Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (2023)

Want to turn a shed into living space? Here are tips on powering your shed and how to save money.

When we started our shed project, we hoped that the electricity currently running on the site would be sufficient. It quickly became apparent, however, that we would have to do additional work. Electricity was the number one expense for our shed project because we weren't comfortable building it and didn't have the equipment to carve.

I won't talk about how to install the electrical as I don't like to cover electrical or plumbing work on this blog. We often hire out this type of work unless it's a very small project because there are many risks if you do electrical or plumbing work incorrectly.

For this project we did some minor electrical work inside the shed, such as installing ceiling fans and installing outlets. We hired an electrician and a boring company to run electrical from our house and put a panel in the shed.

The shed can now support electricity for a computer, heat press, my sewing machines and the mini split that heats and cools the room.

Here are my tips for saving money on electricity in your shed renovation project, as well as some other things to consider.

This post may contain affiliate links that may earn me commissions if you click on them and take certain actions. As an affiliate for Amazon, Cricut, xTool, Home Depot and other sites, I earn on qualifying purchases. Please DIY carefully. Viewfull illegal disclosure here.

Read the entire post so you don't miss any important information!

(Video) How to Run Underground Power to a Shed the Easy Way

What is Conduit? Should I use it?

Conduithas two main definitions: it is a channel for moving some type of liquid OR it is a "pipe or vessel" for protecting electrical wiring.

In our project, the contractors used PVC pipe for conduit. the electrical lines ran through the conduit. The advantage of utility conduit is that you can replace electrical lines more easily without having to dig up your yard again. Your wiring is also more protected from moisture, digging, etc.

Although the duct will cost you a little more money to install, it can be useful if you think you may have further renovation projects that may need it. We run conduit for most of the projects we do, which allows us to upgrade the electrical at a later date if needed.

For shorter distances, the conductor may not make sense. But for the 250′ we ran our electric, the cost of digging was pretty significant. We don't want to have to dig it up again.

Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (1)

Cost of ranged effects

One of the factors that most affected the cost of our project was the distance of our shed from our house. Drilling is very expensive and currently supplies for electrical wiring are also high. This really drove up the cost of our project.

Our shed is 250 feet from our house's main electrical panel. Project pricing was calculated based on distance. I'll break down those numbers at the end of this post.

Boring vs Trenching

We chose boring instead of trenching for this project, but I think it's worth pricing both.

(Video) The Easy Way To Install Power To Your Shed - Domestic Electricians Life UK -

Boringit is beneficial if you have a lot of wiring or a lot of other things going on underground. They dig a hole at the beginning, at the end, and at every turn. Then their machine digs a hole like a gopher from hole to hole.

Once the area is completely excavated, the conduit can be pushed into the tunnel and then the electrical cable can be run through the conduit.

Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (2)

As an alternative,trenchesit will dig a deep hole from the start point to the end point. This can damage the grass and can affect the landscaping. However, I think engraving might be slightly cheaper. Trenching is also much easier to DIY and you can hire equipment to do it yourself.

In our case, the distance was so important that we thought it made more sense to do boring. We have another project that we worked on later and that project got cut. It tore up our lawn and we have to reseed.

Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (3)

I believe the boring and trenching costs will be affected by the terrain in your area as well as how below ground your frost line is. You can search for your address atthis National Weather Service websiteto see what your frost line is or check your local codes. They usually have rules about how deep to bury wiring. In our area, we have to bury them 36″ deep.

We're in Maryland, so we have winters that are pretty cold, but not as bad as Montana. In an area like Montana, your frost line will be much further below ground and cost more money to uncover. That said, our soil is very, very rocky and hard to dig, so I think that affects the price as well.

(Video) Running Power To My Shed For FREE

Always be sure to call Miss Utility to mark your property for underground electric, water, gas and cable lines if you plan to DIY.

When we hired a company to put in ground water in our horse field, they nicked and tapped the cable wire DESPITE digging about 2-3′ from the Miss Utility marks. As we have fully documented the distance and have photos to prove that they have dug according to the rules, we should not have to pay for this epic mistake.

Here is a photo of the damage…yikes! They actually hit a couple of lines… one was an old disused phone line. But the other was our internet and it took a few days to fully recover.

Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (4)

Project Jobs to DIY vs Hire Out

If you're comfortable DIYing parts of the project, you can save money. Most of the time you need to have your electrical work inspected and you may need a permit. Personally, I prefer to hire this part of the job.

The main part of this job that could easily be DIYed and save you money is the trench. You can rent an engraving machine and DIY this part of the project. You can even buy the wiring you need and have it ready for the electrician to install. just make sure you buy the right products.

Don't skip the inspection or permit, especially if you're DIY. Otherwise you might end up burning down Cheryl’s She Shed.

Size Matters: Getting the Right Cable for Your Needs

Choosing the right electrical wiring for your needs is important. If you overload the wiring by running something that needs more "of" than the wiring supports, you can overheat the wiring and possibly cause the wires to melt. This is a fire hazard. The circuits are designed to help prevent this by shorting out if you do the wrong thing, but they aren't foolproof.

(Video) 15 Ways to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill

The electrical wiring originally used in this shed was perfect for charging my phone or running a lamp so I could see. But he could not support anything important. Some products require more power, such as HVAC or appliances.

Electrical wires in the US are color coded. I recommend that you talk to an electrician to decide what you need to have ground installed in your plans for your space. If you're making a fun reading nook or planning space in your shed, you may not have the same needs I did.

Cost analysis for an electrician installing electricity in the shed

Powering the shed and using a qualified electrician was over half the cost of our total renovation. We paid $8,000 to have the electric installed (boring included).

We also had additional electrical costs, such as the two ceiling fans for $258, as well as the cost of individual outlets and the wiring for the inside of the shed.

The person who installed the mini split charged us $780 for the project and did some of the electrical work inside the shed to connect the mini split to the electrical panel.

Here's the breakdown of the electrician's bill, which included the boring expenses:

  • 100/125 AMP Surface Switch Master Panels: $1561
  • Main ground system: $664
  • Full day assistance: $268
  • 250′ Underground Boring: $2390*
  • 40-80A 240V Circuit: $3999*

*The two items with the asterisks are both affected by distance I believe, so you can see the price was much higher due to the distance of the shed from our house.

We didn't think our shed could be easily moved because it's quite old and built on heavy-duty ground posts. But it might have saved us money if we could have moved the hangar closer, even considering the cost of moving the hangar.

(Video) Complete Guide to Wiring Your Shed

Please share and pin this post!If you make this project, please share it on oursThings Mom Makes Facebook Group. We regularly have gift card giveaways at craft stores. You can also tag meInstagram @doityourselfdaniellmi? I love seeing everything you make!

Running Electricity in Your Shed: Money Saving Ideas (5)


How can I run electricity to my shed? ›

Start with a Switch
  1. The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires a means, such as a single-pole switch, to disconnect the power where it enters the shed. ...
  2. Connect the wires inside the shed to a switch.
  3. Run wires from the switch to a GFCI receptacle, and from there to the rest of the outlets or lights in your shed.
May 15, 2023

How much should it cost to run electricity to a shed? ›

Running electricity to a detached garage or shed typically costs between $1,000 and $2,500, depending on electrical needs, distance to your detached garage or shed, and whether or not you need to cut into drywall to run new wiring.

Can I run an extension cord to my shed? ›

Running a shed extension cable is fine if you need temporary light, for example if you are clearing out the shed. Similarly if you want to use power tools for a particular project, you can run an extension cable to the shed from the main house.

What size wire do I need to run power to my shed? ›

Just as described before, the wire will have to be matched with the amount of voltage it can safely carry. For a 20 Amp circuit traveling 25' or less, a 12/2 with ground (yellow) will suffice. If that same 20 Amp circuit must travel more like 150 feet, the cable would have to be #6 gauge or larger.

How can I get enough electricity to run my house? ›

  1. Solar power. You can use the sun to generate electricity for your home through solar photovoltaic panels that are installed on your roof. ...
  2. Solar heating. ...
  3. Air source heat pumps. ...
  4. Wind energy. ...
  5. Biomass systems. ...
  6. Hydroelectric systems. ...
  7. Renewable electricity supply.

How do I run electricity to my backyard? ›

The quickest way to extend power outdoors is to install a receptacle back-to-back with one inside the house. You also can drill through the wall from a basement or crawlspace and attach a receptacle on the side of a house using an extension ring.

