How to Quickly and Easily Run Power to Your Backyard Shed Without Digging Up the Yard

Assess Your Power Needs

The first step is to determine how much power you need to run to your shed. Take an inventory of what you plan to use in the shed that requires electricity. This may include lighting, power tools, a mini fridge, stereo, etc. Add up the wattage of these items to determine the amps and voltage you will need. This will help you decide on the right electrical wire size and circuit breaker. I found that a 20-amp, 120-volt circuit was sufficient for my needs.

Choose Above-Ground Wiring Options

Running power underground in conduit requires extensive digging and lawn damage. Luckily, there are several above-ground wiring options that are easy DIY projects to avoid this hassle:

Outdoor-Rated Extension Cord

For sheds within 50 feet of an outlet, an outdoor-rated, heavy duty extension cord can safely deliver power. Look for 10, 12 or 14 gauge cords that are water and UV resistant. I used a 50ft 12/3 gauge extension cord which provides ample power for my needs. Carefully route the cord out of the way of lawn mowers and trimmers to prevent damage.

Outdoor Surface Mount Conduit

For longer runs, you can mount metal or PVC surface conduit on the exterior of your home and run THHN wires through it. Conduit provides protection for the wires. Use weatherproof conduit straps to securely attach it. Then caulk any penetrations into the house to keep moisture out.

Direct burial cable

Direct burial cable like UF-B or Romex can be buried several inches underground in a narrow trench without conduit. This lets you hide the wires while avoiding digging deep trenches. I used a trenching shovel to cut an 8" deep trench running to my shed.

Install a Subpanel

Once you run your wiring to the shed, you will need to install a subpanel to distribute and control the circuits. Mount the outdoor-rated subpanel securely on the interior wall of the shed. Then connect the feeder wires from the house using the correct size circuit breaker in the main house panel. Carefully labeling all the circuits will make wiring easier.

Follow Electrical Codes

Make sure all wiring and equipment follows electrical code for your region. Key guidelines include:

Following the codes help ensure a safe installation free of hazards like shorts, electrocution and fires. Consider having an electrician inspect the finished work.

Stay Safe When Working

Anytime you work with electricity, be sure to:

By planning carefully and following safety procedures, you can quickly and easily run power to your shed without the huge hassle of burying trenches. Let me know if you have any other questions!