New building code for low voltage lights around pool?

mcaswell

Well-known member
Apr 17, 2012
176
Southeast Louisiana
I've been reading with great interest the various posts here and elsewhere regarding low voltage lights, and how they are not allowed to be closer than 10ft. from the water's edge. Some people say that it's dangerous, others say that with a pool-specific transformer it's perfectly safe (though still a code violation).

Regardless, I came across this recent article that seems to indicate a change in the code is in the works.

http://www.ecmag.com/section/codes-stan ... k%E2%80%A9

In the 2011 and previous editions of the National Electrical Code (NEC), installing low-voltage lighting in close proximity to the edge of a swimming pool was a Code violation, yet almost every backyard swimming pool with a landscaped yard has low-voltage lighting too close to the pool’s edge. Low-voltage lighting systems are not permitted to be installed within 10 feet of the nearest edge of the water for a pool, spa or fountain, unless otherwise permitted by Article 680. With the acceptance of new text in 680.22(B)(6) of the 2014 NEC, many of these installations will now be compliant.
-snip-

The proposed new 680.22(B)(6) states: “Low-Voltage Luminaires. Listed low-voltage luminaires not requiring grounding, not exceeding the low-­voltage contact limit, and supplied by listed transformers or power supplies that comply with 680.23(A)(2) are permitted to be located less than 1.5 m (5 ft) from the inside walls of the pool.” Section 680.23(A)(2) states that transformers used for low-voltage lighting around pools shall incorporate isolated windings with an ungrounded secondary and a grounded metal barrier between the primary or secondary or double insulation between the primary and secondary windings. This change should provide safety for low-voltage lighting systems close to pool or spa edges.
--Michael
 

JasonLion

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Progress moves slowly. The 2014 edition is not yet published, and will not be enacted in any given area for quite some time after that, but eventually they will get there.
 

JosephSpark

New member
Sep 15, 2013
1
These systems use an isolating power supply that must not exceed 30V (42.4Vpk) under any load condition, even while open circuited.
 

JasonLion

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The way the voltage limits are going to be specified is more complex than the old limits, though the effect is essentially the same. The number to remember is still a max of 15 volts AC. The numbers JosephSpark just gave are RMS peak to peak and absolute peak to peak, which are not commonly used units. There is also a lower limit for certain kinds of square wave power supplies, which is getting way to technical to explain here.
 

JasonLion

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The 2014 NEC is out and specific kinds of lights are now allowed within 5 feet of the water. There are both voltage limits and current limits on the new kind of lighting, and all components of the lighting system must be listed for this kind of use. Because of the current limits, it looks like only LED lighting will be efficient enough to provide useful amounts of light and still meet the requirements.

It will still be years before local adoption of the 2014 NEC, but at least progress along these lines continues.
 

jlentz32

Well-known member
May 27, 2011
61
Where can this be found? I'm curious how close I got on my install.

Led seems to be the only way to go.


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JasonLion

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Amazon has the full NEC code here, or you can search around the Internet looking for things like "nec low voltage contact lighting 2014" you can find various partial discussions of the new code requirements.
 

Melt In The Sun

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Hm, LED is the future anyway I guess. Thanks for the heads up Jason!

jlentz, if you google "nec 2014" you can find some sites (like NFPA) that will give you free access...not sure if there's a better way.
 

necguru

Member
May 29, 2014
5
Port Richey, Florida
Don't get too excited about this "great change" just yet. I have put in a proposal to delete it or at least get change or clarification.

The problem, as I see it, is that the human is at the same potential as the pool bonding grid. This is a good thing, though. The purpose of a pool bonding grid is to abate step and touch voltages (keep everything at the same potential). One must remember that the pool water is bonded therefore the person in the pool will theoretically be at the same potential as the bonding grid.

Now the change allows lights (theoretically) to be right next to the pool, where someone will reach out and touch.

Providing GFCI protection on the primary side of an isolation transformer will not provide GFCI protection on the secondary side. Low-voltage luminaires are commonly listed and wired using prong-type quick connects that are designed to pierce the insulation of the wiring. If someone in the pool (skin will be wet) was to touch (on purpose or accidentally) these connections to the low-voltage luminaire, there could be an external voltage introduced onto the bonding grid and that person in the pool would receive some type of shock, whether mild or otherwise.

It gets worse -

An active implantable medical device (AIMD) is any medical device which is intended to be totally or partially introduced, surgically or medically, into the human body, and which is intended to remain after the procedure. The most common of these devices are pacemakers and defibrillators. The heart produces electrical signals (or action potentials) which need to be reliably detected by the AIMD's sensing leads. External voltage can induce signals on these sensing leads that prevent the device working properly.

Any external (interference) voltage with an implanted heart device can have the potential to be serious. If this happens to a pacemaker, it usually reverts to constant pacing mode. A defibrillator could in theory send a shock when one was not needed, or possibly be inhibited from providing a shock when one is needed.

So don't be fooled that any low-voltage right next to the pool can be safe. It isn't. Now we need to find out if there is some sort of special listing on these "fixtures" and/or if they are to be wired with some type of conduit connection, like a niche, or whatever. So far UL has been pretty silent on the "how" this change is to be accomplished. I have not been able to get any answers yet, or to find examples of working systems that are properly listed to meet this new code.

Please chime in if you can shoot any holes in my opinion.
Thanks,
guru
 

necguru

Member
May 29, 2014
5
Port Richey, Florida
Well, since my last post - I haven't been able to locate any of these new mysterious lights that are listed to be used above ground at the pool's edge. A collegue of mine told me that they were the "exact same light" as an underwater pool light. But that can't be since the sealed beam light comes with a factory cord that contains a ground wire. One of the conditions for the "next to the pool light" is that it doesn't require grounding.

So far - I have found LED that 1) Don't require a niche, and 2) don't require grounding - but the problem is that they are listed for underwater use. I can't find one that is listed for above ground. If you can find one, please post a link to it here. Thanks.
 

S4cruiser

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2014
64
...but the problem is that they are listed for underwater use. I can't find one that is listed for above ground. If you can find one, please post a link to it here. Thanks.
Maybe I'm not reading enough into it, but if it's listed for underwater use, then wouldn't it be fine for above ground? I know that if something is not listed for use underwater then you shouldn't use it underwater but wouldn't it be ok the other way around??
 

grottoguy

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 24, 2014
462
NJ
Necguru,

My town told me it was acceptable to put outside speakers five feet from the waters edge. The outside speakers are connected by speaker wires to a Sonos device on my house. Does that make sense to you? Or would the same concept apply that they shouldn't be 5 feet from the pool? Also, based on what you said I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that landscape lights within 5 feet of the water's edge would be ok if no one inside the pool could ever touch them. I don't have any landscape lights near the pool, but was thinking about it. I have a rock wall and a grotto that would prevent anyone from inside the pool from ever touching the light. Would that alleviate the problem?

Thanks
 

necguru

Member
May 29, 2014
5
Port Richey, Florida
Sorry - I haven't been around for a while.

I don't know what a Sonos device is.

The question I would have is not where the speakers or landscape lights are but where the WIRING is located.
If it is properly listed for what you are using it for, and the wiring is at least 5-feet away, then the speakers being 5-feet away is probably a non-issue. Landscape lighting isn't listed for 5-feet, it must be at least 10-feet away from the pool.