump at diff RPM's and go from higher to lower, the greater the delta the greater chance of electrical discharge [ie: 2800 to 1100, do 2400 to 1500 rpms]. The folks that seem to have the best luck run their pumps w SPD's and run the pump 7x24 at a 1100-1200rpm's. This also supports the theory of the more times your pump turns on an off, an erratic discharge is increased. Finally, the basics of making sure all your conductors are tight, no visible copper from removed insulation, tightly secured at the breaker and make sure the correct breaker is in the same manufacturer box. AND, of course, only one pump per breaker and nothing else on that circuit.

If you do all of the above w your Pen IF and a Siemens, you should have the best odds possible.

Good luck, tstex
 
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MyAZPool

Gold Supporter
Jul 3, 2018
970
Arizona
My AZ,
Jim is one of the many well respected folks on this Board, and that was my thread he replied to regarding breaker tripping. But my pump is an EcoStarless and it has a known defective controller problem, so it trips regardless-the Pentair IF is a much better pump.

Next, and as Jim stated he had no proof of it, I would find it tremendously expensive for anyone to say Pentair or Siemens can thoroughly test a 20amp DP GFCI breaker in an environment that truly emulates what the VSP are subjected to w the 4-6mA range. I find that almost impossible to believe where their testing is stringent enough and over a period of time that qualifies for reputable testing; if they did, you'd be buying a used breaker. Also, each time a breaker trips, it becomes more prone to trip again.

There are many things that create the discharge of electrical harmonics to exceed/ground and trip the breaker above 6mA's. The first preventative is Surge Protection. Make sure you have a min 50K Amp protection; I have 2 80K amp surge protectors.. Two, if your VSP is not protected from the intense sun, this add'l heat is not good. Third, do not run your VSP at 3000rpms ever, even during prime. You can, but it just increases your odds of heat build up and electrical discharge. Four, if you run your pump at diff RPM's and go from higher to lower, the greater the delta the greater chance of electrical discharge [ie: 2800 to 1100, do 2400 to 1500 rpms]. The folks that seem to have the best luck run their pumps w SPD's and run the pump 7x24 at a 1100-1200rpm's. This also supports the theory of the more times your pump turns on an off, an erratic discharge is increased. Finally, the basics of making sure all your conductors are tight, no visible copper from removed insulation, tightly secured at the breaker and make sure the correct breaker is in the same manufacturer box. AND, of course, only one pump per breaker and nothing else on that circuit.

If you do all of the above w your Pen IF and a Siemens, you should have the best odds possible.

Good luck, tstex
tstex
Thanks for the additional information. You certainly bring up some good and helpful points for anyone to consider that are possibly having these breaker tripping issues.

And I will tell you, many of your points make good sense and a couple that I just happen to take advantage of as well. Like a lot of this, much is theory but is certainly logical and just good operating practice in many cases.
1. I do employ a Surge Protection Device rated at 100k amps, both at the Load Center and main panel (Siemens by the way lol). :)
2. My pool equipment is shielded by both sunscreen material and my pump by a ventilated pump cover. I agree that this point seems very valid and makes even more sense for us here in the southwest for several reasons.​
3. Yes, my IntelliFlo is restricted to 2800 rpm (instead of the factory 3450 restriction). I did not do that for the particular reason that you list (I'm not that smart) :p. But instead, because I just find it good operating practice and easier on the equipment to not take equipment right up to their maximum limitations unless absolutely necessary. I have no reason to run my pump above 2800 RPM.​
4. I understand your point. I don't necessarily employ those tactics, but I get what you are saying. So far for me, no issues.​
5. The rest makes really good sense.​

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that the Siemens labeled vs Pentair labeled breaker theory is fact by any means. As Jim has pointed out, it's just a theory. But just one to consider as a possibility.

I'm only guessing here, but if one were to call Pentair Tech Support and complain that their IntelliFlo was causing the breaker to trip, I would lay odds that one of the troubleshooting steps that come out of the tech support reps mouth would be: What type of breaker is the pump connected to? At that point my question would be this. Would Pentair continue to honor a pump warranty if the pump is not connected to the Pentair PA220GF breaker as suggested in the manual? I don't know the answer to that question (maybe someone else here does) but it may be something to consider when one is considering a breaker for their IntelliFlo pumps.

Again, thanks for the great information!
Take care and all the best...
r.