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Setting Up an Outdoor Kitchen? Understand Electric Essentials

Panorama high angle view of a stylish outdoor kitchen on a brick patio with a built in gas BBQ and dining table with hanging chandelier.

An outdoor kitchen can be huge benefit and even add value to your home. However, many people spend a considerable amount of time deciding how they want their outdoor kitchen to look and function, but they don’t give much thought to the electrical features it will need to function efficiently.

While some homeowners believe the electric work is simple and plan to do it themselves, other don’t have that same level of confidence. Even for those who are experienced, DIY electric work is risky. It could result in injury or create a potentially fire hazard if not done correctly.

When starting such a project many homeowners prefer to speak with an electrician, which is a smart choice, because they feel ill-prepared to take on the challenges associated with the electrical portion of their project. So, if you’re thinking, or preparing to add an outdoor kitchen to your home here some of the electric essentials you should consider.

Building Permit

Before you move forward with constructing your outdoor kitchen, check with your city building department. Make sure you understand what permits, if any, are required and the process you must go through to secure and pay for them. Permits won’t just apply to construction of the outdoor kitchen itself, but all the plumbing and electric work as well. Many cities may also require an electrical safety inspection to ensure an addition, like a new kitchen, is built according to safety codes. Failure to obtain the required permits and/or inspections could cause safety concerns in the future and even result in substantial fines from code enforcement.

Determine Your Electric Needs

As you begin designing your outdoor kitchen, it is crucial to determine your electric needs. Do you plan on having outdoor appliances? If so, how many? Will you need to have additional outlets installed? A ceiling fans? Outdoor lighting? Before speaking with an electrician, decide what you want ahead of time so you can discuss your vision for the project more confidently. It can be challenging to ask key questions and accurately gauge the scope of your project and the overall cost without this kind of preparation.

What’s Your Path?

Bringing power to your outdoor kitchen requires tapping into your existing electric system. However, there are several ways this can be done so you’ll have to determine what path you will use to get electricity from your home to your kitchen outside. This will involve mapping a route from your circuit breaker panel to the location of your outdoor kitchen. This planning can get a little tricky and involved depending on the location of your panel box and your kitchen. When deciding the best way is to get the electricity to your outdoor kitchen, you may be faced with a decision to move or alter slightly the site of your kitchen if this makes it easier to access the electricity from your home. This is when consulting with an experienced electrician can really prove beneficial. An experienced electrician can give you the pros and cons of your planned location, offer advice, suggestions, and maybe even a better option.

Dedicated GFCI Circuit Breaker

A GFCI outlet, otherwise known as Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets, protects against electric shock risk. It is imperative to install GFCI outlets in areas with water nearby, such as in a kitchen, bathroom, garage, or outdoor kitchen.

GFCI outlets are needed within kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor kitchens because they monitor the amount of electricity flowing within a specific circuit. When they detect an imbalance, they shut down as a safety precaution. This prevents fire or the risk of electric shock. When setting up an outdoor kitchen, GFCI outlets must be installed by a licensed professional.

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Bring in the Pros

Cooking and enjoying your meals outside when the weather permits is a great experience. And an outdoor kitchen can extend your living space and increase the value of your home, but only if it meets the proper requirements. Although there are many different styles and designs to choose and options to include in your outdoor kitchen, making sure it has the essential electric components is crucial to making it all work properly. If you’re unsure of what electrical components your outdoor kitchen needs, have questions, or want help getting it done, call the local pros at Mr. Electric, or submit a service request online. We have the experience and expertise to make your outdoor kitchen set-up a success!