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Run an underground electrical line into the garden to power an outdoor light or a pond pump. Say you need a bright yard light way out in your yard or a remote outlet to power a pond pump or electric tools. In this article, we show the easiest, quickest and cheapest method to safely run electricity outdoors. For this project, you should have the fundamental wiring skills it takes to make proper connections and the basic electrical and carpentry tools.
In our project, we run a line from an existing outdoor outlet on the house to a light and receptacle at the edge of a garden path. While we enclosed the electrical boxes inside a hollow post, you can simply mount a weatherproof box on the side of a 4x4, as long as you protect the cable by running it in conduit from the trench bottom to the box (Figure A). Mark the cable route from the power source (house outlet) to the position of the remote outlet with spray paint.
Get started by determining where you want the electrical post positioned and then find the nearest existing outlet to supply the power. To figure the minimum box size required by the National Electrical Code, add: 1 for each hot and neutral wire entering the box, 1 for all the ground wires combined, 1 for all the clamps combined and 2 for each device (switch, receptacle or combination device) installed in the box. The best digging tools to use for the trench itself are a mattock and a trenching shovel (Photo 1). Turn off the circuit breaker to the house outlet, test it to make sure it’s dead and disconnect it.


Feed the cable through the conduit and screw the exterior extension box to the existing box. For longer runs, like under driveways, drive a section up to the end of the trench, then remove the plug and screw on another section into the coupling and start driving again. There are no height requirements for lights or outlets; build the posts as high or low as you wish. Packaging should be the same as what is found in a retail store, unless the item is handmade or was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag. You have read and agree to the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. Contact the seller- opens in a new window or tab and request a shipping method to your location. By far the best way to get electrical power right where you need it is to run underground "line" voltage (120-volt household current).
While they're not crucial, a trench shovel, a mattock and a sledgehammer (Photos 1 and 2) will make the trench work easier and faster.
To determine whether the circuit you want to use can handle the additional electrical demand, first shut off the circuit in the main panel. Multiply this figure by 2 for 14-gauge wire and 2.25 for 12-gauge wire to get the minimum box volume in cubic inches. That way you'll be able to dig a fairly narrow trench to avoid moving the mountains of dirt you would with a conventional shovel. That's so you can stick it in the ground and have full access to the interior for stapling wires and making the hookups. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. Dig trenches that approach walkways a few inches deeper to allow for driving the conduit (Photo 2). Protect the ends with fittings and lay wood blocks in the trench to keep the conduit clear of the trench bottom. The boxes and the cable are protected by a wooden housing, so standard metal or plastic electrical boxes and cable are all you need once the wire enters the protection of the box.
But make sure that the light fixtures you choose are rated for “wet location.” You’ll find that designation on the fixture box.
We'll also show you a no-sweat way to run the line under a walkway and how to hook up the wiring at both ends. Approach sidewalks or paths at right angles for easier tunneling and make sure to plan a 3-ft.


If you have your heart set on one that’s wider, build a wider post just by using wider boards.
To make sure the “feeder” outlet you choose is protected, look for the characteristic GFCI buttons, or if it's a standard outlet, check it with a GFCI tester. Then add on the wattage of the post light plus the wattage of items continuously powered by the outlet. There you’ll need to use weatherproof boxes and run the cable through conduit that's coupled directly to the box with adapters (Photo 4).
Standard outlets still may be GFCI protected by being linked to another GFCI outlet elsewhere in the house. We recommend a maximum connected load of 1,440 watts for a 15-amp circuit and 1,920 watts for a 20-amp circuit (the amperage is stamped on the breaker or fuse). If you're simply mounting an outlet on a bare 4x4, you'll have to protect the wire within conduit right up to the box the same way as the house connection and use an exterior-rated box. Test-fit the fixture on the post before cutting the hole for the round electrical box to make sure it clears all of the trim. If yours isn't protected, simply replace the standard outlet with a new GFCI outlet using the techniques we show in Photo 13 and Figure A. Mark the route with paint and then call the utility companies to mark any underground lines. One of the plugs works as a tunneling point and the other protects the pipe from sledgehammer damage. Another option is to cut in, mount and wire a new outside GFCI outlet, feeding it from an outlet mounted on an inside wall in the house. Prop the conduit up on a couple of blocks to keep the end clear of the trench bottom for driving (Photo 2). Your local building inspections department either grants those or will direct you to a state office.
Make sure the pipe is level and directed toward the middle of the trench on the far side of the walkway so it'll emerge at the right spot.
The inspector will want to see the trench with the cable in place before you fill it back in, and then again for a final inspection after the project is finished.



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