Running electrical line to the coop?


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 27, 2011
Long Valley
I live in North Jersey, and we have some pretty bad winters. I was wondering what I could do for running some electrical to the coop? I want to be able to have a red light in the coop during the winter for heat (and to reduce pecking) as well as possibly installing an automatic coop door. Can anyone help me with info? How deep does the wire need to go?
I'm in upstate NY, Ive had a Heavy blue loooong cord running out to my shed for years now, has held up great, I ran it across my fence and the top of the run and made a hole small enough to put the end of cord thru in the front of the coop and then sprayed alittle foam insulation around the cord and hole, it has worked perfect and I leave it there all year long
North Jersey? East or West...if you live in Bergen County there is a good chance you will have to meet code and have a liscenced electrician (union no doubt) do the work (my grandparents were from Fair Lawn). Out west you could probably do it yourself. My coop is only 30 feet from our power pole and I live in the middle of nowhere MO=regulations? code? HAH! I ran an extension cord up the pole and over to the top of the coop using a twisted metal cable for support. I have an outdoor plug on the pole. If I were burying a least 6 inches deep but I would run it through conduit. You could get someone to run the cable underground for you. They dig, lay, bury in one pass...
Last edited:
I am in Michigan and I hardwired a long 12 gauge cord with a plug on the end to the house. When I need power, like in the winter, I simply plug it into the outside GFCI outlet. this was my way of getting around the code regs. My building/coup sits on blocks so it is not considered permanent and having the long cord like that makes it more like plugging in an outside appliance. I don't think there is much the county code enforcement can say about that. As far as your situation, if you are going to bury the wire I think you will find code says it must be in conduit from the building(s) into the ground, then from point to point underground it does not have to be in conduit but must be approved underground cable. I think the reason for the conduit from the building into the ground is to avoid things like weed whips from cutting into the cable. Your cable needs to be buried more than 6" though. I don't have my code book in front of me (and it is old anyway), but I do believe you have to bury it at least 18", I would consider 24" even better. If I wanted to find this out without asking too many questions I would call the county and get a copy of their pool installation instructions where it should tell you how to bury the electrical for a pool. The same would apply to your coup. Also if you are going to bury the wire make sure you know what services are already going through that area, like other electrical lines, gas, telephone, cable tv. If you cut through one of these it could cost you a lot of money. In Michigan we are suppose to call "Miss DIG" and all applicable services come out and mark where their lines are in your yard. Maybe after reading all of this you no understand why many of us chose not to bury the line. Also, I rather doubt your chickens need the additional heat in the winter. I think many people do it for their own peace of mind, but necessary it is not. Do a little searching here and then make up your mind. there are still reasons to have electric in the coup, like for warmers to keep the water liquid in the winter and lights to see what you are doing when you close up at night.

I hope this helps!
are you going to run it from a power panel? if so you will probably have to get it inspected for code. here in Va a line must be 18 inches underground and run through conduit. the coop i am going to build is going to be just off the back deck so i will be running a heavy extension cord from an outlet only 10 feet away.

I ran 12-2 exterior wire 12" underground in 1" electrical conduit out to the coop from my shop. I also plugged it into the GFCI inside the shop by adding a male plug on the shop end. It is only a 25 foot run.

For a single line such as this, not permanently hardwired into the panel, no permit is needed. In essence you are burying an extension cord. Use real 12-2 wire, as it will be less expensive and more durable than an extension cord of dubious manfacture, and it doesn't tie up one of your good cords forever.
I live in Hunterdon county NJ and will be doing the same thing. I am running direct burial 12-2 line 12 inches below the surface. Main reason is so I dont hit it with a shovel. If you are going to wire it directly into the breaker box then you will have to have a permit, inspection, blah blah blah. 20 Amp breaker. If you have an electric line run to an outlet just tie it in there and screw the permit.
The coop is probably about 100 feet from our house. I have extension cords running that distance now. I like the ability to turn the light on at night. I just wish I didn't have an extension cord sitting in my lawn. I figured if I ran a nice conduit with some good underground wiring in it, then I'd have electrical service up there for the rest of my life. I plan on being in this house for a while and I would love to have access to electrical. On the way up to the coop, I also pass the garden and was thinking I could run a line up one of the posts so that I have lighting in the garden too, when I need to. I could turn it on and work in teh dark some nights if I want.

Not sure what size wire I'll need for that, or anything. Just trying to get some info before I run the conduit / wire in the early fall.
12-2 would be sufficient. Run the wire through the conduit before you bury it. Essentially dig trench, buy some 1" conduit and mason's line (unless you have a 100' fish tape). Start running the mason's line, from one end in a continuous line, through each section as you attach them together. 12' of wire with a hook on one end and a loop tied in the end of the mason's string will make short work of it.

Place a 4x4 post along the way by your garden and attach a waterproof junction box there for your garden electricity (great idea of yours!). Might be easier to pull wire from both ends towards your garden.

The hardest part will be digging the trench. Use two people when pulling the wire, and unroll the wire, don't uncoil it.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom