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How To Install An Electric Outlet or GFCI Outlet In Your Backyard Shed

electrical outlet box

Wiring a new electric outlet is a little different than replacing a existing electric outlet. The wiring is the same but you have the added tasks of installing a outlet box, stripping wires and running the wire to the next box or back to the power panel. This article teaches you how to install a new electric outlet box and wire a new outlet.

brief how to

In this article you will learn how to:

  1. Install The Electric Outlet Box
  2. Remove The Wire Knockout
  3. Pull The Wire Into The Box
  4. Strip The Wire
  5. Bend The Ends Of The Wires
  6. Attach The Wires To The Terminals
  7. Screw The Outlet Into The Box
  8. Attach The Wire To A Power Source
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tools and materials

step 1 Install The Electric Outlet Box On The Shed Wall

Electric outlet boxes are usually installed at 14" above the finished shed floor to the top of the box. Before nailing the box to the stud make sure the face of it is 1/2 inch from the face of the stud. There will be bumps on the side of the box to indicate the proper 1/2 inch depth. Using the nails that are pre installed on the box, nail the box to the stud.

tip: Sometimes you can't nail the box to the stud because another stud or other obstacle is in the way. Use a Grabber screw to simply screw thru the side of the box into the stud. A powered screw gun is ideal for this project.

install electric outlet

step 2 Remove The Wire Knockout

Remove the knockout on the back corner of outlet box that is closest to the stud and on the side that the power is coming from. Pull the wire into the box leaving about 10 inches from the back of the box to the end of the wire. ( you want about 6 inches of wire hanging out of the box)

step 3 Strip The Wires

Strip away the sheathing that encases all the wires either by using a wire stripper or by cutting the surface of the wire, bending away from the cut to fully break the sheathing and then pulling it off the end. Use the wire strippers to strip 1 inch of covering from the ends of the white and black wires with the wire strippers. Wire strippers have a lot of holes on them for different wire sizes. Make sure to use the size hole for the wire you are using)

step 4 Bend The Ends Of The Wires

Bend the end of the wires to make a loop using either the holes in the wire strippers or needle nose pliers.

step 5 Attach The Wires To the Terminals

Make loops at the end of the wires and put the loops over the terminals in the clockwise direction so that they do not un-twist when you tighten the screws on the outlet. Wiring for a backyard shed is the same as for any other electrical outlet. Install the electrical outlet wiring as follows:

Note: If any of the terminals on the outlet only have one terminal and you wish to continue the circuit after the outlet then you will need to connect the incoming and outgoing wires to each other and include an additional 6 inch piece of wire that goes to the terminal on the outlet. These are connected to each other using a wire nut.

step 6 Screw The Outlet Onto The Box

Fold the wires into the box like an accordion so that they lay in the box nicely. Align the outlet screws with the box and attach the outlet to the box. Tighten the screws on the front of the outlet. Now that the electrical outlet wiring is complete attach the cover plate to the outlet.

step 7 Attach The Wire To A Power Source

To attach the other end of the wire to a power source you will either need to run it to a power panel and install a new breaker, see the article Adding A New Circuit to learn how to run power from a circuit box, or another outlet or switch that has constant power.

GFCI OUTLET INSTALL

Wiring A GFCI Outlet

gfci outlet

Wiring a GFCI outlet is alot like wiring a normal outlet. The only difference is how the power continues to the next outlet. It can either be protected by the GFCI outlet or it can be left unprotected.

You will need a GFCI outlet installed if you have exterior outlets on your storage shed. This article will show you how to wire a GFCI outlet to protect only itself or to protect itself and other outlets.

step 1 Turn Off The Power

Make sure the power is off to the outlet by plugging something into it and turning it on before you turn the power off at the breaker panel. You will know that power is off to the outlet when the thing that is plugged in turns off.

step 2 Install Wires To The LINE Side Of The Outlet

gfci back

There are two sets of connection terminals on a GFCI outlet: The LINE and LOAD. The LINE is the power and neutral wires coming into the outlet.

The hot power wires coming into the outlet are color coded and must be attached to their respective screws exactly as follows:

Black Wires: Black wires go to the screw labeled HOT on the LINE side

White Wires: White wires go the the screw labeled WHITE on the LINE side

Green Wires: Green or bare copper wires get attached to the ground with a wire nut

Strip a little less than an inch of the insulation off the end of each wire. Use the needle nose pliers to bend the wire in a loop that is tight enough so it can't slip from under the screw head. Hook the wire loop over the screw on the side of the outlet making sure the wire wraps clockwise around the screw. Tighten the screw.

step 3 Protecting Other Outlets With The GFCI Using The LOAD Side

Other outlets may be GFCI protected by using power from the first GFCI. You will be able to protect all the exterior outlets on your backyard shed using one GFCI. To protect other outlets with the GFCI you will need to run wires from the LOAD terminals on the GFCI to the other outlets.

Attach the wires going out of the box to the LOAD terminals on the GFCI outlet in the following way:

Black Wires: Black wires go to the screw labeled HOT on the LOAD side

White Wires: White wires go the the screw labeled WHITE on the LOAD side

Green Wires: Green or bare copper wires get attached to the ground with a wire nut

step 4 Wiring Outlets Powered After The GFCI That Are Not Protected

To have outlets using the same power as the GFCI but that are not protected by the GFCI they will need to be wired before the GFCI at another place in the wall or they will need to be wired off a pig tail in the GFCI electrical box.

