I'm having a new above ground pool installed, and the package I purchased comes with a 1.5 HP pump. When I was originally talking to them, they said most people just run an extension cord from their garage or outdoor outlet. Because I want this to look a little cleaner, I was going to trench this, and bring a new receptacle to the pump. I have a 14/2 wire from my panel to my garage that I brought in when I did a reno long ago, but haven't hooked up yet. My original plan was to hook up that wire, and extend it out to the pump, and use a GFI receptacle.

Here's my problem. The pump instructions say it should be hooked up to a 20A breaker, which I obviously can't do with what I currently have.

If "everyone" is just using an extension cord off an existing receptacle, and I am really going to have an issue with my setup, where essentially that pump (and salt generator) are going to be on a dedicated 15A circuit? It's only a 15 foot round pool, so I don't expect that the pump will be running for very long during the day. Or if I use 12/2 from the 14/2 connection point, is there something I can do at that junction?


Thank you for your help.

Edit - I've added a picture of the label off of the pump, as well as a picture of the wire

Edit #2 - In case anyone is wondering or curious, I've installed the pump, and the electrician measured the draw. The 1.5HP pump is drawing 17 Amps on initial start up for about 2 seconds (literally), and then drops to 12 Amps and hums away. Thank you to everyone for your help.

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  • 1
    The pump is probably not a true 1.5 Hp pump infact I would bet $ it is not ! Did the cord it come with have 2 parallel prongs and a ground? If it did as I expect it did you got a pump that draws 1100-1200 watts for a very short time on start up prior to the motor really doing any work so they call it 1.5 hp because it draws that much, the real value is normally much lower once the pump is up to speed pumping it will be down significantly a true 1.5 hp pump on a 120v circuit would require a 30 amp circuit by code. What is the wire size on the +20’ cord ?
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 3, 2020 at 21:49
  • Yeah, can you post a photo of the plug on the cord? A 110V 1.5HP motor draws 20FLA per NEC table 430.248... Jun 3, 2020 at 23:12
  • We still need a photo of the plug...also, are you up north of the Canadian border somewhere? Jun 4, 2020 at 1:17
  • As Ed Beal suspected, it’s a standard plug, with a ground. Yes, I’m in Toronto, Ontario. Did my name give it away? :)
    – Toronto77
    Jun 4, 2020 at 2:01
  • 14 awg wire as I also suggested , I did not even notice the name , I only left as a comments because the MFG built this with a standard plug for a 15 amp device the motor is not a true 1.5 amp motor as I had guessed . How many of these people telling you you need to follow code have there shop vac on a 15 or 20 amp circuit (and a 1.5 hp shop vac is the same thing as you have) SO cord normally has a higher rating but not much higher than other wire types. I would measure the actual motor load and if it is down around 12-13 I would use your 15 amp circuit without concerns
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 4, 2020 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


Right off the bat, finish with your original intent, and hook the cable up to a GFCI receptacle that is inside the garage. Now come off the receptacle's LOAD terminals to your underground line to the pool area.

What you don't want to do is bring unprotected 120VAC out to a pool area and then fit a GFCI recep there. Because then, the wiring does not have GFCI protection, and the wiring can electrify the ground. Especially if NM cable is used, which is not made for outdoor use.

Anyway, continue off the GFCI's load terminals via UF-B cable buried with 12" of cover because it's GFCI protected... or run a conduit type of your choice from that indoor recep outside, then switch to 1/2" Rigid conduit for the underground run to the pool, this can be buried at 6" of cover (but it's expensive). Use THHN individual wires inside the Rigid conduit, do not put UF-B cable in conduit (won't fit anyway).

Use 12 AWG wire or cable.

As far as extending off the 15A circuit, yeah, you kind of painted yourself into a corner on that. I'd go ahead and replace that #14 run with #12 (or just run it alongside) and call it a life-lesson learned.

Violating the installation instructions is a bad idea. If anyone gets hurt at your pool (and electrical drownings are absolutely horrible, gut-wrenching, life-changing things), they will go over your setup with a fine-tooth comb. Any violations, you'll have a problem.

  • Thank you for your help here. Before I ran into this hiccup, I was planning to add the GFI between the wire in my garage the comes directly from the panel, and run armoured wire across my garage, put a junction box, switch to underground rated wire, and put that all in a conduit for the run to the pool pump. I was going to put a switch in the garage and at the pump so I can turn the pump off, but also the whole underground line off in the winter. Trying to figure our how much of my plan I have to revise!!
    – Toronto77
    Jun 4, 2020 at 0:49
  • It's worse than you think -- this motor itself backs them into a corner due to the 125% rule for the largest motor on the circuit combined with the fact it almost certainly has a NEMA 5-15 or NEMA 5-20 plug on its cord, and the fact you need to use Table 430.248 for the FLA of the motor when doing Code computations instead of using a nameplate amp rating... Jun 4, 2020 at 1:14

1.5HP at 120V is going to be around 20A Full Load Current, you CANNOT run that on a typical "extension cord", nor can you run it on 14ga wire and a 15A circuit breaker. The Code requires that the conductors must be rated for 125% of the motor FLC (taken from a table in the NEC, which is where the 20A comes from), so that means 24A MINIMUM rating of the wire. 12ga is only rated for 20A, so a 1.5HP motor will require 10ga wire and that means a 30A circuit MINIMUM (might be higher depending on the distance and voltage drop issues). So no matter what you decide (conduit in the ground or a temporary cord), it will not be a standard circuit/receptacle.

If your pump motor is reconfigurable to run on 240V, that would make the motor FLC 11A, so it might work on 14ga wire (again, depending on distance and voltage drop), but it would be 2 hot conductors, coming from a 2 pole circuit breaker.

Salesmen don't like to tell you the truth on these sorts of things because it might make you reconsider doing it, so they just say "Most people..." Gets them off the hook for lying.

  • How many watts per horsepower? Jun 3, 2020 at 21:34
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    It's always 746W / HP. But I had to edit my previous post, because the NEC requirement has nothing to do with the nameplate of the motor, the FLC values are taken from a chart in the NEC.
    – JRaef
    Jun 3, 2020 at 21:45
  • It’s just like vacuum cleaners that say 1.5 or even 2.0 peak horse power it is impossible they are giving locked rotor currents not FLA , is the plug 2 parallel and a ground pin? Just like most every other device in your house? If it required a 20 amp circuit it will not have parallel blades on the plug , if a dedicated circuit it may be ok on the 15 amp circuit look at the size cord it came with 25’ long as required by code you may be surprised to find it is 14 gauge It would be great if it was 12 but unlikely for consumer electrical equipment.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 3, 2020 at 21:57
  • Jraef is correct on the 746 w/ hp if you don’t know the hp of the pump you can use the fla and voltage to figure out what the true hp of the motor is. This has been one of my pet peeves for decades on consumer electrical specifically ; Vacuum cleaners, air compressors, kitchen appliances like mixers and blenders. No 120v motor can be over 1 hp by code on a 20 amp circuit and all the above equipment comes with a 15 amp plug (big clue right there) and many with 16 gauge wiring. If the motor was a true 1.5 hp the answer would be great but as it is an above ground “portable” are smaller
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 3, 2020 at 22:53
  • Thank you everyone for the super quick and informative replies. I created an account just for this, and I appreciate everyone’s help. So instead of just reading the install guide online, I opened the box. The label on the pump says at high speed, it’s 1.5HP and 13.5 amps. At low speed, it 1/6HP and 4.4 amps. The wire cord is 14awg 105degC 300V. With 3 conductors (2 prong plus ground).
    – Toronto77
    Jun 3, 2020 at 23:13

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