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2 Things To Know Before You Wire An Outdoor Outlet

by Ryan Wright

If you want to have outdoor outlets at your home, for whatever reason, then you need to make sure that you have them installed correctly. For one thing, they will be exposed to the elements, and water and electricity don't mix. If water got into an outlet with no way to shut it down at the outlet, it could short out the system and cause a fire. If you are familiar with electrical work and decide that you can do the work on your own, there are things that you need to make sure that you know before you get started so that the outlets and wiring are installed correctly. 

Indoor Wires vs. Outdoor Wires

Underneath the coating, a wire is a wire, only varying in gauge or diameter of the wire. However, when it comes to wiring up an outdoor outlet, there are some differences in outdoor and indoor wiring. If you choose, you can always use a wire designed for the outside in your house, but you should never do it the other way. One big difference is that wiring meant for outdoor outlets generally has more insulation on them. That makes the wires look bulkier and makes them less flexible. They need to have that insulation because they are exposed to the elements. Another thing that can make outdoor wires thicker is that they are often a heavier gauge, meaning that the wire inside the core of the whole thing has a larger diameter. The reason for this is that wires that are designed for use outdoors generally have to be longer, so the heavier gauge keeps you from losing power from the start of the wire to the end. For example, if you are wiring up a series of lights, you want the same power to reach the last light that's 150 feet from your house as the first light that's 5 feet from your house gets. 

Importance of the Right Outlets

You are looking for a GFCI outlet. That's a ground fault circuit interrupt outlet. If it senses water in the circuit, it will break the circuit faster than your circuit breaker will. However, you want to look for more than just a GFCI outlet. You also want to find one that has a cover on it. Some outdoor outlets will be housed in a box. If you want to get into the outlet, you lift the box up to get to the outlet. Others just have covers over each receptacle, and you lift that cover to get to the plug. 

For more information, contact Arts Electric or a similar company.