 

How To Wire A Two Gang Outlet

step 1 Disconnect The Electricity

If the power coming into the electric outlet box is on it must be turned off before working around the electric outlet to prevent electric shock.

step 2 Determine If The Power Needs To Go From The 2 Gang Outlet Box To Another Box

If the two gang outlet box is the last outlet in the run then go to step 3.

If the two gang outlet box is in the middle of a run then you will need to add "pig tails" to the wiring of the outlets. Pig tails are installed by using 6" pieces of wire to go from the connection between the wire coming into the electric box and the wires going out of the box. Make sure that you keep the wires that are attached together the same colors. Use a wire nut to attach together the following:

Now you are ready to attach the three pig tails to the first outlet.

step 3 Wire The First Outlet

To attach a wire to the terminals you will strip a little less than an inch of the coating off the wire. Bend the wire in a loop that is tight enough so it can't slip from under the screw head. Hook the wire loop over the screw making sure the end of the wire is on the right hand side of the screw when viewed from the top of the screw head. Tighten the screw.

Attach the wires to the terminals on the first outlet:

The connections will look like this. The black described in the instructions represents the red wire in this photo.

wiring

step 4 Wire The Second Outlet

Attach 5 inch jumper wires from the secondary terminals, bottom terminals, on the first outlet to the top terminals on the second outlet. Make sure to keep the colors of wire attached to the proper terminals; black to brass, white to chrome and green or copper to ground.

step 5 Install The Outlets Into The Two Gang Outlet Box

Use the screws that are attached to the outlets to screw the outlets to the electric box. Install a cover plate and turn the power on to test your new two gang outlets!

SWITCHED OUTLET INSTALL

Wiring a switched outlet or split receptacle outlet is used when you want to control one of the two outlets on a single gang outlet with a light switch. This is useful when using floor lamps in a studio shed or if you have a plug in fan for your shed workshop that you want to be able to control using a switch.

You can control one or both of the outlets on the outlet. If you do one side of the outlet then the other outlet is constantly powered on like a normal electric outlet this is sometimes called a split receptacle.

This article describes how to wire a switched outlet where the power goes from the power source, thru the switch and then goes to the switched outlet.

step 1 Bring The 2 Wire Cable Into The Switch Box

In the switch box you will run the 2 wire cable in from the power source into the box. Leave about 10 inches of cable inside the box and remove about 8 inches of the protective sheathing on the cables.

step 2 Run A 3 Wire Cable From The Switch Box To The Outlet Box

Run a 3 wire cable between the switch box and the outlet box. Leave about 10 inches of cable inside the outlet box and remove about 8 inches of the outer sheathing so you can work with the wires.

step 3 Wire The Switch

In the switch box you will run the 2 wire cable in from the power source and run a 3 wire cable from the switch box to the switched outlet.

Black Wires: Remove 1/2" of the wire insulation from the black wires in the box (both the 2 and 3 wire cables) and a 6" long pig tail. Connect all 3 black wires together with a wire nut. Attach the black pig tail to one of the black terminals on the switch.

White Wires: Take off 1/2" of the wire insulation from the white wires and attach the two white wires together with a wire nut. (switches don't use the neutral, white, wire. So the white wire will essentially pass thru the switch box.)

Red Wire: Remove 1/2" of the wire insulation from the red wire and attach it to the remaining terminal on the switch. (This wire will provide the on or off power to the switched side of the outlet.)

Ground: Attach together the ground wires with a 6" long pig tail. Attach the pig tail to the ground terminal on the switch. (usually a green screw on the metal frame of the switch)

step 4 Wire The Receptacle Outlet

Remove The Brass Tab Between The Common Terminals: For a switched outlet to work you must remove the metal tab on the switch that connects the top receptacle to the bottom receptacle ON THE HOT SIDE OF THE OUTLET ONLY, between the BRASS TERMINALS. You will leave the neutral side of the switch connected so the neutral leg of the circuit will operate on both receptacles. Remove the tab by holding the tab with needle nose pliers and bending it back and forth.

Wire The Receptacle: Attach the wires from the 3 wire cable as follows:

Red Wire: Remove 1/2" of the insulation from the red wire and attach it to one of the brass terminals, the side with the metal tab removed.

Black Wire: Remove 1/2" of the insulation from the end of the black wire and attach the wire to one of the brass terminals.

White Wire: Remove 1/2" of the insulation from the end of the white wire and attach it to the silver terminals on the other side of the outlet

step 5 How To Add More Switched Outlets, (after the first switched outlet)

Many times you may want to add more than one switched outlet on the same circuit, like in a living room where you want all the switches around the room to have the option of having switched outlets to turn on table lamps. If you want to have other outlets switched then you simply run a 3 wire cable from the first outlet box to the next outlet box and attach the wires in each box as follows:

Black Wire: Attach the black wires from both of the 3 wire cables to each other and add a black pig tail to them. Attach the black pigtail to the brass terminal. So now you still have constant power going to the first switch and also going out of the receptacle box to the next switch.

Red Wire: Do the same with the Red wires as you did with the black wires, attach them to each other and add a pig tail that you attach to the first outlet.

White Wire: Attach the white wire to the second chrome terminal on the same side of the switch that you attached the first wire to.

 

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