Log Cabin Electrics

Log cabins are gaining popularity as an easy way to increase the space your home has. However little thought is often put into the Log Cabin Electrics.

If you get the electrical installation in your log cabin wrong from the start, you can end up with nothing more than an expensive shed that is uncomfortable to use.

We’ve fitted quite a few log cabin electrics as of late, and noticed just how popular they are within Wakefield & the surrounding areas.

What Electrics Can Be Installed in A Log Cabin?

The list of electrical items you can install in your log cabin is simply endless.

Just to begin to open your imagination to what is possible, have you considered the following?

  • Interior Sockets with the cabin
  • Exterior Sockets for items outside the cabin
  • Interior Lighting
  • Exterior Lighting for the cabin
  • Floor Heating
  • Blown Air Heating
  • Mood Lighting
  • Data Points
  • How about a Hot Tub?

There is literally an unlimited amount of scope of what can be achieved.

It’s best to sit down and think of the reason why you want the cabin in the first place?

Some people use their log cabins as offices. If this is the case then you are likely to need plenty of sockets, bright crisp lighting and a nice even temperature.

We’ve recently seen a large log cabin being used as a garden bar. Again, plenty of sockets for the fridges, the customer also asked for USB sockets to enable phones to be charged easily. We also installed different lighting levels: bright adjacent to the bar and mood lighting elsewhere.

Yet another customer had their log cabin as a woodworking workshop. He made a number of small furniture type pieces and needed the open workspace to produce. We installed metal clad sockets and conduit to protect the cables from possible damage.

First Step in Planning Log Cabin Electrics

The first step in planning your log cabin electrics are to ascertain what you hope to achieve with your new space, as exampled above.

When you have an idea of the use (you likely know already!), then we suggest getting a piece of paper.

Draw out your cabin shape on the paper and if you plan to fill the cabin with furniture (or even a bar), draw this on your plan. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look exact, it’s a rough sketch for your use only.

Once you’ve done this you will have a better idea of where you will need power installing.

Some things are obvious, a light switch by the door for example. But positioning sockets so you do not have to trail extension leads is important.

It is often far better to “overestimate” the number of sockets you will need. It looks much neater to have a spare socket on the wall than an extension lead trailed along the floor!

Installing Electric Supply to the Log Cabin

Installing electrical items in the log cabin itself is actually the easier part of this.

Often, the most difficult part can be getting power to the cabin the first place!

Once your cabin is built, you’ll need to think about how you will get the supply from your fuse board to the newly constructed outbuilding.

The only real solution here is to install a circuit called a “submain” in armoured cable. This will then run to a small distribution board in the cabin.

The armoured cable must be protected against damage. Whilst it can be clipped to fences and suchlike, it is a much better finish to bury the cable.

Unless the distance between the house and the cabin is very large, it should be possible to easily dig the trench required by hand.

It should be approx 600mm deep, however only needs to be a couple of cm wide. I appreciate this is difficult to do this thin in practice, but the point I’m trying to make is that it does not need to be wide at all.

Using proper SWA armoured cable it should not be necessary to bury any ducting. The cable is capable of “direct bury” as long as it is sufficiently beneath the surface to avoid any damage.

However when we install log cabin electric supply cables, we do prefer to bury a duct throught which the cable is pulled. The benefit of this is that should the cable need replacement, or indeed any further cables pulling through to the cabin, this is easily done through the duct.

You should locate the main consumer unit/fuse board for the property and plan the route to start from here. It should then run as straight as possible to the cabin. Although it can be brought into the structure anywhere, for the best overall finish, it is best to bring it in on one of the corners.

Bringing the supply cable for the cabin into one of the corners allows the cabin consumer unit to be easily hidden behind furniture.

Log Cabin Consumer Unit

The log cabin is going to need a small consumer unit installing. This will convert the large supply cable into the cabin into the smaller individual circuits within.

The consumer unit should have space for the number of circuits that you intend to install, together with some room for possible upgrades/further installation later. It doesn’t have to be huge, however should definitely aim to have at least one spare way after the initial install.

Every circuit fitted in the cabin will need RCD protection. All sockets require RCD protection under the regulations, as well as circuits supplying lights in domestic settings.

