2023 Guide to Electrical Requirements for Swimming Pools in California

2023 Guide for Electrical Requirements for Swimming Pool and Spa Contractors

Pools and spas come in various shapes and sizes, and most require some sort of electrical equipment to run pumps, power lights, maintain water quality and much more. These electrical installations must be installed by a licensed electrician and it’s important to know what the code requirements are from the National Electric Code as of August 2023.

Underground Wiring

Underground wiring is not allowed under any pool or spa and must be installed no closer than five feet from any sidewall.

If there is insufficient space to maintain the five-foot rule, they will make an exception to the rule which includes:

  • Wiring installations may be closer than five feet if it comes installed with a complete raceway (conduit system).
  • Metal raceways, either Rigid Metal Conduit (RMC) or Intermediate Metal Conduit (IMC), must have a minimum of six inches of cover.
  • Non-metallic raceways must have at least six inches of cover and include at least four inches of concrete.
  • A minimum of 18 inches of cover is required if the non-metallic conduit is categorized for direct burial without concrete encasement.


Pool clearances around power lines - Carolina Country

Overhead Electrical Lines

It is preferable to have a pool or spa installed away from any overhead lines. But in the case that it cannot be avoided, installations must follow basic rules for overhead electrical lines:

  • Communications cables must be at least ten feet above the diving platform or water level.
  • Utility power lines must be at least 22.5 feet above the diving platform or water level.

Water level is defined as the highest point in which the water is able to reach before it spills out of the pool or spa.

Maintenance Disconnect

Maintenance disconnects are required in shutting down the power to pool or spa pumps, filters, and other utilization equipment. The disconnect must be installed within sight but should not be closer than 5 feet from the pool or spa to avoid any accidental power shutdowns.

Electrical Outlet Receptacles

The rules are primarily designed to prevent any possible shocks:

  • For general use outlet receptacles that are not Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected, they should not be closer than 20 feet from a pool or spa. The minimum allowed is six feet away if they are GFCI-protected.
  • Receptacles for pumps and motors are advised to be located between six to ten feet from the pool walls and need to be GFCI-protected and locked.
  • For in-ground pools, there must be at least one GFCI protected outlet that is located between six to ten feet from the edge of the pool.

GFCI Protection

Most equipment that requires electricity must be protected by GFCI devices. This includes the following:

  • Underwater pool lights greater than 15 volts.
  • Outlet receptacles within 20 feet of a pool or spa.
  • Light fixtures less than ten feet from the edge of a pool or spa— unless the fixture is more than five feet above water level.
  • Pool covers for motors and controls.
  • Outlet receptacles for pool pump motors, all properly distanced from the pool.

Regulations for Self-Contained Spas and Hot Tubs

Rather than integrated with a swimming pool, there are special rules for spas and hot tubs that are stand-alone units which include:

  • Lights or ceiling fans must be at least 12 feet above the spa or hot tub if there is no GFCI protection. They must be GFCI protected if they are less than ten feet away.
  • Any wall switches must be at least five feet from the water.
  • Outlet receptacles must have at least a distance of six feet from the hot tub or spa and must be GFCI protected if they are less than ten feet away.
  • No matter the distance from the pool or spa, outlets, or any direct-wired circuits that power motors or heaters in a stand-alone spa must be GFCI protected.

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In the meantime, let us recap the biggest changes in the swimming pool requirements in California.

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