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Old 09-12-2012, 07:39 PM   #1
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Help a Teen out....


Hi everyone, my name is Joe, or Joey if you'd like. I am 18 years old, and have a really good experience in electrical. About 7 years ago, I got a 10x15 shed that I could call my own that sits on our 1 1/2acre property. Love it to pieces, and behind that is a 1 acre piece of woods that have a whole bunch of biking and ATV trails. This and the shed is where my friends and I always hang out.

Well, 4 years ago, I asked my dad about putting electric in the shed, and he said it was a great idea, but he didn't know how to do it, since we have a large patio and gardens surrounding a great part around the house. We did have an electrician come over, and he said he would not be able to do it without destroying half of our gardens and patio. Of course, we had to decline the job, and he said only aerial was possible, although, would be hard due to trees and not enough clearance.

I come home one day from school 2 years ago, to find a power outlet in the shed, that works. To my surprise, my father bought me supplies to wire it all up with power, lights, and outlets so I can finally have power (see pics below). I have great knowledge about electricity, and I follow code the best I can, but if I can't do it safely, I don't do it at all. Well, never did my dad tell me how he ran power until a week after I wired everything. To my surprise, I see an orange extension cord ran out of the wall, and buried through the garden, and folded under the lawn to the shed, where he transitioned to romex and the outlet. This after I saw an orange wire sticking up out of the lawn. I was upset, disapointed, and I knew 100% this wasn't safe. More importantly, I was disappointed at my dad. Since I knew my wiring was safe (checked okay with my outlet tester), I removed the cord, and was without power again. Since then, I have installed a Leviton inlet on the outside of the shed, connected to the interior wiring. Pretty much it is wired like an RV would be.

This has worked wonderfully for the past 2 years, and although I know it's not code, it is safe, and everything is wired safely as possible. I would have run a permanent feed, but as previosly stated, it cannot be done. I plug a 75ft 14ga extension cord into it and plug it into the house's GFCI when I go out there. I have no real big loads, I have 2 50 watt exterior flood lights, and 2 shop lights, a radio, fan, stick vacuum and small TV. Occasionally I will run a small handheld 8a drill at the most, with little to no dimming of lights, and never a voltage drop below 114v. I also have a small 4.5a window A/C, that I run once in a while, taking into consideration what I plug in, and never had problems. The great thing about the Inlet, is due to common power outages in our area, I can plug in my small 2,000w gas generator, throw it behind the shed and have my friends over. All the comforts of a building with power

So, if you survived that entire "beginning", could you help me out with a small installation. I would like to install [2] 50-70w HPS area lights in the back on the trees in my woods, so we can ride bikes and ATV's at night. I would like to bring power from via the shed that has it's own GFCI switched outlet on the exterior (I went GFCI crazy), so I can plug and go, and run off generator if preferred. The big thing is, how and what to run back there. I will have to run the wire through the back trails where it is clear already. The total run is about 250ft-300ft including the main cord powering the shed, but remember, it's only 2 lights. I would love to run power aerial since it would be easy just using UF and a messenger wire, and proper insulators, but I know it is against code to run electrical wiring through trees or have them support them.

If I run 14/2 UF cable (protecting it properly with conduit entering the ground and 12" deep since it is GFCI protected), is it okay to run the cable an mount the area light to a tree? Would you run the conduit into the light, or just up the tree?

Thank you for surviving through this post, and any help is appreciated.
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Last edited by joey59; 09-12-2012 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:31 PM   #2
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You are running all of that off that one 15a outlet? Wow.....

On a postive note....I will give you credit for doing a neat job.....

However...that is where the positive stops....

Romex can not be exposed like that....Wires have to be in conduit or behind walls......

With that said....I really doubt you pulled a permit, or much less need one....and everything is up high so that it can't get damaged.....so....party on dude....

As for your lights.....is it to code? I'm going to say no....are you being safe? Somewhat....at least your using a GFIC....(more than most would do)

At the end of the day, we have 'to code'...and we have 'safe'...is your stuff to code? No...is it safe....looks like it...

At least it sounds like you have your head screwed on straight.....you should do well in life...

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Old 09-12-2012, 08:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post
You are running all of that off that one 15a outlet? Wow.....
LOL....when you add all of it up, I still never peak above 1200w. My average continuous wattage is usually around 800w.

On a postive note....I will give you credit for doing a neat job.....

However...that is where the positive stops....

