Need guidance on new outdoor outlet

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by TubeGuru, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. TubeGuru

    TubeGuru New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Redmond, WA
    It's time for me to get around to installing an outdoor outlet at the front of the house for seasonal usage: small water pump for the fountain, leaf blower and Christmas lights. I'd like the GFI outlets switched so that the fountain does not have to be plugged/unplugged twice a day. I'd prefer one of those weathertight boxes that cover the line cord while it is plugged in, in case of splashing. I'm looking for guidance on the best way to do this, what materials to use, and of course, code compliance.

    My first thought was to install a box on the decorative brick wall, at the yellow X, since there is an outlet in the living room on the other side. But the wife suggested putting it on the white siding so it is not as obtrusive, and I agree.

    On the other side of the siding is the interior wall of the foyer, and there are no switches or outlets in that area. However, I think I can drill a hole at the bottom of the siding, about 2" up from the concrete at the red X, and it will go into the crawl space (the floors are 8" higher than the concrete). From there I could run 12-3 Remulak (official wire of the Coneheads) to a junction box under the house. The weathertight box would have to be higher up, since the patio gets pressure washed or hosed off occasionally.

    So, how would you do this one? What does the code say about minimum and maximum height, and what would I use to go from the hole in the rim joist/siding to the box? What wire is permitted? Any suggestions for the GFI or weathertight box?

    Thanks,
    Walt

    Outdoor-Outlet-Location-005.jpg
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    It it were my job, I would install the box in the brick so that the front of the box is flush with the brick and only the in-use cover is sticking out. The circuit should originate from the main panel. I would run a 20A branch using 12/2 WG NM cable. How it is wired will depend on where the switch will go in the circuit and how access is through the walls.

    The box and receptacle must be weather resistant, and there must be an in-use cover installed on the box.
  3. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Why would you want to run 12/3?
  4. TubeGuru

    TubeGuru New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Redmond, WA
    No reason other than that I have a spool of it on hand.

    I just got back from looking at in-use covers and boy are they big. A flush-mounted box looks like a given, unless I forgo the in-use concept and use a dual-gang flip-lid cover. I may not have been clear above that I was planning to put the switch and receptacle in the same box.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Much better to install the switch inside...then, you don't have to go out at night to see if you actually shut things off! Or, at least higher up on the wall so you don't have to bend over to check and flip it.
  6. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    It is my understanding that the in-use cover is now required by code.

    I don't think you will find a switch/receptacle combo that is WR rated.

    I would put the switch on the inside and a single-gang box in the wall.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2012
  7. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    I agree, set out a new circuit for this purpose if that is at all practical. The exterior receptacles need to be GFI protected. This can be accomplished with a breaker in the panel, and that will allow some flexibility at the receptacles.

    You could have two solid state timers feed by the line, and each of them switching some receptacles, or each switching half of a receptacle.

    These things are getting pretty sophisticated. You could have one timer for the fountain, and the other for the Christmas lights.

    I am pretty sure that "in use" covers are required in all jurisdictions, but I would not say that for a fact. I know I need them here.

    Certainly cutting a recess into the brickwork to sink a box would be the most professional approach. And it will be a fair bit of work.

    There is a requirement for how high an exterior receptacle must be mounted. Some people are brilliant at surfing the code and finding the references. I am not one of them. I understand that the requirement is 12" minimum. I have never had a problem with that.
  8. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    Unless the code provision has changed fairly recently, at least one receptacle outlet not higher than 6 1/2 feet above grade is required
    at both front and rear of a dwelling unit. There is no minimum height that I am aware of. I have seen receps installed below grade, in a
    window well, no problem.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    You don't want to have it sitting below the snow level, but not sure if that's an issue in Redmond.
  10. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    That is for new construction. There is no requirement that older residences be retrofitted to that standard.

    And I have installed several receptacles right up by the eaves on timers specifically for xmas lights. Keeps the cords from stringing all over the place.
  11. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Since when are updated codes STRICTLY for new construction...?
  12. Homeownerinburb

    Homeownerinburb New Member

    Messages:
    525
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA USA
    In this case the update of the code does not force anyone to change existing installations.

    Tubeguru could chose to put in an outlet at the front of the house, pull a permit and get an inspection, and he will not need to install one in the back.

    Look for discussions of three wire installations of circuits for electric stoves and dryers. Until the mid '90's is was standard and practice to use the same conductor as the ground and the neutral. There is a small current returning down that line, the power for the stove light and the clock, I suppose. The heating elements are 240v.

    One can buy a new stove and install it with a three wire cordset if the existing arrangement is three wire. But current construction requires a four wire arrangement with the ground and neutral separate and not bonded at the stove. If you were to remodel the kitchen and move the outlet for the stove, you would be expected to replace it with a four wire arrangement.

    Classic grandfathering.

    For that matter, if your home has no GFIs in it, the fact that the code has required them for decades in new construction and remodeling does not mean that you are forced to go out and buy some today. Even if a receptacle failed and you wanted to replace it, you could use a conventional receptacle. Assume that your home required six to be compliant. YOu could install one, and there would be no need to install the other five.

    Requirements for grounding have evolved. If a residence has a panel that was installed in 1940 it almost certainly does not have grounding that matches today's code. Nothing would be expected of the homeowner until he replaces the service panel. Then the inspector would insist on a compliant grounding system.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades

    Messages:
    3,812
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    "Why would you want to run 12/3?"

    Then it would be electric car ready ?

    Put a lock box so people do not steal your electricity, or put the switch inside.
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