Whilst I appreciate the log cabin electrics may not seen like domestic electrics, this regulation still applies as the cabin is to be sited within a domestic premises (generally) and fed from a domestic supply.

The log cabin consumer unit will need to have either an RCD main switch, or else have individual RCDs/RCBOs for each circuit.

Many options for the consumer units exist, although modern domestic consumer units are particularly suitable.

They can be small enough to not be obstructive & are made from metal so can easily have armoured cable glanded directly into them.

The metal construction also makes them more robust and less prone to damage from knocks or scrapes within your cabin.

Another added bonus is the fact that metallic consumer units are now designed to contain any potential fire within. With a log cabin being made of wood, anything that increases fire safety can only be a good thing.

Most log cabins can be supplied with maybe 4-6 circuits, so you need not worry about having to have a particularly large “distribution board” taking up loads of room!

Sockets for your Log Cabin Electrics

The type of sockets you should consider fitting vary quite widely depending on how you want to use and “fit out” you new space.

Anything that is going to be used for manual labour, workshop type works would be best being in tough metal clad sockets.

These are different to “decorative” sockets and are more focused around durability.

If you plan on having the interior boarded out and decorated, then it is probably best to flush mount the sockets in the interior. This would sit within the boarding (and insulation) and would look exactly the same as any houshold socket.

This way it would be possible to hide all the cables, exactly the same as throughout your home.

The accessories can be decorative chrome or stainless steel. These sockets give a more homely feel to the cabin, perhaps useful for offices or general use cabins (play rooms/bedrooms/etc…).

If you are having a hot tub within your brand new log cabin, then you will not be able to have sockets within the same section as the hot tub itself (unless your cabin is massive). This is due to the shock risk from being wet and touching sockets or electrical items. Log cabin electrics can be dangerous if not completed properly and safely.

Just because you can’t have sockets doesn’t mean we can’t get power to your tub! It just means you can’t have a regular household plug. Items need to be hard wired and also resistant to water splashing.

*** We’ll look at the particulars of hot tubs and how they require special attention further down this post

Log Cabin Lighting Installations

You can really make a huge difference to your own personal cabin by choosing the correct lighting.

If your cabin is for anything “non-work” related then you are likely to want some ability to dim the lighting.

It’s not use trying to relax in your hot tub whilst bright white lights make you squint your eyes!

However, particularly in the case of the hot tub log cabin, it can be difficult to perform any maintenance to the water and such like with just mood lighting.

Hence the need to consider either having different “banks” of lighting that can be switched on and off independently, or else using dimmable lighting.

Whichever way the lights are wired, modern “SMART” lighting controllers can certainly be used. These can enable you to control your log cabin lighting from your phone.

Not only that, you can preset different lighting arrangements for different times of the day. Smart (internet enabled) control of lights is definitely the way to go if budget allows!

Electric Heating for your Log Cabin

So you have just spent a lot of money on a log cabin – of course the weather in the UK (particularly Wakefield) doesn’t seem to care!

In the summer your log cabin is a beautiful place to spend time and relax, or whatever else you have in mind. However in the winter months, particularly at night, your cabin can become cold and uninviting.

Before you deal with your log cabin electrics, your first port of call to deal with this should be to insulate the interior first and foremost. If you haven’t insulated then no matter how much heat you put on, it will all escape quite quickly.

However insulation alone won’t make much of a dent in a UK December temperature. You need some heat – and being that you are removed from the house it’s going to need to be electric heating.

So what are the options?