Romex can not be exposed like that....Wires have to be in conduit or behind walls......
Yes, I knew that when installing it. I would have installed THWN and conduit, but my dad said no because it was too expensive at the time. I had a 100ft+ leftover roll of 14/2 NM cable donated to me from my neighbor who didn't need it from a house remodel. All of the wire is out of the way, and any that is near the floor is stapled on the interior of the wood as seen in the pics.

With that said....I really doubt you pulled a permit, or much less need one....and everything is up high so that it can't get damaged.....so....party on dude....

As for your lights.....is it to code? I'm going to say no....are you being safe? Somewhat....at least your using a GFIC....(more than most would do)
So, should I run the UF, or possibly just plug the lights in when needed. I dread having to use an extension cord to plug each light into, since they would end up getting damaged. I've always hated extension cords, and ever since what my father did, now I hate cords with a passion. Thankfully the one main cord is the only one I have to worry about. I can bury the UF 14"-18" deep if that makes a difference, although, I know 12" is min if GFCI protect. It would all be sleeved above ground as per code, and I would run the conduit up to each light, where the UF would run into the area light. I would do it all THWN and 1/2" conduit, but with all the turns and roots, it would not be a good outcome.

At the end of the day, we have 'to code'...and we have 'safe'...is your stuff to code? No...is it safe....looks like it...

At least it sounds like you have your head screwed on straight.....you should do well in life...
I'll take that as a huge compliment. That's probably the best thing I've heard in my life so far.

Last edited by joey59; 09-12-2012 at 08:58 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:06 PM   #4
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2008 NEC 410.36(G) Trees, Outdoor luminaries and associated equipment shall be permitted to be supported by trees.

300.5 Emerging from Grade, basically states that when you come out of the ground your wire needs to be protected by a raceway(conduit) to a height of 8 feet

225.26 (you know) can't use trees to support overhead cables.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:15 PM   #5
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2008 NEC 410.36(G) Trees, Outdoor luminaries and associated equipment shall be permitted to be supported by trees.

300.5 Emerging from Grade, basically states that when you come out of the ground your wire needs to be protected by a raceway(conduit) to a height of 8 feet

225.26 (you know) can't use trees to support overhead cables.
Wow! Thanks.....looks like I'm pretty up to par with the basic things....If I run the wiring for the lighting, I'll just sleeve the UF the entire way from the bottom trench up to the light. Nothing wrong with extra protection, especially from squirrels.

When I had speaker wire strung through the trees for outdoor speakers, for a party, I was going to just leave it there since I continually wanted outdoor music. I thought it would last a few years before it got damaged, since it was cheap stuff. Didn't last more than a week, before squirrels wanted to run across it and started chewing it. :|

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Old 09-12-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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If you can dig a 12" deep trench from house to shed you could bury 12/3 UF cable and establish a 15 amp MWBC. This will give you effectively 2 14 amp circuits. Use a 2 pole 15 amp GFCI breaker in the house panel. Material will be under $200.

I say use 12/3 to give you some margin for voltage drop.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:38 PM   #7
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Just be careful, from bottom of trench, that the conduit does not pinch the UF wire!

Have fun!
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddawg16 View Post

Romex can not be exposed like that....Wires have to be in conduit or behind walls......
Actually it can be run like that. Romex can expressly be exposed, provided it follows the building structure and is free from physical damage.
The fact that this is a man hut as opposed to a shed makes the physical damage thing debatable.

BTW Joe, I like the fan.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Actually it can be run like that. Romex can expressly be exposed, provided it follows the building structure and is free from physical damage.
The fact that this is a man hut as opposed to a shed makes the physical damage thing debatable.

BTW Joe, I like the fan.
I agree, the NM is perfectly fine the way it is installed...
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
If you can dig a 12" deep trench from house to shed you could bury 12/3 UF cable and establish a 15 amp MWBC. This will give you effectively 2 14 amp circuits. Use a 2 pole 15 amp GFCI breaker in the house panel. Material will be under $200.

I say use 12/3 to give you some margin for voltage drop.
I would so love to run a permanent feed out there. I would if I could. But with a large patio in the way, it is impossible to run underground. Surrounding the patio, is a large, dense garden, and 6" of gravel, which is off limits as far as mother's saying That is exactly what the electrician said also, is that the only way to get power from the house, is to run aerial. But then we have low branched oak trees, and no way to support the wire. The only way would be to remove the patio, which we can't do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
Actually it can be run like that. Romex can expressly be exposed, provided it follows the building structure and is free from physical damage.
The fact that this is a man hut as opposed to a shed makes the physical damage thing debatable.

BTW Joe, I like the fan.
LOL.....thanks!

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