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  • Spa installations / replacement

    Gents,

    I have a question about "portable" spas and hot tubs, and code. The spas I'm concerned with are called "portable" but in fact they are pretty large and heavy and not very portable... they are sometimes called "pre-packaged" or "self-contained". In NEC 2008, it says you need an equipotential grid under the tub and walkways, for 3 horizonal feet around it all. It says that the rebar in the concrete will accomplish this. But how do you get to the rebar to bond it to the spa? I haven't heard on anyone having to jackhammer out their patio to find the rebar, but maybe this is what must happen? Or does all this apply only to new construction?

    In my case, I'm replacing an old spa with a new one. There's a subpanel with GFCI mounted already and the wiring, conduit, and all that is ok. But there is currently no bonding of the spa to the rebar in the patio and there is no other equipotential grid structure. Since I'm replacing the appliance but it isn't really a new installation, do I need to bring the entire thing up to current requirements? The local city planning dept has a web page on spa installations and it says nothing about the equipotential grid.... it does talk about it for pool installations. A friend just had a spa installed and told me that the inspector didn't even mention the equipotential grid. But we all know that experience with one inspector isn't a good indicator of much... On the other hand, all the equipment in the spa is mounted up off the concrete so I have a hard time believing that all this grid stuff makes any real difference. It makes sense to me for in-ground swimming pools, but spas? Not so sure.

    I'm in CA, I think we're actually on NEC 2005 right now, but I haven't had a chance to look at that to see if it's materially different. Any comments on how to interpret the code requirements is appreciated. Interested, of course, in being safe first and foremost - but don't want to waste money or time.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Spa installations / replacement

    I'm in Connecticut, but from what I read, California will not adopt the 2008 NEC until the 2010 code cycle. Article 680.26 of the 2005 NEC covers equipotential bonding. If I were you, I would contact the AHJ in your city as to what is currently required.

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    • #3
      Re: Spa installations / replacement

      Originally posted by killavolt View Post
      I'm in Connecticut, but from what I read, California will not adopt the 2008 NEC until the 2010 code cycle. Article 680.26 of the 2005 NEC covers equipotential bonding. If I were you, I would contact the AHJ in your city as to what is currently required.
      Yeah, that's about right, based on how long we stuck with the 2002 code.

      What are you guys doing in Connecticut about this? Are you already on 2008? Seems like an onerous rule if everyone that replaces a tub has to open up or replace the concrete pad or patio to get to the rebar... and, do you think it's a real benefit? I'm all for safety but I don't see the point for a spa. They're typically about 90" x 90" or thereabouts... how much stray voltage you gonna get? At most, I would think a ground rod somewhere near the spa would do the trick, and much easier to implement. So, I'm just not sure about this requirement, it seems kinda dumb to me for a lousy little spa --but then again my electrical experience comes out of books and what I've experienced working on my own home - hardly a definitive resource! I would be interested in hearing a professional's perspective.

      Thanks for the comment,

      Andy

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      • #4
        Re: Spa installations / replacement

        Yeah, I'm in San Jose as well and we just had (about 12months ago), a new "portable" spa installed. This was a new install with new electrical etc. In our case as with your friends, there was no mention of the equipotential grid with the inspector. I wonder if this just concerns built-ins ie:concrete spas?
        Guy Coulston

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        • #5
          Re: Spa installations / replacement

          Hi Guy,

          Yeah, that thought occurred to me as well. But I read the code and it sure reads like it applies to the so-called portables. I think the cord-and-plug variety might be exempt, but I didn't pay close attention to that since it's not what I have/am going to change out - mine is hard wired to a 60A branch. If the code sections really apply to the concrete & gunite type, with the rebar in the 3 horizontal feet relating to the deck... that makes a lot more sense to me. But if you just look at the words, that would have to be an interpretation.

          One of the frustrating things (IMO) about the NEC -- ALL versions that I've seen -- is that they seem to be somewhat ambiguously written in several areas. Most of it is pretty cut and dried, but occasionally one comes across areas where the choice of words could have been less murky. This opens the door to debate as to what the requirement is, and explains some of the different interpretions one sees. I think ambiguity of language, as well as inconsistencies from one section to the next, are consequences of any complicated document that is written, revised and edited by a committee!

          So, on your installation, did your inspector require a ground rod at the sub panel? Is your spa deck structure concrete,wood or something else? And is it attached to the main house?

          Thanks for the post! Where are you in SJ, neighbor?

          -Andy

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Spa installations / replacement

            Andy, in Connecticut we adopted the 2008 NEC August 1, 2009. I think you are following the 2007 CEC (California Electrical Code) at this time which is based on the 2005 NEC. Article 680.40 states you have to comply with parts I & IV of Article 680 to be in compliance for portable hot tubs/spas. Part II deals with equipotential bonding and applies to permanent pools only. But, as I said earlier, check with the AHJ to confirm compliance. I know you have the 2008 NEC and the 2005 NEC is readily downloadable off the internet. There's not a whole lot of differences in the two pertaining to portable spas/hot tubs.

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            • #7
              Re: Spa installations / replacement

              Hi Andy,
              No rod at the sub, not attached to the house, and the decking is a little unique. I have four plastic panels (4x4 each), placed over 6 inches of base rock.
              I know what you mean about interpretations, initially, our inspector wanted us to put up a fence around the tub like you would see around a pool, (hey, just another 10 grand or so), until one of the other inspectors showed him the error of his ways.
              We're up in N. Valley right by the entrance to Alum Rock Park.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Spa installations / replacement

                Spa regs are confusing and at times contradictory (as to minimum distance for service panel and minimum distance for an available outlet). Best to phone your local building department and ask to talk to an inspector.

                I was able to use a ground rod in one installation where a concrete pad was already in place and it was not too difficult to bore a 1" hole down through the pad.

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