  • Panel Heaters – if the cabin is small, panel heaters can provide a good source of “on-demand” heat. No good for larger areas, work out too expensive
  • Blown Air Heating – 2/3kw fan heaters mounted higher up. Same as “air curtains” over shop doors. Provides reliable circulating stream of warm air. 3kw ones can be expensive to run continuously. However, if cabin is insulated could be used for a short blast and would heat any sized cabin
  • Electric Radiators – The same as any normal radiator, however they have an electric element within. Much more efficient to run although would take some time to heat anything over a small area. Whilst these take a bit longer to warm a room, it is more like a household room than having “blown warm air” which can be uncomfortable.
  • Infrared Heaters – lower energy usage than typical panel heaters. Provides warm air quickly but again, anything larger will take forever to warm through the whole space. These are the type of heaters often seen outside at pubs and bars.
  • Storage Heaters – unusual to see these in log cabins, however modern storage heaters could be a more efficient way of heating your cabin. Modern storage heaters can use renewable electricity (where available) and also change input and output heat settings to best perform efficiently
  • Heated Floors – heated floors are also an unusual sight in log cabins. However they are a pretty efficient way to keep some background heating on. This option will depend on what you intend to do with your floor, however could be a viable option.

What Else Should I Consider?

When you think you’ve covered all the basics of your log cabin electrics (sockets, lights and such like), time to think outside the box!

A lot of modern equipment requires an internet connection. It could be the smart lighting we’ve already recommended, or it could just be your PC that needs internet access.

Due to the location of most log cabins, removed from the main property, wifi access is usually strained at best.

If internet access is a particularly important part of your log cabin electrics, hard wired data points should be installed. From this it is possible to install wifi within the cabin to serve inside (and the surrounding garden)

If you intend on using your cabin as office space, landline phone access could be required. This can be installed as an extension from your main property, or indeed IP phones could be fitted to your internet connection.

Having gone to all the trouble of installing electrics, installing data and such like your cabin likely contains an amount of equipment and thus money!

At this point it may be worth considering having some form of security fitted.

No one wants to think that a thief will visit them. However it is possible that someone will take advantage of the poor “passive security” (locks, doors, etc…). Sadly most cabins are not particularly well secured and thiefs could take advantage of this.

Alarms are a good addition, enabling you to be alterted should anyone attempt to break into your shiny new log cabin. It may also be worth considering CCTV if you have anything of particular value inside (computers or tools)

Special Rules For Hot Tubs in Log Cabins

If you intend on fitting a hot tub to your log cabin electrics, you need to consider some different rules.

The wiring regulations (BS7671) treat locations containing hot tubs the same as locations with swimming pools.

It’s not as simple as just plonking the hot tub into your log cabin. Your electrician needs to ensure that your log cabin electrics are both up to the task and also safe for use.

Firstly if your property has a specific type of earthing arrangement, you may need an “earth rod” installing. The criteria for this are particularly technical and as such we won’t go into it. Your electrician will be able to advise further on this specific requirement.

Some other requirements that are specific to hot tubs would be no sockets in the area of the hot tub, using water resistant lighting, having RCD protection for all circuits and also only using certain types of switches (for example pullcords so the switch is away from the water)

Large hot tubs also have particularly high power requirements. For pre-existing cabins this can often cause a problem as the supply cable may not have been sized to accommodate this.

Obviously if this is a new installation, and you intend on fitting a hot tub at some point, considering the cable supplying the cabin can pay dividends down the line.

So Who Should Fit My Log Cabin Electrics?

Now you’ve got some idea of what is possible, and what you need to consider, the big question is:

Who should fit my log cabin electrics?

It may be tempting to try and save some £££ by having the log cabin company do the electrics or even try and do them yourself.

Whilst this may seem an attractive idea, it is important to remember the technicalities of your log cabin electrics.

Get your installation wrong and you can end up with an unsafe situation that could cost lots to put right.

Not only that, but as the work will require new circuits to be installed. This work will fall under Part P of the building regulations.

The best (and actually cheapest) way of complying with these regulations is to simply use a registered electrician who will be able to self certify their electrics and provide the necessary paperwork.

Log Cabin Electrics Wakefield

If your Log Cabin needs electrical installation in the Wakefield area then we can help!

As you have seen, we have quite some knowledge on the finer points of log cabin electrics! There are a few things, over and above the standard ‘electric installation’ that you need to ensure that your electrician knows when it comes to log cabins.

One of the most important things to be careful of is to not damaged the logs with any fixings. This extends beyond just using the correct screws, as ultimately the cabin WILL move and expand/shrink in the heat and wet. Because of this, it is important to remember is that anything that is fixed across 2 separate planks of the cabin will cause the wood to split.

