summer approaches, homeowners might be giving thought to
outdoor kitchens or barbecue islands and other outdoor
entertaining options. But these amenities sometimes
require power, and you don’t want to be running an
extension cord to the backyard. What can you do to
accommodate outdoor electrical needs for the summer?
say adding a new outdoor outlet is a relatively simple
task. In most cases, they can piggyback off an existing
indoor outlet and simply run another line off the same
power outlets should always contain ground-fault circuit
interrupters (GFCI), which automatically cut off power
in the event of an energy spike — an important safety
feature for any outlet that can be exposed to water. In
addition, outdoor electrical outlets should be equipped
with a rubber-sealed cover that can be closed when the
outlet is not in use.
want it to be both GFCI-protected and weather
resistant," says Brent Yauchler, owner of The
Electrican in Mount Horeb, Wisc. He says if you have
existing outdoor outlets that are more than 10 years
old, you should take a look and make sure the rubber
gasket still gives a good seal when closed.
Sedain, co-owner of Alley Electric in Fremont, Calif.,
says he charges between $350 and $400 to install an
outdoor outlet, with the price rising somewhat if the
existing outlet is an older one without a proper
grounding wire, or if no outlet exists where the
homeowner wants to install an outdoor one. "In
those cases, we need to run a new dedicated
circuit," he says.
charges about $150 to install an outdoor outlet, but the
price goes down if you’re installing more than one
outlet, since the price includes a minimum labor fee.
says he installs summer outdoor outlets for barbecue
islands and outdoor entertainment centers, but he most
frequently installs outdoor outlets in the fall, in
preparation for holiday lighting setups.
SUMMER ELECTRICAL ISSUES
addition to outdoor needs, other specific electrical
problems develop during summer. Sedain says he often
talks to homeowners who run into trouble with portable
air conditioners. Portable A/C units tend to draw quite
a bit of power, so if you run one in the living room on
the same circuit as another electronic device, it runs a
high risk of tripping the circuit breaker —
particularly since living rooms and bedrooms aren’t
equipped with circuits capable of handling as much power
as kitchens and utility rooms.
says the solution for a portable air conditioner is to
keep it on one outlet without any other device, and if
that doesn’t work, you’ll need to run a dedicated
circuit that can handle more power, which will cost
about $300. "However, that dedicated circuit will
be able to accommodate other high-powered devices, such
as running a portable heater in winter," he says.
also advises homeowners to consider whole-house surge
protection in summertime, if they don’t already have
it. This protects against lightning and major electrical
spikes, and gives much more protection than
surge-protection power strips. He charges about $250 to