UPDATE: Incorrect Wiring? -- New Bullfrog Spa keeps tripping breaker

tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
Hello again. I have a question and I'm trying to avoid a service call by my LPB and also the electrician, if I can help it.
We just got a new Bullfrog Spa in October. We purchased it from our LPB that we've used for years, and they had their recommended (contracted) electrician come and do the electrical, which was just using our existing line that ran to our old Hot Springs spa.
Recently (a month ago?) the gfci beside the spa started tripping. It was maybe once a week or so at first, but recently has been tripping about every day. It's random, though, and never when we're actually using the spa (running jets, etc.)
So the LPB is going to charge close to a couple hundred bucks between the service call and 1 hr minimum labor (not sure if they'd charge that for a warranty issue), and of course the electrician would charge for his call.
Should I have the LPB come out first? (is a spa component the most likely culprit, in ya'lls experience?)
They can't come out until May 11 so I'm not liking the wait, if something is going bad.
Or does it sound like it could be the GFCI? The electrician installed a new GFCI in October, but I know lightning or other surges can mess it up. I'm assuming the electrician could come out before May 11, we got him pretty fast last time.
thanks as always
 

cowboycasey

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Can you test to "make" it happen?

Turn the heater down and the pumps off..

turn one pump on and off
turn the other pump on and off
turn the heater on and off
unplug the Ozone and see if that is it..

turn on everything and see if that trips it...

Once you find the cause it will be easier to answer who you need to call :)
 

Mdragger88

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Gfci’s can go bad- but I would definitely look for moisture intrusion some where. Your post title says breaker tripping but you only mention the gfci in your post.
Your spa should be on a dedicated circuit separate from a general use gfci.
 

tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
Can you test to "make" it happen?

Turn the heater down and the pumps off..

turn one pump on and off
turn the other pump on and off
turn the heater on and off
unplug the Ozone and see if that is it..

turn on everything and see if that trips it...

Once you find the cause it will be easier to answer who you need to call :)
Yeah, I'll try that tonight if I can. The spa cycles through its pumps, heating, etc. all day (apparently Bullfrog even has the main pumps turn on periodically) and it doesn't trip during that process, but if I isolate it like you're saying maybe I can get an idea. Thanks!
 

tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
Gfci’s can go bad- but I would definitely look for moisture intrusion some where. Your post title says breaker tripping but you only mention the gfci in your post.
Your spa should be on a dedicated circuit separate from a general use gfci.
Thanks. Yeah it's just the gfci, sorry, I interchange those terms in my head for some reason.
 

RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
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Cabool, Mo
Thanks. Yeah it's just the gfci, sorry, I interchange those terms in my head for some reason.
It's a gfci breaker. They also have gfci receptacles and cord ends. Gfci stands for "ground fault circuit interrupter".

which was just using our existing line that ran to our old Hot Springs spa.
Your original hot springs will have used 2 breakers, a 20 amp and a 30 amp. Your bullfrog will have a single probably 50 or 60 amp breaker and correspondingly bigger wires. If he did actually use that wiring it could be an issue.

Nuisance tripping (tripping randomly) is often a faulty breaker, but some things can seem random when they are not. Since you cannot pinpoint the actual circumstances of the trip the process of elimination is your best bet. Start with the ozonator, then heater.
Bear in mind, disconnecting the heater can cause a bad breaker to stop tripping, because of the reduced amp flow through it. So if you disconnect the heater and it stops tripping it is likely the breaker. When a heater fails, it's generally all or nothing, and it would trip immediately when turned on.
 

tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
It's a gfci breaker. They also have gfci receptacles and cord ends. Gfci stands for "ground fault circuit interrupter".


Your original hot springs will have used 2 breakers, a 20 amp and a 30 amp. Your bullfrog will have a single probably 50 or 60 amp breaker and correspondingly bigger wires. If he did actually use that wiring it could be an issue.

Nuisance tripping (tripping randomly) is often a faulty breaker, but some things can seem random when they are not. Since you cannot pinpoint the actual circumstances of the trip the process of elimination is your best bet. Start with the ozonator, then heater.
Bear in mind, disconnecting the heater can cause a bad breaker to stop tripping, because of the reduced amp flow through it. So if you disconnect the heater and it stops tripping it is likely the breaker. When a heater fails, it's generally all or nothing, and it would trip immediately when turned on.
Great to know, thanks so much!
 

Knayrb

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I would place my money on the GFI breaker, even though it's fairly new. I just put in a new bullfrog also. My 20 year old GFI worked perfect on my old spa. I put in a new cement pad with new wires on the load end. I tested the voltage and hit hit the test button a few times and it still worked. I'm not a certified electrician but do know about wiring and circuits. Wouldn't you know that the day they delivered the new spa and turned on the breaker it was dead. Back to home depot and $100 later, I put in a brand new GFI. The spa kicked right on. 2 days later while in the spa it tripped the new breaker. I dried off and reset it. It's worked without issues for 2 months now. I've read that new breakers need a few cycles before staying on. I totally trust it. Make sure your electrician connected the neutral load into the breaker and then the curley white wire out of the breaker goes to the neutral. Also make sure you have a dedicated ground and neutral and don't share the 2. If not it will bypass the ground fault feature and Bullfrogs will trip the breaker.
 
