Nov 16, 2015

Planning and installing the sauna electrical wiring.

Now that we have a fully enclosed building, I wanted to get the electrical in. I’ve spent a little bit thinking about what I wanted—then it was just a matter of making it work.

I knew I wasn’t gonna have a permanent connection to electrical. Didn’t want to deal with it. But, what I wanted is to run an extension cord to the building and plug it in when I was gonna use the sauna. Luckily, Menard's sells something called an Inlet—the opposite of an outlet. Basically, it’s a male prong that sits in place of an outlet. It’s made for the outdoors and sits inside a weatherproof outdoor junction box you buy separately. So for about $15 total, you can have an RV-like setup. Works perfectly for me.

An inlet on the outside to supply power to the sauna lights and outlets.
Sauna is powered by and extension cord plugged in to it like an RV.

Next, for the inside, I wanted 3 outlets—just in case I need the power to run tv, or audio or whatever. I nailed the junction boxes on 3 different walls in locations that won’t get in the way. Btw, a trick to place outlet junction boxes is to put your hammer on the floor with the head down. Where the handle ends—that’s where the outlet junction box should begin. :)

Next, the lights. I figured I just put in can lights so that I don’t use any of the limited space I have for protruding lights. Since cans can be used in moist environments such as showers (not just any cans), I figured it would work. I bought 3 cans. They are rated for contact with insulation—IC rated, and with the proper trim (sold separately) can be used in the hot room. I put 2 cans up in the changing room, and one can in the hot room. Still trying to figure out  if I want 1 or 2 there.

Finally, I figured we’ll be hanging outside a lot to cool down. One side of the sauna is perfect for that. So, we’ll need some flood lights there and while I can do it—I’ll put an outdoor outlet in as well—just in case we ever need it—Christmas lights? J

Outdoor flood light and outlet for the cool down area of the sauna.
Outdoor flood and outlet.
The floodlight kits are all different prices. However, I need light—nothing fancy, so I went with the $10 basic 2 bulb kit. It’s outdoor rated, comes with the outdoor junction box you hang on the outside of the siding and bulbs are easy to replace. Same goes for the outlet—and outdoor box will keep it safe in all weather.

Finally, to run everything, I put a junction box by the entrance on the inside for the light switches I will have 1 switch run the outdoor floods, one run the outdoor entry lights and one dimmer run the changing room cans. I will take care of the hot room lights/switches once I build the hot room wall J. One note of advice—at first, I placed the junction boxes where I wanted them—but didn’t nail all the way. I left it like that for a few days. I noticed later that a few of them didn’t work well where they were—so I easily swapped them. Then nailed them permanently.

The plan for wiring all these things was kinda simple as well. I started with my inlet since that’s where the power comes in. I bought a roll of 250 feet of simple gray 14/2 Romex. I don’t need a thick cable since I won’t be pulling much amps. With 3 outlets and a few lights—I should be way under. At first, I installed the inlet weather junction box on the wall that wouldn’t have much traffic (just a personal pref) I put a bead of regular silicone around the hole of the box where the wire comes in and screwed it to the outside wall. I then ran a bead of silicon around to prevent the water from getting in. Just make sure the place you put the box is clear on the other side of the wall—no studs or wires.  I then took a spade drill bit and drilled through the junction box hole and through the wall.  From there on, it’s a little common sense and a little knowledge to get it all done. Here are some rules.

1. To run wire, you have to have it go through either studs or top plate—not outside. Use a spade drill bit, I think I used 5/8” and drill the hole in the center of the stud/top plate. Run the wire through it—remember to check that you’re not drilling in to anything.

2. Things can be wired in series or in parallel. If you want 1 switch to control 3 lights—wire those lights in series. If you want to have a switch control 2 lights and an outlet—run the outlet in parallel- but the lights in series. More is available on the web J

3. Make sure you’re connections are good and tight- not loose. Try tugging on each wire to make sure it doesn't come out.

FYI… if you’ve never done this before—do some research on the web. That’s how I learned back when I was finishing my basement. It’s pretty straight forward.

To make things quick—I didn’t yet install any switches—instead I tied the wires together where they would have been broken with a switch—I’ll add those later—right now I just needed light J

At this point, I have all my lights/outlets wired except for the hot room can. I’ve used up about 200 feet of my 250  ft Romex. There’s still a few things left to do:

1. There are special wire staples that are used to keep wires in place. You have to staple the wires 6” from the junction boxes and every 12” from there on.

2. There are nailing plates that need to be nailed to the studs/top plates where the wires run through holes. This is to prevent nails from being nailed in to the wire.

3. Need to install light switches.
But that can be done later—what’s done now is that I have lights and power. With the sun setting around 530p, that’s much appreciated.

All our light switches and dimmer will be right next to the entry.
Light Switches Go Here.

Wiring the can lights in the changing room.
Look at those cans :)

We have working lights in the sauna.
Can lights all hooked up. We got lights!

Outdoor entry lights lit up at night.
Sauna lit up at night. Now that's just beautiful!

Outdoor entry lights during the day.
Sauna entrance lights in daytime.

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