Hot Tub Electrical Requirements
If you want to install a new hot tub, you may be confused about the electrical systems and requirements involved. Although you should not undertake an electrical service such as hot tub installation without a professional electrician, knowing the basics will help you decide what spa to get and where to install it.
That's where my brief overview of the regulations and safety considerations will come in handy.
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There Are Only 2 Types Of Hot Tub Electrical Requirements
Plug And Play Hot Tub Electrical Requirements (110 V)
Plug-and-play hot tubs are so-called because they can be operated by plugging directly into a standard 110V mains electricity outlet with a 15-20Amp current.
You will see lower hot tub prices for these models because they are generally smaller, less powerful units than 220-240V hard-wired hot tubs, although some larger models are available. With many of these, there is also an option to convert to the other system during hot tub installation, which carries some benefits in terms of heater efficiency etc.
Choosing this type of backyard spa simplifies the installation process as no specialist electrical work is required. However, there are still some important safety considerations hot tub users need to bear in mind.
Choosing An Outlet
It's important to make sure a hot tub is run from a dedicated outlet. As your hot tub owner's manual will state, you should never connect other appliances to the same outlet as your hot tub. If you do try to run a hot tub via the same outlet panel as other electrical equipment, this is likely to result in false tripping. The additional load has a similar effect to a power surge, tripping the main breaker and leading to potential safety hazards.
Many homeowners choose to install a connection point on an outside wall in close proximity to the desired hot tub location. If you are considering this as part of your spa installation, remember to use a proper outdoor outlet box that is designed to be exposed to the elements. These generally feature a cover to protect from rain and most licensed electricians will be familiar with what you need.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
For any electrical equipment used outdoors, a GFCI unit is a vital safety measure. This cuts off the power in the event of a fault in the grounding circuit. Such a fault creates a serious risk of electrocution, so it is vital for the current to be shut off instantly. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter will generally do so within around 1/40th of a second.
Most modern plug-and-play hot tubs have a GFCI fitted as standard but you should check and have one installed if not included in the hot tub itself.
Hard Wired Hot Tub Electrical Requirements (220 -240 V)
Most larger hot tubs fall into this category, as well as swim spas and any models which require more power than a standard 110V mains socket can provide.
There are specific electrical requirements for installing hard-wired equipment such as spas in order to remain compliant with the National Electrical Code requirements. In addition to these, it's vital to check state/local codes as these may be even more stringent.
According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), all 220-240V hot tub installation must be conducted by a licensed electrician or qualified homeowner. The details of the procedure also vary between manufacturers, so it's important to consult the hot tub owner's manual before having a hot tub installed.
To remain National Electrical Code compliant, your hot tub must be kept well away (22.5ft minimum) from any other electrical cables. This includes overhead power lines or any buried wiring (whether by direct burial or in conduit trenches).
Since your hot tub will most likely be outdoors, it's a good idea to protect the wiring using a non-metallic conduit pipe. The thermoplastic nylon used in an outdoor conduit will help protect from water and physical damage. It can be run around gentle curves and is also a suitable cover if you wish to bury your wiring.
Hot Tub Wiring
Hard wired hot tubs don't use standard electrical connections. Instead,
the power supply is directly wired from the electrical service panel to the terminals in the control box.
The hot tub wiring system generally consists of four wires: two live (black and red) wires, one green ground wire, and one white neutral wire. It is generally recommended to use at least 6 AWG copper (as opposed to aluminum) wires.
Some full-sized spas and many swim spas use two sets of wiring, one to the spa panel itself and the other to connect specific high power components (the heater and/or swim jets).
As with plug-and-play models, you should always use a GFCI protected circuit for your hot tub. These components are easy to install and are a very important safety feature. The National Electric Code also states you should be installing a disconnect box, which needs to be placed in close proximity (between 5 and 15 feet) to the hot tub.
The disconnect box is simply a cabinet containing a circuit breaker, separate from the main breaker panel for the property. Some of these also include a switch/lever to allow manual shutdown without having to open the box. Along with the GFCI breaker, this safety feature helps protect hot tub users from electrocution.
When hard-wiring a hot tub, ensure no other equipment is running on the same circuit. Similarly to plug-and-play, high power equipment such as spas running in line with other electrical connections can cause the circuit breaker to trip. A licensed electrician will be able to check the wiring to ensure the relevant circuit isn't powering anything else.
If you're looking for more specific pricing in your area based on your spa preferences, click the button below. We provide quotes for 220-240V hot tubs, as well as plug-and-play hot tubs, and its completely free!
About The Author
Bobby Gifford // Staff Writer
Bobby Gifford has over 17 years of experience with hot tubs and swimming pools. He has owned one pool and several hot tub brands over the years and has a wide scope of knowledge including buying information, maintenance and industry trends.