Run electricity outdoors conveniently and safely by taking power to an outbuilding or installing an outdoor socket outlet.
More in Outdoors
There are two projects that are well worth carrying out to add convenience and safety to your use of electricity out of doors. The first is taking power to a garden shed or other outbuilding, and the second is installing an outdoor socket outlet for your garden power tools. The wiring work required is quite straightforward, but you must notify your local building codes department before you start so that it can be inspected and certified.
If you need to take a power supply outside the house, you have to decide whether to run it overhead—easier to do, but unsightly and prone to accidental damage, or to take it underground—trickier to install, but far safer.
Running Cable Overhead
You can use ordinary PVC-sheathed cable if the span between the buildings is 10 feet or less. Longer spans must be supported by a tensioned support wire and cable buckles, and this wire must be grounded to the house's main grounding point. The span must be at least 12 feet above ground over a path, and 17 feet above ground over a drive or other area with vehicular access.
Running Cable Underground (image below)
Cable runs underground can be protected by PVC conduit, solvent-welded together using straight connectors to make a continuous run, or you can use underground cable. Bury cables 18 inches beneath paths or patios, and at 30 inches beneath lawns and flowerbeds.
Having a dedicated outdoor socket outlet on the house wall for garden power tools saves trailing long extension cords through open windows. It also provides the safety of GFCI protection for anyone using electrical equipment out of doors. All you need is a weatherproof outlet with a built-in high-sensitivity GFCI, plus a length of two-conductor and ground wire and a conveniently-located indoor socket outlet to which to connect the wiring. Alternatively you can install an ordinary outdoor outlet and connect it to a separate GFCI indoors.
Positioning the Outlet
Position the outdoor socket outlet so that you can drill a hole through the house wall and feed the wiring in close to the indoor outlet. Fit the mounting box over the exit hole, draw in the wiring, and connect it to the outlet terminals. Fit the faceplate on the box, making sure that the weatherproof seals are correctly positioned. Indoors, run the wiring to its connection point, via a separate GFCI, if necessary.