Extensions cords are a convenient way, but not a recommended way to operate a swimming pool pump. When using an extension cord for an extended period of time, your pool pump will begin to overheat, have a shorter life span and void your manufactures warranty.
An extension cord should not be a permanent setup to run your swimming pool. A dedicated GFCI outlet near your pool pump must be available to be in compliant in most municipalities and is a safer and the proper way to have your pool electricity installed.
Using Extension Cords
The pump requires a lot of power to run properly. A permanent power line, buried until it reaches the pump with a proper GFCI outlet, is the best way to power the pump.
The easiest and least inexpensive way, however, is to run an extension cord from a socket to the pump. The pool’s size and how full it is a big factor in telling how much power the pump needs to circulate the water
Using an extension cord to power the pump of an above ground pool comes with its own set of problems. It’s highly recommended never to use an extension cord to power a pump of an above ground swimming pool.
A pool pump requires a great deal of power and that you can’t provide with a normal extension cord. You’d need one with a #12-gauge wire or a #10-gauge wire.
A thicker extension cord would work just as well to redirect power to the above ground swimming pool. If the wire isn’t thick enough, the extension cord would overheat and burn up. The pump’s motor would also burn out if the cord isn’t thick enough.
In addition, most pumps will have their warranties voided when an extension cord is used.
If plugged into any wall socket, the pump would proceed to hog as much power as possible when in operation immediately. The pump should be plugged into a dedicated circuit, a circuit or line or outlets that only goes in two directions, the outlet, and the electric box.
Also, if plugged into any wall socket, the pump’s high voltage demands might not be healthy for the house. If the pump happens to share a source of power with another appliance, the stress on the house’s electrical system could be so massive that the breakers would be tripped.
Powering the pool pump correctly
To properly ensure that the power needs of your pump are handled properly, it is best that you hire an electrician and listen to what he or she says about the job. If he or she asks for the pool pump’s requirements and where the electric box is stationed, in relation to the pump, provide such information readily.
If this is going to be a DIY thing, there are things you need to know
- A fundamental understanding of electricals.
Dealing with electricity and electric appliances is risky. Electricity is a very dangerous energy form, so protecting yourself in case of unforeseen circumstances is crucial. If you don’t know the first thing about electric appliances, save yourself the trouble.
- Understanding of the pool’s requirements.
The pump isn’t the only part of the pool that needs power. Peripherals like ozonators, ionizers, pool lights, and salt chlorine generators run on electricity and will need to plug into an outlet if applicable. Luckily, these extra devices are not critical and, if you choose to acquire them, they will not consume too much power.
- The number of amps required
Amperage measures the amount of electricity that flows through the electric lines. You will need to know the exact amperage of the pump to get the appropriately sized breaker for the electric box and also to get the fitting wire that will run into the pool’s pump.
- Follow NEC codes
The NEC (National Electric Code) gives you guidelines on handling other issues regarding electricity. The NEC will give you a breakdown of how deep the wires should be buried, the sizes of the breakers and the necessity of grounding the wires.
- Circuit breaker
Make sure that the power is off at the circuit breaker before attempting any kind of work that deals with electricity.
- Trench digging
The trench for the underground wire should 18 inches at the very minimum.
- Obtain a timer
Having a timer that automatically turns the power on at a particular time and turns it off at another time is invaluable. This way, you won’t have to manually operate the pump every time it needs to be turned on or off.
Handling the electricals of an above ground swimming pool is delicate. One wrong misstep and suddenly the pool goes from recreational device to death trap in record time.
Top Reasons Not To Use An Extension Cord
When there is absolutely no other option than using an extension cord to power your pool, use a #10 or #12 gauge extension cord.
Below are the best reasons you should invest in proper electrical wiring.
- An extension cord will cause your pool pump to overheat. Having your pump to hot for extended periods of time will cause it to burn out and quit working over time.
- Your manufacture probably states that your warranty will be voided if an extension cord is used. When installing a new pool, have an electrician readily available to avoid warranty issues. If you must use one, make sure it is temporary. Within 1 to 2 weeks after your pool is installed you should no longer need an extension cord.
- When rain and storms are present the extension cord will get wet and can present a safety hazard if left in standing water from downpours.
- Not rated for burial. Extension cords are for temporary use and not intended for permanent connections. They also are not to be buried beneath the dirt.
- Unsafe for little kids as it can pose a tripping hazard. This also presents an unsafe area for children to play with hot extension cords being used in outside elements.
As you see, the only true way to have your swimming pool connected to electricity is with a permanent electrical outlet rated for use near swimming pools and wet areas.
Digging the trench, after you have it marked by your utility companies to avoid digging into underground lines can be done by you and you family. For the electrical portion of the job, a licensed electrician should be hired to be sure you have a safe and fun swimming season, all season.