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You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Running Electricity to a Shed: Safely Power Your Outdoor Space

Looking to illuminate your outdoor shed with power? This article leads you from planning to power on. Discover how to assess electrical needs, source power legally and safely, and the nitty-gritty of installation—all while adhering to local building codes. Avoid common pitfalls and power up your shed with confidence.

Key Takeaways

  • Careful planning of your shed’s electrical needs based on intended use and local codes is essential, taking into consideration the number of outlets, lighting, power sources, and specific types of equipment like energy-efficient LEDs or climate control systems.

  • Proper groundwork lays the foundation for a safe electrical setup, requiring the selection of appropriate electrical boxes, mapping wire and cable routes, choosing the right type of conduit, and ensuring all installations adhere to the National Electric Code.

  • Final installation steps include connecting to the main power supply, setting up the shed’s electrical panel with room for future expansion, grounding the system for safety, and installing outlets and switches, with the option to incorporate smart technology for automation and energy optimization.

Planning Your Shed's Electrical Needs

Prior to laying wires and hammering away, take a moment to consider the electrical needs of your soon-to-be powered shed. Will it be a sanctuary for your power tools, a haven for garden gadgets, or perhaps a vibrant venue for your hobbies? The electrical circuit, wire gauge, and number of outlets and lights will all hinge on these power needs. Strategically installing additional electrical outlets can significantly enhance the convenience, security, and versatility of your shed. Not only does this planning stage save you money, but it also ensures a safe electrical setup tailored to your specific needs.

Disclaimer: While this guide provides a comprehensive overview of running electricity to a shed, we strongly recommend consulting with a professional electrician before undertaking this project. Electrical work can be hazardous and requires a thorough understanding of safety protocols, local codes, and proper installation techniques. Attempting to handle electrical tasks without professional expertise may lead to serious injury or property damage.

Deciding on the Number of Outlets and Lights

Begin by assessing the number of outlets and lights required to facilitate the activities within your shed. Will you be tinkering with tools, or creating art? Each activity has its own electrical appetite. Remember, local regulations may require specific types of lighting outlets if your shed will have electric service.

And for those hot Arizona days, energy-efficient LED strip lights not only keep your shed well-lit but also cool, aligning with the need for energy-saving measures in such a climate.

Understanding Your Power Source Options

There are several options available on the route to electrification. You could go the traditional route and connect to your main electrical panel, or perhaps adopt a greener approach with solar panels. There’s also the option of using a generator for more flexibility.

Each option has its unique benefits and constraints, making your decision all the more important. The power source you select will form the backbone of your shed’s electrical system.

Checking Local Codes and Permits

Navigating through the complex web of local zoning regulations and securing the required permits isn’t merely bureaucratic red tape; it serves as a safeguard for your project. Most electrical work requires an electrical permit from your local building department. It’s not simply about getting a green light; it’s about ensuring your shed’s wiring adheres to the highest safety standards.

Local authorities need to give their nod of approval, and this could vary depending on your location in Arizona. Take time to familiarize yourself with the National Electric Code to understand the essential guidelines and safety standards for current electrical systems.

Laying the Groundwork for Electrical Wiring

Before embarking on this electrical adventure, let’s assemble our tools and materials. From conduit to cords, from wiring to switch boxes, your local hardware store should have most of what you need. The cost of this electrifying escapade can range from a mere $100 to a more significant $600, influenced by factors like the length of wiring, power requirements, and your chosen tools.

Safety is paramount in this endeavor, necessitating a clear plan and appropriate materials, including outlet boxes, non-metallic wire, and silver colored switches, before you start. It is essential to avoid using bare wire and dangerous extension cords to ensure safety and proper installation.

Choosing the Right Electrical Box

Picking the right electrical box is like choosing the best foundation for your shed’s electrical system. It’s crucial to consult with your local building inspector to determine the required box size. And when it comes to electrical boxes, especially circuit breakers, you need to purchase ones that are approved for the specific model of your electrical box.

This might seem like a small detail, but it’s these nuances that ensure a safe and efficient electrical setup.

