Australian Pool Wiring Tips

If you are in the process of building a new pool in Australia, wiring it for electricity is an important step. Electricity provides power to everything from the pump to the lights and filter system. Your electrician must be qualified and knowledgeable about the intricacies of pool electrical wiring. There are some very detailed and stringent Australian Standards for pool electrical installations that must be adhered to for compliance and safety. Read on for nine tips that will help you know what's involved with pool wiring, which will assist you in choosing the right electrician for your new pool.

Earthing your pool shell

Earthing your pool's reinforcing mesh and surrounding conductive parts is THE most critical part of a compliant pool electrical installation. The conductive steel reinforcing mesh must be grounded via an earth wire bonded to the steel if you're building an inground concrete pool. This earth (equipotential bonding conductor) must be securely fixed to the steel mesh, protected from corrosion and run back to the main switchboard at the property and connected to the household's earthing system. If your pool shell is not safely earthed, any nearby electricity sources can induce a potentially fatal electrical current in the water, causing death. It's critical that when you hire an electrician for your new pool wiring, they are well-versed in the Australian Wiring Rules (AS/NZS3000:2018) and have experience wiring pools.

Earthing your pool fence

In Australia, any conductive items more significant than 100mm in any dimension within 1.25m of the pool water's edge must also be earthed. 1.25 metres is considered someones 'arms reach', so any conductive item that someone may touch whilst inside the pool needs to be at earth potential. Many pool builders are aware of this restriction, so they often install conductive pool fences outside this zone. However, when space restrictions exist, it's not uncommon to see metal (steel Colorbond or aluminium) fences installed within this 1.25m zone. Your local electrician will need to install an equipotential bonding conductor onto each continuous part of the conductive fence when this occurs. Where the Colorbond fence is ongoing, only a bond on one end is sufficient; however, in the case of frameless glass pool fences supported by individual stainless steel spigots, each spigot will need to be separately earthed. When your electrical contractor is required to earth each glass pool fence spigot, it can become highly labour intensive and expensive, so some planning and thought should be given to consider installing pool fencing outside of this zone.

Pool lighting type

These days, pool lighting is generally of the energy-efficient LED type, costing virtually nothing to run. Consider whether you would like singular colour LED (often blue or green) or multi-colour LED pool lights (usually blue, green, red and clear). You can even choose remote-controlled LED pool lights.

Pool lighting conduit

The conduit for the wiring to the pool lights running inside your concrete pool shell should contain an anti-syphon loop which will stop the pool from siphoning if the other end of this conduit is lower than the pool water level. Ensure your pool builder or licensed electrician has installed this conduit in such a way as to avoid the siphoning effect. Also, ensure that the conduit they install is adequately sealed to prevent water from leaking inside, causing syphoning.

Pool lighting cable

Ask your electrician to install the pool lighting control equipment (transformer) within the length of the cable supplied with the pool light. Most pool lights are supplied with 15-20m of cable, and if the pool light transformer is installed further away than this, it means a join need to be made in the underground line (a weak point where it could break down and comprising longevity) and also cause an excessive voltage drop. As local Sunshine Coast electricians, we've visited countless properties where pool lights have stopped working because of poor underground cable joins, which have failed.

Where to switch pool lighting from

You can choose to switch your pool lights on from a dedicated light switch inside your home or out at the location of the pool equipment itself, with the latter being the least expensive. Your electrician can easily install the pool lighting transformer at the pool equipment location and other power points to minimise costs. This way, all you need to do to turn the pool lights on is flick a switch at one of the power points near your pool filter or chlorinator. Of course, this may not always be ideal, so for convenience, have your electrician wire in a power point installed at the location of your pool equipment which is switched via a light switch inside your home. This way, you don't need to go outside in the dark to turn your pool lights on. Instead, you can turn them on quickly from inside your home.

Lighting around the pool

Consider some landscape lighting around your pool for ambience and safety. Lighting installed near your pool will most likely need to be the extra-low voltage kind (12 volts) to comply with the Australian Wiring Rules where wiring and fittings are installed in close proximity to pools. The good news is, LED landscape lighting has come a long way, allowing you to install relatively bright yet warm and inviting light fixtures which use virtually no power. Arrange for your electrician to switch your new poolside lighting from inside the home too.

Solar and pool electricity

We've seen a significant trend towards people opting to have their off-peak connected pool pumps removed from the tariff and re-wired to the main tariff to take advantage of their solar system and offset some or most of the pool's power consumption. If your electrician is well-versed in pool wiring and solar generation, they will be able to advise you on the best way to go.

Off-peak tariffs and pool pumps

Most electricity suppliers in Australia offer off-peak tariffs, which allow you to connect certain electrical appliances to a specific tariff at a discounted rate. As a trade-off for this cheaper electricity consumption, the electricity supplier can turn off the supply to this tariff at particular times of the day. The most common tariff for pool connections in Australia is Tariff 33, which guarantees 18 hours per day of supply. This means the electricity could be off for up to 6 hours per day. This is not a problem for pool chlorinators and pumps as you can set on/off times outside the typical Tariff 33 downtimes. However, with the introduction of more energy-efficient pool pumps and the growing popularity of household PV systems, off-peak tariff connections for pools are becoming less popular. Wiring your new pool to an off-peak tariff can be quite labour intensive depending on the property, so speak to your local electrical contractor Sparkies Plus to discuss the pros and cons of doing so.

Plan your pool electrical installation carefully

The process of wiring your new pool can be labour-intensive and complicated unless you seek the right electrical advice from the beginning. You may want to have a dedicated light switch inside for your pool lights convenience or an outdoor light switch near the equipment. Try to plan your pool fencing outside the 1.25-metre pool zone to limit costs by not requiring your electrician to earth your fencing. Consider installing landscape lighting around your pool too. It's best to get the wiring in while the pool is under construction and the pavers, concrete, or landscaping hasn't been installed. Decide whether you'd like your pool to be wired to an off-peak tariff or whether you'd like to offset the pool's running costs with your solar.

All these questions can be answered during close consultation with the right electrician. With a better understanding of what's involved with pool wiring in Australia, you are now better equipped to choose the best electrician for your pool wiring needs.