4 Weekends to the Perfect Outdoor Entertaining Space: Part 3
Posted by: Samuel Hirshfield on June 6, 2015
Fire up the grill and send out the invitations. Your outdoor space is almost ready for summer entertaining with the next installment of our month-long series.
Weekend 3: String up Outdoor Lights
Lighting can help your outdoor space feel like an extension of your home’s interior by creating a cozy ambiance and allowing the space to be used during all hours.
Whether you’d like to hang a lantern or chandelier above your outdoor table or string lights between the beams of your pergola, the place to start is running electrical to your structure.
Always be sure to follow the proper safety guidelines, including pulling permits and having inspections completed per your local building code. Remember that specific steps and materials will vary, depending on the location of your pergola and other building considerations.
For your safety, keep these tips in mind when planning outdoor electrical work.
- Always use a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet, as required by the National Electrical Code. These outlets have an additional safety feature for outdoor use, automatically shutting off when a short circuit is detected.
- It’s important that any outdoor outlets have an in-use, or weatherproof, outlet cover.
- Remember when planning your space that extension cords are not designed for long-term use. For occasional use, be sure to inspect for damage or any signs of wear.
- Only use extension cords, string lights or other electrical materials that are designed for outdoor use.
- Plan and mark out the route you will run electrical from the power source, which will be an interior outlet, to the pergola. Check your local building code, as some interior outlets cannot be tied into, such as those powering large appliances or in certain rooms like the kitchen. Also confirm that adding the new outdoor outlet will not overload the interior outlet’s circuit.
- Dig a trench for your electrical to run. Be sure to check with local utility companies before you dig, take the most direct route and try to avoid trees, roots and other obstacles as much as possible. Any turns in the route should be made at right angles.
- If the route must run under a sidewalk or walkway, use rigid metal conduit beneath the surface. Thin wall or plastic conduit doesn’t have the strength or power to avoid corrosion over time.
- Check for a stamp on the jacket to ensure that your wire is rated for underground use.
If in doubt, always check with a qualified electrician.
Once your lights are strung, you can create an even more polished look with landscaping. Up next: Finishing Touches