UL/NEC Low-Voltage Pool & Spa Lighting Code Change

UL/NEC Low-Voltage Pool & Spa Lighting Code Change


Hello and thank you for taking the time to
view this presentation on changes to the national electric code for low voltage swimming pool
lighting. This presentation was designed specifically for electrical inspectors. But will also be
beneficial to electrical contractors involved in the swimming pool industry. And it will
provide you with one source for many of the changes that have occurred since the 1999
code cycle. Lets take a look at what will be covered in this presentation. First of
all we will discuss why NEC changed the code. Then we will look specifically at article
680 as it relates to grounding of the lights, GFCI Protection, the Depths of the lights
and Bonding of the light Niches, which is the most recent change. Then we will introduce
you to the new universal ColorLogic LED light from Hayward Pool Products, which is UL listed
and meets all of the changes in the code. We will also talk about retrofits and why
this new led light is UL listed to be installed into most existing pool niches. And of course
we will provide you with the source for additional information included a dedicated phone number
to call.It was actually the swimming pool industry that started this change in motion.
Back in the early 2000’s they got together with UL to discuss a safer, low voltage lighting
system. UL agreed that the system that the pool industry suggested was in fact safer
and could be installed with less opportunity for installer error. Then it was UL that went
to the NEC board and petitioned them to make a change to the code that would allow all
plastic low voltage pool lighting systems to be installed without bonding or grounding
of the niches or lights. Before we look at the specific changes to the code, lets look
at why swimming pool industries was interested in making 12 volt lighting more popular and
easier to install. Although there are many jurisdictions in the united states that require
12 volt lighting, the great majority of the United States still uses line voltage lighting
even though 12 volt lighting is safer. Note it’s not that line voltage lighting isn’t
safe, it’s just the 12 voltage lighting is safer. However there have been several good
reasons that contractors typically have avoided low voltage lighting. And they are listed
on this slide. As you look down at this slide at these reasons, you will see that it has
primarily to do with the cost of the 12 volt lighting system as well as the labor involved
with installing or replacing them. But fortunately due to technological advances in plastic manufacturing
and LED lighting, we could now bring 12 volt lighting products to the marketplace that
address all the problems listed here. Now lets look at how the code has changed. Although
some changes occurred in the 2002 code cycle, a definition for low voltage was not actually
included in the code until 2008 and it continues today in the 2011 edition. You see the item
listed in red, number 1, 15 volts sinusoidal AC. That is the definition that is applicable
to swimming pool lights. The other three definitions listed were added in 2011 and are for applications
outside of the swimming pool industry. The first change to the nec occurred in 2002 and
is shown here, addressed being able to manufacture and install 12 volt light fixtures without
grounding conductors. These are all plastic light fixtures and there are many in the industry
today both in halogen quartz lighting and in led lighting, which you may have seen.
This slide is included as a reminder that all transformers in the swimming pool industry
should be listed for swimming pool use. That is you should not go to your local hardware
store and pick up a 12 volt transformer and connect it to a swimming pool light. This
is primarily because listed swimming pool transformers have separate chambers for the
high voltage and low voltage wiring. Now lets look at GFCI Protection. Although GFCIC protection
is required for high voltage swimming pool lighting systems, there are two sections of
the code listed here the allow for low voltage lighting systems to be installed without GFCI
Protection. Therefore, GFCI protection is not required on any listed low voltage lighting
product in the pool industry. Certainly in your jurisdiction you may require it but it
is not required by the national electric code. Now lets look at the depths of swimming pool
lights. For decades the national electric code had required that all swimming pool lights
be located a minimum of 18 inches below water level to the top of the lens. This verbiage
was included originally to keep the light away from the chest cavity. they didn’t want
somebody that might be standing or hanging on the deck in front of the light while talking
to somebody on the deck to have the light located right at the chest in the event that
the glass lens had a crack in it or that there might be some other current leakage that could
affect the heart, especially if the person had a pacemaker. So this was the reason for
the 18-inch depth requirement. Well now with the advent of plastic swimming pool light
fixtures and unbreakable plastic lenses, lights can be listed to be installed up to 4 inches
below water level because we do not have the opportunity for lens breakage or for current
leakage into the pool that might be damaging to the heart. This minimum dimension of 4
inches primarily exist to provide adequate cooling of the light. And to prevent strobing
of the light beam when there is wave action in the pool. The next thing that is addressed
as seen at the bottom of this slide is locating lights on the bottom of a pool, spa or fountain
to illuminate a waterfall or other water feature. In the past, any time we wanted to do that
we had to have a cover; Some sort of a grate on top of that light to protect somebody from
putting their foot through the glass lens or a rock from possibly cracking the lens.
