Does A Hot Tub Need A GFCI Breaker? Expert Advice
There are specific guidelines and rules to follow for installing a GFCI breaker with a hot tub. However, if you’re preparing to install your newly bought hot tub in your house, there may be some questions floating around your head. Questions like, does a hot tub need a GFCI breaker?
Yes; you need a GFCI breaker with a hot tub. Even the National Electrical codes state that every hot tub must be installed with a GFCI breaker. This is because a GFCI breaker can detect electrical failures like ground fault, short-circuits, faulty wiring in a hot tub. Thus, it can save your life during a catastrophe.
In this article, I will discuss the necessity of GFCI breakers and how you can choose the right one for your hot tub. I will also recommend some GFCI breakers I noticed to be the best among the ones I’ve used. So, for a more complete understanding of GFCI breakers, stick around to the end of the article.
Necessity Of A GFCI Breaker in A Hot Tub
A GFCI breaker, also known as a ground-fault circuit interrupter, can cut power during an electrical failure like a ground fault.
When an active electrical wire touches a ground wire or part of it, it causes the ground fault. It can also happen because of faulty wiring, an overloaded circuit, or when the circuit is exposed to dust or moisture.
A hot tub needs to have a GFCI breaker in the case of a malfunction of the electrical circuit. For example, if the water in the hot tub gets electrocuted because the electricity tries to go to the ground, a GFCI breaker can save your life.
The electric wire always tries to flow the electricity through the least resistant path. During a failure, the electricity will try to flow through water in the tub because it will resist the electricity the least. A current flow or amperage greater than five milliamperes is enough to kill you instantly.
That’s where the GFCI breaker comes into play. It detects a problem with the wiring or even the electric connection as a whole, like a short circuit or a ground fault. After detection, it cuts the electricity instantly to the hot tub. According to the National Electrical Code standards, GFCI protection is a must for every outlet that supplies electricity to a hot tub.
Choosing The Proper GFCI Breaker Size for A Hot Tub
Before installing a hot tub in your house, you need to ensure the proper GFCI circuit installation. If you have a standard-sized round or square hot tub that can fit up to four or five-person at a time, the power supply should be around 120 volts. A 15-amp GFCI breaker is enough to accommodate a 120-volt hot tub.
You can easily plug the tub into a GFCI protected outlet on the side of your house. They are pretty common to find and cost not a whole lot.
If you’re looking forward to getting a larger-sized hot tub that can fit up to 10 persons, they usually come in a 220-volt power configuration. For these cases, a 50 to 60-ampere breaker circuit is enough to provide enough protection.
If you’re adding multiple heaters, pumps, or temperature controls to your tub, you might want to increase the amperage to 80 or even 90 amperes. However, for most of the tubs, a 50-ampere breaker will be more than enough.
The power that the breaker consumes is very minimum, and you won’t be getting more than $20 over the current bill you’re already getting. However, cheap hot tubs might need more time for heating and lose temperature within a few hours. So, it would be best if you considered the time too while getting a GFCI breaker.
GFCI Breaker Requirement for Indoor Hot Tub
For indoor hot tubes, here are the GFCI requirements:
Distance: There must be one conveniently placed receptacle positioned between 6 feet and 10 feet from the wall on the inside.
GFCI Protection: The receptacle should have GFCI protection according to the National Electrical Code.
GFCI Breaker Requirement for Outdoor Hot Tub
In the case of outdoor hot tubs, there are a bunch more GFCI requirements to ensure maximum protection.
Distance: At least one conveniently placed receptacle must be positioned between 6 feet and 10 feet from the wall inside.
GFCI Protection: The receptacle should have GFCI protection according to the National Electrical Code.
Conduit Type: If the receptacle is less than 6 feet in length, it should be made out of non-metallic or flexible liquid-tight metal. If the conduit is more than 6 feet in length, then you must use a metal conduit.
Weatherproof Covering: Any outdoor receptacle exposed to the environment should be protected with a weatherproof seal. So, dust, water, and other elements can’t enter the receptacle.
