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My friend just got rid of her hot tub. The person that took it put an outlet where the tub was. He put in a 15 amp GFCI at the outlet but left the 50 amp GFCI breaker in the panel box.

Is this sufficient or trouble waiting to happen?

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This is trouble, but easily solved. Simply swap out the 50 ampere GFCI breaker, for a 15 ampere GFCI breaker.

You'll possibly have to use pigtails to connect to the breaker, as it may not accept the size wire used for the existing circuit.


As "subpanels" seem to be quite popular around here, I'm surprised it hasn't been suggested yet. You could always install a second panel where the tub used to be, then install a 15 or 20 ampere breaker to feed the receptacle.

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    Can you elaborate what the trouble is? The initial setup seems fine to me, assuming the cable up to the outlet is rated for 50A. – jpa May 4 '16 at 6:34
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    @jpa: +1. According to diy.stackexchange.com/q/81251/2815 - the wire from the outlet to a 15A appliance is not protected against overcurrent by a typical GFCI outlet. In the situation described in the question, a fault in an appliance could therefore pull up to 50A through a 15A appliance lead and set fire to it and anything nearby. (P.S. this is why UK plugs are fused) – RedGrittyBrick May 4 '16 at 9:12
  • I wasn't sure if the GFCI acted like a breaker or not. Now I know. Thanks! I'll let them know it can still pull 50 amps and can be dangerous. – Leonard May 4 '16 at 10:51
  • I think you -- or really the OP -- should clarify that it's a 50 A breaker, not a GFCI, in the panel. – Carl Witthoft May 4 '16 at 15:33
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    It could be a GFCI breaker. It's safely assumed that it's a breaker of some sort. – isherwood May 4 '16 at 16:09
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You'd also need to change the breaker, because the 50A circuit is probably 240V. You wouldn't want to simply connect those wires to a receptacle, unless it's a NEMA 6 type.

In any case you need to use a 15A breaker (or a 20A breaker if there are 2 or more receptacles, or you use a 20A receptacle which is downward compatible with 15A plugs).

It's possible the hot tub was connected 120/240 with a neutral. If that's the case, you can use one hot and the neutral just fine. In fact, you can re-use the neutral with the other hot, and get 2 full circuits. That's called a multi-wire branch circuit.

  • They'd need to provide a 15A breaker to protect the receptacle though (can't put a receptacle on a tap conductor) – ThreePhaseEel Feb 25 '17 at 3:13

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