Can I Run an Outdoor Extension Cord Underground

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley

Can I run an outdoor extension cord underground

Running extension cords underground seems like a great idea until you realize how difficult it would be to do. It’s not impossible, but it’s certainly not as simple as running an electrical cord underground. We will look at can I run an outdoor extension cord underground.

In this article, we’ll explore whether or not it’s possible to run an outdoor extension cord underground. We’ll also examine the pros and cons of running an extension cord underground versus aboveground.

Can Extension Cords be Buried?

There are many different ways to bury an outdoor extension cord. But some people think burying an outdoor extension cord will damage it because the ground around it might freeze.

Others believe that burying an extension cord could cause it to short out. And still, others think that burying an extension cable will make it hard to find later.

Should you bury an extension cord?

The truth about burying an extension cord is that it depends on what type of extension cord you use. If you’re looking to protect yourself against the elements, you’ll want to look into burying a weatherproof extension cord.

Weatherproof cords come with a cover that protects the wire inside from moisture and dirt. They also include a plastic sheath that helps keep the cord protected from sharp objects and animals.

If you don’t care too much about keeping the cord dry and exposed to the elements, you can simply bury it. A buried extension cord won’t be damaged by freezing temperatures or wet soil.

In fact, it’s actually easier to dig up a buried extension cord than one that’s left outside. This is because you’ll need to cut off the end of the cord anyway. So, why not just bury the whole thing?

extension cord on construction site powering power tools

Can an Extension Cord be Legally Buried?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) establishes safety standards for electrical installations, designs, and inspections. Whatever they say applies everywhere in the United States.

Burying an extension cord is against the law. In fact, it’s illegal in most states. But why is burying an extension cord such a big deal? Well, there are several reasons.

It’s illegal to bury an electrical cord, even if you’re just using it for temporary purposes. You should always follow safety guidelines when installing any kind of wiring.

If you’re planning to bury your standard extension cable underground, then it’s not safe. You could get into serious trouble for doing so. Even if the law has not yet recognized it, burying your standard extension cable underground is definitely against the law.

Don’t use indoor extension cables outside; it’s against NEC’s rules. The main reason for this is the insulation’s thickness. Most indoor extension cables do not have thicker insulators.

Ensure you don’t leave electrical cords outside for longer than a day. If you plan to bury an outdoor extension cord, use conduits and follow your local building rules and regulations.

There’s no chance of burying a standard extension cord without breaking any laws. You’re putting yourself at risk by doing so.


yellow extension cord coiled up

Can an Extension Cord be Used Permanently as a Source of Power?

An extension cord should only be used to power appliances and tools temporarily.

NECs guidelines strictly prohibit using extension cords instead of permanent wiring. That’s how it works.

You shouldn’t use an extension cord for power for more than 30 days, and if you do you might need to have permanent wiring installed. Have an electrical come out and install permanent wiring so that you don’t have to use an extension cord.

Steps to Burying an Outdoor Extension Cord?

If you must bury an extension cord temporarily, you need to do it correctly.

Extension cords can be buried underground, but they can’t be buried in bare earth. You will need to follow some basic guidelines and make sure that the cord is protected before burying the cord in a conduit.

If you are in the US, make sure you call 811 before you dig,

Choose the Correct extension cord for the job

Extension cords come in different sizes, depending on how many outlets are needed. Make sure you pick the correct size. If you’re running multiple devices, such as lamps, TVs, microwaves, etc., you’ll need a larger extension cord. On the other hand, if you just need one outlet, you don’t need a big extension cord.


Decide Where You Are Going to Bury the Cable

If you plan ahead, you won’t end up with a messed-up yard, where you are trenching in your extension cord.

Use garden stakes, water hose, or landscape paint to map the route you are going to bury the extension cord.

Install your conduit

The conduit’s job (or function) is to protect the wire from damage by providing an additional layer of insulation. However, be aware that there are different types of conduits.

If you’re using a rigid galvanized metal pipe, be sure to bury it at least 18″ below ground level. Another option is a plastic pipe, which is resistant to rusting.

You should definitely consider installing a GFCI outlet. It has a built-in sensor which enables it to measure the flow of electricity through wires. When it detects a fault, it functions like a safety switch, stopping people from getting hurt.

orange extension cord laying on pavement

Running the cable

Once the conduit is in the ground, you can now run your extension cord through the conduit to the other end where it should be plugged into a GFCI outlet.

