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Old 09-14-2010, 09:03 PM   #1
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Hello all! I'm a serious DIY'er and I can't believe it took me this long to find this forum, but here I am.

Want to run 100amp electrical service to my a brand new "sub-panel" for an in-ground pool (not yet installed). I was told by my county electrical inspector that most people run #2 aluminum. I ran this by my neighbor who is an electrical engineer for certain power solutions firm and he told me to go with copper for these reasons:

1) Alum requires more care in terminating (No-Ox compound on joints..etc).
2) Aluminum-Oxide is a natural insulator, which can lead to increased connection resistance and subsequent overheating.
3) Voltage drop in aluminum is greater than copper. Alum has roughly 76% of the conductivity of same size copper.

Thoughts? SpeedyPete time?
Thanks!
-Bryan

PS: I did try to search the forums for this answer first.

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Old 09-14-2010, 09:22 PM   #2
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


I've used all copper for my (3) subs at my house
I only ran a 60a to my pool cabana - all I needed
--solar heat for the pool

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Old 09-15-2010, 06:49 AM   #3
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Thank Scuba Dave! I appreciate the response!
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:34 AM   #4
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Both are acceptable. AL is cheaper, lighter and easier to work with. Al is normally installed one size larger for the same ampacity as copper.

Anti-oxidant paste is not required although many will not install AL without it.

Proper torque is important for both AL and CU connections.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:23 AM   #5
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


100 amp service for a pool ?? My pool only has 30 a breaker. I used 10/2
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:38 AM   #6
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


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Originally Posted by kenmac View Post
100 amp service for a pool ?? My pool only has 30 a breaker. I used 10/2
He may be running other circuits and a possible electric heater from pool panel..
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:05 AM   #7
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100 amp service for a pool ?? My pool only has 30 a breaker. I used 10/2
Unless this was only the interior portion of the wiring you created a code violation. The grounding conductor for pools and spas must be insulated.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:17 AM   #8
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Bcobb

The supply to your new pool panel is a 'feeder' and will be required to be in conduit ...I suggest electrical pvc (gray in color). All wires need to be insulated, the neutral needs to be marked with white tape at each end or have a factory marking stripe along its insulation. The insulated green ground can be #8 awg copper for 100 amps assuming you are not having to allow for voltage drop due to a long run.

Be careful about codes and do your research this is not generally considered DIY work. Some areas require a licensed electrician do all pool electrical work and the home owner is not allowed.

If you do not get an inspection from the building codes department for your area, if you are allowed to do the work, your making a big mistake .... get it inspected for the safety of your family and friends.


Keep this thread active and ask all the questions you want if your going to do the work. Start by determining if your codes department offers a pool installation guide line and pick it up, this will keep you on track for local code compliance.

This link will get you a good overall picture of NEC requirements up to 2005 be sure to check local codes for amendments and what code sycle they are enforcing. The latest is 2008 which has some changes about in-ground pools. Scroll down to the pool article


http://www.mikeholt.com/files/PDF/Pooldownload.pdf
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:03 PM   #9
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
Unless this was only the interior portion of the wiring you created a code violation. The grounding conductor for pools and spas must be insulated.

It is I used a seprate coated (green) for ground

Last edited by kenmac; 09-15-2010 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:16 PM   #10
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


All:
I can't thank you enough for all the info. Especially Stubby, you went above and beyond! Luckily for me, I knew everything that you told me already. ;-)

I've done my homework, read 680, have already talked to my electrical inspector and am considering having him come out to do a consultation before I start (mine will do that for a small fee), although I don't think I'll need it. There is no issue with the homeowner putting the service out there...the one thing I am NOT doing is the pool bonding, hooking up the swimming pool light, pump, receptable...etc. I'm just getting the service out to the pool. That part is pretty easy, 18" buried Sch 40 PVC, 4 wire THWN with insulated ground, neutral and ground isolated, #8 insulated ground to 8ft grounding rod...etc.

Obviously I'm getting an inspection...A couple questions for you since you all are so helpful, I've got a call into my inspector so he'll tell me, but I'll ask anyway:

-My run will be about 75ft, I don't think I will have to worry too much about voltage drop. Correct me if I'm wrong.

- Why do I need to mark the neutral when it will be the only white wire?

- I'll be out of breaker slots in my main service panel after adding a 100 amp double pole for the pool panel. SO...I want to add a main lug panel next to my service main breaker panel and then supply the pool panel (also a main breaker panel to handle the service disconnect at the pool) off of the main lug. Can I do that under NEC?

- I've read I can get by with #4 copper or #2 aluminum, is that correct? I personally want to go with copper.

This is another great resource that I'll be looking at for pool code. Nice and to the point for anyone else looking:
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/home-...pools-2002.php

Thoughts?
Thanks!
-Bryan

PS: And yes, I want 100 amp out at my pool because I will have an electric pool heater (not gas), pump, pool light, landscape lighting, A/V equipment and of course, some wiggle room. It's hardly any more expensive to put in 100amp service as compared to anything smaller.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:28 PM   #11
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Great PDF Stubbie, love it!
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:43 PM   #12
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


I believe you can "chain" one subpanel to another. But what size do you plan to make your main lug panel? Is your existing service 200Amp? If so, I'd make your main lug panel 200A also, and then feed your 100A pool subpanel off that.
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Old 09-16-2010, 01:01 AM   #13
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Quote:
Originally Posted by bcobb View Post
Hello all! I'm a serious DIY'er and I can't believe it took me this long to find this forum, but here I am.

Want to run 100amp electrical service to my a brand new "sub-panel" for an in-ground pool (not yet installed). I was told by my county electrical inspector that most people run #2 aluminum. I ran this by my neighbor who is an electrical engineer for certain power solutions firm and he told me to go with copper for these reasons:

1) Alum requires more care in terminating (No-Ox compound on joints..etc).
2) Aluminum-Oxide is a natural insulator, which can lead to increased connection resistance and subsequent overheating.
3) Voltage drop in aluminum is greater than copper. Alum has roughly 76% of the conductivity of same size copper.

Thoughts? SpeedyPete time?
Thanks!
-Bryan

PS: I did try to search the forums for this answer first.

All 3 of those are true, but not a big deal
1) use de-ox on all your connections with aluminum, not a big adeal
2) de-ox takes care of that
3)Bigger sized aluminum is still significantly cheaper than a smaller copper of equivalent ampacity.

i use aluminum wire wherever applicable. Nothing wrong with it, just be sure to make your connections properly, which you should be doing with copper anyway

aluminum got a bad wrap when people used aluminum romex and they didnt use deox, that is bad news.

Last edited by jimmy21; 09-16-2010 at 01:06 AM.
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:56 AM   #14
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


Thanks again all for all of the replies. My electrical inspector just told me a few minutes ago and I can "daisy chain" subpanels. I have a 200amp main service, off of that I plan to go with a 100amp main lug, then off of that a 100amp main breaker for the pool. Anyone see any problems with that?
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:59 AM   #15
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Pool Panel: Aluminum vs. Copper


No problem I see
If I ever have to redo the pool feed it will be a 100a
We have a hot tub out there now - heated by solar
Since we already have one at the house I never thought we would have a 2nd one

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