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Spa cabling into cabinet.

Posted by udelslayer (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 18, 13 at 18:42

I'll try to keep this to the point.

My "electrician" wired the tub (guy actually sells spas) and ran UF-B (#6/3, non-insulated ground) cable in gray plastic electrical conduit with liquid tight flexible whip from the hard conduit to the cabinet underneath. He did not run the flexible liquid tight cable into the cabinet body, but did run the jacket of the UF-B up into the cabinet. I'm not an electrician, but I am smart enough to know that the conduit could take on small amounts of water and freeze, and additionally the non-insulated ground really bothers me after doing a bit of research. Needless to say, I'm going to rewire this with #6 thhn/thwn2 and get that ground insulated. Its been 3 weeks and everything is working fine, but I think it will cause problems down the road after its been in there some time. I could imagine the ground would corrode without insulation and cause all sorts of havoc. Am I wrong about this?

My question is this: When I run the whip back up to the cabinet, I may drill into the side for the liquid tight flexible conduit to connect to or through. Do I use a water-tight connector fitting at the side of the cabinet where it meets the conduit there and run the 4 thhn wires into the control housing or do I need to run part of the flexible conduit through the cabinet to near the control box and use some kind of grommet to seal the conduit hole at the cabinet? I cant find examples anywhere of how the conduit is run through the cabinet wall. I may go back underneath but that might be a struggle getting the connector head sealed against the body from the bottom. I guess if I ran it underneath, I could make sure that the conduit goes into the cabinet body and silicone it, but I'd still want to seal the end where the wires exit the conduit to actually make it water tight.

Advice/examples?

Thanks
J


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

I presume since we're talking about freezing here, that this is an outdoor installation. The bare ground is not going to "cause havoc" but it is illegal and potentially unsafe.

Liquidtite never is.

Most spas I've seen you run the conduit to the control box. There's no electrical reason to go to great lengths to seal things up. You may wish for practical reasons to seal around where the conduit passes through the spa cabinet.

There should be no place other than inside the proper junction box (usually the spa control box) that the wires should be emerging. There should not be any need to "seal up" where they emerge.

Frankly much of this information should be in the spa installation instructions which you are really obliged to follow and shouldn't be screwing around with it without.

You should also review article 680 before you dump you and your loved ones into a vat of electrified water.

Do you have a proper disconnect?


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

I presume since we're talking about freezing here, that this is an outdoor installation. The bare ground is not going to "cause havoc" but it is illegal and potentially unsafe.

Liquidtite never is.

Most spas I've seen you run the conduit to the control box. There's no electrical reason to go to great lengths to seal things up. You may wish for practical reasons to seal around where the conduit passes through the spa cabinet.

There should be no place other than inside the proper junction box (usually the spa control box) that the wires should be emerging. There should not be any need to "seal up" where they emerge.

Frankly much of this information should be in the spa installation instructions which you are really obliged to follow and shouldn't be screwing around with it without.

You should also review article 680 before you dump you and your loved ones into a vat of electrified water.

Do you have a proper disconnect?


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

Yes, I have a disconnect at the GFCI, properly spaced from the tub (5ft) with liquidtite going to the main panel on a 50amp breaker using a length of the same UFB cable. I am planning to replace that at the main also just to make sure that everything is consistent. The entire run length is about 30 feet. My hard conduit is buried at about 12 inches in a trench under the deck going to the pad where it transitions into flexible (via liquidtite connector) and runs under the spa, but what I didnt like is that the flexible conduit was not run up into the spa cabinet from underneath - only the jacket on the ufb was run up into the cabinet. I mean technically, the ufb is direct burial so the conduit is just protecting it but I couldnt find the reason why they require an insulated ground. I would think that because the conduit is just under the tub and not through the cab that water could get into it at that end between the ufb jacket and the conduit - and potentially freeze. Then there is the use of the ground that is protected by the ufb jacket, but not individually insulated like the other wires.