Can I run electricity to my shed by myself? ›

To run electricity to a shed or outdoor building, start by planning out the the electrical cable routing. Next, add a GFCI outlet or Circuit Breaker to the home's electrical panel and route the the new circuit wire to the home's exterior. Excavate your electrical cable trench to the proper depth and install conduit.

How much solar does it take to power a shed? ›

How much solar power does a solar shed need? Four 100-watt solar panels along with four 6V sealed batteries—plus a full component system with an inverter, charge controller, and fuse box—should be sufficient to supply electricity for one or two corded power tools and lights.

Can I use outdoor extension cord permanently? ›

Using extension cords properly is critical to your safety. With continuous use over time, an extension cord can rapidly deteriorate, creating a potentially dangerous electric shock or fire hazard.

Is it against code to run extension cord through wall? ›

Avoid Running Power Cables Inside of Walls!

It's actually against article 400.8 in the NEC (National Electrical Code). You should not run power cables through a wall as a substitute for permanent wiring, ie wired outlets.

How far can you safely run an extension cord? ›

In general, extension cords should not exceed 100 feet in length. However, by plugging one extension cord into another, the maximum cord length can be easily exceeded. If the job requires more than a 100-foot distance, a temporary power distribution box is required.

How far can you run 12 gauge wire without a voltage drop? ›

For 120-volt circuits:
14 AWG50 feet
12 AWG60 feet
10 AWG64 feet
8 AWG76 feet
6 AWG94 feet
Sep 25, 2022

What cable is best for shed? ›

Therefore, armoured cable is the most suitable cable to be used in harsh external or underground systems when running electrical cable outside your shed. Armoured cable or an armoured cable extension lead is the best choice for an external cable as well as an underground cable system.

What kind of breaker box do I need for my shed? ›

You can feed 120v using 10/2 with a 20 amp breaker and all you will need is a disconnect switch. You could run 10/3 for 240v, but it is not necessary if you don't need 240v capability. The switch will need to be located outside or inside the shed where the feeder enters the building.

What is the cheapest way to generate electricity? ›

According to the IEA's World Energy Outlook and other research projects, solar and wind energy have continued to occupy the top spots in terms of the cheapest renewable energy sources. Both energy sources cost significantly less than fossil fuel alternatives and continue to become more affordable every year.

Can I go completely off grid with solar panels? ›

Yes. Even large-sized homes can run completely off the power grid thanks to today's advanced solar technology. Large solar energy systems require many solar panels, which can be housed on a roof or even on a ground-level platform (assuming there's enough space).

What is the cheapest renewable energy source for the home? ›

✔ Solar power is the cheapest source of energy on the planet

Global renewable energy capacity is growing year-on-year – increasing by 9.1% in 2021 alone, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

How can I get electricity outside without an outlet? ›

Using a heavy-duty extension cord enables handling of the right amount of electricity needed to pass long distances compared to regular cords. Some extension cords are specifically meant for outdoor lighting and have inbuilt waterproof plugs.

Does outdoor wiring need to be in conduit? ›

Local codes typically require conduit protection for exterior wiring if the wiring is installed above ground. If you are burying the wiring, most codes allow for underground fed cables, but some will require the use of a conduit. Buried or exposed wiring will need to be listed for its application.

How deep does electrical conduit need to be buried? ›

The depth at which electrical conduit should be buried depends on a variety of factors, including the type of conduit, the location of the installation, and the local building codes. As a general rule, conduit should be buried at a depth of at least 18 inches, but in some cases, it may need to be buried deeper.

How much does it cost to run conduit per foot? ›

Conduit Installation Costs

Installing conduit costs $4 to $8 per linear foot, on top of the trenching costs. You can pay an additional $0.25 per linear foot if you upgrade from standard PVC to non-metallic half-inch PVC pipe, which brings your total to $4.25 to $8.25 per linear foot.

How far can you pull wire through conduit? ›

According to NEC Code 300.17, the following are the limits allowed for conductors based on size and number: One wire can fill no more than 53% of a conduit. Two wires can fill no more than 31% of a conduit. Three or more wires can fill no more than 40% of a conduit.

