Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes (Look Out For These!)

By Dillon •  Updated: 07/21/21 •  12 min read

What are some hot tub wiring mistakes?

Some mistakes you can make with hot tub wiring is poor waterproofing bonding, neglecting GFCI protection, and grounding the electrical components. These mistakes have severe consequences such as electrocution that can cause death.

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About a year ago, I had some electrical issues with my hot tub and I decided to call a professional electrician to come and take a look.

Working with electricity is a dangerous endeavor, especially if you don’t have the necessary skills and qualifications in electrical works.

The wiring is more dangerous if you make Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes because you’ll increase the risk of shock.

If you’re unsure about your skills or find it difficult to understand the hot tub wiring guidelines, I recommend hiring a technician for the installation and wiring of the facility. Working around the water can be extremely dangerous because of the electrocution risk.

Electrocution or shock can cause severe injury or even death. This is why you must avoid any Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes by ensuring that you hire a qualified electrician and follow the local code regulations.

In this article, I’ll talk more about different wiring mistakes that can take place in a hot tub.

Let’s get started!

What Are The Electrical Requirements For A Hot Tub?

Hot tubs fall under two categories, depending on their electrical requirements. The first category is plug and play, which runs on 110V/15AMPs, while the other category, hard-wired hot tubs, runs on 220V/50AMPs. The hot tubs that perform optimally are those running on 220V/50AMPs and GFCI protected circuits because all equipment can run simultaneously. The hard-wired hot tubs offer the biggest challenges in wiring, which means that you must observe the standards of wiring requirements and guidelines to minimize any hot tub wiring mistakes. 

First, connect the hot tub to a single phase of 220-240V, four wired. The four wires include a neutral, earth, and two lives, which must be hard-wired to the terminals located in the hot tub’s control box. I recommend using a 6 AWG copper wire, but the size can vary with the run.

Install a shoe-sized metal box (disconnect box) at a distance of 5 to 15 feet from the hot tub. Ensure that the disconnect box is accessible to the hot tub users. Make sure you use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI), which is 50 AMPs.

The GCFI is a safety mechanism that will shut off the power to the hot tub when there is a leak or a fault from one of the supply conductors. Ensure that the electrical circuit is dedicated to the hot tub and not shared to avoid the tripping nuisance when tripping occurs.

I also recommend using the correct wire gauge and making the right connections to minimize damages to the fuses, tripping nuisances, damage to the electrical box and hot tub components, and voiding the hot tub warranties.

Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes You Should Avoid

There are a couple of hot tub wiring mistakes that you should always avoid when you make the wiring as a hot tub owner or an electrical technician, as I have explained below:

Issues With Grounding

Grounding is recommended for your hot tub because it acts as a backup to allow the alternating current to flow into the ground when there is an issue with wiring on your hot tub. You could avoid problems with grounding by ensuring to establish a connection between the equipment, the electrical appliance, and the ground.

The residential electricity basics indicate that electrical supply will always be looking for the shortest way into the ground, meaning that grounding an electrical supply will reduce the power surge when there’s an issue with the neutral connection. If you don’t have grounding for your appliances, severe electrical problems might arise.

I recommend grounding your hot tub at all times to ensure that the electrical supply is routed into the ground in case there’s an emergency. Failure to do so will endanger your life and that of the people using your hot tub.

Circuit Breaker Issues

Circuit breaker issues are also common with the hot tub wiring. I usually recommend using a circuit breaker instead of a conventional electrical fuse because it trips when there is an issue with the electricity supply. For example, it breaks the circuit when there is a power surge.

A circuit breaker can help alert you when there is a severe issue with your electrical connections. For example, the high moisture content in the entire electrical system or malfunctioning of the circuit breaker is noticed when it trips instantly when the hot tub is turned on. You could also check if you have a loose wire or a faulty connection if you notice the circuit breaker is tripping.

You must never ignore the tripping on your circuit breaker or consider it an annoyance because failing to attend to the issue can be damaging. It can cause an electrical fire that will be worse to manage because you can’t extinguish it with water.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection

I recommend you adequately protect your GFCI, ensuring proper protection of any electrical outlet located close to the hot tub. The circuit interrupter disconnects the power supply every time there is a short circuit. The disconnection helps in preventing the potential harm that can occur to your hot tub. Faulty GFCI can also cause a fatal electrical shock. I recommend testing the circuit interrupter every few months on your hot tub to ensure it’s working correctly.

Mistakes Associated With Bonding

I know that combining water, metallic components, and electricity is a dangerous endeavor from basic electrical wiring. Yet, a hot tub involves the integration of the three components in its functioning.

I caution attention to electrical wiring to ensure that all the metallic components in a hot tub get proper bonding. The bonding together of the metallic elements is associated with the electrical box. I recommend hiring a technician because the slightest mistake might cause a short circuit and possible electrocution.

Why You Need To Hire An Electrician

Below are some very important reasons why you need an electrician for your hot tub.

electrician

They Are Experienced And Highly Trained

You need to hire an electrician because they have the skills, knowledge, and experience to connect your hot tubs to the electricity supply. They have the skills and expertise to understand what it will take to wire the hot tub correctly. For instance, they can easily tell the correct gauge of wires and ensure no electrical risks are left once they have connected your hot tub.

Besides, a professional is licensed, well-trained, and equipped for the task. You don’t want to risk your life and that of your loved ones through poor and faulty connections to the power supply, which is why I strongly recommend that you hire a professional for the task.

Electrical Regulations And Codes

I also strongly recommend that you hire a professional because they understand and will adhere to specific electrical codes and regulations in your area. Buildings have strict codes that must be followed, and permits are needed when something big like a hot tub needs to be connected to the power supply.