Mapping the Route for Wires and Cables

Charting the route for wires and cables is akin to mapping a treasure hunt, demanding both strategic thinking and meticulous attention to detail. Rigid metal conduit (RMC) offers a sturdy shield for your wiring and reduces the digging depth compared to using underground feeder cable (UF). While RMC only needs to be six inches under, UF cable requires trenches 12 inches deep or more, depending on the situation. Be mindful of the NEC’s limitations on bends in the conduit – a total of 360 degrees is your max.

Plot the shortest, safest path from your house to the shed, and before breaking ground, make sure to call the necessary services to identify any buried utility lines and consult with local authorities regarding required permits.

Installing Conduit and Running New Wires

Now, it’s time to roll up your sleeves! Choose your conduit type – EMT for indoor use or PVC for outdoor exposure. IMC can also be a contender, depending on your specific needs like size, strength, and cost. Secure that conduit every 6 feet and within 2 feet of each box using the right fittings to maintain effective grounding.

Next, proceed to run the new wires. Here’s how:

  1. Push them through the conduit until they reach the box.

  2. Use electrical tape on loose ends and secure the cable with an insulated staple close to the box for safety.

  3. Always keep local codes in your peripheral vision, ensuring you meet all requirements for a job well done.

Digging Trenches and Laying Conduit

Here’s where you’ll feel like an archaeologist, minus the fossils. Digging a trench for your conduit should align with the burial depth chart – it’s not just about digging a hole but doing it right.

As you lay your conduit, make sure you’ve got a clear path from the panel box to the shed, pulling the correct wires to match your new sub-panel’s load. This sequence of identifying the right conduit, selecting the appropriate wire, ,executing the digging and running the wire, requires precision and patience.

Connecting to the Main Power Supply

The moment of truth arrives as you connect your shed to the heartbeat of your home’s power supply. A voltage tester is your best friend here, ensuring your safety by confirming the power is off. If you’re not a seasoned DIY electrician, this might be the time to bring in the pros. Consulting with a licensed electrician ensures your connections are not only safe but also up to code.

Run those cables from the shed to the main panel, leaving an extra 4 feet for good measure, and use plastic clamps for a secure fit. Double-check that everything is de-energized with your electrical testers before making any connections – safety first.

Setting Up the Shed's Electrical Panel

Serving as the control center of your shed’s electrical system, the electrical panel directs power as needed. Think ahead to future needs and select a subpanel with extra circuit spaces to accommodate any upgrades or expansions. It’s a forward-thinking move that will pay off down the line.

Remember, when it comes to making the final connections to the main service wires and branch circuits, it’s best to rely on a professional electrician’s expertise to ensure everything is done safely and correctly using wire connectors.

Mounting the Panel and Attaching Breakers

Level and anchor the electrical panel to the shed wall in a secure fashion, using plywood for additional support if the studs don’t align. Next, it’s time to snap those circuit breakers into position on the panel’s breaker bus, ensuring they match the circuit requirements.

Route the black and white wires neatly to the breaker space, attach them securely, and connect the ground wires to the ground bus bar. Safety is a constant companion in this process, so use a cardboard shield to protect yourself from live parts during installation, and make sure new cables are clamped securely within the panel box.

Grounding Your Shed's Electrical System

Grounding your shed’s electrical system is not merely advisable; it’s a critical safety measure to prevent shocks and potential fires. The main ground wire, typically a substantial bare copper wire, is the linchpin of this process. Securely connect it to a grounding rod or to metal water pipes, and then to the main grounding lug in the panel to ensure your entire system is properly grounded.

Finalizing the Electrical Installation

Now it’s time to consolidate everything by fitting outlets and switches. Wire terminal loops should be placed under the terminal screws in a direction that tightens the screw, ensuring a solid connection.

Push all conductors back into the electrical box to make room for the new device, and attach it to the box, aligning it properly for a neat finish.

Installing Outlets and Light Switches

New outlets and switches serve as the finishing touches of bringing your shed to life. When installing a new outlet, secure wire connections to the screws for reliability and check that the outlet is wired correctly, with tabs broken for switched outlets and all connections properly insulated.

When it comes to switches, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Pick ones that match the voltage and current of the circuit. For residential lighting circuits, 15 amp, 120-volt switches are typically appropriate.

