Author Topic: Adding an exterior electric outlet  (Read 3080 times)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Adding an exterior electric outlet
« on: August 07, 2015, 11:36:44 AM »
My house only has one exterior electric outlet, and it's at the front. This is very annoying when I want to do anything at the back (my house is 15 feet wide and 50 or so feet long). I'd like to add an outlet on the back patio.

I have an unfinished basement which goes about two feet above ground level and spare slots in my breaker panel. The only physical difficulty is that the back patio is behind a finished former porch, so I would want to either poke conduit under that finished porch, or I'd have to run the wire around the unexcavated area under the finished porch  and put the outlet right next to the Bilco door. Questions:
1. Am I a crazy person for wanting to DIY this?
2. Right now this outlet would mostly be so I can run the edger in the backyard easily. What amperage circuit breaker should I install?
3. What sort of wire should I buy?
4. Any recommendations for installing a box through vinyl siding?

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7396
  • Senior Mustachian
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2015, 11:45:09 AM »
I would be find DIYing this. But it takes a bit of effort to learn the codes and such if you are doing this kind of thing your first time. You want to make sure you don't let water into anything or screw up otherwise because if there were a fire due to a mistake you made your home insurance company could refuse to cover your claim.

You'd probably want a 20 amp GFCI circuit with 12 gauge wiring. It needs to be GFCI since it will be outdoors.

adamj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2015, 12:51:13 PM »
I've been looking into this too, so here is what I have figured out so far.

1. DIY? I've installed a number of outlets, lights, switches, etc., have the tools, and feel comfortable doing it. If you've never touched electrical before you might consider having a friend who has done so help you. It's not hard but you have to do it right. Don't cut corners. My philosophy is to overdo everything, double and triple check, etc. belt and suspenders all the way.
2. I'd do a 20 amp GFCI. Outdoors GFCI is required. If you're running wire anyway you might as well do 20 amp. And if you ever decide to use a welder or compressor or other big equipment back there (or a future contractor/owner/etc. might) it will be nice to have. Get a 20 amp WR rated outlet.
3. 12 gauge solid THHN (individual conductors) in rigid PVC or EMT conduit. No Romex is allowed outdoors/underground/in wet areas, and 12-2 Romex in 1/2 EMT is pretty close to the maximum fill anyway. I guess you could use UF-rated cable in enclosed spaces but conduit is still needed for mechanical protection where it is exposed. Watertight conduit fittings outside, caulk around any conduit that runs through a wall.
4. Exterior box with an "extra duty in-use" cover is code. I have brick, but on vinyl here is what I would do: Cut a hole in the siding, caulk (top and sides, not the bottom) and screw the box to the sheathing, and put J-channel around the box.

Tug on all your connections to make sure they are secure. Put a couple wraps of electrical tape around your outlet and wire nuts to make sure everything is held properly in place.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 01:27:30 PM by adamj »

adamj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2015, 12:57:31 PM »
If you are going to use EMT (metal) conduit, use metal boxes. If you use metal boxes, make sure to bond them to the equipment ground. I prefer metal boxes because everything just seems sturdier and more secure, and all the metal boxes in my 1955 house are holding up fine while the plastic boxes in my parents' 1970s house are starting to have outlets pull right out of them when you unplug stuff.

Get yourself a Fluke 1AC no-contact voltage detector and double-check that NO wires you are working with are hot. Even ground or neutral could be hot if something is wired wrong and you never know.

I'd put in a two-gang box with two duplex outlets. It's essentially the same amount of work and not much more money, and you'll kick yourself at some point if you don't.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 01:00:57 PM by adamj »

psinguine

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
  • Location: Manitoba, Canada
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2015, 02:38:59 PM »
The electrical portion has been covered already, so I'm not going to expand on that. I will, however, disagree with adamj's method for installation in vinyl.

Vinyl siding has specialty units most commonly known by the brand name "MasterMount". If you go to the lumber yard and ask around they should be able to get you the unit intended for outlets (they also produce them for vents, lights, conduit, etc). They have a snap-on integrated trim that hides your cut edges. Then simply use a weatherproof plate cover and you're in business. Clean, simple, beautiful install.

adamj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2015, 03:07:32 PM »
Yeah that sounds like a better solution. J-channel should work fine to cover the cut edges*, but a pre-made block will be faster, easier, and look better.

* If you go with j-channel, you need to miter or overlap (match your windows) the corners of the "showing" part, and leave extra "tabs" in the base of the channel to bend over the corners and shed water properly. It's kind of a pain, really. Use the block...

adamj

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2015, 03:15:24 PM »
And make sure you do not just get a "weatherproof plate cover" with the two little flaps over the plugs. NEC specifies an "extra-duty while-in-use cover":
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 03:25:52 PM by adamj »

psinguine

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
  • Location: Manitoba, Canada
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2015, 03:38:45 PM »
And make sure you do not just get a "weatherproof plate cover" with the two little flaps over the plugs. NEC specifies an "extra-duty while-in-use cover":

Yes that's what I should've said. My terminology could definitely be improved.

For an example of what it should look like finished, see here:

https://scontent.cdninstagram.com/hphotos-xfa1/t51.2885-15/s320x320/e15/11123720_1071042886246112_1708517181_n.jpg

paddedhat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2229
Re: Adding an exterior electric outlet
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2015, 10:35:18 PM »
Shoulder, Google "Arlington vinyl siding outlet", this is the box you want. It has a built in J-trim, it is recessed, and meets the requirements for an in use cover, and it's a great product that's designed and built right up the road from you in beautiful (sarcasm intended) Scranton PA.  Run the wire straight back to the panel using 12-2 UF, and install it on a dedicated breaker. Install a weather proof rated 20 Amp GFCI receptacle in the new Arlington box. It will all look slicker than socks on a rooster, as the locals on  my side of the Blue like to say. Good luck.