Article 680 - Swimming Pool Installations

By Mike Holt, for EC&M Magazine

I. General

Article 680 contains restrictive installation and equipment requirements necessary to prevent severe shock to human bodies around swimming pools, spas, hot tubs and fountains.

680.1 Scope.

The requirements contained in Article 680 apply to the installation of electric wiring and equipment for swimming, wading, therapeutic, and decorative pools, fountains, hot tubs, spas, and hydromassage bathtubs, whether permanently installed or storable.

680.2 Definitions.

Forming Shell. A structural mounting in the wall of a pool or fountain designed to support a wet-niche luminaire.

Hydromassage Bathtub. A permanently installed bathtub equipped with a recirculating piping system, pumps, and associated equipment designed so it can accept, circulate and discharge water after each use.

Maximum Water Level. The highest level before it spills out.

Spa or Hot Tub. A hydromassage pool or tub designed for recreational use that is typically not drained after each use.

Storable Swimming Pool. A pool above the ground that is capable of holding water to a maximum depth of 42 in.

Author’s Comment: Storable pools are sold as a complete package consisting of the pool walls, vinyl liner, plumbing kit and pump/filter device. Underwriters Laboratories requires the pump/filter units to have a minimum 25 ft cord to discourage the use of extension cords.

Wet-Niche Luminaire. A luminaire intended to be installed in a forming shell of a pool or fountain and completely surrounded by water.

680.3 Other Articles.

The wiring of pools, spas, hot tubs and fountains shall comply with the requirements of Chapters 1 through 4, except as modified by this article.

680.7 Cord-and-Plug-Connected Equipment.

Fixed or stationary pool, outdoor spa and hot tub equipment is permitted to be cord-and-plug-connected to facilitate the removal or disconnection for maintenance or repair. The flexible cord shall:
(A) Length. Except for storable pools, the cord shall not exceed 3 ft.
(B) Equipment Grounding. The cord shall have a copper equipment grounding conductor not smaller than 12 AWG that terminates to a grounding-type attachment plug.

680.8 Overhead Conductor Clearances.

(A) Pools, spas, hot tubs, diving structures, observation stands, towers or platforms shall not be placed under or within 10 ft of service drop conductors or open overhead wiring.

(B) Communications Systems. Communications cables, such as telephone, radio and CATV cables within the scope of Articles 800 through 820 shall be located no less than 10 ft from the water’s edge of swimming and wading pools, diving structures, observation stands, towers or platforms. Figure 680-1 un680-01 680-08B.cdr Graphics are not included in this newsletter.

Author’s Comment: This rule does not prohibit a utility-owned communications system from installing their overhead cable over a pool [90.2(B)(4)], but it does prohibit a pool from being installed under an existing communications utility overhead supply.

(C) Network-Powered Broadband Communications Systems. Overhead network-powered broadband communications systems conductors shall be located no less than 22.5 ft from the water’s edge of swimming and wading pools or base of diving structures, and not less than 14.5 ft clearance in any direction to observation stands, towers, or diving platforms. Figure 680-2 un680-02 680-08C.cdr

680.9 Electric Water Heater.

The ampacity of branch-circuit conductors and overcurrent protective devices for pool, spa, or hot tub water heaters shall not be less than 125 percent of the total nameplate rating.

680.10 Underground Wiring Location.

Underground wiring is not permitted under the pool, spa or hot tub, nor is it permitted within 5 ft horizontally from the inside wall of the pool, spa or hot tub.

When necessary to supply pool equipment or where space limitations prevent wiring from being routed 5 ft or more from the pool, spa or hot tub, wiring shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, or a nonmetallic raceway system. The minimum burial depth shall be as given in Table 680.10.

680.11 Equipment Rooms and Pits.

Electric equipment for a pool, spa or hot tub shall not be installed in rooms or pits that do not have adequate drainage to prevent water accumulation during normal operation or filter maintenance.

680.12 Disconnecting Means.

A means to disconnect all ungrounded conductors shall be provided for all utilization equipment other than lighting. The disconnecting means shall be accessible and within sight (within 50 ft) from its equipment. Figure 680-3 un680-03 680-12.cdr

Author’s Comment: Switches shall be located at least 5 ft horizontally from the inside walls of a pool, spa or hot tub, unless separated by a solid fence, wall, or other permanent barrier [680.22(C)].

II. Permanently Installed Pools, Outdoor Spas and Outdoor Hot Tubs

A permanently installed swimming pool is constructed in the ground or partially in the ground, and is capable of holding water in a depth greater than 42 in. [680.2].

