Author Topic: Installing an external electric outlet  (Read 1549 times)

marcus_aurelius

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Installing an external electric outlet
« on: January 23, 2020, 04:23:12 PM »
We live in a single family house. I want to install a couple of outlets that I can use for holiday lighting etc. in the front side of the house.

The question for you experts is, whatís the best way of doing this safely? Can I splice the wiring from 1) the doorbell 2) the front porch light, or 3) the above-garage motion-sensitive light, to create a new outlet? Ideally, I will be able to control this outlet separately with a separate switch.

Although itís an external outlet, it will be shaded and shielded from the rain. I also think that external outlets are more hardy and have different code requirements.

Iím reasonably handy, but for this job Iíll go with an electrical contractor. I just need to understand my options better before speaking with one.

Thank you for your suggestions!

JLee

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2020, 04:25:06 PM »
1) Doorbell, no
2) Front porch light, maybe, though it would be switched by your front porch light switch unless you ran the wiring from the feed to the switch
3) Motion-sensitive light, probably

I would do a new run from a separate breaker if you can, and put GFCI outlets outside.

Syonyk

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2020, 08:42:08 PM »
We live in a single family house. I want to install a couple of outlets that I can use for holiday lighting etc. in the front side of the house.

Complexity and cost will vary wildly on where existing power runs in the house, how your house is wired, where your panel is, etc.

If there's a surplus of 20A circuits running lighting and nothing else, then it's probably fairly straightforward to run outlets off that, but may not do what you want.  If the house is somewhat under-wired (quite common), you may not have power to pull from those, because they're servicing a ton of other stuff.  My parents house, for instance, had, among other electrical atrocities, the front porch outlets on the same circuit as the master bathroom, upstairs, on the back of the house.  I guess GFCI outlets were so expensive that the wire was cheaper, or something...

Quote
The question for you experts is, whatís the best way of doing this safely? Can I splice the wiring from 1) the doorbell 2) the front porch light, or 3) the above-garage motion-sensitive light, to create a new outlet? Ideally, I will be able to control this outlet separately with a separate switch.

You probably could, and if all you wanted was a single outlet, that would probably be the way to go (not the doorbell - that's not 120VAC, for very good reasons).

But if you want it run with a switch, it's probably just as easy to run a new 20A circuit from the panel.  How much that costs... depends, as noted.

Tapping existing lighting circuits, then adding a switch, is the sort of thing that will make future owners of the house wonder what you were smoking, though.  Switched outdoor outlets, in general, are pretty absurd in the first place.

lthenderson

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2020, 08:13:06 AM »
Good advice above but wanted to add something. We just did an addition to our house which included a new front porch and outlets for Christmas lights. After some consideration, I opted not to make them switched. There are dozens of wifi switches now that you can plug between the end of your first strand of lights and the outlet and then the lights control themselves automatically with a built in calendar/timer or you can manually turn them on and off with an app on your phone. It removes yet one more switch that off season, will be hard to determine what it goes to for the next owner and having it all automatically saved me from forgetting to turn them on or off. I removed my lights a couple weeks ago during a warm spell and just put the wifi switch in the box of outdoor lights for next year. Since it already recognizes my wifi system and is programmed, I should be able to just plug it in and it continue on.

Syonyk

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2020, 11:46:14 AM »
Skip the wifi outlet and just buy a dumb programmable timer.  It'll last far past the end of the cloud services the wifi outlet uses.  I've got one on the outside of the house for my truck block heater - no point in running it all night, so it comes on at 3AM and shuts off at 9AM if I'm taking the truck in the morning.  I can't control it from my phone, but it works just fine and I expect it to last a decade or two, which is better than I can say about any "thing" connected to my network.

But I'd definitely do that over paying to run a switch.  That's an awful lot more drywall work, and switched outlets are just a pain to trace down sometimes...  you've got switches that "do nothing" and outlets that "don't work" until you puzzle out the wiring for the house.

bacchi

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Bourbon

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2020, 01:56:41 PM »
I'm on board the no switch train.  We already have the outlets outside and I have a short extension cord that has a built in timer/dawn to dusk meter. 

Depending on what your home's exterior is made of, it may also be easier to locate the exterior outlet near an interior outlet on an exterior wall. (Confusing?)  If they can punch in from the outside and connect to an existing outlet on a non-overloaded circuit.

jpdx

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Re: Installing an external electric outlet
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2020, 10:25:59 PM »
In addition to GFCI, youíll need to use a box rated for wet locations and an ďin-useĒ cover. So if it rains while something is plugged in to the receptacle, it will stay dry.