Outdoor Fountain Pump Electrical Service

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by jvstevens, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. jvstevens

    jvstevens Member

    Messages:
    46
    I'm thinking of putting in a simple garden fountain with a plug-in 120 VAC pump in my backyard. The current plan is for the fountain to be about 10 feet from the nearest outlet at the house. Its simple mulch and plants on the ground between the fountain and the house. Just wondering what the electrical code requirements are for this arrangement, as well as best practices. First of all, is it considered legal to just plug the pump in to the outlet at the house, leaving the pump cord out in the open? Does it matter if its plugged into an outdoor rated extension cord? Or buried as is a few inches deep? Obviously, an issue is that the cord could be severed with a shovel accidentally. Or is it best to just bite the bullet and install an outdoor GFCI outlet on a small 4x4 post right at the fountain and run PVC conduit (18" deep) with wiring direct to the house. I'm leaning towards the latter plan, but I am curious what the electrical code requirements are, if any, in this type of situation. Thanks in advance for the help.
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    install an outdoor GFCI outlet on a small 4x4 post right at the fountain sounds good to me
  3. Murphy625

    Murphy625 Member

    Messages:
    149
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ya.. that..

    I might have had a different opinion if there wasn't a body of water involved.. but the post and gfci is the safest way to go.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Is the house outlet a GFCI, or protected by one, which it should be. If so then it will take care of any shovel cutting the cord, or other situations. Most fountain pumps have cords at least 10 long anyway so you may not need the extension cord.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,006
    Location:
    New England
    IOW, if the outlet you plan to connect to is a GFCI (which all outdoor ones should be), you can just plug it in. If you wish to extend that run, since it is already protected, you'd need to use cable rated for burial and an exterior rated box and cover.
  6. jvstevens

    jvstevens Member

    Messages:
    46
    So, as long as it plugs into a GFCI, it sounds like I could go with either solution. I'm still curious, though, if the NEC has anything to say about this, if anything. For example, should the cord be buried or not...or does it matter? Is there a restriction on cord length or the use of extension cords? I'll still probably go with installing the 4x4 post and GFCI outlet at the fountain, but I am curious about the NEC's requirements on this.
  7. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,534
    Location:
    North Carolina
    From inside the house to the receptacle that supplies power to the fountain must have an insulated equipment grounding conductor so yes it needs to be piped in to a post at the fountain and the conductors to the receptacle be in the pipe. Those conductors on the inside of the house can have an un-insulated EGC.

    The fountain must be supplied from a GFCI device. Using an extension cord is totally out of the question for several reasons. Cords are not allowed in pipe and to leave it on the ground is asking for the grass to grow up around it until it will be hard to move.
    If a cord is used outside then the cord must be approved for the use and to buy one approved for the use will cost more than doing the project the right way.
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