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How To Install An Electrical Outlet or Switch Box in Your Storage Shed

The simple steps to install electric "Handy Box" for a light switch box or outlet box or light fixture.

how to install electric outlet box

Installing electrical outlet boxes is usually the first step in wiring your shed or basement. Electric outlet boxes hold the outlets, small light fixtures and switches for the lighting.

This article uses the term electrical outlet box and light switch box and handy box interchangeably and will teach you how to install the box, and how to strip and pull the wires into the box and secure the wire to the stud so that you are electrical code compliant and ready to install a light switch, light or electrical outet in your storage shed or basement wiring project.

If you are looking to install an electric outlet read the article How To Install An Electric Outlet.

brief how to

In this article, you will find information about:

  1. Features Of An Electrical Outlet Box Or A Switch Box
  2. Nailing An Outlet Box To A Wall Stud
  3. Pull the wire to the box, knock out the knockout that is closest to the direction that the wire comes from. Use the screw driver remove the knockout
  4. Pull the romex wire into the box and let about 8" hang out the front, 10" from the back of the box.
  5. Electric code requires that the wire be supported within 8" of the outlet box.
  6. Fold the wires into the box so they will be protected while you install the drywall.
  7. After the drywall is installed and the walls are painted you will be ready to install the electric outlet. Read the article How To Install An Electric Outlet.
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tools and materials
  • Hammer
  • Outlet box
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil

step 1 Features Of An Outlet Box Or A Light Switch Box

Outlet boxes have several parts of them that make it easier to use:

Depth marker on side If you look closely at the front of the outlet box on the side that touches the stud there are two bumps that are 1/2 inch long. These bumps are depth markers. When installed outlet boxes need to stick out from the face of the wall studs 1/2", the thickness of drywall. the depth markers make it easy to know that your electrical box is sticking out 1/2in. from the face of the walls studs.

Nails pre installed Handy Boxes always come with two nails on them. The nails make it faster to install the box. You will simply hold the box in the desired install location, check the depth markers and nail the nails in.

Knockouts on back side There are tabs on the back corners that are made to be broken off so the wires can be pulled into the box. You should leave all of them closed except the ones you use to pull wires through.

step 2 Nailing A Outlet Box To A Wall Stud on the Shed

Nailing on a handy box is very simple but there are some important things to do so that the outlet, switch or light is easy to install and looks good after the drywall is installed and painted.

Mark 14" above the floor for outlets on the side of the stud. This keeps all your outlets at the same height.

Mark 48" above the floor for switch boxes.

(if you are remodeling only one area of your house you should match the height of the other outlet or switch boxes).

  1. Line the top of the electrical box up with the mark on the wall stud
  2. Hold the back side of the depth marker against the face of the stud
  3. Nail in the nails on the side of the box

step 3 Pulling Wire Into A Outlet Box

These are the steps to pull wires into a electrical outlet box or light switch box. It looks like a lot of steps but only takes a minute or so. These steps produce a nice neat and clean installation which makes it easier to install the outlet or switch and saves on time.

Measure The Cable Length Before you pull the wire into the box measure 9 to 10 inches from the end of the wire.

Remove The Cable Sheathing The cable sheathing will need to be removed to expose the wires. You only want about 1/2" of cable sheathing inside the handy box. The trick is to get the sheathing removed from the wires without cutting the wire insulation.

Nick, Barely Cut, The Sheathing Use wire cutter/strippers to nick the two sides of the cable on the short sides. Do not cut all the way through, you only need enough to break the surface of the cable sheathing.

Bend The Wire Away From The Nick With a hand on each side of the nicks bend the wire away from one of the nicks on the sheathing until the sheathing splits.

Bend The Wire The Other Direction Flip the cable over, straighten it out and repeat the bending and splitting motion on the other cable sheathing nick.

Pull The Sheathing Off The End Of The Wire After the bending of the cable has split most of the cable sheathing you will be able to pull it apart and remove the 9 or 10 inches of cable sheathing.

Open The Electrical Box Knockout The knockouts cover the holes that let the wires into the box. You should only open the knockouts that you will use and you should use the knockout that is closest to the direction that the wire comes from. Use a screw driver to push open the knockout making sure the knockout is on the side that the cable comes from, above or below.

Pull The Cable Into The Box Hold the three wires together with the black cable on the right side and push them into the knockout until the cable sheathing is 1/2 inch inside the box. Make sure to feed the wires out the front of the box so that they don't get bent. The reason you want the black cable on the right side is because outlets and switches are wired with the black, hot wire, on the right side. This practice keeps the box from having a bunch of twisted wires in it.

You should have about 6in. of wire hanging out the front, this is about 9 inches from the back of the box. Electrical codes say that you can have a minimum of 6in. from the back of the box but that leaves you with too little wire to work with.

Strip The Wires Use wire strippers to remove 1 inch of insulation from the wires. Doing this now will avoid wire ends being dropped on your new carpet when you trim the electrical and install the outlets and switches.

Bend The Wire Ends Make a loop on the end of each wire using needle nose pliers or the hole on the side of the wire strippers. It should look like the end of a candy cane with the end of the wire being bent back to where the wire insulation is removed. This makes the wires ready to be screwed onto the electric outlet or light switch.

Support The Cable Outside The Box Electric code requires that the wire be supported within 8 inches of the electrical oulet box or light switch box using a cable staple when using plastic boxes that do not have cable clamps on them.

electric box cable staple

Fold The Wires Into The Electrical Box Fold the wires in an accordian fashion back and forth from the top to the bottom of the electrical box. this makes them easy to use when you install the switch or outlet and also keeps them out of the way while the drywall is installed. Make sure the black wire is still on the right and the white wire is on the left. Your wires are now ready to install the outlet or switch.

The switches, outlets and light fixtures are installed in the shed workshop or studio shed after painting the shed.

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