How to Install Electrical for an Outdoor Kitchen

What You'll Need
Rigid Conduit Hacksaw Pipe Bender Fish Tape Shovel or Spade Drill Pipe Wrench Wire Stripping Tools Permit (if required)

Electricity is important if you plan on equipping your outdoor kitchen with small appliances or light fixtures. While electrical work can seem daunting at first, you can provide power to an outdoor space with a little bit of time and effort. Here are a few steps on how to install electrical for an outdoor kitchen.

Step 1 - Check the Circuit Board

Outdoor outlets are required to have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. This includes GCFI outlets and a GCFI circuit breaker. These types of receptacles help protect people from electric shock in high moisture areas and are critical in preventing fires. You will need GFCI protection if your outdoor circuit does not have a GCFI breaker or if you are installing a new breaker.

Step 2 - Planning a Route

Depending on the situation, you will need to dig a trench to lay the conduit. Start by selecting the best place to run power from inside the house. This might be an electrical box, a ceiling box, or even the main panel. Once you locate the power source, figure out a plan for laying the wire from the outside of the house to the trench. The National Electric Code (NEC) dictates that you can only make 360 degrees-worth of bends in the conduit. For example, if you make two bends of 90 degrees from the house to the ground, then you only have 180 degrees of bend left.

Step 3 - Measure Wire and Start Digging

With the best route planned out, measure the distance from the power source to the end outlet to determine your wire length. Then, drill a hole through the side of the house or wherever the line will exit. If you don’t run into any problems then you can start digging the trench. You can elect to use underground feeder cable instead of rigid metal conduit but your trench will need to be a depth of 12 inches instead of 6. It’s always a good idea – and sometimes the law – to contact your local utilities before digging.

Step 4 - Mounting Fittings

The conduit will run from the ground into an LB fitting on the side of house. You will then run electrical metallic tubing (EMT) from the fitting to the power source. You will need to drill a 1 inch hole for the fitting in the side of the house. After the LB fitting is attached to the siding, install a conduit connector and an electrical box for the EMT. The box is where you will connect the old house writing to the outdoor wiring.

Step 5 - Running Conduit

The rigid metal conduit features threaded ends that will attach to the LB fitting on the side of the house. With that in place, follow your conduit plan and start bending the piping. Temporarily put everything together above ground to make sure it all fits. If everything matches up, tighten the conduit pieces together above ground for easier access. You will likely need to cut the final piece of conduit to make a perfect match to the LB fitting. With the conduit in place, secure it to the house with screws.

Step 6 - Pulling Wires

With the conduit and fittings properly installed, it is time to start running the wire. Take off the LB covers and place your fish tape through the opening. Using the fish tape, pull the appropriate wire through the conduit. You need at least two different wires or more, depending on the needs. THWN-2 14 gauge wire should be used for 15 amp circuits and 12 gauge for 20 amp circuits.

Step 7 - Wiring Receptacles

With the main power now accessible from the house, you can start wiring your outdoor receptacles. Remember, you will need to use GFCI receptacles for outdoor use that feature a protective cover to keep moisture out. The cover should off protection even when things are plugged in.