Are you looking to run electricity in a shed? Installing electricity in a shed is a do-it-yourself project that lets you add lights, outlets, etc. Because of this, adding electricity to a shed is a project that many people want to do. Let’s be honest.. If you do a lot of work in your shed, you need to have electricity.
To get electricity for shed or other outdoor building, first plan out how the wires will go. Next, add a GFCI outlet to the home’s electrical panel and run the new circuit wire outside. Dig a hole for your electrical cables and put in conduit. The last step is to run the wire through the conduit and into the shed. Fill in the hole and test all of the connections.
Even though every electric in a shed will be slightly different, this guide will show you the general steps you need to take to add electricity to your shed.
How to Run Electricity in a Shed : What You Need to Do and What You Need to Buy
You will need the following tools and materials to successfully Run Electricity to Your Shed:
- Safety Equipment (Glasses, gloves, boots, etc.)
- Measurement tape
- UF-B electrical cable
- PVC Conduit
- PVC Conduit Cement / Glue
- GFCI Outlet
- Shovel/Post Hole Digger
Now that you have all the tools and supplies you need, you can start running electric to a shed.
Plan out how your wiring will look
The first step in getting a shed with electricity is to plan where the wires will go. Most of the time, the electricity for a shed comes from the main electrical panel in your home. But there are also other things to do.
I think you should talk to a local electrician about coming to look at your shed, home, etc., so you can find out what they think is the best way to get electricity. Most of the time, an electrician will come out and give you a quote or some ideas for free.
For my specific shed electricity application, I had a local electrician come out and we talked about it.
After talking about it, we decided that adding a GFCI circuit to my home’s existing electrical panel would be the best way to get a running electric to shed. The wires would then go through my basement (along the floor joists) and out to the outside of my house, near the shed.
Everyone’s shed electricity application will be a little bit different, so everyone will have a slightly different electrical route. So, take some time to plan how your electrical wires will:
- Get from your house’s electrical panel to the outside.
- How the electrical cable will be buried below ground
- How the electrical cable will be run underground to the shed.
In my case, I chose to run the wire from my home’s electrical panel to the outside of my house. Next, I was going to run my conduit above ground along the joists of my deck to the end of it. I decided to put in a GFCI-protected outdoor outlet at the end of my deck. After the electrical outlet, the wire would go below ground and go under the ground to the side of my shed, as shown in the picture above.
Again, you can talk to an electrician about how to run electricity to a shed for your specific shed. You can move on to the next step of the project once you have a good idea of how you will run the electrical cable from your house to your shed.
Put in a GFCI shed circuit and run an electrical cable to the outside of the house.
Even though I’m comfortable doing a lot of electrical work myself, I always hire an electrician to work in my electrical panel (for example, when I need to add circuits) and to check any work that I do myself.
In this case, the first step in how to run electrical to shed was to hire an electrician to add a dedicated 20-amp GFCI circuit to my electrical panel.
After the electrician added the new circuit to the existing panel in my house, I ran the wire for the new circuit across my basement to the band joist in my house’s framing. Then, I drilled a 1/2-inch hole in the band joist so that the electrical cable could reach the outside of my house.
I ran the cable through the hole to the outside of my house and coiled up about 25 feet of it, which was enough to reach the exterior outlet (to be installed in a later step)
Dig a hole for your cable trench
Before running conduit from the outside of your house to your shed, if that’s what you want to do, you should do any and all excavation.
How deep you need to dig will depend on the type of conduit you are putting in. Also, there are electrical cable options that don’t need any conduit and can be buried directly.
Let’s talk about the different electrical conduit and electrical cable options for getting electricity to this shed.
When running electrical wires below ground, there are many different conduits and cables that can be used. The depth you need to dig will depend on the type of cable or conduit cable you choose.
Again, check with all local electrical codes about the materials and depths of cables that are buried. Only a licensed electrician should do any work with electricity.
If you’re using rigid metal conduit, you only have to bury it 6 inches below the ground. If you want to use PVC conduit, you need to bury it 12 inches below the ground.
Note: 12″ PVC conduit can only be buried if the following are true:
Before the cable in the PVC conduit goes below grade, it is protected by a GFIC.
The circuit breaker can’t handle more than 20 amps and can only handle 120 volts.
If your application does not meet the requirements above, you will likely need to bury your PVC conduit at 18″-24″. Check the building codes in your area.