  • Ground the switch, ensuring the ‘OFF’ position corresponds to the toggle being down in single-pole switch installations.

  • Connect the black insulated wire to the black colored ‘common’ terminal of a three-way switch.

If you’re installing both a light switch and an outlet in the same location, a double gang electrical box is your go-to. Run electrical cables from the panel to the box, matching wire colors and securing grounds for a safe and efficient setup.

Double-Check Your Work

Now, pause and take stock of your handiwork. Here are some things to check:

  • Inspect the circuit breaker to make sure it’s the right size for your shed’s electricity needs and that it’s mounted properly.

  • Examine all wires for fraying or damage, replacing any that pose a safety risk.

  • Verify that GFCI outlets are functioning correctly and are installed near water sources.

Test all light switches, fan switches, and outlets with an outlet tester to ensure they work as intended, and double-check that all outlets are properly grounded.

Customizing Your Shed's Electricity for Comfort and Convenience

Having set up the fundamentals, let’s explore how to transform your shed into a genuine extension of your home. In Arizona’s scorching summers, UV-resistant materials and weather-resistant coatings can shield your electrical components from the intense heat and dust storms. And when it comes to staying cool, a ductless mini-split air conditioning system can be your best ally, ensuring comfort and protecting your electronic equipment during those hot seasons.

Layer in different lighting options like pendant lights or spotlights, and you’ve got a space that’s as versatile as it is inviting, whether you’re working or relaxing. Plus, integrating smart technology like IoT devices can optimize energy use and make managing your shed a breeze, contributing to a sustainable living environment.

Adding Climate Control Options

In arid Arizona cities, such as Scottsdale, it’s essential to regulate the internal climate of your shed. Ductless mini-split systems excel at providing efficient cooling and heating without the need for extensive ductwork. These systems can be installed in individual rooms or entire structures, ensuring that your space remains comfortable year-round, no matter the temperature outside.

Incorporating Smart Technology

Step into the future by integrating smart technology in your shed. IoT devices and artificial intelligence can modernize your space, offering conveniences like automated lighting and enhanced security systems,. With 5G on the horizon, the potential for a seamless operation of smart technologies in your shed is vast, improving your overall experience and making your shed a cutting-edge haven.

Parker & Sons Electrical Services

If you're considering professional assistance to electrify your outdoor shed, look no further than Parker & Sons. Specializing in electrical services, we're equipped to handle the complexities of running power to your outdoor spaces with precision and care. Call us today to schedule an appointment!


And there you have it, a beacon of light shining from your backyard – your shed, now powered and primed for any project or peaceful pastime. From the careful planning of electrical needs to the final touches of smart technology, you’ve navigated the intricacies of running electricity to your outdoor space. Remember, while this guide provides the roadmap, the journey to safe and effective electrical installation may require calling in the pros.

If you’re in Arizona and looking for expert assistance, look no further than Parker & Sons. With our wide range of services, including HVAC, electrical, and plumbing, we are the go-to team to ensure your shed’s power is up and running smoothly. So take that next step and bring your electrified vision to life!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you run electricity in a shed?

To run electricity in a shed, you will need to find the right conduit, select the appropriate wire, dig a trench, install a switch box, run the conduit and wire, connect the circuit, and wire the shed.

How much does it cost to run a new electrical line?

The cost of running a new electrical line varies depending on whether it's overhead or underground. On average, running a new underground electrical service costs $10 to $25 per foot, or $5,000 to $12,500 for 500 feet, while installing overhead lines costs $5 to $15 per foot, or $4,000 to $7,500 for 500 feet.

Do you need an electrician to run power to a shed?

It's advisable to hire a licensed electrician to run power to your shed. While doing it yourself may be cheaper, it can be dangerous and requires permits to ensure legality.

Do I need a permit to run electricity to my shed?

Yes, you will need an electrical permit from your local building department to run electricity to your shed in compliance with zoning regulations and safety codes.

How do I choose the right size electrical box for my shed?

To choose the right size electrical box for your shed, it's best to consult with a local building inspector to confirm the required box size for your shed's electrical needs. This will ensure a safe and compliant installation.

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