There are lots of reasons you might want to have power outside such as in a shed or detached garage or perhaps to a spa or gazebo. You might need it for a day, the long run or somewhere in between. Either way, it’s important to make sure it’s done safely.
Running Electrical Wire Outside for Short Term Power
For short term power, an extension cord is all you need. You just need to make sure the extension cord you use is marked for outdoor use. This means they are made to withstand moisture, the sun, temperature fluctuations and some foot traffic. Do not use indoor extension cords outside! They are not meant to stand up to outdoor use. Even extension cords that are meant to be used outside should not be left outside for more than a couple of days. When extension cords are left outside for extended periods of time they will start to breakdown and can cause sparks, fires or become a shock hazard. To maintain safety, always follow electrical precautions for outdoor use.
Outdoor safety- Extension cords are not one size fits all. Choose the right cord for the job at hand. You’ll need to make sure the cord you choose can handle the wattage that it will be connected to. Larger wires can handle more current in a safe way. Outdoor extension cords must be plugged into a GFCI outlet. You will know it’s a GFCI when you see the reset/test buttons on it. These are usually found in areas where water is present like kitchens, bathrooms and in the garage. These will automatically cut power to them if the cord is exposed to water. To avoid tripping hazards, use the right cord length and when extension cords aren’t being used they should be unplugged and stored inside.
Long Term Power Electrical Wiring Solutions
For a more permanent power solution you’ll need to add outlets or run wiring remotely to the outside. If the wiring does not run from the house it will need a separate GCFI indoors. It will also need to be deep (30” below landscaping and 18” below patios and paths). They also need to be encased in PVC conduit that is welded to ensure there are no leaks in it. This is not an easy task and needs to be done by a professional electrician.
Installing a GFCI outlet outdoors. Any area exposed to water must have a GFCI-equipped outlet. This is a code requirement. You’ll also need to make sure to use an outdoor-rated outlet that is, weatherproof and has a high-sensitivity GFCI. All outdoor outlets need to have spring-loaded covers to protect them from dirt, pests, the weather and most importantly, any moisture exposure. GFCI protection is an inexpensive and easy way to safely protect agonist any moisture problems that can lead to electrocution. A new outdoor outlet needs to be installed in a location where the it can be connected to indoor wiring. Drill a hole from the outside, feed the wiring into the home and fit a mounting box for the new outdoor outlet. Connect the wiring to the outlet terminals, position the faceplate over the box and make sure the waterproof seals are positioned correctly. After the wiring has been run inside, you’ll need to add a GFCI if one doesn’t exist.