It is essential to have professionals because they’ll know what they are doing. The wiring on your hot tub might be inspected from time to time, meaning that you must ensure it is done properly. Wiring that adheres to the electrical codes and regulations will easily pass the inspection, saving you from troubles with the local authorities.

Professional Insurance

There is always a risk of failure if you’re working with electricity. When something goes wrong, and a power surge damages your hot tub, the insurance company will check whether the wiring was done by a professional or not. They will also check if the hot tub passed the inspection test. A hot tub wiring that was done by a non-professional will not benefit from the insurance payment.

Hot Tub Bonding Requirement

You’ll need hot tub bonding for all metal fittings attached or within a hot tub structure. The metallic components associated with the hot tub’s water circulation system, like the pump motor, will also need to be bonded together. However, you could make an exception for the parts if the hot tub is listed as self-contained. Proceed to bond the metal pining and raceway within 1.5 meters or 5 feet of the inside walls of the hot tub. Such components should not be separated from the hot tub by any permanent barrier. 

When you apply bonding in this scenario, make an exception to the small conductive surfaces which are less likely to get energized. For instance, make exceptions to the drain fittings, air, and water jets when they’re not connected to the towel rails, metallic piping, mirror frames, and related non-electrical equipment. You are also required to bond electrical controls and devices not associated with the hot tub if they are located less than 5 feet from the facility.

For more information on grounding and bonding, I recommend the Ground and Bonding book from Phil Summons.

Does Hot Tub Wiring Need To Be In Conduit?

If you’re installing your hot tub outdoors, its wiring will definitely need to pass through a conduit pipe. In most regions, both metallic and plastic conduits are permitted. However, it is always a good practice to consult with your local authorities to ensure compliance with the necessary electrical codes. The local authority will guide you on the depth you need to bury the conduits because the rules are not standard. In most cases, you’ll be advised to install your conduit up to 18 inches underneath. 

Now that you’ll need to pass the wire through a conduit, you need to create a room where the conduit will pass. It would be great if you did this by digging a trench where the conduit will pass with the wiring to your hot tub panel.

I insist that you consult the local authority because you don’t want to hit a utility cable while digging your hole for the conduit. You then need to drill a hole on the wall to run the conduit, ensuring that it is close to the main breaker.

When the conduit is in position, pull the wire to connect the mains and the hot tub and bury the pipes with soil.

I recommend the Sealproof Non-metallic Liquid-Tight Electrical Conduit from Sealproof Store.

How Far Away Does A GFCI Have To Be From A Hot Tub?

The ideal distance for a GFCI from a hot tub is not less than 5 feet and not more than 15 feet, based on the national electrical codes. Ideally, any electrical cords could be buried under the ground surface, but those passing above the ground must not be passed over the hot tub. 

I have given the distance range because the requirements are different across different types of hot tubs. For instance, the requirements for the plug-and-play are different from those of the hard-wired hot tubs. Unlike an inflatable hot tub, hard-wired hot tubs will need a disconnect breaker box containing the GFCI inside. The distance for the GFCI is also different if the hot tub will be placed indoors, in which case the distance will range between 6 and 10 feet.

Can I Use A 50 Amp Breaker For A 40 Amp Hot Tub?

Yes, you can use a 50 Amp breaker for a 40 Amp hot tub. You should realize that all 220-240V hot tubs require 40, 50, or 60 AMPs of a 2-pole GFCI protected breaker. However, the exact amperage will depend on the model of your hot tub. 

A 50A circuit would be advisable to facilitate future upgrades in the hot tub size or the aftermarket accessories. It’s also easy to find the 50A size breaker for the hot tubs than the 40A size, meaning that if you ever want to replace it, there will be a better chance to re-use the wiring.

Since you can install a 32A breaker on a 40A circuit, there will not be a problem with the installation of a 50A breaker instead of a 40 Amp and not get tripping problems. In any case, the AWG #8 gauge of wire requires between 40 and 50 Amps of electricity.

My recommendation for a 50 Amp Circuit Breaker is this one from Siemens Store.

Hot Tub Wiring Mistakes: Conclusion

hot tub wiring mistakes

I have seen that working with electricity can be dangerous if you don’t have the necessary skills for the task. When it comes to wiring your hot tub, there are different mistakes you could make and endanger your life and that of other people using the hot tub.

Hot tub wiring mistakes can yield severe consequences especially because you’ll be working with metal, water, and electricity.

The typical hot tub wiring mistakes include poor waterproofing and bonding, neglecting GFCI protection and bonding, and failure to provide immediate breaker tripping.

I recommend hiring an electrician to wire your hot tub because they are experienced and highly trained. They also understand the electrical regulations and codes governing your region, thus guaranteeing professional insurance in the event of a power surge that damages your hot tub.

When you install your hot tub outdoors, I recommend installing conduits through which you’ll pass the wires.

Remember to place the GFCI at least 5 feet from your hot tub unless it is placed indoors, where it should be in the range of 6 to 10 feet.

As I conclude, I insist on the need to seek professional services when wiring your hot tub because you’ll eliminate costly mistakes to your wellbeing and your hot tub system.

I hope you found this article on hot tub wiring mistakes helpful.

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Dillon

I'm Dillon, creator of SpaToolKit.com. During the day I'm a software developer for an engineering company. At night I enjoy sitting in my hot tub and relaxing. My hope is that Spa Tool Kit will be a place where you can find the best information on hot tubs, spa equipment, setups, parts, and accessories. Let's get started!