How to Run Power to a Shed

Updated February 21, 2017

Adding electrical service to a shed improves the usability and function of the building. Obviously, electric power facilitates lighting and the operation of power tools. The basic electrical service for a shed includes a single circuit operating without a sub-panel or separate breaker box in the shed. It utilises the breaker box of the home and can power a limited number of lights and outlets. Connecting the wire to the breaker box often is contracted to a licensed electrician, although running the wire and attaching outlet and fixture boxes can be done by most do-it-yourselfers.

Dig an 18-inch deep trench from the house to the shed. Place about 2 inches of loose sand in the bottom of the trench before placing a cable rated for underground duty in the trench. Allow enough extra cable at each end of the trench to reach the first planned fixture or outlet box before filling in the trench.

Run the cable up the side of the house foundation to the sill or wood portion of the home above the concrete foundation. Drill a hole through the sill and feed the cable through it. In the basement of the home, run the cable to the breaker box.

Run the cable up the side of the shed to a point above the floor of the shed. Drill a hole in the shed wall and thread the cable through the hole. Run the cable to the first intended outlet box within the shed.

Run a separate cable from that box to the next intended box. Continue adding boxes for all planned outlets or light fixtures.

Connect the wires to outlet receptacles or light fixtures at each of the boxes within the shed.

Connect the cable to the breaker box. This is commonly done by a licensed electrician.


Renting a power trencher makes the digging part of the process quicker and more efficient. Use a horizontal boring machine to extend the cable under sidewalks or driveways. Both are available from rental retail outlets.


Check local building codes concerning buried cables. Some locales require building permits for constructing a shed. Check for previous buried cables or pipes before planning the location of the buried cable.

Things You'll Need

  • Trencher
  • 3-wire underground rated cable
  • Power drill with 1/2-inch bit
  • Fixture boxes
  • Outlet receptacles
  • Light fixtures
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About the Author

Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.