With the recent holidays, I’ve decided I no longer want to run the power for my Christmas lights using an extension cord that has to be run under my garage door. Is there an easy way to add an outside outlet?
I’ve been through the same frustration as you have, so I’m happy to tell you that adding an outside outlet usually isn’t a difficult task. If you have to have the outlet in a particular location, it could be more difficult, so being flexible will help you a great deal.
The easiest way to add an exterior outlet is to tap into an interior outlet along an outside wall. In other words, look for outlets along an outside wall in the front of your house and determine if you can find a location that if a plug were located in the same place on the outside, it would be convenient to plug your lights into. Once you’ve found the spot, you can tap into it and install the new exterior outlet. This can be done no matter where the interior outlet is, as long as it isn’t through a foundation wall. NOTE: Also, you don’t want any phone lines, gas lines, air conditioners, etc., to be in the way.
Once you have your interior outlet location chosen, turn off the power to this outlet. Then remove the outlet cover and verify that the power is off. Then drill a hole through the back of the electrical box to the outside. The hole will need to be about 3/8” wide in order to fit the romex wire through the hole.
Using 12 gage romex wire, feed the wire through the hole, giving yourself about one foot outside the hole and one more foot of wire on the inside. If the original wires you see are silver colored, then you have aluminum wiring and you’ll need to add an “anti-oxidant joint compound” to any wires which touch copper wires. For exact wiring information, see previous articles concerning outlets and GFCI’s in past Post Dispatch articles.
If your interior outlet is a GFCI you can install a regular 3-prong outlet on the exterior. But if the interior outlet is not GFCI protected, you will need to install a GFCI outlet of the outside. Attach a weather proof box to the outside of the house, then install your new outlet to the box and wire it accordingly. It is also a good idea to install a “perpetual cover”, which will allow you to keep something plugged in and still have the outlet covered.
You will be amazed at how often you will appreciate having this outlet!