Porch Electrical Systems

For Power, Entertainment and Safety

Porch electrical systems have some specific requirements beyond your home's interior wiring. I've done a fair share of electrical wiring and troubleshooting for our own home.

So, I'd like to share some general knowledge I have with you.




Knowing exactly what you have and how it works will help you decide (1) whether you can extend existing circuitry safely to code and (2) whether you have the knowledge and skills to do it yourself or hire a professional electrician.


Disclaimer Note

The information we provide is not intended as instructional nor as "certified" electrical information for installation purposes. It is INFORMATIONAL ONLY for porch electrical systems and should not be construed otherwise.


amazing front porch furnished and decorated for summer
Maximize Your Porch's Electrical Capabilities for Ultimate Comfort!
We recommend always consulting a professional electrician and/or your local electrical codes inspector prior to doing any electrical work. Rules differ by state and local jurisdictions - always consult with your local electrical codes department. Read more about permits and codes.



Porch Electrical Systems Directory

photo of cover of 2017 electrical codes book
Porch Electrical Codes
See what codes directly affect your porch's electrical systems....

read more
hanging chandelier on front porch
Porch Electrical Modifications
See what electrical modifications can be made to make your porch more functional....
read more



front porch and home lit up at night
Porch Lighting Options
Discover your options for porch lighting; make your porch shine!

read more
man hanging pendent light on front porch
Hang Your Porch Lights
See how easy it is to hang your porch lights....

read more



sconce and hanging lights on front porch
Outdoor Porch Light Options
Check out these porch light options, from table lamps to hanging chandeliers....

read more
time plugged into outdoor receptable on front porch
Wire a Porch Receptacle
See what's involved in wiring your porch receptacles....


read more



led outdoor lights along porch walk way
Outdoor LED Lighting Options
Discover your options for installing outdoor LED lighting fixtures....

read more













What Electrical Capabilities Does Your Porch Have?
And How Much Do You Need?

Unfortunately, most porch electrical systems have limited electrical receptacles (or outlets). Normally, porches are only wired with one receptacle and one to two lights.

For small porches, this may be enough. But for larger porches or if you are going to convert your porch to a screened porch, three season porch, four season porch, extra receptacles and switches will be needed.
    GFCI Receptacle
  • Receptacles: these are normally wired from an existing branch circuit and must be protected with a GFCI (a ground fault circuit interrupter). This is the only device that will save your life. A GFCI automatically shuts off the power if a dangerous leakage of electrical current known as a ground fault is detected.
  • Most people believe that circuit breakers will "trip" and save you. Circuit breakers are installed to protect the wiring, not you. GFCIs are required for all outdoor receptacles or where water may be prevalent (like kitchens and bathrooms).
  • You can either install a GFCI receptacle (we show you how its done) or install a ground fault circuit interrupter in the panel which will provide protection for all of the receptacles on that circuit.
  • Lights: Again, most porch electrical systems only have one to two at the most. If you are lucky,there may be a light on either side of the front door. Porches are normally not well lit nor do they have lighting options like dimmers or additional lighting that is operated from a different switch.
  • Dual bulb light fixture
  • Lighting is also a safety issue. It's a very good idea to have dual-bulb lighting fixtures - which means at least two bulbs in every fixture. This is especially important if you only have one light fixture (with one bulb). If the bulb goes out, you are in total darkness.
  • Lighting also makes a decorative statement. Lighting fixtures, by virtue of their color and design, can make your porch more attractive and even create greater curb appeal. Old, chipped, cob-web filled, fixtures are not decorative. Replace them with designs that reflect the style of your home and porch.
  • Door bells: When was the last time you replaced it? You probably never gave a thought that doorbells are part of your porch electrical system. We often forget about this little item but we do notice doorbells that have been "rung" beyond their time. They cost little to purchase and are easy to install.




What You Might Want to Have

Extra Receptacles

You can't have too many! Well, you really can. But one or two more, depending on how you are using your porch, can definitely increase accessibility to power.

And it's a safety issue also. Overloading a receptacle or circuit can be disastrous.

Adding additional receptacles (GFCI protected) is not usually difficult to do if you have basic wiring knowledge skills, are knowledgeable of the applicable electrical codes, and know when to pull the proper permits.

Adding additional receptacles to your porch electrical system in the right places on and around your porch can also come in handy when putting up those holiday lights. Use our How to Wire a Receptacle Guide to see how its done.

It's almost common now for new construction to place receptacles in strategic places for just this purpose. So if you are planning to build a home, consider where to place your exterior receptacles.


Additional Lighting

This is a must for most porches. As stated earlier, ensure your porch either has at least one dual bulb fixture or multiple lighting fixtures. But that's not all.


Additional Can Lights

You can install additional "can lights" in the ceiling or hang a chandelier over a table to create an intimate look. Also, consider using mood lighting when hosting parties, having intimate conversations, or listening to your favorite music.

Electrical required for fans, lights, and column receptacles
Electrical required for fans, lights, and column receptacles
(custom porch by The Porch Company).

Spot Lights

These can be used over storage areas/containers to provide extra light when needed. Spot lighting is also useful in and around your outdoor entertainment systems.

For security purposes, install motion sensor flood lights on the corner of your porch. Ensure they have photocells to prevent them from turning on during daylight hours.

Look for ones with adjustable timers to control how long the light stays on after being triggered. Some models have distance controls to adjust sensitivity.

Decorative Lighting

Highlight specific landscaping features near your porch. Decorative lighting should be used judiciously to accent only favorite features of your porch.


Fan/light Combinations

Provide the best of both worlds - light and a nice breeze! Ceiling fans and light kits come in a wide variety of styles to suit the most discriminating decorator.