Again with plastic lights, they can be listed as a number 2 to be used without a guard if
they have passed the UL impact test. Now lets look at bonding of the forming shell or a
niche for a swimming pool light. Because niches all have had some metal in them, they have
been required to be bonded to the aqua potential bonding grid of the swimming pool. With either
bonded metal conduit or a number 8 copper wire attached to a bond log on the outside
of the niche. And if PVC conduit has been used to connect the niche to the power source
an additional number 8 bond jumper has been required to go down the conduit with the light
cord and connect to a redundant bond lug inside the niche as shown in this picture. Now for
the biggest change in the national electric code, you could see on this slide that any
low voltage lighting system that is listed to be installed without grounding is now also
exempt from the bonding requirement. So like niches that are part of a low voltage lighting
system that is all plastic and so listed, can be installed without bonding. And you
will find that there will be no bonding lugs on the niches. Now lets look at Hayward Pool
Products new lighting system that satisfies all of these NEC changes and is the first
of its kind in the market place. First of all, and for the first time, Hayward Pool
Products now has a 300 watt transformer. Similar but slightly different than the existing 300
watt transformers in the marketplace. And we will go into more detail on that later.
Then unique to the marketplace there is a 70 and 140 watt retrofit transformer and a
70-watt transformer for new installations. The plastic forming shell for gahnite concrete
pools only at this point in time is only 2 3/4 inches thick and has no bonding lugs as
it does not require bonding. This niche will actually disappear in the wall of a pool and
there will be no need to build a re-bark cage around it to shoot concrete around it. Then
we have the non-conductive sealed polymer luminaire with no serviceable parts. This
is the LED light fixture that only draws 65 watts and is totally sealed. This is because
there is no need at any time to get into the light itself as the LED bulbs are going to
last 20,000-30,000 hours or possibly more. When and if the light burns out, the entire
fixture would be replaced. Lastly, we have the nonconductive polymer trim ring in various
colors to finish the surface look of the light. One of the available trim rings looks very
much like stainless steal because pool owners have gotten use to this look and their pool.
So if you go out to a final inspection on a pool with one of these UCL light systems
installed and wonder why it has a stain less steel trim ring, I encourage you to do whatever
test you like to prove that it is indeed plastic and offers no electrical conductivity. Looking
further at the light niche, as you see on this slide, it comes with a compression fitting
for a cord lock and water seal. This will prevent water from running back into the conduit.
Those of you who have ever seen or had to use underwater epoxy to prevent water from
leaking back into the conduit will truly appreciate this feature. As shown here, it comes with
a 45 degree 1 inch elbow, there is also a reducer bushing from 1 inch to 3/4 inch if
that is the conduit size being used. As you can see from this slide, there is ample room
inside the niche for cord storage. Now cord storage is required by pool standards in order
to be able to put the light fixture up on the deck without disconnecting it. In the
event that it or the pool needs to be serviced. Again because this is a non-serviceable fixture,
a contractor will not have to work on it. But if they were to refinish the inside of
the pool, they would want to be able to put it up on the deck. There is room for up to
12 feet of cord storage so if this light is installed at the bottom of a pool, spa or
fountain there is adequate storage space to be able to put fixture up on the deck from
those depths. Another unique feature of the UCL Light system, you do not need a screw
to capture the light fixture into the niche. Rather it twists lock into the niche. Then
a tool is required along with knowledge of where to insert it to release the locking
mechanism to remove the fixture. This prevents children from removing it. Then to finish
the installation, the trim ring twist lock into place on the face of the fixture. There
is also a spa UCL Light system which looks very much like existing spa light assemblies.
However, it is all-plastic in construction and therefore can be UL Listed for installation
without bonding. Now lets look at Hayward’s 300-watt transformer. It looks pretty much
like any other 300-watt transformer in the market place with one exception. You see in
the slide where it says placeholder for coupler, and we will talk about what that coupler is
shortly. The UCL LED Light fixture is a 65-watt appliance. So if you did the math and divided
65 into 300, you would say that 4 UCL lights could be operated by 1, 300 watt transformer.