Cord Length: You can connect a hot tub via a plug and cord, ensuring that the GFCI protects the receptacle and the cord length is below 15 feet.
5 Best GFCI Breakers for Hot Tubs
In this section, we’re bringing out the five best GFCI breakers that you can select for your hot tubs. They vary in size and amperage, so different breakers will be suited for different types of tubs.
So, for the first entry on our list, we bring you the QE250 50-Amp circuit breaker. It is a double pole circuit breaker that can support hot tubs up to 240 volts. It is also a QE-type circuit breaker that can be used for protection against line-to-ground faults.
This breaker comes with a 30 mA GFCI protection so that you can be safe in your hot tubs even during an accident. In addition, the standard 1 inch per pole format ensures the breaker to have a standard plug-in design. It is also rated for up to 10,000 AIC interruptions.
- Supported up to 240 volts hot tubs
- A QE-type circuit breaker
- Supports 50-amps of power
- Rated for 10,000 AIC interruptions
- More expensive than the competition
Schneider Electric makes some of the best circuit breakers currently circulating on the market. Their latest model of circuit breakers, the Square-D, comes with no exceptions. It is a quick-guard 60-ampere two-pole circuit breaker with GFCI protection built-in.
This breaker is intended for protecting entire branch circuits while providing accidental short-circuit and overload protection. It is ANSI certified and rated for hot tubs up to 240 volts. In addition, the system is rated for up to 10.000 AIR.
The best feature about this breaker is compatibility with the QO, CSE’D, and NQOD load centers. Moreover, it is a plug-in breaker with effortless installation.
- GFCI protected 60-amp breaker
- Two-pole design
- Rated for hot tubs up to 240 volts
- Rated for 10,000 AIR
- Not universally compatible with all types of tubs
Siemens is a respected name in the electronic space. So for our next entry, we bring you their GFCI protected circuit breaker, the QF260A. It is a double pole, QPFA type circuit breaker with 60 Amps of power.
This breaker is suitable for different construction applications like high voltage electric equipment, heaters, and tubs. It is very safe to use and provides class A GFCI protection.
Moreover, it comes with a UL 943 self-test application for added safety features. Also, this breaker is rated for 10,000 AIC interruptions.
- 60-amp circuit breaker
- Double pole design
- Comes with a class A GFCI protection
- Contains UL 943 self-test application for added safety
- Included GFCI wire is small in size
EATON Corporation has some outstanding quality circuit breakers for spa and hot tub applications on its hands. Proudly made in the USA, this breaker is perfect for up to 120 volts of power, included in standard-size hot tubs.
Moreover, it ensures complete GFCI protection from ground faults for the tubs. Finally, the factory-installed self-test for ground faults is excellent for testing out the viability before installation.
- Proudly manufactured in the USA
- Protects 120 volts of power in a spa and hot tubs
- Comes with a ground fault self-test capability
- Durable build quality
- Box is smaller and tighter than most of its competition
Last but certainly not least, the Leviton 20-amp circuit breaker is an excellent choice for someone looking for something affordable. It is fully compliant with the NEC and OSHA regulations.
It is a portable GFCI circuit with weather-resistant cables. The breaker comes with industrial-grade cables for heavy-duty applications. It is perfect for 120-volt hot tubs and comes with 15 and 20 amps of power.
The best feature about this breaker is the auto-turn-on feature. After the power interruption, it can turn itself automatically when plugged in. The power indicator goes off if the GFCI trips for any electrical faults. The polycarbonate body is weather-resistant and durable.
- Quite an affordable choice for a GFCI breaker
- Fully compliant with NEC and OSHA standards
- Portable GFCI circuit with weather resistance
- Weather-resistant & durable polycarbonate build
- Not compatible with self-testing or double polling
Connecting A GFCI Breaker to A Hot Tub
Connecting a GFCI breaker is quite a complex process. You definitely should consult an electrician before doing anything on your own.