None of this stuff is in the spa installation guides that I've seen and I've looked at several brand guides. They tell you what kind of wire you need but dont tell you where the conduit should stop. This is a Four winds FW800 unit. Since I'll be connecting the new conduit at the side of the tub when I redo it, I didnt know if thats where the conduit ends, or if it should continue to inside the cabinet. I want to make sure that there are no water pathways to get into the cabinet if its raining or water makes it to the outside. If I'm running the conduit through the side then, I'll be sealing it securely. The water not electrified. Its working just fine but I could see where using a ground that is not individually insulated could lead to corrosion and loss of grounding capabilities over time. I should have made him run individual thhn wires like I'm about to do.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

I don't know the reason for the insulated ground but it doesn't matter, code requires it. So the UF-B needs to be replaced from at least the disconnect. You need to extend the liquid tight from where the rigid conduit enters the spa enclosure to the spa control panel.

My understanding (but I'd wait for Ron or Pete to give you a definitive answer) is that any kind of non-metallic cable needs to end at the house. Between the house and the disconnect, you need rigid conduit and individual conductors.

Frankly, I think it would be in your best interest to have a licensed electrician look this over. Get it right so no one gets hurt or worse.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

Udelslayer, your description shows you DO NOT understand the rules. The equipment service disconnect is *NOT* the one that is described as being 5 feet from the tub. The disconnect must be within site of where you service the tub from and there is no minimum distance.

The five foot disconnect is the motor shutoff. That has to be 5 feet away, but otherwise accessible to the occupants of the tub. That is not required on a residential spa installation (and if this is NOT a residential spa, what you are doing is so dangerous and full of liability issues that I'm not going to talk to you anymore).

The UF-B is ILLEGAL HERE. Article 680 REQUIRES outdoor installations to have insulated grounds, and the jacket of the UF-B doesn't qualify for this.

Nothwithstanding the fact that UF-B isn't allowed here at all, there sounds like there's nothing wrong with using the UF-B and the conduiting as you have. Yes, it's ugly, but as long as a proper bushing is used where the wire emerges from the conduit, it's fine.

Your UF-B is ***NOT DIRECT BURIED*** You say it's in rigid plastic conduit. That's not "just being protected from physical damage". It's yet another sign that the people involved in this installation have no CLUE what they are doing.

Water *ALWAYS* gets into conduit. This is why underground installations, no matter what the conduit system involved is, is a WET location. While you may have issues with the idea of the conduit getting waterlogged and freezing, it's not a code issue.

If there is any of that conduit that's not under 2" of concrete (or is under parking ara or driveway) it's not buried deep enough.

Rip out all the Type UF. Install the proper wet rated conductors, extend to the conduit to the conduit fitting on the spa controller if it has one.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

yes, its residential.
yes, I'm replacing the entire run (panel to cutoff, cutoff to tub)with 4 wires of thwn2/thhn
yes, its run in rigid conduit except at where the conduit comes out of the ground at the tub.

I will be reburying the conduit to 18" where it is now. This space is under the deck and not a walkable area, and the entire area under my deck has gravel (lots of it).

Everything that transitions has water tight fittings on it except at where the conduit meets the tub.

It doesn't seem all that difficult. I'm just really pissed at myself for letting the guy run the ufb instead of making him run thhn/thwn (which was a question in the back of my mind). I guess buying 150 more of material to let me sleep at night is going to be worth it. I have been planning this entire run in my head for a week. I just wanted to know if the conduit terminates at the spa shell or goes through to as close to the control box as possible (and you guys have provided the answer for me, thanks).

as a side, I just wanted to know what the electrical reason is for the insulated ground wire.

The service disconnect with the gfci has to be between 5 and 20 feet from the tub and visible from the tub, and it is as the rules I've read. Perhaps I should post a picture of what I have. I think my description might be a bit misleading.

I realize now that uf-b is not a wet location conductor.

Thanks
Jeremy


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

I don't know what rules you are reading, but I'd get a copy of Article 680 of the National Electrical Code which is the LAW in most of the US and has hardly had any substantive changes to it in the past 10 years.