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tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
I would place my money on the GFI breaker, even though it's fairly new. I just put in a new bullfrog also. My 20 year old GFI worked perfect on my old spa. I put in a new cement pad with new wires on the load end. I tested the voltage and hit hit the test button a few times and it still worked. I'm not a certified electrician but do know about wiring and circuits. Wouldn't you know that the day they delivered the new spa and turned on the breaker it was dead. Back to home depot and $100 later, I put in a brand new GFI. The spa kicked right on. 2 days later while in the spa it tripped the new breaker. I dried off and reset it. It's worked without issues for 2 months now. I've read that new breakers need a few cycles before staying on. I totally trust it. Make sure your electrician connected the neutral load into the breaker and then the curley white wire out of the breaker goes to the neutral. Also make sure you have a dedicated ground and neutral and don't share the 2. If not it will bypass the ground fault feature and Bullfrogs will trip the breaker.
Good to know, thanks!!
 

5tan

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Bullfrog control boards come from the factory set to 60A. Spa dealers typically sell a 40-50A GFCI subpanels. If your spa is fully loaded, it could theoretically draw the full 60A (or 80% of, technically), and then your subpanel will trip due to overcurrent.

You can enter the Electrical Configuration section of the control panel, then decrease your amp rating. Try 50A or 48A or even 30A mode. If the breaker still trips at 30A, then it's most likely a problem with the GFCI/grounding and not overcurrent. If the breaker doesn't trip at 30A and only trips at higher, then it's more likely due to overcurrent than due to a grounding issue.
 

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tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
353
Central VA
Okay, last night I went home and pulled the front cover off my spa. The heater and control board are housed in a big blue plastic box, with the 220V wiring coming directly into it.
I took a picture of the hook-up, and it appears that the electrician may have switched the L1 and L2 wires? The black wire is going into the L2 spot, and the red is going to L1.
I also took a picture of the hookup at the GFCI, if that helps.
Am I wrong, or would there be a reason to hook it up this way?
Just checking, I want to call my LPB today and let him know what I'm seeing, if I'm actually seeing what I think I'm seeing, lol.IMG_4754.jpg
IMG_4755.jpg
IMG_4757.jpg
 

cowboycasey

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as long as it is getting 120v on each leg the system does not know what line is what... With your tub pulling 48 amps out of a 50 amp breaker I suspect it is tripping when it actually pulls 48 amps.... A new GFCI 60 amp breaker should fix the problem but lets wait for @RDspaguy to confirm or if he sees something else going on... :)
 

ajw22

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There is no polarity between the red and black wires on a 220V circuit. The black and red wires are interchangeable. The wiring you have is fine and the reversal of the wires is not causing problems.

There should not be more than an 80% load on a breaker. Max load on a 50 amp breaker should be 40 amps. 48 amp load is too much for a 50 amp breaker.

For 50 amps #8 copper THWN wire can be used. For 60 amps #6 wire is required. Check the wire size used before changing the breaker.
 
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cowboycasey

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And because it says right there 48 Amps Max your electrician should have insisted on a 60 amp breaker and you would never have had this situation happen :)
 
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RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
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60 amp breaker requires bigger wire, so you can't just swap out breakers without risking a house fire. You would have to change the wiring too.
That wire looks like #8awg which is rated for 50 Amps on runs LESS THAN 100ft to the main panel. Undersized wire will cause nuisance tripping, especially when you are maxing out the breaker. I always recommend #6awg wire for spas.
I typically see spas wired at 50 Amps, 60 is rare, and usually only on 3 pump spas or swim spas. While not the best plan, it does not usually cause nuisance tripping on a good breaker.
 
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cowboycasey

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Interesting, Mine had a 60 amp and I had a 6kw heater, 2 main pumps and a circulation pump but it was an old school hot tub that was really a commercial unit.. :)
 

tnthudson

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Mar 31, 2008
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Central VA
Yeah, I think 50 amp must be ok, I found this in the manual- 'Permanently-Connected 230V~/60Hz spas require a GFCI protected, 4-wire (Line 1, Line 2, Neutral and Ground), 230V~/60Hz, 50A, Single-Phase, dedicated electrical circuit.'
Oh and it is maybe a 20' run at most, so hopefully we're good there.
 

RDspaguy

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Mar 21, 2020
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it is maybe a 20' run at most, so hopefully we're good there.
Back to the main panel in your house or to the disconnect with the gfci breaker? If the whole thing back to the main panel is #8 you have to measure all of it.
But regardless, it's time to unplug the ozonator and see what it does for a few days.

Mine had a 60 amp
There are a few spa brands that come standard that way, and most modern controls can be configured that way by dipswitch/jumper pin programming. It allows the heater to run when both jet pumps are on high, which you usually can't get away with on a 50 amp breaker. It depends on the amp draw of the pumps and heater, of course, so lower hp pumps and a 4kw heater will let you get away with it.
There is also usually a low-amp option, which shuts off the heater for any pump. That is often 30 or 40 amp. This is also the mode used for plug-in 120v spas.
 
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