If you've ever twisted extension cords from an indoor outlet to your yard, these outdoor electricity tips are for you. Installing outdoor power outlets isn't as difficult as it sounds.
The quickest way to extend power outdoors is to install a receptacle back-to-back with one inside the house. You also can drill through the wall from a basement or crawlspace and attach a receptacle on the side of a house using an extension ring.
You'll want to position an outdoor receptacle at least 16 inches above the ground. An in-use cover increases protection from the weather. A simple wooden box built around it shields it from bumps by the lawn mower or kids at play. Outdoor receptacles must be GFCI-protected. Check local codes for approved cable, conduit, and boxes.
Expect to spend about 2 hours installing a new outdoor receptacle with an extension ring and in-use cover. You'll also need to spend time cutting a pathway for the cable, and patching walls. Before you begin, check to make sure the new service won't overload the circuit.
Step 1: Find Cable Path
Find the easiest path for cable to reach an outside wall, perhaps through a basement or crawlspace. Use a long drill bit to drill a locator hole. If the location is inconvenient or does not satisfy code, install an LB fitting rather than a receptacle to run power elsewhere.
Step 2: Install Box
Using a reciprocating saw or keyhole saw, cut a hole for a remodel box. Run cable through the hole and into a remodel box. Install the box and add an extension ring and a terminal adapter if using PVC.
Step 3: Run Pipe
Beneath the box dig a trench deep enough to satisfy local codes. Call before you dig. Using PVC or rigid metal conduit, attach a length of pipe to a sweep. Cut the pipe to fit, attach it, and anchor the conduit with straps.
Editor's Tip: To install metal conduit so it is watertight, use rigid conduit with threaded fittings or IMC conduit with compression fittings.
Step 4: Connect Wires
Shut off power to the circuit. Connect the black and white wires from the power source to the LINE terminals of a GFCI receptacle. After you run cable for the new service, connect those wires to the LOAD terminals so the new service is GFCI-protected. Connect the power source.
Step 5: Install a Cover
Install an in-use cover, which protects the receptacle from moisture even when a cord is plugged in.
Editor's Tip: Once you have installed an outdoor receptacle with extension ring, you can run cable for lights or additional receptacles.
More Outdoor Power Methods
How to Install Without a Receptacle
To make the transition from indoor to outdoor wiring, use an LB fitting. Essentially a watertight pulling elbow, it is ideal for connecting to conduit.
How to Use Back-to-Back Wiring
One way to bring power outdoors is with back-to-back receptacles. Shut off power, pull out an indoor receptacle, and drill a locator hole through the wall to the outside.