However, from an operational viewpoint, the number of LED fixtures is limited to 3. Now
the coupler is an interface between the Hayward pro logic pool automation system and the UCL
Lights. This allows a customer who has opted for the automation system to have more control
over their lights than they would just by using a switch on the wall. The coupler translates
a signal that is sent from the prologic pool automation system in the house and tells the
light what color to be on or what program to run. And in the case of the 300-watt transformer,
a single coupler can identify three individual lights and tell them to be three individual
colors, or designate each ones moving color in a light show program. It is worth noting
here that the UCL Light is able to produce 101 different colors and 11 predesigned light
shows. The basic switched UCL Light model only allows access to 10 of the colors and
7 of the programs through an interrupt switch circuit. In order to access the remaining
colors and shows, or even design new shows, the prologic pool automation system is required.
This slide shows the wiring of the 300 watt transformer. Like all listed swimming pool
transformers, it has 2 chambers, one on the high voltage side and one on the low voltage
side and it has 3 low voltage outputs; 12, 13 and 14 volts. However, you will notice
on the slide that it says to not use the 12 and 13 volt legs. Instead the 14 volt output
should be used to get as much voltage to the fixture as possible. Then the light controls
the voltage internally, boosting it as necessary to its operational voltage. So all lights
in a pool will provide their designed lumen output as long as there is a minimum of 9.6
volts available at the light. Therefore, we do not need to worry about having too much
voltage at the light. So all lights should be connected to the 14-volt leg. Now as far
as the coupler is concerned, if it is used, it has 4 additional wires; 2 on the high voltage
side and 2 on the low voltage side. And of course it is imperative that the wires be
connected to the proper side. Finally you will notice the bond wire that is connected
to the bottom of the transformer. Just a reminder, that you do not have to connect a bond wire
here if the transformer is located more than 5 feet from the waters edge. Lets move now
to the subject of retrofits. In the past, it has been against UL Listing to install
manufacture ABC’s light fixture into manufacture XYZ’s niche. This is because UL has not had
the opportunity to test these light fixtures and niches together. Since part of their test
procedure involves a millivolt drop test across the screw that holds the 2 parts together.
To see how well the niche bond is transferred to the fixture, if they cannot test the 2
parts together, they cannot be to be listed to be installed together. Now, with the advent
of the new LED Nonmetallic all plastic light fixtures, UL is listing these light fixtures
to be installed into any niche that they will fit into. This is a game changer. There has
been a lot of confusion over the years about why you should not mix fixtures and niches.
And some manufactures have marketed light fixtures tested by another agency to be installed
in any niche. So to help you understand this better, if you go to the IAEI website www.iaei.org
and type the name Steven Holms into the search box, you will find an article that he wrote
for the IAEI magazine in august of 2003 explaining the dangers of this practice. We suggest that
you keep a copy of this article in your files for future reference. Is this practice reasonably
safe? Probably. Is it absolutely safe? NO. Is it a liability issue? Absolutely. If there
was ever an accident in this pool, a good lawyer would study the pool from end to end
and if they found that the contractor had mixed fixtures and niches, which is against
the UL listing, they would use it against the contractor in a trial. Now that the UCL
LED Light fixture is an exception to this UL Listing restriction, we can tell you that
the fixture can be safely installed into any of the niches you see listed on this page.
And you will find a listing of the part numbers of the various niches included in the packaging
with the UCL fixtures. The UCL fixture will install into an existing niche just the same
as the current fixture in the niche. Because it comes with the screw to hold it in place,
using one of two screw locations and one of two mounting clip locations to fit the various
niches in the marketplace. The screw is metal but it just becomes a part of the existing
metal niche and it is not required to transfer the bond from the niche to the light fixture
since the fixture is all plastic. One word of caution, the number 8 bond wire on the
outside of the niche and the number 8 bond jumper wire on the inside of the conduit and
niche must remain in place if the conduit is non metallic. Now, if you are thinking
that as an inspector, you will not become involved with retrofit installations, there
is one possibility early on as contractors learn about this new light when you might.
You could have a show on the ground now with a bonded niche on which you have already completed
a rough in inspection and when the contractor learns about these new lights, he decides
that he wants to install them in this new pool. So you may go out for the final inspection
and find that there is a Hayward UCL Light fixture installed into another manufactures
niche. With this new information about the new UL Listing, you now know that this is
an acceptable installation. Moving ahead with the subject of retrofits, there are 2 other
aftermarket possibilities. First there is already a 12-volt light fixture in the pool
when the customer decides to upgrade to the Hayward UCL light. In this case the new UCL
fixture can simply be connected to the existing transformer via a junction box if present.
Second, when there is a 120 line voltage light in the pool, if they have a UL listed swimming
pool junction box for this light Hayward has available new j-box conversion kits to provide
a 70 watt or dual 70 watt transformer to install inside the listed junction box. As noted previously,
anytime that we complete a retrofit, we do have to leave the existing number 8 bond jumper
in place. If this line voltage light is connected to a switch all the way back at the pool service
panel, then a new j-box transformer or wall mount transformer will have to be installed.
