Installing new outdoor receptacles

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Old 12-15-07, 02:27 PM
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Installing new outdoor receptacles

Hello all,
My house currently does not have any receptacles in the front or side of the house (where I most often need them), only in the backyard. I wanted to double check my installation plan, before going ahead with it.

I want one receptacle on the side of the house, on the other side of the wall from the panel, basically directly under the electrical meter. First, is that OK or should I move it a few feet to one side or the other so it is not directly under the meter? I thought I could just poke out a hole in the brick into the back of a box with the receptacle on the front of the box. Then use PVC conduit out the side of the box, around the side of the house to the front, and put another receptacle there. I then might route back into the crawl space where I would add a last receptacle.

Can I go into the back of box, or what is the preferred method of routing from inside to outside? I'm assume I should use UF cable inside the RNC conduit since it will be outside. I may also use this circuit in the future to power some outdoor lights I would like to add in the future. Since I have to add a new breaker for this circuit, I will probably use a 20 amp GFCI breaker to protect the whole circuit, instead of GFCI receptacles as each point.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan? Any particular watch outs?

Thanks,
Guy
 
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Old 12-15-07, 02:38 PM
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Do not use PVC conduit. Use metal conduit. Use individual conductors (THWN) inside the conduit. Better yet, keep the wires inside the house and simply put the receptacles where you need them.

Yes, you can enter surface mount receptacle boxes from the rear. Use appropriate connectors and seal around the boxes properly.

I suggest that you use GFCI receptacles at each location. If you get a trip with a breaker or with a GFCI receptacle protecting the entire circuit, you have no idea where the problem is. With GFCI receptacles at each location, you know right where the problem is.
 
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Old 12-15-07, 03:21 PM
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Thanks for the response. Can you help me understand the advantages of the individual wires in metal conduit? Also, the reason I was thinking a GFCI breaker was that if I added outdoor lighting or something else to the circuit in the future it would already be covered...though I guess that is probably not important.

Thanks,
Guy
 
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Old 12-16-07, 08:08 PM
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If you add outdoor lighting you could just add it to the load terminals of one of the GFCIs and it would still be covered. Then if that one trips you know it's either caused by what's plugged into the receptacle or the lighting. That's a lot better than having no clue as to where you need to look.

Also, using a single GFCI breaker will in effect make it ultra sensitive. Say on a wet day your front yard christmas lights have a leakage current of 3mA, and the side yard lights 2mA. On separate GFCI receptacles these would not trip. But your single breaker setup would, and you'd be pulling your hair out trying to get things working.
 

Last edited by core; 12-16-07 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 12-16-07, 09:15 PM
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Fair point...I will probably do just that. Now, here's one more question: do outdoor lights need to be GFCI protected? (I image so if I plan to run anything by direct burial) I may run a three wire circuit and use one leg as switched and the other not. I may run the switch legged to hardwired lights (not plug in).

So that brings me to my other question of why to use individual wires in metal conduit. Is the reason for individual wires because of conduit fill...leaving room for future use? Also, why is metal better? Seems like PVC is cheaper and easier to install.

Also, if I run individual wires through conduit to a box, then splice to UF cable for direct burial (say for some lights), how far into the ground does the conduit go? Just to 12"? Then do I just end the conduit or is there a preferred method for sealing it?

Thanks,
Guy
 
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Old 12-16-07, 09:31 PM
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Outdoor lights do not have to be GFCI protected. You don't have to GFCI protect direct burial cable either, but you might want to anyway since it reduces the required burial depth from 24 inches to 12 inches.

You mention a 3-wire circuit. I'm going to guess you mean a multiwire circuit. If so, these circuits and GFCI don't get along very well and often require an expensive double-pole GFCI breaker. If you need two GFCI-protected circuits, it's almost always better to run two separate circuits instead.

Or maybe by 3-wire circuit, you just mean one regular circuit with a switched and an unswitched wire. If so, go through the GFCI before the switch.

There's no need to seal conduit. Just run it to the bottom of the trench (12" if GFCI protected and 24" if not).

I leave your metal conduit questions for Bob. As far as I'm concerned, PVC conduit would be fine.
 
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Old 12-17-07, 05:40 AM
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PVC is fine if protected from damage. I have concerns about PVC along the side of a brick house. Once it gets damaged, you have to pull the wires out and replace the damaged section.
 
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Old 12-19-07, 08:49 PM
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If you are going to use PVC exposed on the outside of the house (and there is no reason not to), use Schedule 80 conduit.
It has a much thicker wall and will stand up to more abuse.
This is standard operating procedure down here.
You might want to consider an expansion joint in the run due to the climate that you live in.
 
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Old 12-19-07, 10:30 PM
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.

A few years back, my son was given an above ground swimming pool. Due to liability reasons, the install had to meet or be above my local electrical building code. Especially its electrical install - for its pumping system.

Before doing the electrical install at your house, may I suggest you call your local building inspector. Ask him/her what materials, methods and measurements (from other objects) must be used. For a mini-project like this, its well worth proactively calling your local building inspector. Or, ask a few local electrical contractors to provide you an install (how and cost) estimate. Then, you decide which install method must be used - for your specific region.

For my son's swimming pool, they used "under ground" 12/2 wire inside PVC "glued joint" conduits. Yes, double protection. The U wiring went to 20A breaker. The trench was deeper then 28" - even though 18" was minimum code. The pump's electrical box was also PVC material, it contained a GFCI outlet and its had a clear lens weather cover. For example: http://www.sportys.com/shoptool/images/1350l.jpg

If installing outlets for lights or general usage outlets (like the rear and side outlets that I installed at my house), may I suggest installing a normal light switch inside your home. If needed, you can turn your external outlets off. Or, leave them off when the outlets are NOT being used (like I do). Switched circuits are also great for those rainy days - when you don't want to stand in mud and pull a live cord out of the direct wired outlet.

If it were me, I'd install a single GFCI outlet at every outdoor outlet. Once bought and installed, they are good for the life of your house (in theory). And if an outlet stops working, you don't have to run around the house looking for the wire's master GFCI outlet. Simply reach down and check the reset button on that specific GFCI outlet (or the breaker, or the circuits indoor switch).

Hope this helps as well...

.
 
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Old 12-21-07, 12:53 PM
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Great...thanks. Lastly, 12/2 (maybe 12/3) cable or individual wires inside the conduit?

Thanks,
Guy
 
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Old 12-21-07, 02:19 PM
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YES. For 1/2" PVC piping, 12/2 wire on 20A breaker will work fine. 12/3 is used for 3-way switches or split circuits (like at one's kitchen counter top outlets). For a normal outdoor outlet (20A outlet or normal 15A outlet on 12/2 wire) one can use "U = under ground" 12/2 wire. Especially if distance is longer then 80 ft. For best results, use a GFCI outlet in a PVC Plastic box, with a clear lens plastic cover. Works great for my son's above ground pool and its pumping system.

.
 
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