There is no 5-15' requirement for a GFCI disconnect.

A GFCI is required. but it doesn't have to be at the disconnect (mine is in the main panel), however it's a cost effective thing to put them in the same place as you can buy a nice 50 or 60A GFCI in its own disconnect box to put near the tub.

A disconnect in site of the where you SERVICE the tub, not from the tub occupants is required. If your tub is like mine , I service it from BELOW the deck. There is no place the disconnect could be located that is visible from both inside the tub and the servicing area.

The 5' away stuff has to do with the spa motor EMERGENCY SWITCH. This is not required for residential use and is distinct from the maintenance disconnect which is.

I addressed in my message to Mike above why the ground must be insulated.

Also pay special HEED to the equipotential grounding requirement. THere needs to be a #8 bond between all your equipment (the pumps, blowers, and controls in spas all typically have lugs for such) and any exposed metal that could be touched from the spa.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

Ron,

I could be wrong here but I think by what the OP is referring to (and I was as well) as the "disconnect" is one of those "spa packs" - a small panel with a GCFI breaker. My understanding is that it needs to be at least 5' from the spa. Is that correct? I'm assuming it can also function as the disconnect and as such needs to be within line of sight (there may well be a maximum distance as well, I just don't know).

I've looked over the thread, I'm not seeing your explanation for the insulated ground. Obviously I know one is required.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

The confusion again as I've stated several times, is that there are two requirements:

1. A maintenance disconnect visible from where you are servicing the equipment. There's no "distance" requirement on this.

2. An Emergency Switch to stop the spa motors. Has to be clearly mark, visible from the tub and accessible to the tub users, as well as not closer than 5 feet. However, residential spas are not required to have this.

The original poster has not indicated that he understands the nature of the maintenance disconnect. As far as the emergency switch, if he has one properly placed or not is not particularly important.

Hmm.... my post on the ground seems to have not gotten posted (I frequently forget to hit the second submit button on this blasted forum software).

The issue with the ground is that, as you know, its purpose is to provide a low impedance path back to the earth ground. To accomplish this there should NOT be any current present on that conductor. This is why we maintain the equipment grounding conductor separate from the grounded current carrying conductor (neutral).

Spas and pools are pretty wet areas. The fear is that the ground wire might touch something else conductive (at or close to ground potential) and start carrying current. Since we're talking about a body of water we're going to immerse humans in, we're a bit more cautious with grounds than we might when there is only a potential to casual contact.

Inside a residence is usually drier and more physically secure, so they relaxed that rule to allow the cable sheath to suffice.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

As I was thinking omw to work today, I realized that the insulated ground is to allow the potential to flow back to the gfci - as a safety. If its exposed, corroded, damp, it may ground elsewhere preventing the gfci from saving a life and it needs to be the lowest impedance.

As it is now, though its not insulted individually, it is protected by the ufb sheath all the way to the control pack. I am going to be extending with the thhn wiring, the flexible conduit to the control pack too.

Yes, I now realize that I was using the wrong terminology. Its not a disconnect, but one of the spa packs with the gfci breaker. I am glad I dont require an emergency d/c for residential (though I thought about installing one).

Are you talking about the bonding lug that is installed in the spa that is mentioned in the instructions? Isnt this the one married (by way of the gfci spa pack) to the grounding bus bar in the main panel of the house?


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

As I was thinking omw to work today, I realized that the insulated ground is to allow the potential to flow back to the gfci - as a safety. If its exposed, corroded, damp, it may ground elsewhere preventing the gfci from saving a life and it needs to be the lowest impedance.

As it is now, though its not insulted individually, it is protected by the ufb sheath all the way to the control pack. I am going to be extending with the thhn wiring, the flexible conduit to the control pack too.

Yes, I now realize that I was using the wrong terminology. Its not a disconnect, but one of the spa packs with the gfci breaker. I am glad I dont require an emergency d/c for residential (though I thought about installing one).