680.21 Motors.

(A) Wiring Methods.
(1) General. Branch-circuit conductors for pool, outdoor spa and hot tub motors shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, rigid nonmetallic conduit, or Type MC Cable listed for installation in direct sunlight or direct burial with a copper equipment grounding conductor not smaller than 12 AWG.

(2) On or Within Buildings. Where installed on or within buildings, electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted.

Author’s Comment: The use of EMT is limited to in or on a building, and it cannot be installed underground. When used as a wiring method to a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub motor, it shall contain a minimum 12 AWG equipment grounding conductor.

(3) Flexible Connections. Liquidtight flexible metal or nonmetallic conduit shall be permitted for pool, outdoor spa, and hot tub motor connections.

(4) One-Family Dwellings. In one-family dwellings or accessory buildings, any Chapter 3 wiring method with a minimum 12 AWG equipment grounding conductor shall be permitted. [680.21(A)(1)]. Figure 680-4 un680-04 680-21A4.cdr

(5) Cord-and-Plug Connections. Cords not exceeding 3 ft, with an attachment plug, and containing an equipment grounding conductor, shall be permitted for pool, outdoor spa, and hot tub motors.

(B) Double Insulated Pool Pumps. A listed cord-and-plug-connected double insulated pool, outdoor spa, or hot tub motor shall be connected to any Chapter 3 wiring method suitable for the location.

680.22 Area Lighting, Receptacles and Equipment.

(A) Receptacles.
(1) Circulation System, Location. Receptacles for pool, outdoor spa, and hot tub motors or other loads directly related to the circulation system shall be located at least 10 ft from the inside walls, or not less than 5 ft from the inside walls if the receptacle is: Figure 680-5 un680-05 680-22A1 01.cdr
(1) A single receptacle.
(2) Of the twist-lock type.
(3) Of the grounding type.
(4) GFCI protected.

(2) Other Receptacles. All other receptacles shall be not less than 10 ft from the water. Figure 680-6 un680-06 680-22A2 01.cdr

(3) Dwelling Unit(s). At a dwelling unit, one 15A or 20A, 125V receptacle shall be located not less than 10 ft and not more than 20 ft from the water. This receptacle shall be located not more than 6 ft 6 in. above the floor, platform, or grade level serving the pool, outdoor spa or hot tub. Figure 680-7 un680-07 680-22A3 01.cdr

(4) Restricted Space. Where a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub is within 10 ft of a dwelling, the receptacle required by (3) shall be permitted to be installed not less than 5 ft measured horizontally from the inside wall of the water. Figure 680-8 un680-08 680-22A4.cdr

(5) GFCI Protection. All 125V receptacles located within 20 ft of the inside walls of the water shall be GFCI protected. Figure 680-9 un680-09 680-22A5 01.cdr

Author’s Comment: On the property for a dwelling unit, all outdoor receptacles shall be GFCI protected, regardless of the distance from a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub [2108(A)(3)].

Receptacles for pools, spa, or hot tub pump motors shall be GFCI protected. Figure 680-10 un680-10 680-22A5 02.cdr

(6) Measurements. In determining the above dimensions, the distance shall be the shortest path the supply cord connected to the receptacle would follow without piercing a floor, wall, ceiling, doorway with hinged or sliding door, window opening or other effective permanent barrier.

(B) Luminaires and Ceiling Fans.
(1) New Outdoor Installation. Luminaires and ceiling fans installed above the water, or the area extending within 5 ft horizontally from the water, shall not be less than 12 ft above the maximum water level.

(2) Indoor Installation. Totally enclosed luminaires and ceiling fans can be at a height not less than 7 ft 6 in. above the water, if the branch circuit is GFCI protected. Figure 680-11 un680-11 680-22B2.cdr

(3) Existing Installations. Existing luminaires located less than 5 ft horizontally from the water shall be not less than 5 ft above the surface of the maximum water level, and shall be GFCI protected. Figure 680-12 un680-12 680-22B3.cdr

(4) GFCI Protection in Adjacent Areas. Luminaires and ceiling fans installed in the area extending between 5 ft and 10 ft horizontally from the inside walls of a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub shall be GFCI protected, unless installed not less than 5 ft above the maximum water level.

Author’s Comment: Low-voltage lighting systems, such as those covered by Article 411, shall not be within 10 ft of a pool, spa or hot tub even if GFCI protected [411.4]. Figure 680-13 un680-13 680-22B4 411-04.cdr

(C) Switching Devices. Panelboards, time clocks, pool light switches, and other switching devices shall be located at least 5 ft horizontally from the inside walls of a pool, outdoor spa and hot tub unless separated by a solid fence, wall or other permanent barrier. Figure 680-14 un680-14 680-22C 404-04.cdr

680.23 Underwater Luminaires.

(A) General.
(2) Transformers. Transformers for underwater luminaires shall be an isolated winding type with a grounded metal barrier between the primary and secondary windings, and shall be listed for the purpose.

