Juicing Inside the Greenhouse

NOTE: This customer is sharing their steps to wire their greenhouse. We advise all customers to hire an electrician unless you are 100% sure you are capable of the project.

Part 2: Adding Electrical to Greenhouse

Completing the outside electrical wiring last weekend, our focus turned to inside the greenhouse. See Juicing the Greenhouse Part 1 for routing the electrical from the garage to the greenhouse.

Materials and Time Required
The final tally for materials was an additional $50 for miscellaneous parts. The total project materials cost averaged $150. Wiring both the inside and outside of the greenhouse took two weekends to complete.

Tools Used Materials Used*
• Black sharpie marker
• Elvex MaxiMuff™ ear muffs
• Extension cord
• Flat head screwdriver – large and small
• Greenlee® 438-10 fish tape 8-10
(100’ x 1/8” x 0.60”)
• Needle nose pliers
• Philips screwdriver – large and small
• Pipe cutter
• Power drill
• Various size paddle bits
• Screwdriver bit
• Ruler
• Tape measure
• Wire stripper – large and small
• Wire cutter
• Utility knife
• Voltmeter 
• Black electrical tape
• Box of 50 GB 14-8 AWG copper crimp sleeve connectors (10-311C)
• Cable ties
• 16 oz. can Carlon® solvent cement
• Carlon® UA9ADB non-metallic PVC conduit elbows ½” (16) 90D Std Rad SCH 40 Belled
(3/4” outside diameter)
• Carlon® non-metallic PVC conduit pipes
(1/2” inside diameter)
• Carlon® non-metallic PVC ½” conduit pipe connectors
• 100’ Cerro® wire indoor 14-2 NM-BW ground
• Insulation tape
• Leviton® Smartlock Pro GFCI
• Taymac® Outlet box cover horizontal mount duplex (wet location) CH 1005
• Taymac® SB350S 3 holes ½” outlet box (wet location)
• Weatherproof outdoor timer power strip

* I have listed the manufacturer of each part so you can easily locate them in your local hardware store.  This is not an endorsement of companies listed, but just a reference for what was used on DIY project.

Stepping it All Out
For our greenhouse, the electrical wiring was sourced from an electrical outlet located on the outside wall of the garage not being utilized. To give you a sense of what it takes to install the electrical wiring, I broke the steps out for the outside of the greenhouse in Juicing the Greenhouse Part 1.Note: These steps are an overview only and should not be used specifically as step-by-step instructions. Each project will have its own unique site challenges.

 

Prep Work and Safety Measures
Step 1.
When hiring an electrical contractor, be sure to secure any necessary permits required in your local area. Always make sure your contractor is licensed, bonded and call for references before starting any project.

Step 2. Contact your local Utility Notification Center before trenching PVC pipe. Call before beginning any excavation prevents damage to underground facilities, service interruptions to the home, and bodily injury. 

Step 3. Pre-measure lengths on each greenhouse wall to make a count of piping, elbows and joints required. Tip: The PVC conduit is much cheaper than the PVC joints.

Step 4. Move everything out of the greenhouse to give maximum working area. Clean area near water and electrical areas. Remove any obstructions for a clear view of your working area(s).

Step 5. Charge all cordless tools prior to beginning project. Remember that you may be turning off the outlet(s) nearest to your working area.
Select an electrical charging outlet away from the primary work area.

Step 6. Pick a clear and dry day to work.

Step 7. Turn off the power to the outlet being re-wired via the breaker panel inside the garage. Using a voltmeter, check to make sure the power is off. Double check with the power on and verify no power is flowing with the breaker off as well. Note: If you have a security system, it is advisable to make sure this is turned off.Step 8. If you need to stop work midway, be sure to “cap off” any wires that will be live before restoring power via the breaker panel to the outlet. Do not leave live, exposed electrical connections unattended.

 

 

 

Starting on the Back Wall
dremelwiring_ghback

 

Create a hole on the Solexx greenhouse panels using a power drill and paddle bit. To get the tightest fit possible, you might need to use a Dremel tool to shave tiny amounts of paneling around the edges of the hole. If the paddle bit hole is a little shy of the conduit pipe, you may also need to shave the PVC pipe as well.

Electrical Outlet Wiring
Relocate everything currently housed in the greenhouse outside to allow for maximum working space.

Planning the Flow
Plan where you want to lay the conduit piping out along with where and how you plan on attaching it *before* going to the hardware store. There are several ways to attach and route the PVC corners and PVC conduit. Consider where the pipe will be placed to keep it out of the way of everyday working areas.

