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Last modified: 2021-07-30 | Approximate reading time 4 mins
It can’t be denied that having a pool, whirlpool or spa in your backyard is a serious luxury. Relaxing next to and cooling off by a beautiful piece of water is what every homeowner dreams of, but of course, installing one of these options is easier said than done.
The electrical work involved with installation is challenging for the novice homeowner, and in some instances cannot be done without a professional.
If you’re ready to dive right in but need a little bit more information before taking the plunge, then look no further. We’re here to offer all the necessary information when it comes to the electrical work involved in installing a pool or spa in your backyard.
If you’ve done a bit of research and looked into the best option for your backyard, you likely know that pools and spas come in all different shapes and sizes, and thus, require different types of electrical equipment to correctly maintain the quality of water.
In most cities and municipalities, electrical equipment must be installed by a licensed electrician. Rules surrounding this will be province or even city-specific, so make sure to complete ample research before you start digging up your yard. Regardless of whether the pool will be inground, above ground or inflatable, most cities will require you to hold a permit for the installation of the structure.
Further, some may require the pool or spa to remain fenced off or fully enclosed before any water can be added to it. In more instances than not, building any sort of structure on your property will necessitate a permit. In this article, we’re touching on common electrical requirements so make sure you delve into the specific necessities of the place you’re living before moving forward.
Another point worth mentioning is that any electrical work surrounding or adjacent to your pool or spa must be plugged into a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter. These are in place to protect yourself and your loved ones against electrical shocks and are especially important in areas surrounding water. Unlike a regular fuse that you find inside the home, a GFCI comes integrated into the outlet. They work by monitoring and controlling the amount of power that goes into a device.
If the power supply is accidentally dropped into water, the GFCI works by detecting this and cutting the power. These are vital when working with electronics close to a pool, as they could be a potential lifesaver. If you're working with a professional, they should be aware of the ins and outs of these procedures but it’s good for you to know about them as well!
It should be noted that in Quebec, it is strictly forbidden to install a spa or a swimming pool within 1.5 metres of a distribution line.
Let’s start with wiring that is already in place close to or around your pool. Power lines located above your pool or spa need to sit at a height of at least 5 meters above the water level or above a diving board. It is not possible to hang string lights above the pool, even if they are plugged into a GFCI outlet. In some municipalities, it will be illegal for pools or spas to be built or located underneath overhead wiring.
Exceptions are made in cases with neutrally supported cables that are at least 5 meters above the water level as well as with conductors that are operating at 50kV and are located 7.5 meters from the water level. The individual or persons installing your pool should be more than aware of the rules involved with overhead wiring. This also allows for an opportunity to bury overhead wires, which will completely remove the risk of above power lines coming down during a storm or damaging your electrical work.
It should come as no surprise that underground wiring is not allowed to sit directly under a pool or spa. It can run alongside the pool or other structure but needs to be kept at a 5-foot distance. If space doesn’t allow for this to happen but the wiring is necessary to power equipment or lighting as connected to your pool, there can be an exception made if the wiring is installed in a raceway or conduit system.
When it comes to the pumps and motors that are necessary for the water in your pool to keep clean, they’re required to be between 6 and 10 feet from the walls of your pool or spa. Again, these need to be GFCI protected as well as locked. If you need other access points or outdoor receptacles for general electricity use, they’ll need to be no closer than within 20 feet. However, if they are GFCI protected, they can live no closer than 6 feet away.
When you install a backyard pool or spa, it is necessary to have a maintenance disconnect that will work to turn off power to all aspects of your pool or spa, this includes the pumps and filters as well as any other equipment that is being powered. This disconnect needs to be installed within sight of your pool but cannot be located any closer than 5 feet. This should be used in case of emergencies or when you’re cleaning.
As mentioned, when it comes to electrical installation, you’ll likely need to work with a certified electrician. This will keep yourself and your loved ones safe both during the installation process as well as when enjoying the pool during the warm season!
Note: The standards aforementioned are derived from the National Electrical Code and therefore apply to all Canadian provinces.
Want to check your installation’s compliance under current regulations? Use the Pool or spa installation safety checklist proposed by Hydro-Québec.
Want to learn more about how to install your pool? Check out our article on the subject!
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