EZSwitch30 with a GFCI circuit 2008-08-26T17:51:16+00:00

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  • ddlux
    Post count: 31
    #40047 |

    I just got an EZSwitch30 to enable me to decide when to supply power to the 220V heater circuit on my Hot Springs Spa. I have certain hours in the day where electricity costs more and I’d like to not let it run during those hours.

    Wiring up the switch makes perfect sense and is very easy to do. The GFCI breaker which powers this circuit, however, doesn’t seem to like the EZSwitch30 sitting on the neutral between it and the load and as a result causes the breaker to instantly trip. I believe this is because on a GFCI circuit like this the neutral is actually switched through the breaker and somehow the EZSwitch30 is indicating a fault to the breaker.

    My thought was to run a 2nd, non-GFCI, neutral from the breaker box to the EZSwitch30 so that the GFCI breaker’s neutral could run straight to the actual load. Does anyone see any major issues with this? I’ve racked my brain and don’t believe there would be any safety issues here that would alter the GFCI breaker’s ability to do its job. Nonetheless, I’d love some feedback on this.

    You guys should really think through this application since you’re marketing this device towards a lot of pool/spa applications and are likely to run into many more situations like this one.

    Post count: 31

    OK, I tried wiring it like I said (with a separate neutral running to the device) and it didn’t make a bit of difference.

    My theory is that the device’s small amount of power being derived off the L1 leg of the 220V feed makes the GFCI breaker think that a fault has occurred…

    In my opinion, this is a major design flaw with this device given how much its being marketed towards pool/spa applications and given the legal/code requirements for GFCI circuits around such devices.

    I’d really love a solution to this. Otherwise I’m going to have to return the device as it just won’t work for me.

    Post count: 256

    ddlux: Normally a GFCI driven circuit is for lower current devices that the user might plug in, such as lights. fans, space heaters, etc. Other heavy load permanent items like the pool pump or heater are wired ahead of the GFCI. The small current between the neutral and one of the 220 legs (110V) is needed for the Insteon engine in the switch to operate.

    Post count: 29

    There are two types of GFCIs for 240 VAC circuits.

    The 3 wire GFCI monitors the current on the two hot wires. If there is an imbalance it trips. It is called a 3 wire device because the circuit uses two hot wires for the 240 VAC and one grounded wire. The 3 wire GFCI cannot service 120 VAC devices on the circuit because it would see the current to a neutral as an imbalance. Also there is not a neutral in a 3 wire 240 VAC circuit.

    The 4 wire device monitors the current on the two hot wires and on the neutral. It is called a 4 wire 120/240 VAC device because the circuit uses two hot wires, a neutral and a grounded wire. The 4 wire GFCI can service 120 VAC devices because there is a neutral and the GFCI is monitoring it.

    It appears the EZSwitch30 requires a 4 wire 240 VAC circuit because the specifications say “NEUTRAL REQUIRED”.

    Hot tubs and 240 VAC are potentially dangerous and I don’t want to speculate on ddlux’s situation. The National Electrical Code places a lot of requirements on hot tubs and the authority having jurisdiction has the final say.

    I am just guessing here. Maybe ddlux’s GFCI is a 3 wire one and that’s why the EZSwitch30 is causing it to trip. Perhaps the 3 wire GFCI could be swapped out for a 4 wire GFCI. I am not an electrician and so don’t take this as any authoritative info. (heavy disclaimer)

    Post count: 31

    Thanks everyone for your time and posts. I did get it working! I’ll explain how I got it working as well as how my system is setup.

    I own a Hot Spring Spa — to my knowledge, one of the more popular brands of enclosed hot tubs. One of the unique things about these tubs is the way that you wire them for 220V. Unlike most hot tubs which just take a single circuit breaker, these tubs actually have two discreet circuits powering them: one for the heater and one for the rest of the equipment. Thanks to this split circuit design, I’m able to control the heater circuit (6000W “no fault” heater) with the EZSwitch30 while not interrupting the rest of the electronics (e.g.: circulation pump, ozone, temperature settings, etc.).

    From my main house panel, I have a 50A 220V breaker which feeds the sub-panel out by the hot tub. In the sub-panel, I have a 20A 110V GFCI which feeds the equipment circuit (hot, neutral) and a 30A 220V GFCI which feeds the heater circuit (L1 hot, L2 hot). A ground wire is also fed through to the hot tub from the sub panel. Everything is wired exactly as specified in the installer’s manual. As the 220V breaker is also a GFCI breaker, it has a protected neutral on it as well but that one is specifically not used. Again, this is exactly how the installer’s manual specified it be wired.

    So, when I first tried to wire up the EZSwitch30 (aka the “switch), I cut the L1 hot & L2 hot between the 220V GFCI breaker and the heater circuit and then wired them through the switch. Because the switch requires a neutral, I also tried using the neutral that was already running from the 110V GFCI breaker to the hot tub. This, of course, tripped the breakers. I tried running a separate, discreet neutral from the sub-panel’s neutral bar to the switch but this didn’t work either.

    The solution was to run a 2nd neutral from the unused GFCI neutral output on the 220V breaker to the switch’s neutral input. According to various info I’ve read about GFCI, the breaker actually monitors the current flowing “out” the hots vs “in” the neutral. When it sees a discrepancy of even a couple mA, it will mechanically trip and interrupt the entire circuit. Because I was switching the 220V load, I had to use it’s corresponding neutral so that everything stayed in “balance” in the eyes of the GFCI mechanism.

    Please understand that this installation is very common, at least in California. This is a very popular & common hot tub brand. This installation was signed off by the county electrical inspector and is the only way a tub like this can be installed to “code”. You might want to add this to your FAQ/Wiki/etc. as hopefully I will not be the first person who encounters this installation scenario.

    Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks again for all your help.

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