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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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Im installing the wiring for an older Vita Spa DX Series hot

Resolved Question:

I'm installing the wiring for an older Vita Spa DX Series hot tub. It requires a 220 volt, 50 amp service, and I've installed the 2-pole 50 amp breaker in the panel, installed a 50-amp GFI disconnect panel about 8 feet from the hot tub, and run 6-gauge, 4-wire between everything. Here's my issue...

The spa control panel has 3 lugs on the left of the panel, and a small grounding bar on the right side of the panel. The first 2 lugs on the spa panel are easy to identify as red and black hots, the third lugs has a heavy green wire running out the top that ties into the grounding lug along with many smaller green grounds from other equipment. I though since I had 3 lugs and a grounding block, I would hook up the red, black and white wire to the lugs, and run the bare ground to the grounding block; but the GFI always trips. I doesn't trip when I do not wire the neutral and just leave the lug empty. Is it safe, or am I defeating the GFI?
Thanks,
Erich
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
HiCustomer It's possible that your hot tub does not utilize a connection to the electrical system neutral wire. The last hot tub I connected did not require a neutral. It only required 2 hot wires and a ground wire.

You are partially correct about the operation of a GFI breaker. If it is a single pole breaker, the GFI circuitry within the breaker measures the difference in current between the hot wire and the neutral wire. But a double pole GFI breaker measures the difference in current between the 2 hot wires that are connected to it. A double pole GFI breaker has the option of having a load neutral connected to it, but if the load does not require a neutral, there is no load neutral to connect to the double pole GFI breaker. However, the white pigtail coming from the double pole GFI breaker is required to be connected to the neutral bar in the electrical panel.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I believe I have a double pole GFI since it has a neutral pig tail connecting the breaker to the neutral bus. I've connected the neutral from the hot tub to the neutral (white dot) location on the breaker, and the neutral from the service panel to the neutral bus.

 

will the GFI operate without the neutral wire connected at the hot tub, and only a ground connection?

Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
If your hot tub requires a neutral wire in order to operate, then the neutral wire coming from the hot tub to the double pole GFI breaker is required to be connected to the load neutral lug on the double pole GFI breaker. When I read your original question, it appeared you were saying there was no place in the control panel on the spa to connect a white wire. Is this the case? Is there a connection for a white wire in the spa control panel?

If there IS a place to connect a neutral wire in the control panel on the hot tub, and connecting the neutral wire to the hot tub at the load end of the circuit, and to the load neutral lug on the GFI breaker is causing the breaker to trip, then there is an internal electrical problem within the equipment in the hot tub. If this is the case, I would be looking at any equipment in the tub that operates on 120 volts.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't think there is a place for a neutral in the spa control panel. There is a 3rd lug for a wire to connect to, and a separate grounding bus; but the (currently empty) 3rd lug is connected to the grounding bus by a thick green wire. When I connect the neutral to this lug and connect the bare ground to the ground bus the GFI trips.

 

All of the connections on the grounding bus were full with other, smaller green wires coming off the pump and controls. I was wondering of the 3rd lug was actually just a grounding lug since it was connected to the grounding bus.

 

Since I don't know anything about GFIs, I just wanted to know if the GFI would trip if only the 2 hots and a ground were connected between the GFI and the hot tub.

Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
I'm pretty certain your hot tub does not require a neutral. When the neutral and ground wires touch at the load end on a GFI protected circuit, it is normal for the GFI to trip. When we install 120 volt GFI outlets, we have to make sure that the bare ground wire (when connected to residential Romex type wire) does not touch the neutral screw on the side of the outlet.

Basically, the GFI protection within the breaker is assuming that the current that should be travelling back from the spa to the breaker on the neutral wire (but isn't because the neutral wire is grounded at the load end if it is at all connected to the safety ground) is instead travelling through a person and therefore shuts off the breaker. Since the neutral and ground are touching at the load end, the current that would normally travel back from the spa through the neutral wire is instead going to the ground wire. With today's electrical systems, you can't have current travelling on a bare wire, even if it's return current.

So, the remedy to your situation is to ignore the white wire that runs between the spa and the GFI protection. Do not use it at all. Cap it off at both ends. Connect the two hot wires and the ground wire to the spa, and connect the white pigtail coming from the GFI breaker to the neutral bar in the panel where the breaker is located. The neutral wire that is part of the circuit that brings power TO the GFI breaker box also needs to be connected to the neutral bar in the panel where the GFI breaker is located.

Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3628
Experience: Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
Jason and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks Jason. That's exactly what I need to know. Now I can feel at ease when we get into the hot tub.
Expert:  Jason replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for accepting my answer, and for the opportunity to help. Enjoy the tub, I'm sure you will. Have a great night, and thanks again.

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