Proper GCFI protection for newly installed Pentair LED lights

jonathantimey

New member
Apr 1, 2020
4
San Diego, CA
Hi All,

We just recently had our pool and spa lights changed from our 30-year-old incandescent fixtures to the Pentair Intellibrite color changing LEDs. We didn't have the light circuit on a GCFI breaker, so our pool installer changed out our standard breaker to one that was also GCFI. Question is, is this the safest mode of protection if water were to ever infiltrate the light? Is it recommended that GCFI protection be installed at the pool pad, vs the main electrical panel? What would you recommend the safest set-up for an electrical light circuit? I work at a hospital and had a patient die of electrical shock due to an improperly wired pool light (daughter also sustained a massive brain injury), so want to minimize any risks as much possible. Thanks in advance for any insight
 
Last edited:

wireform

Silver Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 15, 2017
1,304
Spring Valley, NY
It doesn't matter where the GFCI is as long as the circuit your speaking of is further down the line you will still be protected. The problem is when it trips and everything downstream would need to be isolated which can get complicated. If your pump, heater lights are on the subpanel nothing will work till you find the culprit. Individual GFCI circuits just affect that line while everything else would still have power.
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,799
SW Indiana
You should obviously rely on the advice of a professional electrician who is familiar with the NEC as it pertains to pools, but the GFCI breaker sounds good. You have two protective systems in a pool light : A GFCI, and the pool bonding system. Either should protect you if the other were to fail.

So essentially you need three failures to be in danger. First, there has to be a failure in a light to allow power to the water. Then both the GFCI, an active device that almost always fails on the side of safety, and the bonding system, which is passive, have to fail. Doing routine tests on the GFCI virtually eliminates the chances of it placing you at risk. Even if you were to experience the world’s worst luck and have the three simultaneous failures, normal equipment grounding via wiring and physical soil contact may still protect you.

Improper wiring during installation or repair is the only significant source of risk. That’s why you hire a pro.
 
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jonathantimey

New member
Apr 1, 2020
4
San Diego, CA
Did they install the 120V version or the 12V version?

The GFCI will offer you protection. Having the light be low voltage (12V) is another layer of protection.
We had the 120v version installed, in hindsight I may have wanted to go the 12v route but definitely going to have an electrician double check the installers work for added peace of mind. Thanks for the insight!
 

jonathantimey

New member
Apr 1, 2020
4
San Diego, CA
You should obviously rely on the advice of a professional electrician who is familiar with the NEC as it pertains to pools, but the GFCI breaker sounds good. You have two protective systems in a pool light : A GFCI, and the pool bonding system. Either should protect you if the other were to fail.

So essentially you need three failures to be in danger. First, there has to be a failure in a light to allow power to the water. Then both the GFCI, an active device that almost always fails on the side of safety, and the bonding system, which is passive, have to fail. Doing routine tests on the GFCI virtually eliminates the chances of it placing you at risk. Even if you were to experience the world’s worst luck and have the three simultaneous failures, normal equipment grounding via wiring and physical soil contact may still protect you.

Improper wiring during installation or repair is the only significant source of risk. That’s why you hire a pro.
Wow thanks for such a clear and comprehensive response. I’m absolutely going to have an electrician (that is well-versed in pool electricity/wiring) double check the work done, thanks a bunch for your insight!