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Trenching Power from Solar Shed to Cottage

by Tyler

For at least a year I've been telling myself that getting electricity from our solar shed to the cottage would be a piece of cake. "All we need is a beefy extension cord—we'll just plug that in somehow and voilà, we'll have power!" Each time I mentally reviewed the plan, some quiet part of me knew I was lying to myself. A few weeks back, my conscious brain finally realized a real solution was needed, and soon.

So, I bought a mattock and started digging…

Tyler Digging Trench for Electricity

I found the process of hacking at the earth with a giant metal spike intensely satisfying on a deep, primal level. Too few activities in this homesteading project have been meditatively simple, requiring very little thought! Unfortunately, the meager trench I carved between our buildings was nowhere near deep enough to use. Also, it mostly collapsed a few times during heavy rains.

Exhausted Tyler in Garden Cart

I'm honestly not sure how many hours I spent digging, but I do know it only took our neighbor Justin two hours to triple the depth and width of my trench using his new mini-excavator… I'll probably call him first next time!

Justin Filling in Trench with Excavator

Tara and I spent the next few evenings threading 150 feet of heavy gauge electrical wire (2-2-2-4) into enough conduit to span the entire length of the run. This involved at least five different trips to our local building supply store over the course of the week to buy the right fittings. I'm pretty sure that has something to do with my annoyed look in the picture below (either that or the giant wasp nest in the shed's eaves).

Grumpy Tyler in a Trench

Eventually, we got the right fittings for the exterior of the buildings, made or bought all the bends we needed (note to future self: buying PVC elbows is a lot easier than making them with a blow-torch), laid a bed of stone in the trench, and completed a fully enclosed run of conduit from inside the solar shed breaker box to the cottage's! We also ran two lines of CAT6 networking cable in a different conduit for things I'll write about some other day.

Tara Shoveling Gravel Tara's Sandy Feet Tyler Heating Electrical Conduit with Blow Torch to Bend It Running Electrical Cable by Night Tyer Running Electrical Cable Filling in Trench for Electrical Conduit

Once that was done, Justin took care of the rest, covering the conduit with sand and then earth. Pretty cool!

Justin Filling in Trench with Excavator