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Do I Need a Permit to Wire a Shed?

Now that you have build your shed, your wanting to have some lights and a couple of plug outlets for having power when your working in the shed when its dark.

Unless you live in a very rural area with no zoning or building restrictions, you probably will need a permit to run electricity to a shed. Running electricity to another building almost always requires a permit. While certain smaller size sheds may not need a permit to build, they probably need one to be electrified.

Do I Need a Permit to Wire a Shed?

Since running electricity to another building requires locating it underground, you may need both a building and electrical permit. As building codes and permit rules vary from one locality to another, be sure to check with your zoning or building authority before you start. You may be fined if you do not. Your building authority can tell you what documentation to have for permit approval.

You should have the plans for your proposed shed wiring in hand when you contact your building authority. They will want to see just what you plan to do and may have you submit copies of your plans when applying for a permit.

A diagram of your property indicating the placement of the shed and house will help also. The more prepared you are when you apply for a permit, the more time you’ll save. It’s also a good time to get information on electrical codes and what is required by the building authority.

Do I Need an Electrician to Wire a Shed?

Running the actual supply cable from your house is best done by an underground conduit. This job is quite an undertaking and involves electrical boxes at both ends. Usually, an 18-inch deep trench is dug for the conduit to carry the wiring through rigid metal conduit to the shed. You’ll need your underground utilities marked before this is begun.

A breaker box will be needed inside the shed and probably a shutoff breaker at the connection to the house. This will enable you to shut off power to the shed quickly in case of fire. This shutoff can be located on the outside of the shed, but in case of fire it may not be accessible.

Whatever method is used to get the power to the shed, this part should be done by an electrician. In addition, some building codes will require this. Remember, your new electrical system will need to be inspected by your building authority before it can be put into use to make sure it conforms to code.

Can I Wire My Shed Myself?

You can probably wire the shed yourself if you have electrical experience, but again, you will need to make sure your wiring job will conform to local building codes. Building authorities are sticklers when it comes to electrical work especially.

Not only is it easy for faulty wiring to start a fire, but any shed wiring problems could also cause problems inside your home. You will need to have an inspector come out and look at your handiwork before you can throw the switch.

He will not just give you a pass or fail notice but will list any deficiencies and corrections that need to be made. Rather than an annoyance, this is actually a useful inspection that will inform you of things you may not have noticed. After you have corrected all the listed problems, you will need another inspection and approval before activating the system.

What Size Cable do I Need to Run Power to My Shed?

First of all, determine the amount of power you will need. This will determine the voltage and how many amps you need. Your best bet is to put your shed on a dedicated circuit to keep it from draining power from household appliances.

Most sheds only need 120 volts for lighting and a couple of outlets, but if you plan to use power-hungry equipment such as a welder or window air conditioner you may need 240 volts.

You can use a 14 AWG wire if the shed is within 20 feet of your house, between 12 and 14 AWG if the shed is 20 to 50 feet away, etc. Your electrical supplier can assist you with finding what you need.

How Many Amps do I Need for My Shed?

A typical shed features lighting and a couple of outlets, which will only require around 15 amps to operate the lights and a power tool such as a table saw. If you plan to add a security light to the outside, you may need more.

Add up the amperage requirements of the tools you presently own as well as the lighting and number of outlets you plan to install. It’s better to plan for at least a few amps more than you think you will need just in case you get close to the limit.

That will eliminate the annoying possibility of tripping a breaker in the middle of a saw cut. Also, most people gradually add to their power tool collections as the years go on. Planning for more amps than you need at present will take care of the future purchase of more heavy-duty tools.

If you think you’ll need a 240-volt system, a 50 or 60 amp breaker may be required. This depends on what kinds of tools or other items you plan to run, especially at the same time. Again, your electrical supply store can help you figure out what you’ll need.

Another source of information would be the electrician who installs the main power cable. He’ll be glad to give you advice on what kind of breaker system to use for your planned usage.

A 50 or 60 amp breaker can handle a window air conditioner or electric heater besides your tools and lighting for those who plan to spend a lot of time in their sheds, such as using it as a workshop for long-term projects.

For an air conditioner or heater, you may want to consider installing two separate breakers off the main breaker. This will enable you to put the air system on one and the rest on the other so they don’t affect each other. If your looking for only lighting for your shed check out my article Top 5 Best Outdoor Shed Lighting Ideas and Solutions.


Having electricity in your shed brings a whole new possibility of uses for the space. If you’re planning on adding a shed to your yard, consider adding electricity to the building plans. If you already have your shed, adding electricity can only make it that much more useful. You’ll be glad you did anytime you have to check on something after dark and can light the whole interior rather than relying on the narrow beam of a flashlight. If you need more information on permits check out my article What’s the Maximum Shed Size Without Permit?

Recommended Resources

In this area I will go over the best resources that I have found that you will find very helpful:

Here are my favorite eBooks for beginners as well as those of you who have a lot more experience with home projects.

I know how disappointing it can be to finally find some plans online only to find out after that theirs a lot of essential information missing making these resources useless and a waste of your time!

First is “Ryan’s Shed Plans”… Provides 1,000’s of shed plans, so there’s something for everyone with detailed cross sections and very easy to follow instructions. What I really like is the material and cutting lists which means you know how much material to get.

And if you act soon, you can also get some free books: Advanced Woodworking Tips, List of suppliers to get your materials even cheaper and for you woodworking types you also get 400 free wooding plans. Definitely worth every penny… Check it out here and get your free 8×12 plan just for looking.

Second is “Ted’s Woodworking” … You get thousands of woodworking plans and they come with step-by-step instructions, material and cutting lists, very detailed plans, something for beginners as well as the professional woodworker.

You’ll also get woodworking guides and a detailed book on how to start a woodworking business and how to sell your woodworking projects for profit. See for yourself all the projects you can do and start making impressive pieces right away. Check it out here.

Third is the “Ultimate Small Shop” … This guide walks you thru everything you need to get a small workshop set-up on a budget. Goes into detail what you need to set-up, organizing your space and laying out your work areas, tools list, safety and so much more. Covers everything you need to have a complete shop.

You also get some Free bonus: The workshop cheat list, shows you where to get cheap supplies and tools. You also get a lifetime subscription to the deal alert service and so much more, see it for yourself here.