Lighting Controls

Installing dimmer switches can turn bright safety lighting into soft mood lighting. Depending on the size of your porch don't' forget to install a 3-way switch(es).

This makes lighting much easier to control from one side of the porch to the other. Remember to use weather-proof switches.

Another great addition is motion sensor lighting for your porch lighting. This is really helpful when security is a priority. It allows you to approach and/or leave your home in light.

How many times have you left during the day and returned to a dark exterior when your arrive home later in the evening? Problem solved!

Don't forget lighting for the stairs. Install lighting on or beside your stairs. Special staircase lighting is available for just this purpose and it looks great. It provides an extra measure of safety for you, your family, and guests.

And while we are on the subject, extend your porch lighting to the walkway. Illuminate the dark areas while simultaneously providing a lit path for guests.


NOTE: Installing light fixtures, switches, and fans are relatively easy DIY projects. Also note that outdoor wiring has specific code requirements, so check out this must know information.


Other Amenities

  • What about outdoor kitchens? Some may take special wiring.

    If building a new porch, you may want to plan ahead and wire for a range, stove, refrigerator or microwave. Extending branch circuits will not suffice for these appliances so you'll have to run a new branch circuit. Grilling your style? Plan for electric close by to run the rotisserie.
  • Outdoor entertainment: outdoor living is fantastic! Especially if you can install outdoor entertainment systems (speakers, flat screen tvs, cds,etc.) Wiring for these has unique requirements within your porch electrical system and is great DIY project.
  • Sound systems: Don't forget the speakers. We loved our external porch speakers. We had them installed when we built a previous home and enjoyed many hours of music listening on our porch. There are many systems to choose from to fit almost any budget.
  • Computers: If you plan to use your computer on your porch like we do, then install an isolated-ground circuit to protect sensitive equipment. Computers should also be protected by a standard surge protector.



and more line

Assessing Your Porch Electrical System Needs

How do you use your porch?
  • Mostly for entertaining? Kitchens require additional wiring and you will want to have separate branch circuits for this purpose.
  • Intimate dining? Try a pretty chandelier over a small table to set the mood.
  • Reading? Spot lighting may work well for this by providing just the right amount of light.


After defining what you want to do on your porch:
  • Select the type of lighting you'll need
  • Determine if you can safely extend your current electrical capabilities or if you need to run separate wire from your panel to the porch
  • In order to determine if your existing wiring can be extended, you'll need to know exactly what is being powered by the branch circuit(s).
  • For safety reasons, you should only use 80% of its total capability. If you max that out, you'll need to run separate wire. If this seems a bit confusing, don't despair. You should consult with a professional electrician for assistance with your porch electrical system.
  • Make sure all of your products, that is, your light fixtures, wiring, receptacles, and switches within your porch electrical system are all approved for exterior use. Do not use products designed for interior use on your porch.


Porch electrical systems can satisfy every need you have if you take the time to learn and properly install what you need or consult your electrician.






/ / Porch Electrical Systems





The Amazon ads are our affiliate links. Thank you.

Comments

Our site is a labor of love. We appreciate your comments very much.


~~~ Signup for free porch tips in your in box. ~~~


Helpful Links

Shop Amazon for Porch /Garden
Aff link

Popular Pages




Please Join Us Here Also

Join us on Facebook for porch talk Join us on Pinterest Subscribe to get our updates. Thank you!



Our Sponsors

The Porch Store
Porch Store
Custom Porch Products



Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks
For Your Porch Parts



Screened porch windows at diyEzeBreeze.com
DIY Eze Breeze
Screen Porch Windows



Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products
Complement Any Home!


End sponsor section






Copyright© 2009-2017
Front-Porch-Ideas-and-More.com.
All rights reserved.

Content and photos may not be reproduced
in any way without our written permission.

small rocking chair



Get up to 4 free local contractor estimates for work you need done
FIND A LOCAL CONTRACTOR
Search Our Site





Our Sponsors
Screened porch windows from DIY Eze Breeze
DIY Eze Breeze - Screen Porch Windows


The Porch Store
Porch Store - Custom Porch Products


Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks for Your Porch Parts


Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products Complement any Home




House Plans
See wonderful house plans that include porches.
Home Plans with Porches








Get Our Online Newsletter,
Front Porch Appeal

Learn more.

1-Enter Your Name


2-Enter Your Email


3-Click Button Below


You'll also receive
our free eBook.
Enjoy our back issues.





What's New
What is new or updated on our site
See Our Latest Updates




Porch Market
Enjoy browsing our Porch Market
Browse Our Porch Market




Get Our Porch Ideas Generator eBook
Front Porch Ideas Generator eBook
Ten Before & After Case Studies
Showing the Difference a Porch Makes!
Only $9.97




See Our Porch Illustrator eBook
Porch Illustrator Vol 1 & Vol 2 eBook
Over 300 Pages of Porch Illustrations
From Various Angles
Just $6.97




Porch Ideas Network
Porch Ideas Network
Listen to Our Podcasts
Plus Featured Builders and Landscapers
small rocking chair


We may earn a commission by referring you to some products on merchant sites. See our disclosure policy. Thank you.

Front Porch Designs Home | Return to Top
Contact Us | About Us | Advertise with Us | Search | Site Map
Media | Privacy Policy | Disclosure | Legal Notice | What's New


XML RSS   Add to My Yahoo!   Add to My MSN   Subscribe with Bloglines
By Mary and Dave Morris, Copyright © 2009-2017 Front-Porch-Ideas-and-More.com. All rights reserved.
Content and photos may not be reproduced or copied in any way without our express written permission.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape