My pool pump draws about 11 amps and we just converted the pool to salt which requires powering a chlorine generator. This draws an additional 7 amps for a total of 18. When both are powered on, the breaker is tripping since it is only a 15 amp breaker. The pool guy said swap it out for a 25 amp breaker. I thought, however, that the solution was not this simple depending on the gauge of the wire on the circuit. Is there a way to figure out the wire gauge from looking at it? Should I just hire an electrician to check it out and determine if it needs a thicker gauge wire? Thanks
You could try the following to determine the gauge
- Cut the power off
- Open the connection and pull a wire off
- Use a wire stripper and find the largest hole it fits in
As to the rest of the question...
25 amps is nuts. You have 18 amps so a 20 amp breaker on 12 gauge wire should be sufficient. My bet is that, since you have a 15 amp breaker, that your wire is 14 gauge (it's pretty rare to find higher gauge wire on a lower amp circuit like that). When in doubt, run new wire. It's not worth it to try and guess. Know that your setup is sufficient.
I would suggest dropping new 10 gauge wire (more than you need in case you ever add anything else, like a Polaris, although you'll probably want a subpanel at that point) and adding a 20 amp breaker. If you're burying it, make sure it's UF and preferably in conduit. Take the existing wire and stick it in a box with a GFCI and make it an outlet.
Actually what we are talking about here is upgrading your power to your new system. NEC Article 210.20 (A) requires your wire size to no more than 80% of your calculated load. So if you have a load of 18A you should be installing 30A worth of power.
You can do this one of two ways:
Rerun the pool circuit with a 30A breaker and a #10 conductor and connect to your equipment.
Some how split the power and connect at least 5A up to the existing 15A circuit and run another 15A circuit to supply the rest.
Of course there are different combinations of circuits you can run, such as a 15A and a 20A. But according to the NEC in no case should you run more than 12A on a 15A circuit or 16A on a 20A circuit.