How many solar panels do I need to go off grid? ›

How many solar panels do I need to go off-grid?
Average Monthly Electric BillSolar System SizeNumber of Panels (Based on 200W Panels)
$12010 kW52 panels
$24020 kW105 panels
$60050 kW255 panels
$1,200100 kW510 panels
2 more rows

Can I put solar panel on my shed? ›

Whether you use your backyard shed as a home office or gym—or keep it simple and use it for storage—you can harness the power of the sun with shed solar panels. Homeowners who install solar panels on a shed can generate renewable energy and reduce electricity bills.

How many solar panels would it take to power a home? ›

An average-sized home in the United States (2,480 square feet) will need about 15 to 22 full-sized solar panels to completely replace traditional energy sources. That being said, the exact number of solar panels needed for your house depends on several other factors.

Can I use armored cable instead of conduit? ›

Type MC armored cable can be installed in cable tray, racks, hangers, or as a cost-effective replacement for conduit and wire where specified per the National Electrical Code (NEC).

Do you have to bury outdoor electrical wire? ›

Low-voltage (no more than 30 volts) wiring must be buried at least 6 inches deep. Buried wiring runs that transition from underground to above ground must be protected in conduit from the required cover depth or 18 inches to its termination point above ground, or at least 8 feet above grade.

Does electrical wire need to be buried? ›

Most of the rules involve protection of the wiring from damage. The NEC (National Electrical Code) requires that UF cable be placed in a trench at least 24 inches deep. In most communities, you will have to leave the trench open until the inspector arrives to approve the depth.

What should not be plugged into an extension cord? ›

They must be plugged directly into a properly installed outlet. Larger appliances, such as microwaves and refrigerators, may not be plugged into a power strip or extension cord.

Can you leave an extension cord plugged in without anything plugged into it? ›

No, extension cords do not use electricity when they are plugged in but not in use. However, there are potential dangers associated with leaving extension cords plugged in, such as fire hazards, shocks, and trip and fall hazards. So it's always best to unplug them when they're not in use.

What can I use instead of an extension cord? ›

As its name implies, a power strip is composed of a series of electrical sockets with a cable and electrical plug at its end. This device is designed to accommodate and power up multiple electrical devices that are in close proximity to each other, say the devices inside an entertainment room.

Why are extension cords not allowed? ›

Extension cords can overheat and cause fires when used improperly. Overheating is usually caused by overloading or connecting appliances that consume more watts than the cord can handle. Damaged extension cords can also cause fires.

What does OSHA say about hanging extension cords? ›

Cords and cables. Worn or frayed electric cords or cables shall not be used. Extension cords shall not be fastened with staples, hung from nails, or suspended by wire.

What does OSHA say about extension cords? ›

Any extension cord that does not have the grounding pin will be taken out of service and not used. Extension cords will not be used in place of fixed wiring. Extension cords will not be run through holes in walls, ceilings or floors. Extension cords will not be attached to the surface of any building.

Which is better 12 gauge or 14 gauge extension cord? ›

For 100 feet, the 14 gauge cord works for 11-13 Amps, while the 12 gauge cord is best suited for 14-15 amps. If your cord is 150 feet long, the 14 gauge is best suited for 1-7 Amps, whereas the 12 gauge will support 8-10 Amps. This shows that the extension cord's length also plays a part in the power it helps safely.

Does the length of an extension cord affect the power? ›

Extension cord lengths determine the cord's power capacity. Every extra foot of cord increases the electrical resistance. This decreases the power the cord can deliver to connected devices. For best results, use the shortest extension cord possible.

What happens if you use too long of an extension cord? ›

An improperly sized extension cord can cause a tool or appliance motor to burn out if allowed to run for too long. It can also cause a dangerous situation if it overheats.

What size wire should I run to my shed? ›

Just as described before, the wire will have to be matched with the amount of voltage it can safely carry. For a 20 Amp circuit traveling 25' or less, a 12/2 with ground (yellow) will suffice. If that same 20 Amp circuit must travel more like 150 feet, the cable would have to be #6 gauge or larger.

Does thicker wire prevent voltage drop? ›

Wire Size - Larger wire sizes (diameter) will have less voltage drop than smaller wire sizes (diameters) of the same length.

