How to Wire a Shed for Electricity

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About: "Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." "La inacción engendra la duda y el miedo. La ac...

Intro: How to Wire a Shed for Electricity

Versión en español

I found myself in need to move my noisy woodworking to my back yard to avoid waking up my lady who works night shift. I decided to wire my shed and after some homework and the help of the Instructables community I started my project. Before we start I assume that you know how to wire the different fixtures.

First you will need:

Step 1: The Right Conduit

The right conduit to use is a liquidtight conduit approved for use underground or outside installations. It is a metal conduit covered by resistant plastic. You should find out if there is a code regarding buried electrical lines. My conduit will be buried between 18" and 24". You do not need to worry about frost lines because you are dealing with electricity and not pipes carrying water.
I bought 50 feet of conduit, more than the distance between my house and my shed. The conduit will be connected to a switch box in my basement and to a junction box inside my shed.
You will need an electrician's fish tape to pull the wire inside the conduit. If you find difficult to pull the wire there is a clear lubricant that you can use to make the job easier. Make sure that the lubricant dries before you connect the wire to the main box.

Step 2: Wire

The wire that I got for this project was a type 12-2. It is the right wire for home wiring and for my needs in my shed. Make sure that the wire is inside the conduit before you start the installation.
I became aware that it is against electrical codes to use sheathed cable inside a conduit. Therefore you need to pull three unsheathed wires inside the conduit with a fish tape.
  • Black wire for the "hot" or "live wire"
  • White wire for the neutral
  • Green or uninsulated wire for ground

Step 3: Switch Box

The switch should be inside the house for safety reasons. If you need to turn off the electricity that goes to the shed, the wire underground outside the house will not be energized. Also you will be able to turn off the electricity when you leave for vacation.
One end of your conduit will be connected to this box. When all the wiring is safely installed you can wire the switch to your home electrical panel.

Step 4: Digging the Trench

I dug the trench to bury the conduit by hand ( I mean not literally but with a shovel). I dug for several days, taking my time. If you want to spend some money and rent a trench digger you can but money was an issue for me so this old man decided to dig the trench himself and do it at his pace.
I found a large rock while digging and I did not have any dynamite to blast it so, I patiently dug around it.

Step 5: Wiring the Shed

After I determined the best location for the junction box, I built a panel where I could keep everything together: the junction box, the electrical outlets and the light switches.
I drilled pocket joints in two pieces of 2 x 4 and screwed them to the supporting studs. Then I screwed a 3/4 inch board on the 2 x 4 's.

Step 6: Connecting the Circuit to the Switch and the Main Box

I selected one of the basement windows the entry for the liquid tight conduit. I drilled the hole in the window using a spade bit big enough for the conduit to go in. I connected the conduit to the switch box thus allowing me to turn the electricity off when on vacation.

Step 7: And There Was Light, and the Light Was Good!

Finally I can set my tools to work in or around my shed. My dear wife will be very pleased that I move my noise making to the backyard. A future addition will be an outside motion light. I hope that the information will inspire you to do the same and give ideas.

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    62 Discussions

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    deanbear

    Question 11 days ago on Step 7

    Moved in to a home with a wired 16x20 out building. Not an old building that was built many years after the house. The power doesn’t work to the building. I assumed I could flip the main circuit and reset it hoping it was tripped. But nope that didn’t help, building lights won’t come and none of the outlets work. My question is could it have been wired and connected elsewhere to another power source? If so, how can I tell if I can’t notice a visible difference in wiring?

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    JoshM267

    7 weeks ago

    You shouldn't run NM-B within conduit, just run separate wires. Also why would you run it through the window frame instead of just drilling through the cinderblock?!

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    RandyH89

    Question 2 months ago on Introduction

    I’m coming from panel box in house across drop ceiling to outside then to shed panel box that has 3 outlets and 3 lights ..pvc buried 35 feet long can I use 12/2 or 14/3?? House wire??

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    210megavolt

    6 months ago on Step 6

    running any type of electrical cables or conduits through window or door jambs is prohibited by the NEC

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    210megavolt

    6 months ago on Step 4

    Minimum depth requirements depending on conduit used will range anywhere from 12 to 18 in, tables in National electrical code should be consulted.

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    210megavolt

    Tip 6 months ago on Step 2

    Individual conductors can be purchased individually the exact length required for a lower price. depending on the length, the largest size may be required. Wire sizing tables in the National electrical code should be referenced.

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    Rj3lambe16

    1 year ago

    Although using liquidtight to bury might be acceptable by code, it still is far from professional. Using PVC or UF wire would be the professional way to wire a shed. Not to mention ising PVC would be much less of an eye sore if done correctly.

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    Supertux

    1 year ago

    Thanks for the help but is it legal.

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    blkhawkAPPLESLAYER1551

    Reply 2 years ago

    If you don't believe to be skilled enough to work with electricity then by all means hire an expert.

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    Garfielda

    2 years ago

    We are renting shed and want to run electric for an AC. No one will be living on the property will it be OK to skip the conduit? It will only be hooked up temporary for 1-2 months max.

    1 reply
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    blkhawkGarfielda

    Reply 2 years ago

    You can use direct burial electrical cable.

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    Tombooya

    2 years ago

    I Got a small hunting shed its 12x40 I want to wire it to beable to live in for a week or two at a time. Of course I can't afford a electrician. So I have to tackle it by myself Lord help lol. Want I want to know is can and how would I wire from a generator which would act as the house I'm hopeing. Any help would be great thx.

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    blkhawkTombooya

    Reply 2 years ago

    Check this Instructable for ideas:

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-Generator-to-Home-Hook-Up/

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    Retanotech

    6 years ago on Introduction

    what about shop vac and parachute to pull string through burried pipe or unburried pipe to then pull wire?

    4 replies
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    Tombooya blkhawk

    Reply 2 years ago

    Tombooya Reply
    I Got a small hunting shed its 12x40 I want to wire it to beable to live in for a week or two at a time. Of course I can't afford a electrician. So I have to tackle it by myself Lord help lol. Want I want to know is can and how would I wire from a generator which would act as the house I'm hopeing. Any help would be great thx.

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    RogerD4blkhawk

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Yup - won't pull past an obstacle any better than wire/tape BUT it pulls faster if there is none. I did 350' in two runs and decided to try the vacuum. A little 'plastic bag' with the 'seal' part pulled off and 'tied' in half and a vacuum, mighty quick!

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    altontothblkhawk

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Using a vacuum and a small chunk of plastic is actually QUITE common for long pipe runs in the electrical industry, though I've never tried it on flex, so it may or may not work.