When you build your own inground pool, one of the phases of pool construction that you will need to hire-out is electrical. You may be an electrical wizard, but if you're not certified in your state, the electrical inspection of your pool may fail to pass.
Today's blog post focuses on the electrical tasks of building an inground pool, how to hire a qualified electrician for your pool, and how to pass your electrical inspection.
Swimming Pool Electrical Wiring
The electrical tasks of wiring of swimming pool include 1). Securing the electrical Permit, 2). Wiring a sub-panel at the equipment pad to power the pool equipment, 3). Bonding the metal components of the pool and 4). Passing the electrical inspections.
PERMITS & INSPECTIONS: Tasks #1 and #4, are fairly straight forward for a licensed electrician, and require just a few hours to complete. The main job of your electrician is to power and bond the pool and equipment, in accordance with the National Electric Code, article 680 - and, any additional requirements of your local inspector.
SUB-PANEL WIRING: A sub-panel is a small breaker box, usually 100 amps, or enough to power all of your pool equipment. Extra costs will add-up if your main breaker box for the house does not have enough excess power to spare 100 amps for the sub-panel - or, when the sub-panel (and pool equipment) is not located close to the house, or close to the main breaker box for the house.
Normally, the main panel has enough power to spare, but the second issue - the location of the pool equipment, should be a careful consideration. The equipment must be located 10-20 ft away from the edge of the pool; but close enough to the house for convenient access. If you place the equipment pad far from the house, you'll have extra charges for digging a trench from the house panel to the sub-panel. There is also a trench from the equipment pad to the underwater pool light. The best (cheapest) location for the pool equipment pad (and sub-panel), is usually next to the house, and somewhat near the underwater pool light(s).
BONDING: Different from grounding, bonding uses a #8 bare copper wire to connect the metal components of the pool, to carry away any stray voltage. The bonding wire is attached to the pool wall panels, the pool light niche, the pool ladder anchor sockets, and any metal pool equipment (pump, filter, heater). In some areas, the pool deck itself may require bonding, known as "equipotential bonding". This wire runs underground between the pool and the equipment pad, and becomes visible on the pool equipment pad.
Hiring a Qualified Electrician
QUALIFICATIONS: Just about any licensed electrician is "qualified", however, the best choice is usually a company that has lots of experience wiring swimming pools. These tradesmen will already be familiar with the intricacies of Article 680 of the NEC, and may know the electrical inspectors on a first name basis. When searching the yellow pages, or Google, look for electrical contractors that list "Swimming Pools" as one of their residential services.
AVAILABILITY: A good pool electrical contractor will be busy, especially during spring and summer, when most new construction and upgrades are performed. Being able to commit to your specific dates will be important to a timely pool construction project. Be sure to have a week or day in mind when you solicit electrical quotes, and ask if they will be able to commit to the date on the calendar, within 1 or 2 days, to avoid delays. Also - you want confirmation that your electrician will start and finish within 1-2 days, and not stretch it out over 1-2 weeks.
REFERENCES: If you have friends or neighbors who built a pool in the last few years, ask them for their experiences with their chosen electrician. Your local building inspectors can be another valuable resource in locating a good electrician. You can also ask the electricians themselves, to provide local references that you can contact.
COST: Another qualifier for hiring a swimming pool electrician may be cost. The price you pay may vary from company to company, so it may be wise to get 2 or 3 quotes before committing. Factors that affect the cost will be the location of the main electrical panel and location of the pool equipment, as described above, and additional pool equipment such as a pool heater, automatic pool cover, additional pool lights or receptacles (outlets). Most of our DIY pool builders will spend $2000-$3000 for the entire pool wiring process.
Passing Your Pool Electrical Inspection
If you've hired a qualified electrician, familiar with working on new pool construction, there is usually little chance of failing the electrical inspection. To help ensure a passing inspection, contact your inspector beforehand, to ask specific questions, or to obtain printed information on a pool electrical inspection punch list.
BONDING: Bonding requirements tend to vary by locale, and even by individual inspector, so this is one part of the job that you should familiarize yourself with. Some inspectors require only 6 wall panels to be bonded, and others may require every wall panel to be connected by bonding wire.
TRENCHES: The ditches that carry the bonding wire and pool light wire must be open for the inspector - so be sure not to backfill your trenches until after the plumbing and electrical inspections. Depth of the trench may vary also - another item to check beforehand, with your local inspector.
SCHEDULE: Schedule your electrical inspection about a week ahead of time, and if needed, call to reschedule, if all the items are not ready for inspection. Generally, the electrical contractor will handle the scheduling of the inspection, but it's best to ask them, to be sure.
If your inspector does fail the job - for any minor or major infraction, it won't do you much good to argue specifics - better to follow instructions and complete the items accordingly. When negotiating prices with an electrician, a good guarantee of their expertise may be if they agree to pass the electrical inspection, without any additional cost to you, for unforeseen inspection requirements.
Hiring an electrical contractor when you build your own pool, is one burden off of your shoulders. It's an important job to be done correctly, since water and electricity do not play nicely together. Be sure to use a qualified and licensed electrician, and you'll pass the pool electrical inspection with flying colors!
SPP Pool Expert