Pool and Spa Wiring Part I

The most common types of low voltage landscape lights must be at least 10 feet from the edge of the pool.

By: JADE Learning | Jul 20, 2015

More often than not, many of the correction items written up by the electrical inspector from one pool inspection to the next will be the same. During July and August, we will address common red tag items for the typical pool and hot tub inspection.

Inspection red tag.

This first post will cover swimming pools and the next post will cover outdoor hot tub installations. Here are some common items that can cause the electrical inspection to fail at swimming pools: 

1. Incorrect wiring methods from the service panel to the pool subpanel.

If a feeder is installed to a new pool subpanel, section 680.25(B) requires an insulated equipment grounding conductor to be run with the feeder from the service equipment to the pool subpanel. Because of the ease of installation, often the installer will run SE cable from the service panel to the pool subpanel. Unfortunately the equipment grounding conductor in standard SE cable is bare rather than insulated.

680.25(B) Feeder to pool panel must have an insulated equipment grounding conductor.2.


2. Equipotential bonding grid for perimeter surfaces incorrectly installed.

Perimeter surfaces must be bonded as required by 680.26(B)(2).

Section 680.26(B)(2) requires equipotential bonding of the perimeter surfaces around the pool. This can be accomplished by an extension of the pool rebar to the perimeter surface, but the most common bonding method is to use a No. 8 bare copper conductor around the pool. If this method is chosen, it must comply with the following:

  • The wire must be attached to the pool reinforcing steel or copper conductor grid at a minimum of 4 points uniformly spaced around the perimeter of the pool.
  • The No. 8 bare copper conductor must follow the contour of the perimeter surface.
  • Only listed splices are permitted.
  • The conductor must be 18 in. to 24 in. from the inside walls of the pool.
  • The conductor must be secured within or under the perimeter surface 4 in. to 6 in. below the subgrade.

Often, the electrician will install the conductor exactly as required above, but before the inspector arrives one of the other trade workers for the pool will damage or move the bond wire while working around the pool. 

3.Incorrect bonding of equipment.

Bonding of metal parts must comply with 680.26(B).4.

Section 680.26(B) requires the following parts to be bonded together:

  • Conductive Pool Shells
  • Perimeter Surfaces
  • Metallic Components
  • Underwater Lighting
  • Metal Fittings
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Fixed Metal Parts

There is nothing that requires the bonding wire joining all of these parts to be run back to the pool subpanel or attached to another equipment grounding conductor. These parts must simply be joined together to place them all on the same plane or equal potential. Fixed metal parts such as metal window frames, awning posts, metal fencing and tin flashing are often neglected, but they need to be bonded also. 

4. Low voltage lighting too close to pool.

Article 411 covers low voltage lighting systems operating at 30 volts or less and requires the luminaires to be installed at least 10 feet horizontally from the nearest edge of the water, unless allowed by Article 680. Often an installer will forget to relocate existing landscape lights before the final pool inspection.

The most common types of low voltage landscape lights must be at least 10 feet from the edge of the pool.
See 411.5(B) and 680.22(B)(6).


5. Incorrect clearances to overhead luminaires and paddle fans.

See images below for some of the clearances required by 680.22(B).

Existing Luminaires.









GFCI Protection.






Rigid attachments further out.









Low Voltage Lighting.


















If you need continuing education hours to renew your electrical license, see JADE Learning’s available electrical continuing education.


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