The best thing for you is to hire a professional electrician to connect the breaker to the tub. You also need to follow the local electric codes and standards. Before you start doing any work, adequately inspect your wirings.
Here are the basic steps you need to follow to connect a GFCI breaker with your tub. We insist that you definitely should hire a professional to finish the job. However, if you want to know how to do the job, here are your steps.
Step 01: Turn Off the Electricity Of Your House
Before you start your project, turn off the electric line of your house completely. Never perform any kind of electric repair while the line is still on. Before you begin, find your breaker box and turn off the power to your entire house.
Step 02: Mount the Hot Tub Panel
After you properly turn off the electricity all across your house, the next step is to mount the hot tub disconnect panel. Different hot tubs come with different configurations. So consulting the instruction manual to know exactly how to mount is your best bet.
Mount the panel at least five or six feet from the tub, but keep in mind that the panel must be in the line of sight with the tub. The distance between the panel and the hot tub is required to reduce the possibility of someone touching the panel while they are in the hot tub.
Step 03: Dig Out a Trench For The Conduit
After mounting the hot tub panel, the next step is to dig a conduit trench. Before digging for the conduit, consult your local building code to determine the depth for the conduit. You also need to contact utility companies to determine the location of the trench properly.
After determining the exact location and depth for the conduit, start digging with a shovel. You only need to trench the conduit through the disconnecting breaker to the hot tub for most setups.
Step 04: Run the Conduit
For a breaker panel sitting inside the house, you need to use a hole saw for drilling through the wall near the panel to let the conduit exit the house. Then, measure the necessary dimensions, cut, and cement the essential conduit as well as fittings. After that, run the whole setup from the breaker panel all the way up to the disconnect box.
If your conduit lengths are less than six feet, use a liquid-tight flexible metal or a non-metal conduit. For longer conduits, a metal or PVC conduit works best.
Step 05: Connect the wires
After finishing up with the conduit, the next step is to connect the wire through the conduit to the breaker panel into the spa. The recommended wire for hot tubs is the size six copper wire with THHN insulation. Make sure you don’t use aluminum wires for this project.
Step 06: Wire the Disconnect Box To The Main Breaker
After connecting the wire from the conduit to the hot tub, the next step is to connect the wire from the disconnect panel to the main breaker. Again, start by attaching the wires leading to the disconnect box.
The wires in the box come in four colors. First, attach the red, black, and white wires to the GFCI breaker and attach the green wire to the grounding bar. After that, attach the red and black wire on top of the breaker, the white wire to the neutral bar, and the green wire to the ground bar.
Step 07: Wire the Hot Tub
After wiring the conduit and the disconnect box to the main breaker, now you need to wire the hot tub. Different tubs come with various instructions. The best advice is to follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.
Wire the hot tub to the conduit through the bottom of the hot tub through the knock-out hole. Connect the wires by following the instructions from the manufacturer and the local guideline.
After that, wire the hot tub with the breaker panel. Don’t forget to make sure the breaker is completely off, and there should be no power present. Next, attach the dedicated red and black wire with the GFCI breaker. Label the circuit breaker for future reference.
Step 08: Inspect the Hot Tub Before Using
After finishing the installation process, turn on the hot tub and inspect the whole system with a professional. Make sure there are no exposed wires, no faulty conductors, and the breaker is working as intended. After that, let the tub fill in with water and turn on the heater to see if the system is working flawlessly.
Following these steps, you’ll be installing your GFCI breaker in no time. And your hot tub will be safe and ready for use.
So, does a hot tub need a GFCI breaker? As you can see, installing a GFCI breaker is a must if you need a safe hot tub for your house. They protect you from the dangers of electrical malfunctions and that is something to not take likely. Our recommendation is to consult a professional for installing a GFCI breaker properly.
There are many rules and guidelines to follow, which might be hard for someone not familiar with it. Moreover, where your safety is concerned, you should always double or triple-check your GFCI setup. I hope this article was informative enough to help you with your queries. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day.