How to Run Underground Power to a Shed | Ask This Old House

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Ask This Old House master electrician Scott Caron turns a shed into a powered-up hangout by running electricity underground.

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Time: 1-2 days

Cost: $4000-5000

Skill Level:
Difficult

Tools:
Trenching machine
Shovel
Propane torch
Concrete mixer
Hole Saw
Drill/Driver
Screwdriver

Shopping List:
1 ½-inch PVC conduit pipe
PVC junction boxes
UF 6-gauge electrical wire
UF 6-4 electrical wire
NM 14-2 electrical wire
Electrical wiring boxes
Breakers
Electrical Sub Panel
Masonry screws

Steps:
1. A project like this should only be performed by a licensed electrician.
2. Before digging, call the utility locating service to mark any underground pipes or wires.
3. Begin by digging a trench from the house to the shed. This can be done with a trenching machine or a shovel. The trench should be 18 inches deep to bury electrical conduit according to code. In some cases, you may not be able to reach that depth due to site conditions.
4. Spread out a layer of sand into the trench to protect the conduit from sharp rocks.
5. Lay out the lengths of 1 ½-inch PVC conduit to go from the house to the shed.
6. Use PVC cement solution to coat the inside of each pipe and connect them together.
7. To make the PVC pipe conform changes in grade, use a propane torch to heat the pipe and make it pliable.
8. Form the shapes needed and lay the PVC conduit in the trench.
9. Use 90 degree PVC fittings to connect the underground pipe to the side of the house and shed.
10. Use a drill/driver, masonry screws and clips to attach the pipes to the side of the house and shed.
11. Use a hole saw to carve out a hole to feed the pipe and junction box into the side of the house and the shed.
12. Add a second layer of sand over the pipe in the trench to act as a warning in case anyone accidentally digs in the area and then cover that sand with caution tape.
13. Mix concrete with water and cover any conduit that did not reach a depth of 18 inches due to site conditions.
14. When the concrete dries, back fill the trench with old and new soil.
15. Feed fish tape from one side of the PVC pipe to the other. This will be used to pull up the electrical wires.
16. Tie a thin rope to the fish tape at the opposite end and pull that back through.
17. At the shed, use electrical tape to tie the 4 individual UF, 6-gauge wires (2 hots, neutral and ground) and feed them back through the conduit.
18. Mount a sub panel in the shed and tie on a braided 6-4 UF wire.
19. Connect the individual wires to each braided corresponding 6-4 wire using insulated connectors in a junction box.
20. The ground wire and the neutral wire will terminate in different spots in the subpanel. Connect them to the appropriate terminal with a screwdriver.
21. Tie in both hot wires to opposite sides of busbar, allowing 120 volts to 3 different breakers on both sides.
22. Attach desired electrical wire boxes throughout the shed for lights, light switches and outlets.
23. Run 14-2 NM wires throughout the shed and tie them through electrical wire boxes.
24. Attach any desired fixtures in the shed or on outside and run wire as needed.
25. Tie in 14-2 NM wires from fixtures and receptacles into sub panel breakers as needed.
26. Turn off the electricity inside the home at the main breaker panel.
27. Connect both hot 6-gauge UF wires to new 60 Amp breaker inside main breaker panel in the home.
28. Connect the neutral 6-gauge wire to the neutral bar inside main breaker.
29. Connect the ground 6-gauge wire to to ground bar inside the main breaker.
30. Turn the power back on inside the home at the main breaker panel.

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How to Run Underground Power to a Shed | Ask This Old House
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