How to install outdoor wiring

Updated February 21, 2017

Outdoor wiring can be installed using surface mount conduit or by excavating and installing the conduit underground. The wiring can be used to operate pool equipment, accessory electrical sockets and exterior lights. Electrical boxes are included at each location to mount fixtures or outlets. PVC is a cost-effective conduit that's relatively easy to assemble and attach to a building or structure, such as a deck or gazebo. Outdoor wiring can be connected to an existing electrical circuit or to a dedicated circuit in a breaker panel.

Determine the location of an outdoor fixture or pool equipment. Lay out lengths of 3/4-inch PVC conduit from that point to the approximate location of an existing electrical circuit. Assemble the conduit, temporarily using PVC couplers and PVC elbows. Do not cement the connections at this point. Dig a trench if you plan to install the conduit underground.

Turn off the appropriate breaker and install a junction box at the source electrical circuit. Attach a PVC conduit connector to one side of the junction box. Continue to install the conduit to the junction box and attach it to the PVC connector.

Mount a single or double box at the location of the fixture or equipment. Use a conduit connector to attach the end of the conduit to the box. Use PVC primer and cement to make permanent attachments of all PVC couplers and elbows. Use conduit clips to attach the conduit to the building or posts. Omit the clips for underground installation.

Insert the end of a wire pull snake into the conduit at the junction box. Push the snake through the conduit to the exterior box and pull the end out. Use wire strippers to remove 2 inches of the insulation coating from the ends of three lengths of 12-gauge electrical wire. Black-, white- and green-coated wires should be used to identify the wires for connections in the junction box. Insert the ends of the wires into the eye on the end of the pull snake and crimp them over.

Have an assistant help pull the wires through the conduits and into the junction box. Pull enough wire to allow a connection in the junction box and take the ends of the wires off the pull snake. Use wire nuts to connect the black, white and green coated wires to the corresponding colour wires in the junction box.

Put the cover on the junction box. Cut the other end of the bulk wires to length at the exterior box and strip the coating at the ends of each wire. Install a waterproof gasket on the face of the box and connect the wires to a light fixture or receptacle. Secure the fixture or receptacle in the box. Turn the appropriate breaker on to activate the circuit.


Use PVC bends instead of elbows when pulling wires over long runs.


Install a GFI breaker for pool equipment.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/4-inch PVC conduit
  • 3/4-inch PVC couplers
  • PVC elbows
  • Junction box
  • PVC conduit connector
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Conduit clips
  • 12-gauge insulated electrical wire
  • Wire pull snake
  • Wire strippers
  • Wire nuts
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About the Author

William Machin began work in construction at the age of 15, while still in high school. In 35 years, he's gained expertise in all phases of residential construction, retrofit and remodeling. His hobbies include horses, motorcycles, road racing and sport fishing. He studied architecture at Taft Junior College.