HELP! Running Electric to the Coop

Iowa Roo Mom

Resistance Is Futile
11 Years
Apr 30, 2009
Keokuk County
Ok, so because some idiot (and we won't mention names)


decided to place the coop precaruiously in the back 40, there is not an extension cord in this world long enough to reach it. I haven't measured to be sure, but I'd say it's easily 150'-200' from the nearest electrical outlet which would be the garage. I'm looking into running electricity to the coop. I know I'll need conduit, the flexible kind. But what kind of wire do I need? I'd mostly be running a fan in the summer and a heated poultry waterer in the winter, so I'd have one, maybe two outlets. And what will it entail on the garage end? Will I need an entire fuse box for the coop? I'm not very smart when it comes to that stuff- but if I do all the "hard" manual labor (i.e. dig the trench and install the conduit) I can get DF to come over and do the actual wiring I think. And how deep should I bury the conduit? Any and all suggestions/help will be welcome.

Jan 23, 2010
Mountains of NC
I'd say you need advice from an electrician. When we built our barn we ran 100 amp. underground service line wire. It was made of three different heavy wires (a hot, neutral, and ground) that were twisted together. DH rented a ditch witch and dug a 3' trench. An electrician did all of the connections and we did have to have an electrical box.


13 Years
Nov 9, 2008
Central Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
I wrestled with the same issues. I finally hired an electrician who was happy to coach me through trenching and running the wire myself. Even with the cost of renting a trencher for a few hours, I saved a bundle over what it would have otherwise cost.


12 Years
May 10, 2010
I did something similiar to run electrical in my backyard a few years back. I used the grey PVC type conduit and tied it into a 15 amp circuit in the garage that had only a few lights on it. one thing you may have to do is run a heavier gauge wire than what a nomal ciruit requires because of the extra distances you have to run this. the PVC plastic conduit is pretty easy to run so maybe you can dig the trench and lay the main conduit and get someone to connect to the outlest. I would make sure it has a GFI plug on the first outlet.

Salt Water Farmer

10 Years
May 18, 2009

I'm an electrician, so I guess I have to try and answer your question. If all you plan to run in your coop is lighting, then a 15-amp circuit is fine. If you plan to run a heater then you might consider a 20-amp circuit. The wire size is what dictates the ampacity of the circuit. # 14 wire for a 15-amp circuit and #12 wire for a 20-amp circuit. You need to run what is called UF cable if it is to go underground. It is designed for direct burial, but you are correct, it should be run in conduit for its own protection. By Code it should be buried 18" down if it is run in conduit and 36" down if it is run without conduit. Use the gray PVC rigid Schedual 40 electrical conduit to run it in and use proper electrical fittings for sweeps and connections (not plumbing fittings, they turn too tightly). Anyone working in the Electrical Dept in H.D. or the like, should be able to help you. 3/4" conduit will allow you to snake the wire through easily. (You will die of old age before you are ever able to push the wire through the conduit, use a wire snake to pull it in with!) Snake 10 feet at a time and then glue the sections together, then throw the whole thing into the pre-dug ditch and bury it. (PS. As you are not a licensed Electrician, you can do whatever you like on your own property - you can bury it down any depth you feel comfortable with. Unless you intend to have it inspected by your local Inspector, then you must follow the Code or it will not pass.)

OK, Now about feeding your circuit. Even though I said the wire size dictated the ampacity of your circuit, that isn't the entire truth. It is the protection device (fuse or circuit breaker) that actually does the work, I just wanted to be sure you selected the right size wire. (By the way, at 200 feet, if you plan to operate anything with a motor in it, I would advise using #12 UF cable, because the voltage drop from using smaller (#14) wire over that distance can cause motors problems over time. (Lights will be fine.) The cable you want is called 14/2 w/gnd UF or 12/2 w/gnd UF. That means you have two insulated conductors and one non-insulated conductor in a direct burial cable that is also UV resistant. If you are not familiar with electrical work I'm afraid you should hire an Electrician to make your connections on both ends. If you are determined to DIY, then invest in a DIY electrical book available at H.D. or any other such store and read it until you understand the basics. Doing it incorrectly can lead to electrical problems, shocks and possibly even death. Your coop could be fed by simply installing a plug on the end of your wire and plugging it into a GFI protected receptacle. An Electrician would most likely connect it directly to a circuit breaker in an electrical panel. For safety the circuit should be GFI protected.

I don't come on here very often, but if you have any questions you think I could help you with, please send me a PM.

Good luck.
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Chicken Chat

12 Years
Jul 19, 2009
Southern Illinois
This post has been very informative as I am planning on wiring 3 coops before winter.


9 Years
Feb 11, 2010
Long Island, NY
I'd like to add to Saltwater's comments

I would run #10, which is rated for 30 amps, but put it on a 20 amp breaker. And I'd tie it into a breaker that was not only GFCI, but also Arc-fault rated. The Arc fault breakers are the latest requirements for bedrooms, but due to the highly flamable nature of wood shavings (and wood dust), I would want the extra protection. On the coop end, I'd put a sub-panel. You are going to want more than a light. you might want a heat lamp. You might want one of those heat things to keep the water liquid. You might want an outside light. You certainly want an outlet (inside and outside). Maybe even a fan in the summer

If you have trouble putting the wire in the conduit while cementing it together, afterwards you can take a string, tie a napkin to it and suck it through the conduit with a vacuum, then use that to pull the wire, while someone else pushes from the other end. if it really gets too tough, you can get "soap" available in the electrical aisle of lowes, to help.

If you need to make turns, you can heat the conduit up and it gets flexible - I use a propane torch for that. Or you can buy 45 and 90 degree angles.

It's always better to have more power available, then to wish you did.

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Sep 7, 2019
If you have trouble putting the wire in the conduit while cementing it together, afterwards you can take a string, tie a napkin to it and suck it through the conduit with a vacuum, then use that to pull the wire, while someone else pushes from the other

I just wanted to add on to this. My husband and I used a vaccum with fishing line and a bobber. With this method and it worked great as well.

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