I need to install a 100A subpanel for an in ground swimming pool. The main panel is in the garage and subpanel will be mounted on exterior of house about 30’ away. The subpanel will be more than than 5’ from pool.

  1. Will a 6 space 100A MLO 3R load center work being fed by 2P100A breaker in main panel? Pool builder states he only needs 4 spaces.
  1. Assuming three runs of #4, with #6 ground run in 1-1/4” SCH 80?
  • Does your local AHJ prohibit aluminum wiring? Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 0:00
  • 2
    Wherever you heard #4 for 100A, that information source is unreliable. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 9:17

3 Answers 3


#4 copper is not legal for 100A. You would need #3 for that. Some people go around saying #4Cu/#2Al are good enough for 100A; there's a reason they think that, but they're wrong.

Most electricians doing this work for themselves would actually do one of two things.

  • For the full 100A, use #1 aluminum. You may have heard negative things about aluminum (you're not getting the whole story)... but aluminum feeder of this large size is perfectly fine and there has never been a problem with it. Besides, the panel lugs are aluminum lol, as are the buses on most panels.

  • Re-examine the requirement for 100A. Quite often people pick it "just because it's a nice round number" without having actually done any load analysis. If 90A is acceptable, #2 aluminum is a pricing and availability "sweet spot" and several types of cable are available in that size which aren't in #1.

As far as panel spaces, the worst mistake you can make is going with too small a panel. Feeder (especially 80+ amp feeder) can power a whole lot more stuff than you think it can. Even a 12-space panel will run out of spaces before it runs out of power. So I would advise something more like a 24-space, even a 30 would not be excessive. Breaker spaces are laughably cheap compared to the cost of having to change out a panel because the originally-chosen one was too small.

There's no worry if the bus rating of the panel exceeds the ampacity of the feeder. Bus ratings are like tire speed ratings; you don't have to drive 130 mph :) If the panel has a main breaker, it's also fine if the subpanel's main is larger than the supply breaker. You can never predict which one will trip first anyway.

Spend the money on breaker spaces, not copper wire.

  • 1
    Using #1 Al for feeders and Sch80 PVC would exceed 40% fill in 1.25" Sch80 PVC. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 13:16
  • Yeah, they'd have to go up to 1.5" but that's not a terribly huge deal, all things considered... Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 13:38
  • Yeah, I didn't parse the question as being married to (existing) 1-1/4; I just figured they were confirming conduit size. If they mean they are working with existing conduit, then your answer is much more correct than mine @NoSparks. I just felt it was important to have the aluminum conversation because novice defaults tend to be a) copper wire b) the smallest panel that'll do right now, and c) distrusting aluminum yet unawares, picking a cheaper panel with aluminum busbars. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 17:08

Using copper THWN #4 is only good for 85A, which is not a standard size breaker. So you could if allowed by AHJ to upgrade to the next standard size, 90A.

#8 copper ground is good for 100A.

3@#3 and 1@#8 would barely fit in 1" Sch40 PVC, you would need 1.25 for Sch80.

A 6 space MLO panel would work, but risky that some future change would require more spaces.


My pool runs off a double 15A breaker (240v), which includes the pump and pressurized pool cleaner (a Polaris).

Salt pools use a powered chlorinator to generate chlorine and chlorinators change things a great deal. Some use less than 15A and are on a standard 120v plug. Some are direct wire and need as much as 30A and 240v.

Pools can also have lighting, but this is uncommon. Heaters can be another draw, but these are also uncommon.

Overall, in most cases, you can get away with 50A or less. Your best bet here would be 4 gauge aluminum wire. It would easily handle the voltage drop, it's direct burial (4/0 is at any rate) and it's far cheaper than copper alternatives at present (I just did a subpanel in 4-4-4-6 and it was 1/3 the cost of 6/3 NM for an indoor run)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.