How to Install an Electrical Outlet in an Outdoor Kitchen in 7 Steps

Power up your outdoor kitchen

Deane Biermeier
Written by Deane Biermeier
Updated April 12, 2022
backyard patio with grill
Photo: hikesterson / iStock / Getty Images
Difficulty

Expert

Don't DIY if you don't know what you're doing.

Time to complete

6 hours

4–6 hours

Cost

$125–$175

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Shovel
  • Power drill with bits
  • Wire stripper pliers
  • Cable ripper tool
  • Utility knife
  • PVC tubing cutter
  • Multi-bit electrical screwdriver
  • Multimeter
  • GFCI receptacle tester

SUPPLIES

  • Electrical tape
  • GFCI outlet
  • Outdoor electrical box with cover
  • Type UF electrical cable
  • PVC conduit
  • PVC conduit fittings
  • PVC cement
  • Electrical breaker panel switch

More than just a space for a grill and a picnic table, an outdoor kitchen has all the amenities you need to feed and entertain right in your backyard. For that reason, it needs a dedicated electrical circuit and outlets to meet complex cooking needs. 

Installing an electrical outlet in your outdoor kitchen is best left to a local electrician. However, if you possess high-level DIY skills and have education in electrical installation safety, this project can be a fun challenge. Otherwise, knowing the steps involved will help when talking to the pros.

Prepping to Install Electrical Outlets in an Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen will elevate your space and take entertaining to the next level. But you’ll want to consider the following two factors before deciding whether or not you can handle this project yourself or if you should hire a pro.

Electrical Safety

Working with electricity and electrical circuits is dangerous. Faulty or incorrectly wired circuits can and do cause home fires. Electrical shocks kill an average of 411 people each year, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Please reconsider doing this project yourself unless you have knowledge and education about staying safe while working with electricity. 

Electrical Permit

Building an outdoor kitchen requires building, electrical, and plumbing permits. Hired electricians are responsible for obtaining the one they need and scheduling the subsequent inspections. If you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll need to get one through your local permitting office and schedule the inspections.  

7 Steps to Install an Electrical Outlet in an Outdoor Kitchen

Whether you’re making gourmet pizzas in your outdoor kitchen or whipping up cocktails for the neighbors, you’re going to need outlets. Follow these steps to learn how to install outlets outdoors.

  1. Plan Electrical Route

    For this project, having a plan ahead of time can save frustrations later. 

    • Choose a location for the electrical wiring to exit the house. Ideally, pick a place with easy access to both the electrical panel and the inside of an exterior wall.

    • Drill through the exterior wall to accept an LB fitting. 

    • Decide and mark the location of the future outlet.

    • Mark a route, as straight as possible, on the ground where you’ll bury the electrical cable from the house to the outlet.

  2. Dig a trench

    The National Electrical Code requires us to bury unprotected type-UF cable at least 24 inches below grade. 

    • Following the route marked earlier, dig a trench at least 24 inches deep from the wiring hole on the house to the outlet’s location.

  3. Install Conduit and Wiring

    The unprotected UF cable still needs protection where it emerges from the ground.

    • Install PVC conduit to an LB conduit body fitting and install in the location of the wiring exit from the house. The conduit must extend to 18 inches below the finished grade. Secure it to the exterior wall with electrical conduit straps.

    • Install PVC conduit to 18 inches below grade at the outdoor kitchen and attach the other end to a waterproof, outdoor electrical box. 

    • Install the UF cable through the conduits and lay it at the bottom of the trench. 

    • Leave about 6 inches of extra wire protruding from the outlet box. 

    • Continue the cable through the LB fitting and into the house.

    • Install the cable to code to the electrical panel. Leave several feet of extra wiring accessible. 

  4. Install the Outlet

    man wiring electrical outlet
    Photo: Christian / Adobe Stock

    If your locality doesn’t already require using tamper-resistant outlets, we recommend installing them for this project.

    • In the outlet’s electrical box, open the cable with the ripper tool and utility knife. Strip each wire end approximately 3/8-inch. 

    • At the side of the GFCI outlet marked “Line,” connect the black wire to the hot side, the white wire to the neutral side, and attach the ground wire. 

    • You’ll use the “Load” side of the outlet when you continue a string of connected outlets. 

    • Screw the outlet into place and install the waterproof cover.

  5. Install the Circuit Breaker

    Disconnecting power at the main breaker in the electrical panel only shuts off power to the circuit breakers. Potentially lethal electrical power is still present in the electrical panel. Use extreme caution.  

    • Switch off the main power circuit breaker.

    • Remove the electrical panel’s cover with caution. 

    • Use a multimeter to check that there’s no electrical current at the breakers. Place one test probe on the neutral bus bar and one probe on the contact screw of an installed breaker switch. Continue work only if no electricity is present. 

    • Install a new breaker switch in a vacant location. 

    • Following electrical building code requirements, insert the wire and connector clamp through the exterior of the electrical panel. 

    • Attach the grounding wire to the ground bus bar.

    • Attach the neutral wire to the neutral bus bar. 

    • Connect the black wire to the new breaker at the contact location. Leave the switch turned off. 

    • Remove the filler plate cover on the panel's front cover. 

    • Reinstall the panel cover.

  6. Test the Circuit

     testing outdoor outlet
    Photo: indyedge / Adobe Stock

    Before closing everything up, let’s make sure it all works.

    • Turn on the main power switch.

    • Turn on the new breaker switch. 

    • If the breaker trips immediately, retrace your steps and locate the problem before proceeding further.  

    • Test the outlet with the GFCI electrical tester. Remember to test the tripping function also.

  7. Have It Inspected

    Before covering up the trench or hiding any wiring, your local electrical inspector needs to sign off on your permit. 

    • Schedule an electrical inspection. 

    • After the inspector gives their approval, you can backfill the trench and begin enjoying your outdoor kitchen. 

Installing an Electrical Outlet Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro

Installing an electrical outlet yourself costs between $125 and $175 to cover the cost of materials. Professional outlet installation costs between $50 and $100 per hour and will take several hours to complete. 

There are numerous things to consider when designing and building an outdoor kitchen. It may not be every homeowner’s idea of an enjoyable project. If that’s the case, a local outdoor kitchen installer can supply a team of tradespeople to complete all of the details of your new space and include the electrical cost in their job bid. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.