If you’ve been using extension cords from an indoor outlet to use outdoors, why not install an external power outlet instead?
Extension cords run outdoors can be inconvenient; they can add the risk of tripping and water damage and increase the chances of a loose connection.
In general, if you don’t currently have an outlet to get power outside, find a suitable indoor outlet through a conveniently-placed (GFCI) outlet, from which you can drill a hole into the outside of the wall. Disconnect the power supply to the two areas and proceed by:
- Removing the indoor outlet;
- Drilling the hole;
- Marking the spot outside;
- Cutting the wall space for the box;
- Running a conduit and cable;
- Connecting the wires at both ends;
- Installing the cover on the outside;
- And reconnecting the supply.
I will go into more detail below.
Exterior Outlet Options
The quickest way to get power outside with an outlet is to install one that is back-to-back with an interior one inside your home.
The only barrier will be the wall so that you can drill a hole from one end to the other. However, ideally, it should not be behind a kitchen or bathroom or where you’ve installed a dedicated outlet or use a high-power appliance. Behind a bedroom, living room, or basement outlet would be a better choice.
Another possibility that might be available is to drill from a basement or crawlspace and install the exterior outlet by making an extension ring from the junction box. You might find an LB fitting useful (see below).
What You Will Need
|New power outlet
|Conduit (or pipe)
|12/2 wires for a 20-amp circuit
You will need a power drill, a hammer, pliers, a screwdriver, and a wire cutter to drill the hole.
You will need a new power outlet, conduit (or pipe), cable, wire nuts, and electrical tape. The wires in the cable are typically 12/2 for a 20-amp circuit.
The outlet should be a GFCI outlet because the exterior parts of your house are exposed to rain and moisture. This is required by code.
I also strongly recommend you install a weatherproof box for the exterior outlet. They have spring-loaded covers for extra protection from the elements.
If any wiring is exposed on an outside wall, it should be covered inside a conduit. If you decide to use rubber-covered cable, I recommend the following types: S, SJ, SJO, SJT, ST, or SO. They can be used with weatherproof sockets and plugs.
Additionally, you should also attach a watertight gasket around the receptacle.
Another item you might find helpful is an LB fitting to make a safe watertight transition from the inside to the outside. It can connect to a conduit.
Before you start working on the electrical side of this project, turn off the power to the area where you will be installing the outlet, both inside and outside. Switch off the panel’s circuit breaker(s) and confirm no power using a voltage tester or voltmeter.
Getting Power Outside
A Back-to-Back Extension
In the above illustration, you can see that after drilling a hole through the wall, you will need a short conduit and short pieces of wire beside the new outlet. The conduit will be roughly the thickness of the wall, and the wires will be a little longer to allow for slack.
The illustration on the left gives a cross-sectional view of how the two outlets will look when connected.
If you find a suitable spot on your house’s exterior directly behind an indoor outlet, proceed as detailed below.
Step 1: Remove the Indoor Outlet
First, disconnect the electricity supply and remove the indoor outlet directly behind the chosen spot outside.
Unscrew the cover plate and then the outlet, and gently pull it away from the wall to access the wiring inside. Disconnect all the wires and put them to one side so that they don’t get in the way while you’re drilling.
Step 2: Drill a Hole
Drill a hole at the back, straight through to the other side of the wall.
If you have a stud wall, use a stud finder to ensure you drill away from a stud. The hole must be cleared within a stud cavity at both ends.
You might prefer to drill at a slightly downward angle from the inside, as this could help avert certain issues. Positioning the outdoor outlet a little lower than the indoor outlet is safer.
Step 3: Mark the Spot
Now move your tools over to the outdoor spot.
Using the hole just created to guide you, mark the outline where you will fix the box for installing the exterior outlet.
Step 4: Drill Out The Wall Space
Cut out the wall space along the outline you created.
Use the drill, hammer, and cutter, as necessary, to completely remove the area inside the outline.
Step 5: Run the Conduit and Cable
In this step, we are going to insert the new cable in the conduit or pipe through the hole connecting the two outlets.
Firstly, open one of the gates at the back of the existing indoor outlet for the cable to pass through. This is the hole you can see in the picture below.
Now insert the new cable through that hole and pull it out at the other (outdoor) end.
Similarly, open a hole at the back of the new outdoor outlet box and pull the cable through it before fitting the box into place.
Leave about 8 to 12 inches of cable at both sides before cutting their ends. Strip off around ½” to ¾” off the ends of the wires at both ends.
Step 6: Connect the Wires
Connect the wires to the two outlets, one inside (which you will reconnect) and one outside (the new GFCI outlet with a weatherproof cover).
- The black wires will connect to the live line terminals of the GFCI outlets,
- the white wires to the neutral terminals,
- and the green-yellow or bare copper wire to the ground connection.
- Use wire nuts to connect like wires together.
Video | April Wilkerson
When attaching the receptacle to the box and wall, make sure the top and bottom holes align with each other.
Step 7: Install the Cover
Install the cover to protect the exterior outlet from the elements (rainwater, dust, etc.).
The outlet and its weatherproof cover should be securely fixed to the external wall.
Step 8: Reconnect the Supply
Only reconnect the power when you’re sure you’ve completed the wiring and done it properly.
Enjoy using your new outdoor outlet.
Popular Science. Vol. 171, No. 1. Published by Bonnier Corporation. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=wSwDAAAAMBAJ&dq=How+to+Get+Power+Outdoor++Outlet&source=gbs_navlinks_s. July 1957.
LB fitting: https://kent.ca/1-2-cast-aluminum-gray-type-lb-conduit-body-1013622.
The Home Depot
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