Do I need an electrician to wire a shed? ›

If you want to provide a dedicated circuit to the shed, hire an electrician to make the final connection in your main electrical panel. Otherwise you can connect to an existing circuit if the circuit has enough capacity and the box you're connecting to has enough volume for the additional wires.

How do you run electricity to a shed? ›

To run electricity to a shed or outdoor building, start by planning out the the electrical cable routing. Next, add a GFCI outlet or Circuit Breaker to the home's electrical panel and route the the new circuit wire to the home's exterior. Excavate your electrical cable trench to the proper depth and install conduit.

Do I need a GFCI in my shed? ›

Where Should GFCI Outlets Be Installed? Bathrooms – All bathroom receptacles should have GFCI outlets installed. Garages & Sheds – Any area inside or outside of the house that is not considered a “habitable” room should include GFCI outlets. This includes garages, sheds, and any other work/storage areas.

Do I need a fuse box for shed? ›

Is this necessary do you think? "Yes you will need an rcd fuse board as the shed will be outside the main building."

How many outlets can be on a 20 amp circuit? ›

A good rule of thumb is to assume that there will be a maximum power draw of 1.5 amps for each outlet, allowing 10 outlets for a single 20-amp circuit.

Is surface wiring legal? ›

It is important to realize that surface wiring is only an acceptable practice indoors, and poses many safety concerns when implemented outside.

How far can you run electrical wire underground? ›

For 120-volt circuits:
14 AWG50 feet
12 AWG60 feet
10 AWG64 feet
8 AWG76 feet
6 AWG94 feet
Sep 25, 2022

How do I run electricity to my detached garage? ›

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Wire A Garage
  1. Step 1: Place Your Electrical Boxes. ...
  2. Step 2: Drill Holes in the Studs for Your Cables. ...
  3. Step 3: Run Your Cable Wires Through Each Box. ...
  4. Step 4: Run Your Cables Along Beams, Corners, Gables. ...
  5. Step 5: Install Conduits Where Appropriate.
Dec 15, 2021

Can I ground myself with a wire? ›

You can save yourself some money by constructing a homemade grounding wire. Use a conductive wire like copper, wrap it around your wrist, and connect the other end to an unpainted metal object. Wearing this will allow any ESD to discharge into the metal and protect your computer from damage.

Can I run wires horizontally? ›

Horizontal runs are absolutely fine, as stated above, if you shift a socket across that has a vertical feed there must be a fitting at the point where the vertical feed drops down to meet the horizontal to mark the end of the vertical, that can be a socket, or a spur, or indeed just a blanking plate.

What circuits are not allowed to be grounded? ›

Secondary circuits of low-voltage lighting system must not be grounded, as indicated in Section 411.5(A). Also, low-voltage lighting systems for underwater pool lighting supplied by isolation transformers must not be grounded.

How deep do you have to bury electrical wire without conduit? ›

Depending on the type of direct burial wire and application, there are various rules to prevent accidents. Underground Feeder (UF) cable must be buried at least 24 inches underground. Meanwhile, PVC conduit only has to be buried 12 inches underground.

How deep does PVC electrical conduit need to be buried? ›

It is one of the most frequently-used electrical conduits. According to the NEC, PVC conduit requires a minimum cover depth of 18 inches for residential installations and 24 inches for non-residential installations. Please note that these guidelines are based on the NEC, which may not apply to your specific location.

How deep does Schedule 40 PVC need to be buried? ›

A service lateral installed in a PVC conduit under the backyard lawn must be buried at least 18 inches (457 mm) deep.

Does a sub panel in a detached garage need a main breaker? ›

The subpanel may be equipped with a main breaker to allow for power interruption without having to go back to the main panel, but it is not required to have a main shutoff circuit breaker, since the feeder breaker back in the main panel serves this function.

What is code for buried electrical wires? ›

Wiring buried inside rigid metal (RMC) or intermediate metal (IMC) conduit must have at least 6 inches of earth cover; wiring in PVC conduit must have at least 18 inches of cover. Backfill surrounding conduit or cables must be smooth granular material without rocks.


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4. Wiring a Shed or Detached Building
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5. How To Wire a Shed for Electricity | Ask This Old House
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