Before we look further at the retrofit transformer kits, we thought it important to bring to
your attention the NEC article that requires swimming pool junction boxes to be listed
for the application. We have found that many contractors and inspectors are not aware of
this requirement. So the applicable parts of the article are listed here for you. As
you see, article 680.24 states that the junction box shall be listed for the application shall
be installed 4 inches above ground level and 8 inches above water level. And finally, just
to make you aware, the code does allow for low voltage lights to be connected through
a flush deck box, which is no longer true for line voltage lights. This is one example
of what a listed swimming pool junction box looks like. A brass bass with 3 or and in
some 4 places to connect conduit. And then a polymer cover to go on top of the base.
On the inside is a strain relief to capture the fixture cord and lugs for the bond and
ground wires. There are also round all plastic listed junction boxes in the market place
with brass bus bars on the inside to make all of the necessary connections. Now look
at this example, does this meet article 680.24? Obviously not. Or how about these junction
boxes? Do they meet the code? Again, obviously not. This is an example of how GFCI Protection
used to be provided for high voltage lights using a GFCI receptacle inside the PVC junction
box. However, NEC requires that listed junction boxes be used for all swimming pool-like connections.
Therefore, you can no longer put a GFCI receptacle inside a standard PVC box and consider it
an acceptable installation. Now, lets look at the j-box retrofit kit. On the right of
this picture you see a standard brass based listed junction box. Then on the left side,
you see the transformer, a possible coupler, and a taller cover for the complete assembly.
As mentioned earlier, Hayward now provides retrofit kits for all of the primary listed
junction boxes in the market place as shown on this slide. Now lets look at the wiring
of this j-box transformer for retrofits or new construction. As you can see, there are
only 14-volt leads coming from the secondary side of this class 4 transformer. So that
is where the light will be connected and then you have the high voltage connections coming
in on the other side. As a reminder, if this is a retrofit, the number 8 bond jumper must
remain if there is nonmetallic conduit. See the note on the right side that reads, may
also see coupler here? The prologic coupler snaps into place there, similar to the way
a 9-volt battery snaps into place in a smoke detector. So, if the customer opts for the
prologic pool automation system, you would see one of these transformers and one coupler
for each light. Unless upgrading a 4-hold junction box for 2 lights and installing a
dual transformer retrofit kit with 1 coupler for both lights. So in summary, since the
universal ColorLogic and universal CrystalLogic Lighting systems, which is the white light
only commercial model are completely plastic low voltage systems. There is no need, or
requirement to bond the Hayward nonmetallic niches specific to these lights and for the
first time, UL now allows these fixtures to be retrofitted into existing installations
with listed niches that have already been bonded per the national electrical code. These
next 2 slides show the package insert that will provide you with the necessary documentation
so that you know these lights meet the new UL listing and national electric code changes.
On this slide we show you the various UL Listing that you will find on the UCL product line.
First, fresh and seawater. Note: some product may say fresh water only as old labels are
used up. However, for swimming pools, UL’s definition of fresh water includes salt pool
with low concentrations for salt chlorine generators. Next, when properly secured may
be used with 3rd party niches. Next use a 4-inch minimum depth to top off lens and finally
for supply connection, use only a listed swimming pool spa-isolating transformer. If you are
in an area that has not yet adopted the 2008 or 2011 national electric code, this slide
is asking that you please consider allowing these niches and fixtures to be installed
in your jurisdiction without grounding or bonding as allowed by their UL listing and
the national electric code. This slide shows the various models that are available. The
switched residential model means that you control the light by a wall switch to turn
it on and to choose one of the 10 predetermined colors or 7 predetermined color-changing programs.
The networked model means that the lights would be controlled by the Hayward prologic
pool automation system using couplers inside the transformers to access all of the 101
colors and 11 programs available or to design a personal color changing show. The low white
light is the commercial equivalent to a 300-watt incandescent light and the high white is the
commercial equivalent to a 500-watt incandescent light. Finally the spa lights available are
approximately equivalent to a 100-watt incandescent light. For additional information, please
see the lights section on the Hayward Pool Products website shown here. If you have questions,
please call your dedicated toll free number listed here. Thank-You for taking the time
to watch this presentation. We hope that you found it worthwhile.


One thought on “UL/NEC Low-Voltage Pool & Spa Lighting Code Change

  1. Hayward please change the new poolvernugen. When word gets out that it no longer climbs walls people will no longer buy it.

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