Any Electricians ?


10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
White plains
In wanting to make my life easier, I want to put electricity in my coop. I want the line from house to coop underground. Safety is very important to me. I would like to save money by running the wire myself and having a electrician make the hook ups. What kind of wire for underground should be used? How deep, I am in Ny where ground freezes? Should wire be in some kind of pipe for protection? Thanks
There are a number of options. I prefer to always put wiring in conduit, as we have lots of shale rock in our ground and a lot of clay that makes our ground very hydraulic here in Western PA.

There is direct burial cable, too.

I'd suggest you take a trip to your local Lowes/Home Depot/whatever and talk to the electrical guy. Often they are older, retired electricians. If they are young and don't sound like they know what they are talking about, don't listen to them ;)

We are about to run both electricity and water to our coop(s). We are going to put a switched pedestal next to our building (garage) with GFCI and the underground wire in a conduit that will run to this switch.

This way, you'll be GFCI protected, can turn off power to the coops at any time with this outside switch, and even add an outdoor receptacle at the pedestal for outdoor needs.

Codes are funny around here. I remember one time an inspector complained because I put 'direct burial' cable in a conduit!

Another interesting note: Around here, if the electrical line isn't 'permanent' (ie you can unplug it), you do not need an inspection as it is considered a big extension cord. You should ask a local electrician/inspector before doing any of this work, though.

We're looking just to run small light, maybe a water heating circuit (to keep the waterers from freezing, NOT a water heater ;) ), and maybe an outdoor motion detector light to chase away predators. Nothing big.

The distance you want to run this line also makes a difference in the size of wire you need. Longer runs need larger wire.

Hope this helps.

- JC
Well you aren't going to like this, but you did ask. First, check your local building codes. You may not be allowed to do anything but dig the trench yourself. There is wire designed specifically for burial. What gauge depends on your power needs. The frost line in White Plains is 3-6'. (Yes, feet.) Unless you're planning on putting it in metal conduit you'll want it at least 3' deep. PVC conduit (The grey kind is approved for electrical wire, and is the other choice. (Depending on electrical code. You may not have a choice.) For direct bury wire I'd want the full 6' minimum for safety.

More hints; Remember, this wire is going to be in the ground long after you're gone. Because of this I recommend three things:
  1. As you're closing the trench, about 6" below grade lay down direct burial warning tape full length of the trench. That way, in the future anyone digging or trenching will be warned before they cut into it.
  2. Keep careful records including a map as to where it is. Leave the map near the fuse box so that others can find it.
  3. Install a separate switch so that the power can be cut off in an emergency. Permanently mark it as such. Do not trust the fuse box for this purpose.

OldGuy43's partial resume:
A degree in electrical engineering, and I worked in the outdoor line trades for over 10 years. I learned all of the above from hard and sometimes life-threatening experience.

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