Lastly, there is a type of electrical cable called “UF-B” that doesn’t need a conduit and can be buried directly. This kind of cable needs to be buried at least 24 inches below ground level. Use the guide below to figure out how deep to bury conduit or cables.
After establishing your conduit/cable routing and after you have determined what type of cable/conduit you plan on using , simply excavate as needed for your required depth.
For shallow burying depths, I suggest that you use a shovel and a post-hole digger. For deeper or longer burials, it might be helpful to rent a mechanical auger or excavator.
After you are done digging, you can start putting in your conduit and cable.
Install Conduit (If Applicable)
After deciding (if at all) which conduit is best for your use, you can start putting the conduit in place.
I used 12″ PVC conduit with different bends and elbows for my project (as required for my specific conduit routing).
To start installing conduit, I put the first piece outside my house and ran an electrical cable through it. I found that the easiest way to do it was to put the conduit in slowly and then run the wires through it piece by piece.
As you set up your conduit layout, you will need to cut some of your conduit to size. Measure and cut your conduit to size using a miter saw, hack saw, etc.
To attach pvc conduit together, you will need to use PVC coduit cement glue. Apply PVC cement glue to each end of the PVC conduit segments you are joining together, and then press and hold the two ends together for 20 to 30 seconds.
Once I got routed the PVC conduit to the end of my deck, I installed a 90 degree bend to allow the conduit to transition from horizontal to vertical.
As a brace, I then attached a 4″x4″ pressure-treated backing board to my shed. After that, I put in a GFCI outdoor outlet, which will be covered in the next step.
Install An Exterior GFCI Outlet (Optional)
I think you can never have too many outlets on the outside. So, as part of your running electrical to shed project, I really think you should think about adding an exterior rated GFCI outlet to the outside of your shed (or home).
To add an outdoor GFCI outlet, start by choosing an outdoor outlet that is right for your needs. In my case, I used an outdoor GFCI outlet with a waterproof outlet cover built right in.
Most exterior outlets come with mounting brackets that let you attach the outlet box to your mounting block, which in this case is the 4×4 piece of wood.
Also, most exterior outlet boxes come with built-in conduit connections that let you run conduit or cable into and out of the outlet.
Install the outlet according to how the manufacturer tells you to. Check the GFCI function to make sure it is working right.
Next, you can keep running electrical wire and conduit along the route you’ve already set up to run electric to shed.
Pass the wire through the conduit
At this point, it’s best to take small steps when running the electrical cable through the conduit. Pulling a cable through 1/2-inch conduit over a long distance is very hard, especially if there are a lot of bends and elbows.
So, I just put in two or three pieces of conduit/fittings and ran the wire through that section. I did this over and over again until all of the conduit and cables were in place.
Cut off the electricity at the shed.
After running the electrical cable and conduit below grade to the area next to my shed, I put in a 90-degree bend fitting and routed it out of the ground to an area 12′′ above grade.
Next, I drilled a 3/4-inch hole in the side of my shed where the cable and conduit would go inside.
Then, I put in a 1/2′′ type LB conduit body (as shown below) and used PVC conduit clamps to connect it to my shed.
Next, I just pulled the electrical cable through the conduit and Type LB conduit body and into my shed.
Add plugs, lights, and other things.
Once you get your electrical cable into your shed, all you have to do is wire up the outlets, switches, lights, etc. that you want.
In my case, I started by putting in another GFCI outlet inside the shed. This outlet will be used to charge my electric tools and other things.
Next, I put in a light switch and an LED bay-light so that my shed would be bright at night.
Lastly, I put in some outside light switches so I could control the lights on the outside of my shed.
Each shed’s electrical needs will be different, so the type and number of outlets, lights, fixtures, etc. will also be different. Install the right number of lights, outlets, and fittings for your shed’s specific electrical needs.
Test all Connections, Receptacles, etc.
At this point, you should test all of your GFCI outlets, lights, switches, etc. to make sure they were installed correctly and are working as they should.
Again, all electrical work and connections should be done by a licensed electrician and/or checked by one.
After making sure everything is working right, use good exterior caulk to seal all conduit connections on the outside of the shed and house. You will also need to caulk around all exterior light fixtures, etc.
Your shed’s electrical project is almost done after you’ve checked all the connections and caulked where needed.
Fill in the cable and the trench for the cable
At this point, just fill in the conduit/cable trench and tamp it down with your hands. Plant grass seed and other things as needed.
Once the electrical conduit and cable are backfilled, you have successfully running power to shed. Congratulations!
At this point, there’s nothing left to do but use your shed’s new electricity and extra space.