Why is Cable Buried Underground

Extension cords aren’t designed to be buried. They are designed as a way to temporarily power a device in a location where permanent power doesn’t exit.

There are many different types of underground cables available. Some are made out of plastic, others metal, and still others are made out of fiberglass. Each type of cable has advantages and disadvantages.

People bury cables for many reasons. Some are aesthetic, where the user just doesn’t want to see the extension cord laying in the yard or lawn. The other is safety, to keep homeowners

Issues You Need to be Aware of When Burying an Extension Cord

An outdoor extension cord isn’t something you want to bury under the lawn. Not only does it look ugly, but burying it could pose serious risks. Here are few of the issues that you need to be aware of when burying an extension cord:

Buried electrical cords can cause fire hazards if they are overloaded. They can short out and start a fire. If the cord gets wet, it can even catch on fire. This is especially true if there are exposed metal parts like prongs.

If they are not connected to a GFCI outlet they could also pose an electrocution or shock risk, especially if the cord casing has been compromised by animals, digging, or weather issues.


Extension Cords are For Short Term Power Only

If you’re in need of extra power for a short period of time, such as to cut your grass, run a bounce castle at your child’s birthday party, or light up a tent for a wedding reception, an extension cable will allow you to use power from a regular outlet for a few days.

Only use extension cords that were made for outdoor use, outside. Indoor extension cords are not meant to be used outside, so don’t use one outside.

Don’t let your outdoor extension cord out for longer than a few days at most. If left outside for long periods of time, electrical cords can break down, possibly causing sparks, fires, and shocks.

Always follow outdoor electrical precautions.


Safety Tips for Using Outdoor Extension Cords

Extension cords are useful for powering items that aren’t near an electrical outlet. There are some things you need know before using them though.

Plug any outdoor extension cords into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) device. These devices prevent shocks when they detect an imbalance between the hot and neutral lines. They’re usually located near kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors.

Make sure that the cord is not too short or too long so that it won’t trip people up. Always store your extension cords indoor, when you are no longer using th extension cords

Installing Permanent Wiring For Outdoor Use

AWi permanent power solution should be added before installing any additional electrical equipment outdoors. This includes adding an outdoor outlet and GFI (ground fault interrupt) circuit breaker to your home’s main service panel. If you are planning to install lighting fixtures or appliances outdoors, make sure to check out our guide to safely installing long-term power solutions.

An outdoor outlet and GFI are necessary for safety reasons. They protect against damage caused by lightning strikes and prevent accidental electrocution. These outlets also provide a convenient way to connect external wiring to your home’ s main service panel.

If you plan to use your outdoor outlet and GFI for lighting, consider running a dedicated line to the outside building. It allows you to isolate your outdoor lights from the rest of your house. You can run a dedicated line either underground or overhead. Underground lines are best because they are less likely to cause interference issues. However, overhead lines are easier to maintain and offer better visibility.

GFCI Outlets are a Nessecaity for Outdoor Power

A GFCI outlet protects you from electrical shocks if there is a ground current leak in your house. This could happen because of faulty wiring, damaged insulation, loose connections, or even worn-out outlets. If you live in an area where lightning strikes frequently, it’s important to protect yourself from electrical hazards. Installing a GFCI outlet outside helps prevent accidental electrocution.

Outdoor GFCIs are easy-to-install and maintenance-free. They require no special tools or skills. You just connect the wires to the correct terminals on the device. There are three types of outdoor GFCIs: single pole, double pole, and three terminal. Single pole units use one wire that connects to both sides of the circuit breaker box. Double pole units use two wires that connect to both sides of the box. Three-terminal models provide three separate circuits. These allow you to run multiple appliances off one circuit.

Can I Run an Outdoor Extension Cord Underground: Summing it Up

In conclusion, yes, you can run an outdoor extension cord underground. In fact, it’s probably the safest option available. However, it does require a bit of planning ahead of time. While you can run an extension cord underground for temporary power, it isn’t the best idea for supplying permanent power to appliances or tools. If you have any wiring or electrical questions you don’t feel comfortable addressing, always contact a professional electrician.



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