(3) GFCI Protection. Branch circuits supplying underwater luminaires that operate at more than 15V shall be GFCI protected. Figure 680-15 un680-15 680-23A3.cdr

(4) Voltage Limitation. Listed underwater luminaires shall not operate on circuits over 150V.

(5) Wall-Mounted Luminaires. Listed underwater luminaires shall be installed so that the top of the luminaire lens is at least 18 in. below the normal water level.

Author’s Comment: The 18 in. requirement is to reduce the likelihood that a person hanging over the side will have their chest cavity in line with the luminaire.

(B) Wet-Niche Underwater Luminaires.
(2) Wiring to the Forming Shell. The raceway that connects directly to a wet-niche luminaire forming shell shall be:
(a) Metal Conduit. Brass or other approved corrosion-resistant rigid metal.
(b) Nonmetallic Conduit. Nonmetallic conduit shall contain an 8 AWG insulated solid or stranded copper equipment grounding conductor. The termination of the equipment grounding conductor in the forming shell shall be covered with, or encapsulated in, a listed potting compound to protect the connection from the possible deteriorating effect of pool water.

(3) Equipment Grounding Provisions for Cords. Wet-niche luminaires that are supplied by a flexible cord or cable shall have all exposed metal parts grounded by an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor that is an integral part of the cord or cable. This grounding conductor shall be connected to a grounding terminal in the supply junction box, transformer enclosure or other enclosure. The grounding conductor shall not be smaller than the supply conductors, and not smaller than 16 AWG.

(F) Branch-Circuit Wiring.
(1) Wiring Methods. Branch-circuit wiring for underwater luminaires shall be rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit, or rigid nonmetallic conduit.

Where installed on buildings, electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted, and where installed within buildings, electrical nonmetallic tubing or electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted.

Exception: Liquidtight flexible metal conduit or liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit shall be permitted in individual lengths not exceeding 6 ft, and not more than 10 ft in total length used in a conduit run.

(2) Equipment Grounding. The branch-circuit conductors to an underwater luminaire shall contain an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor. The equipment grounding conductor shall not be smaller than 12 AWG and it shall be without splice, except as permitted in (a) or (b). Figure 680-16 un680-16 680-23F2 01.cdr
(a) If more than one underwater luminaire is supplied by the same branch circuit, the equipment grounding conductor shall be permitted to terminate to a listed pool junction box that meets the requirements of 680.24(A).
(b) The equipment grounding conductor shall be permitted to terminate to the grounding terminal of a listed pool transformer that meets the requirements of 680.23(A)(2).

Author’s Comment: The portion of the branch-circuit wiring to the pool junction box [680.23(F)(2)] shall contain a minimum 12 AWG insulated copper equipment grounding conductor. The equipment grounding conductor between the pool junction box and the forming shell shall contain an 8 AWG insulated copper equipment grounding conductor [680.23(B)(1)]. A cord for a pool light run to the pool junction box shall have at least a 16 AWG equipment grounding conductor [680.23(B)(3)]. Figure 680-17 un680-17 680-23F2 02.cdr

(3) Conductors. Luminaire branch-circuit conductors on the load side of a GFCI or transformer shall not occupy raceways, boxes or enclosures containing other conductors unless one of the following conditions applies:
(1) The other conductors are GFCI protected.
(2) The other conductors are grounding conductors.
(3) The other conductors supply a feed-through type ground-fault circuit interrupter.
(4) The other conductors are in a panelboard.

680.24 Junction Boxes.

(A) Junction Boxes. The pool luminaire junction box connected to a conduit that extends directly to the underwater pool, outdoor spa, and hot tub luminaire forming shell, shall comply with the following: Figure 680-18 un680-18 680-24A.cdr
(1) Construction. The junction box shall be listed for the purpose and shall be:
(1) Equipped with threaded entries or a nonmetallic hub,
(2) Constructed of copper, brass, or approved corrosion-resistant material, and
(3) Provided with electrical continuity between all metal conduit and the grounding terminals.

(2) Installation.
(a) Vertical Spacing. The junction box shall not be located less than 4 in. above the ground or pool, outdoor spa, or hot tub deck, or not less than 8 in. above the maximum water level.
(b) Horizontal Spacing. The junction box shall be located not less than 4 ft from the inside wall of the pool, outdoor spa or hot tub, unless separated by a solid fence, wall, or other permanent barrier.

Author's Comment: The underwater luminaire junction box shall be supported by two metal conduits threaded wrenchtight into the enclosure in accordance with 314.23(E).

