Welcome to my guide on how to safely wire your backyard tiki bar on a budget! As someone who has wired their own DIY tiki bar, I've learned a lot about how to do it properly and affordably. A tiki bar is such a fun addition to any backyard, but you want to make sure you do the electrical work safely. In this guide, I'll walk you through all the steps I took to wire my tiki bar while staying within my budget.
Planning the Electrical Load
The first step is determining what electrical devices and lights you'll have at your tiki bar. This will allow you to plan the proper electrical load. Here are some common electrical components to account for:
- Tiki bar lights - String lights, lanterns, neon signs etc. Add up their wattages.
- Fans or misters - These will pull more electricity than lights. Check the wattage.
- Speakers or music system - Consider wattage if wired, or battery powered.
- Refrigerator or ice box - Measure the amps or watts on the nameplate.
- Blender or mixer - These can draw a lot of power when in use.
For my tiki bar, I planned on having two strings of 50-watt incandescent bulbs, two 20-watt LED lanterns, a 300-watt stereo system and a small 120-watt mini fridge. After adding it up, my estimated electrical load was 560 watts.
Once you've determined your tiki bar's estimated electrical load, you can properly plan your wiring.
Choosing the Right Gauge Electrical Wire
Selecting the proper gauge electrical wire for your tiki bar is crucial to handle the electrical load safely. The gauge refers to the wire's thickness - a thicker wire can handle more power.
Here are some tips on selecting the right gauge:
- For a load under 600 watts, 14 gauge wire is sufficient. This was ideal for my 560 watt tiki bar.
- For 600-1200 watts, use 12 gauge wire.
- For higher wattage loads, choose 10 gauge or thicker.
In addition to the wire gauge, here are other wire features to look for:
- Outdoor rated - Ensure the wire jacket is UV and water resistant.
- Flexible - Stranded wire is easier to work with than solid core.
- In conduit - Running the wires through a flexible conduit adds protection.
Choosing the proper gauge wire suitable for your tiki bar's electrical load will allow everything to operate safely.
Wiring the Tiki Bar Safely
When running the wiring for your tiki bar, follow these guidelines to do it safely:
- Use a dedicated electrical circuit - Don't overload an existing circuit. Run a new wire from your main panel.
- Include a ground wire - This is crucial for safety and preventing electrical shocks.
- Use GFCI protected receptacles - These outlets will trip if there's a surge or short circuit.
- Mount the wire in conduit - For overhead wires, run them through flexible conduit for durability and protection.
- Follow electrical codes - Check your local regulations on outdoor electrical work. Better to be safe!
I was able to wire my tiki bar very safely by running a new 12/2 cable with ground through conduit from my home's panel. The GFCI protected outlets prevent any electrical hazards.
Saving Money on Materials
Wiring a tiki bar doesn't have to be expensive if you use these money saving techniques:
- Check for discounted supplies at big box hardware stores - I saved 30% on light strings this way!
- Buy wire in bulk rolls rather than smaller spools - The per foot cost is much lower.
- Use salvaged conduit and boxes - Check classified ads or salvage yards for cheap used materials.
- Ask electrician friends for spare wire and parts - You'd be surprised what they have lying around!
- Rent a trencher instead of hiring a contractor to dig - Just a half day rental saved me $200 on the install.
I was able to wire my entire tiki bar for under $120 by buying supplies strategically and doing the manual labor myself. Get creative and you can build your dream bar on a budget!
Installing the electrical system for your backyard tiki bar doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. By planning your electrical loads, choosing the right gauge wire, running the wiring safely through conduit, and buying materials strategically, you can create a fun tiki bar on a budget! Just be sure to check local building codes and consider hiring an electrician if you are ever uncertain. Let me know if you have any other questions about wiring your dream tiki oasis affordably. Happy tropical bar building!