New electrical circuit for chicken coop

clem_caddDecember 11, 2010


I need some advice on mapping out a new electrical circuit for my chicken coop. The framing is done, before I insulate I want to put in my boxes & wiring. Here is the basic wire

I am using and what I want in this circuit.

Using 12/2 & 12/3 Yellow Romex wire

4 inside outlets (one on each wall) One of these outlets I want controlled by a switch.

1 overhead light box, center of ceiling, controled by a switch

1 outdoor outlet, and 1 outdoor light(will require a switch)

3 Switches to left of door entry

Need help on where the the power feed should enter this circuit, and explain what type of wire loops need to be created ?

I am planning on feeding this circirt from the power panel in my barn..Using a 20Amp GFI/Arc Fault breaker, running

12/2 UF Cable thru conduit from the barn to the chicken coop. Any issues with running this whole circuit off of a GFI/Arc Fault breaker ?

I have done many of my own electrical projects in the past, but his is the first all new circuit.

Thanks for any and all information & replies,


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Ron Natalie

You have to have GFCI protection here, AFCI is not required. Dual listed AFCI/GFCI breakers are beginning to hit the market, but they're not available for all panels (and aren't cheap).

If you're putting conduit in, you should run individual wet rated (i.e THWN) conductors rather than UF.

All your boxes/etc... need to be rated for corrosive environments when they are within the coop.

A single circuit won't require installation of a grounding system in the coop.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 12:21PM
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A real quick clarification to Ron's accurate reply. A single circuit (or multi-wire branch circuit) does not require a grounding electrode system. Standard circuit equipment grounding is always required.

Clem, if you are looking for a wire-for-wire, splice-for-splice explanation I am afraid someone else will have to help you there. I don't do that sort of thing.
Besides, there are about 100 different ways to wire what you are doing.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 12:38PM
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Good take-away info ... thank you both for replying to my request.

I debated using a single GFI outlet, and running all outlets off of that outlet, but feel making the whole circuit GFI safer since it is an outdoor circuit. Should be a low ampergae circuit, running occasional fan in summer, and water heater in winter, lights on as not much power should be needed.

All boxes are outdoors rated...!!

THWN stranded will definitely be a better choice than UF...!!!

Should I include a shut-off at the coop for this a 20AMP switch, or is this overkill considering the entire circuit is GFI protected ?


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 2:58PM
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Ron Natalie

Outdoor rated is NOT necessarily good enough. You have to have one that is rated for corrosive environments.

Yes, you should have a disconnect at the building Yes, you must use a switch or other disconnecting means rated for the full circuit. GFCI has nothing to do with it.

Whether you put everyhing on the GFCI or not is up to you. The receptacles are going to have to be.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 12:48PM
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Don't have my NEC handy but agricultural buildings also have special requirements for bonding.

Don't want any stray currents electrocuting you or your chickens...

UF cable IS rated for use in 'corrosive' environments IIRC.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 9:52PM
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Ron Natalie

Agricultural buildings containing livestock have bonding requirement, but poultry isn't considered livestock for this point (they don't care if you fry the chickens with the wiring, chickens are stupid).
UF is rated for corrosive (and wet) environments, but you don't want to be using it in conduit. If you were going to direct bury it, it would be the ideal solution.
You can use it inside the building however.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 10:10PM
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Thanks for all the help guys, started wiring the coop today, pretty straight forward run. I've decided to eliminate the switched outlet from this circuit, not needed and was complicating the wiring. Not using a GFI breaker, but am using a GFI outlet inline with the other outlets that are GFI.
20Amp switch at the coop for a circuit cutoff.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 11:07PM
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they don't care if you fry the chickens with the wiring, chickens are stupid ...

Yeah, they are. I know this from years of personal acquaintance with chickens. However, I doubt that their intelligence, or lack thereof, has anything to do with wiring requirements for a chicken coop.

Actually I suspect that the reason is that, unlike with cattle, nobody has yet documented any negative effect of stray voltage on poultry's productivity or growth.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 3:30PM
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While I don't have any documentation of this, it does appear the eggs in my 240 VAC powered chicken coop are twice the size of the eggs in the 120 VAC powered chicken coop! :)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 5:57PM
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While chickens may or may not be stupid, certain parts of them taste good with some buffalo sauce and a beer.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 11:59AM
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Ron Natalie

Don't know about chickens but my sister-in-law used to raise Chinchillas (for fur) and they'd electrocute them (with 120) because it was the quickest way of killing them without stressing them (because they throw their fur when stressed).

Oddly the device they used doesn't seem to be covered by the NEC or UL.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 5:11PM
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