It’s all well and good setting up an outdoor workspace until it comes to giving it power. Many people find that a shed is a great place to work on DIY projects, have a dedicated space for hobbies or simply for storage. However, since these outbuildings are not connected to the mains power of the home, if you want electricity, they need to be wired on a separate circuit which extends from your house.
It might sound like a big job, but the process isn’t overly complicated. It does, however, require a focus on safety – as should always be the case with any electrical installation. If you are in any doubt, bringing in a trained electrician is the best option to ensure safe installation and function.
In this article, we will be exploring what you need to wire a shed and how to go about doing it.
What Do You Intend To Power In The Shed?
The needs of each shed owner will vary wildly – if you’re using it for a simple storage solution, an overhead light may be all that is necessary. In contrast, if you plan to use this as an additional workspace and will spend a lot of time in here, sockets, lighting and power tools may all be things that you need.
In some cases, you may need plugs on the exterior of the shed also, for powering things such as lawnmowers, pond pumps etc.
It may feel a little pointless to work out why you need power in your shed, but in doing so, you are able to figure out how many sockets you need, the type of lighting and other aspects which will allow you to give an electrician more detailed instructions. It may also be a good idea to install a couple of extra sockets – just in case.
What Type Of Lighting Do You Need?
Most people opt for tube lighting in an outbuilding such as a shed. In the main, there are two types of lighting options for your shed – LED or fluorescent. Most modern lights contain LED bulbs as these have many more advantages over the older fluorescent option but some people prefer a more traditional approach, and if this works for you, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use it.
It is, however, essential to remember that LED lights cannot be used with a fluorescent ballast so if you do go for this option, you won’t be able to change your mind down the line.
LED lights can be connected to the mains directly. These types of tube lights offer a much longer life span, brighter illumination and, unlike fluorescent bulbs will now ‘blow.’
If you are going to be spending long periods in your shed, it is advisable to go with the more modern LED lighting solution as this will save you money in the long run since you will not need to replace the light as frequently.
What Do You Need To Wire A Shed?
Before you begin undertaking any work, it is crucial to ensure that you have everything you need – you wouldn’t want to get halfway through the job and have to down tools to run out for supplies. That being said, if you are not a qualified electrician – the safest option is to hire a professional to do the work for you.
It may surprise you to learn that you don’t need as many things as you might initially think when wiring a shed – but it is vital to keep in mind that when installing electrics, quality should be your priority.
You will need the following equipment:
- A liquid tight conduit or armoured cable – we prefer a steel wire armoured cable which will run from the main house to the shed, under the ground.
- Fuse box
- Switches, light fittings, sockets
- Electrical wires
- RCD (residual current device)
Once again, if you are hiring the services of an electrician, they will likely include all of the above equipment in their price.
Things To Consider
Whilst wiring a shed isn’t the most complicated electrical job in the world, there are some things that should be considered before work takes place.
For example, where you will run the cable. Of course, using a steel wired armoured cable under the ground is the most sensible option and this needs to end up at the shed. However, depending on your property, the cable may run in several courses. For the most part, you should be able to run the line directly from your fuse box. However, if the fuse box does not have enough circuits, a new one may be required and this should always be carried out by a qualified electrician. This will, of course, add to the cost of wiring the shed so it is important to budget for this when making your plans.
Additionally, it is a good idea to determine the location of the cable before calling in your electrician and marking this out on the ground. SWA cables are designed to withstand moisture and rot and so can be safely buried under the ground with no risks.
Furthermore, the size of the SWA cable should be taken into consideration. Speaking to your electrician will give you a good idea of the type of cable that you will need but in most cases between 16mm and 25mm will be sufficient. In terms of amperage, your SWA cable should run from an RCD of 20 amps which is more than enough in most cases.
Finding The Right Electrician
It is clear that, unless you are qualified to undertake this type of electrical installation, doing so is not a wise idea. The main reason for this is your own safety – without the proper expertise, electrical work can be extremely dangerous and whilst, in days gone by, many people would go down the DIY route, our modern knowledge shows us that pro is the way to go.
However, it only takes a quick Google search to yield thousands of results to electricians claiming to be the best – but how can you be sure that you are getting someone who fits the bill?
The Risks Of Poorly Fitted Wiring
If electrical circuits are not correctly installed, this could lead to the sockets becoming easily overloaded, which could result in them overheating. This can then lead to an electrical fire or injury.
Furthermore, incorrectly fitted wiring could become frayed or damaged, power surges could result and your appliances could become damaged.
It isn’t difficult to see that the risks range from a broken power tool, which is replaceable to loss of life in an electrical fire – the damage of which can never be undone.
Things To Look For In A Good Electrician
Taking your time to research various options when it comes to choosing your electrician is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your shed is wired correctly. Consider the following points:
- Is the electrician, or company, fully qualified and insured? Do they have the relevant documentation to back this up? You should always check the dates on these documents to ensure that they are entirely up to date and the work is covered.
- Look at the reviews of previous customers – most good electrician websites will have these. Bear in mind that the experience of other people can be crucial when it comes to making the right choice.
- Consider the experience of the electrician and how many jobs of this type they have successfully completed in the past.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – a good electrician will be knowledgeable and happy to put your mind at ease.
There is no doubt that wiring a shed is a job that can be simply undertaken by a qualified electrician, and unless you have the relevant knowledge and skills, you should never go down the DIY route. This is the main thing to consider in terms of safety.
Using an RCD is essential as this eliminates the risk of shock. This device will cut off the power if there is a leakage and can be life-saving.
Adding electricity to a shed may be one of the most handy customisations you can make to this type of outbuilding. It can be especially useful for those who work in their sheds or use it as a place to enjoy a hobby.
However, wiring a shed can be a very dangerous job if the work is undertaken by someone who is not qualified so it is imperative that you employ the services of a trained electrician.
Furthermore, planning is critical and knowing how, why and where are all important in letting your electrician know exactly what you need.
The things you will need for wiring a shed are not as many as you may first think but the most important thing to have is planning, knowledge and a good electrician.
If you are considering adding power and lighting to a shed or other outbuilding, then please get in touch with MJP Electrical who would be happy to offer a competitive quotation.