You do not want the breakers to trip, especially if you are tying into a pre-existing electrical outlet. Based off your individual power needs, an electrical contractor can advise how many outlets can be handled on one breaker.

Measure Twice, Cut Once
outlet_wiringoutlet_hand

 

 

 

 

Since the aluminum frame is a non-standard greenhouse frame, it created challenges at every corner. Measuring took extra time and creative wiring placement thinking. Double check every measurement or you may end up purchasing more materials than needed. Allow extra material in your calculations for “fudge factor”. The PVC piping flexes so if your cutting is not exact, the couplers allow for a little wiggle room.

Man Power

pipe_glue
It is a good idea to have at least two people working on the inside wiring. One person can measure, hold and pull the line through. The other person can hold the piping in place and glue the joints together. Note: It will take significantly longer for one person to connect and piece together the piping layout.

 

 

 
finished_outletOutlet Placement
Take care in considering where to place outlets. They need to be:

• Easily accessible
• Placed in a waterproof area
• Attached to greenhouse frame
• Keep away from areas that can be bumped, nudged or whacked easily out of place.
• Take care to make sure the connectors stay secure.  After years of plugging and unplugging, connections can loosen.

 
wiring_cappedKeeping It Loose
Wiring is similar to putting in an automated sprinkler system. At some point, you may want or need to make changes. Make sure to keep the wire loose inside the PVC piping. It’s best to keep extra wire available to plan ahead for unforeseen future changes.

Plan ahead and decide early if this is your final configuration. It is easier to place a junction box where you may want extra connections instead of having to cut piping to expand later.

For this project, we only wired the right side of the greenhouse for electrical. The left side is being used exclusively for storage.

 

Testing, Testing, 1..2..3
assembling_outlet1For safety purposes, try to avoid working on electrical systems alone. Having two people available for power checks is advisable. Before wiring the greenhouse completely, test the power. You don’t want to get to the end and find out there is a problem.

• Turn the breaker back on.
• With the voltmeter, verify the power is working.
• Test each outlet.
• Carefully check wire for insulation damage when pulling through sharp openings or tight corners.
• Make sure to turn the electrical off after any power test is performed.

 
Elbow Room
insulationThe 90 degree box elbows are good to use when you have hard corners and sharp angles to navigate the wire around. It is difficult to pull wiring through corners. Elbow boxes cost three times as much as a 90 degree PVC elbow joint, but the wiring will be protected and last much longer. Remember to leave a little extra loose wire for future expansion needs.

Going Fishing
Fishing tape used on the outside of the greenhouse to run it through the PVC pipe is not as easily used on the inside due to angles and short distances. By not using the fishing tape, it allowed one last measurement double check and the ability to fix any pipes before applying the cement.

Piping Considerations
Dry fit all PVC conduit, elbows and connectors together first. Run the electrical wire through the dry-fitted PVC conduit. Pull wiring back through so the wire is not glued to the conduit. Once the solvent cement has been applied, you have a limited editing window before it dries. If you need to make changes after the cement has cured, the PVC pipe will need cut out and refitted with a connector and cemented again.

Safety Precautions
zip-tieCut electrical insulation tape and place on back of GFCI outlet box before installing on the greenhouse frame. Since this is a metal-to-metal touch point, the insulation tape provides an extra layer of safety protection.

 

Tie Downs
It is important to make sure the conduit cannot slip out of place and pull wiring down with it. Secure the pipe to the greenhouse frame with plastic conduit clips or zip ties.

Let There Be Light!
The wiring job allowed us to place an outlet on the back wall and one on the front right wall. Once the wiring, outlets, and plate covers were completed, the breaker was turned back on to test the power.

Final Checks
GFCI plugs can be “tripped” after installing them. Don’t be surprised if you do not have power initially.  You may need to reset the GFCI. Newer GFCI models have a green light that will indicate if it is tripped. When checking power, always check both the round hole and slots. There should be 120 volts between a hole and slot. Look for 0 volts between both slots.

Timer and Power Strip
We selected an outlet with six grounded plugs plus a seven day digital timer to be able to remote control when the power is used for heating mats and fans. The timer has six on/off cycles per day so it can be set daily, weekdays and weekends. It has a rainproof cover to protect the outlets, digital display and programming keyboard.

Next Steps
We will be plumbing water to the greenhouse so we can start seeds and house tropical plants over the winter successfully. Stay tuned as I try my hand starting seeds for the first time inside the greenhouse.

Photos taken by Dawn Hummel.

NOTE: This customer is sharing their steps to wire their greenhouse. We advise all customers to hire an electrician unless you are 100% sure you are capable of the project.

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One Response to Juicing Inside the Greenhouse

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