Are you talking about the bonding lug that is installed in the spa that is mentioned in the instructions? Isnt this the one married (by way of the gfci spa pack) to the grounding bus bar in the main panel of the house?


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

The GFCI doesn't give a hoot about the GROUND. It measures the imbalance between the current carrying conductors to detect an imbalance and trip. You could leave the ground entirely disconnected and it wouldn't care.
A GFCI beaker won't even have a connection to the ground. A GFCI receptacle does nothing with the ground other than to connect it to the ground pin of the receptacle (and to any other metal parts it has).

As I have stated a dozen times already, the cable sheath itself is NOT sufficient of an insulator for spa/pool wiring.

Every piece of equipment and metal in a pool or spa is required to be connected by 8g bonding wire. Typically, they've already taken care of this (but you need to check) internal to the spa. There are bonding lugs on the pumps, the heater, the frame. In my sundance spa there's a big binding bus bar in the bottom of the control panel. An additional lug or lugs are provided so that if you have any otehr exposed metal such as railings, ladders, etc... you can properly bond these as well.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

I know and believe the sheath isn't sufficient and that's why I'm running thwn wiring right now between the panels and to the spa.

Oh, this is why ground and neutral are on the same bus then. I guess I have it backwards? If hot and neutral make a circuit, then it trips? I thought it was detecting a loop between neutral, ground, and hot. I don't think I'll be experimenting with leaving it unhooked though :).

Yes, there is a 8G wire bonding all equipment and connected to the ground run. I did a bunch of test fitting yesterday before I build the conduit runs. I'm running this stuff today.

I'm actually surprised you run the conduit flexible section end all the way to the main panel. (that part is entering the wall from the lb condulet attached on the outside) I guess moisture isn't going to make it to the panel if the run is sealed properly.

This is fun...and never wracking at the same time. I think I could have been happy being an electrician. It seems to be the right balance of physical work and geekiness and danger that could keep my attention.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

The GFCI measures the imbalance between the current carrying legs. This is the hot (or two hots if a 240V circuit) and the neutral. It does NO GOOD to measure the ground for anything because a ground fault most likely finds a path to ground other than through the circuits ground wire.

The GFCI does something clever however, in addition to measuring the imbalance, it adds a small voltage signal both current carrying legs equally (this is undetectable for practical purposes by the load). If for some reason the NEUTRAL touches a ground elsewhere, this signal is enough to cause the GFCI to detect it as an imbalance and trip.

I don't run flex to all the way to the panel. I never said that.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

Is it code to run it all the way to the panel? I thought the wires have to be in the conduit/raceway with no breaks. Is it impractical to do for any specific reason? I guess an inspector would have to cut the wall out to see if its run completely there.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

The later code clarifies that once you get into the structure, you can switch to NM or whatever.


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RE: Spa cabling into cabinet.

Welp...everything is done and the spa is still running. Nothing tripped or caught fire. At the very last minute (not exaggerating - like 30 seconds after tightening down the last screw on the main panel breaker which is the last thing I hooked up) it decided to downpour. I guess mah stuff is water tite yo! I flipped the breaker and then the gfci breaker and everything did the needful.

Thanks for the tips and tricks. I didn't run watertite to the panel because I couldn't. I ran it into the wall and then wrapped the 4 wire bundle in e-tape to prevent abrasions. Unfortunately, I cant put a true clamp on the wires because of the way the panel is installed. I couldn't find a suitable solution from either of the big box stores in my area. I have to replace some drywall tho.
My only other gripe is that I could not bury my conduit more than 12 inches due to the location of the runs in relation to my foundation. Its in a non walkway and covered by a generous amount of dirt and then gravel and I know where it is.

Pulling 4 #6 in 3/4 wasn't as bad as I expected. I did buy some wire juice to get it done. my "electrical" guy used wd40, which I wasn't so thrilled about. Thanks to the INternetz and Youtooobs cause there was enough info out there to make any layman feel like he has the smarts.

Now to figure out where to get some ducats back on all this extra copper......
J


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