Run electricity outdoors conveniently and safely by taking power to an outbuilding or installing an outdoor socket outlet.
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The best way to take power to an outbuilding is by running a 240-volt circuit from the main breaker panel in the house to a sub-panel in the outbuilding. Once the 240-volt circuit terminates in the sub-panel, it can be broken down into 240-volt circuits and 120-volt circuits as needed.
The line can be run using the appropriately sized underground cable only, but it is better to run the cable through PVC conduit to protect the cable from damage and moisture. The cable should be run about 18 inches to 24 inches below ground level.
Depending on the size of the outbuilding and its intended use, the 240-volt circuit breaker size will have to be determined. In most homeowner projects, a 20-amp or 30-amp breaker will be adequate. First it must be determined if there is an open space in the main breaker panel and then if the panel has the electrical capacity to handle another 30-amp circuit. It may very well take a licensed electrician to calculate this for you.
The best way to provide power for fountains and wet location lighting is by the use of low voltage circuits. Low voltage usually means 12 volts—the same voltage as car batteries. Systems can be bought that provide wiring, lights and the transformer. The transformer is plugged into a standard household outlet and transforms the electricity to 12 volt DC. This is safe to use in outdoor and wet locations because it cannot electrocute you or your pets.
The transformer should be plugged into an outlet that is protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interupter (GFCI). This added safety feature protects the circuit as well as the users. The installer should always follow the instructions that are provided with the low voltage system that will explain its use and installation.
Exterior outlets can be single or duplex, and should have spring-loaded covers. The covers protect the outlet from bugs, insects, dirt and moisture. These days they are also, by code, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for added safety. Outside, a person is more easily grounded and is often working with water and power tools so electrocution is a danger. If your home does not have GFCI protection, it can be added.
Flush Mount Outdoor Wall Plate (image below)
Covered outdoor outlets are often metal for durability and have spring-loaded covers.
An outdoor motion sensor may add add comfort, safety and convenience to your home. When you arrive home after dark, it senses your movements as you approach and turns on exterior lights. And you don’t have to fumble in the dark for keys, or trip over things that you cannot see. An outdoor motion sensor also provides safety, because it comes on to let you know if anyone approaches your home so you can see who it is. It can also deter burglars by creating a well-lit area where they cannot be concealed as they attempt to gain entry.
These units are usually adjustable for sensitivity and angle so that they can be set to sense only montion on your property and will not pick up motion down the street or in the next yard.