We’ve touched upon most of the important things to think about when considering the installation of the electrics in your new log cabin. If you do happen to be local, and need Log Cabin Electrics Wakefield then I’d be happy to come and see your plans and discuss how we can make your electrics work for you….

Summary – Log Cabins & Electrics

So if you have skipped far to the end, I’d like to quickly touch upon the most important things to consider when it comes to your electrical installation.

  • It is important to think about the route of the supply cable between your house and your cabin.
  • You need to plan for what you intend to use your cabin for.  This will help to make locations of sockets and lighting easier to work out
  • If you are thinking of having a hot tub, this needs extra planning of the electrics
  • Anybody who completes this work for you must be an approved electrician registered with one of the awarding bodies

If this guide to log cabin electrics for 2019 has been of any use to you, please give us a quick star rating at the top, and also drop a comment below to let us know!!!

Kind regards
James - ElectricBlu Contractors

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  • Chris
    26th April 2020

    Hi, thanks for this article, I’m looking to get a cabin and I’m curious if the electrics should be run inside or outside ?

    Where internal boarding is not being done, is there any reason why you can’t run the electric cable around the outside of the cabin (within a conduit), and just drill through in the places where you want a socket. Or should everything remain inside and come up from the floor in conduit ?

    Guidance greatly appreciated to help me plan/budget..

    • ElectricBluContractors
      26th April 2020

      Hello Chris thanks for getting in touch and asking the question.

      If there are portions of the log cabin which are not being “boarded over” inside then it would be perfectly acceptable to run the cables around the outside in conduit as you suggest.

      It should definitely be enclosed in conduit in order to provide mechanical protection to the cable which will be outside of the cabin, although you have already mentioned this would be the plan.

      One point to note: If the cabin is made from actual “logs” (as opposed to just a wooden shed) is that the logs can, and do, shrink and expand slightly with the weather. Where you have conduit crossing different logs, it is always a good idea to take this into account by leaving some conduit joints slightly loose to allow for this expansion and prevent splitting of the logs

  • M
    24th November 2020

    That’s a great article but one important thing is missing – with a log cabin, it shouldn’t be treated like a normal structure. A log cabin needs to be able to move (expand/contract) in the seasons. So if you are clipping wires/conduit vertically across the boards to various outlets, when the cabin expands, it’s going to put strain on the wires.

    The log cabin site Tuin(dot)co(dot)uk (no affiliation with me) has a good article explaining this in more detail.


    • ElectricBluContractors
      9th December 2020

      Hello M

      Thanks for your comments, you make a valid point (one which I was already aware of yet failed to mention!)

      Where the boards expand, if this has not been taken into account it often results in splitting of the boards/logs where the wood cannot move without the conduit/trunking forcing it. This can be overcome by allowing some ‘slack’ within the cable containment such that it allows a small amount of expansion/contraction without forcing on the wood itself.

      This can be achieved by using sleeves over round conduit (which are not secured tightly), leaving ‘oval’ slots in the back of trunking so that the screws can move slightly without creating stress and also making efforts to minimise the number of vertical cable runs possible.

      We did complete a job where the cabin was to be used as a woodworking workshop. Obviously this required quite decent protection for the cables against possible damage and hence was completed in galvanised conduit. We ran the main conduit run around the bottom board and then had vertical lifts to each socket. The conduit saddles were left ‘loose’ (not so much as the conduit rattled but it allowed slight movement) to compensate for the movement expected within the wood.

      I will try and dig some photos out to show the work.

      I’ve also found the article you refer to and will link to it here: https://www.tuin.co.uk/blog/electric-in-log-cabins/

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

  • sarah raddings
    20th October 2023

    Is it possible to insulate a log cabin at a later date and put electrics in straight away or must it be insulated first?

    • James @ ElectricBlu Contractors
      23rd October 2023

      Hello Sarah

      Thank you for getting in touch and posting the question.

      It is certainly possible to add insulation at a later date after the electrics have been installed, although depending on the type of insulation used this may be more awkward (also depending on what exact electrical fittings you are installing too).

      Hope that helped?

      Kind regards
      James – ElectricBlu Contractors

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