(B) Transformer or Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Enclosure. Where the enclosure for a transformer or GFCI is connected to a conduit that extends directly to the underwater pool, spa, or hot tub luminaire forming shell, the J box shall comply with the following:
(1) Construction. The enclosure shall be listed for the purpose, and be:
(1) Equipped with threaded entries or a nonmetallic hub,
(2) Constructed of copper, brass, or approved corrosion-resistant material, and
(3) Provided with electrical continuity between all metal conduit and the grounding terminals.

Author’s Comment: There are no listed enclosures for transformers or GFCI protection devices that meet the above requirement. This requirement should stop the practice of terminating the conduit that extends directly from the underwater light to a panelboard or low-voltage transformer.

(C) Physical Protection. Underwater pool, outdoor spa, or hot tub luminaire junction boxes shall not be located in the walkway unless afforded protection by locating them under diving boards, adjacent to fixed structures, and the like.

(D) Grounding Terminals. The underwater pool, outdoor spa, or hot tub luminaire junction box shall be provided with one more grounding terminal than the number of conduit entries.

Author’s Comment: Typically, there are four grounding terminals in the junction box and three conduit entries.

(E) Strain Relief. The termination of a flexible cord that supplies an underwater pool, spa or hot tub luminaire shall be provided with a strain relief.

680.25 Feeders

(A) Wiring Methods. Feeder conductors to panelboards for pool, outdoor spa and hot tub equipment shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit, or rigid nonmetallic conduit.

Electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted where installed on or within a building, and electrical nonmetallic tubing shall be permitted where installed within a building.

Exception: Branch circuits for pools, spas or hot tub equipment can originate from an existing panelboard that is supplied by a cable assembly that includes an equipment grounding conductor within its outer sheath.

680.26 Bonding.

(A) Performance. Bonding as required by this section is intended to help reduce or eliminate voltage gradients in the pool area by forming a common bonding grid. Bonding is not required to provide a low-impedance ground-fault current path.

FPN: The bonding requirements contained in this section are not intended to require an 8 AWG copper conductor to be bonded to a panelboard, service equipment or electrode.

(B) Bonded Parts. The following parts of a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub shall be bonded to a common bonding grid of the type specified in 680.26(C).

(1) Metallic Parts of Structure. All metallic parts of the water structure, including the reinforcing metal of the pool shell, coping stones, and deck, shall be bonded to a common bonding grid [680.26(C)]. Steel tie-wires made up tight are suitable for bonding reinforcing steel together. Figure 680-19 un680-19 680-26B1 01.cdr

(2) Underwater Lighting. Metal forming shell used to contain underwater pool, outdoor spa, and hot tub luminaires and speakers.

(3) Metal Fittings. Metal fittings within or attached to the pool, outdoor spa or hot tub structure, such as ladders and handrails.

(4) Electrical Equipment. Metal parts of electric equipment associated with the pool, outdoor spa and hot tub water circulating system, such as water heaters and pump motors.

Where a double-insulated water-pump motor is installed, a solid 8 AWG copper conductor shall be provided from the bonding grid to an accessible point in the motor vicinity.

(5) Metal Wiring Methods and Equipment. Metal piping, fixed metal parts, observation stands, towers, platforms, or diving structures, as well as metallic surfaces of electrical equipment located within 5 ft horizontally of the inside walls of the pool, outdoor spa or hot tub, and within 12 ft above the maximum water level.

Author's Comment: Bonding is required for diving structures, sliding glass door frames, windows, fences, screen enclosures, heater equipment, and the metal cases of electrical equipment, such as the blower, chlorinator, etc. located within 5 ft of the water’s edge.

(C) Common Bonding Grid. The metallic parts of a pool, outdoor spa or hot tub specified in 680.26(B) shall be electrically bonded to a common bonding grid by a solid conductor not smaller than 8 AWG. The termination of the bonding conductor shall be made by exothermic welding, or clamps labeled (listed) as being suitable for the purpose. The common bonding grid can consist of any of the following: Figure 680-20 un680-20 680-26C.cdr
(1) The structural reinforcing steel of the concrete pool, outdoor spa or hot tub that is secured by steel tie-wires.
(2) The wall of a bolted or welded metal pool.
(3) A solid copper conductor, insulated, covered or bare, not smaller than 8 AWG

680.27 Specialized Equipment.

(B) Electrically Operated Covers.
(1) Motors and Controllers. The electric motors, controllers and wiring for an electrically operated cover shall be located at least 5 ft from the inside wall of the pool, outdoor spa or hot tub, unless separated by a permanent barrier.

(2) Wiring Methods. The electric motor and controller circuit shall be GFCI protected.

Copyright © 2002 Mike Holt Enterprises,Inc.
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