Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Small update on progress!

Just a small update on the current situation. I had to wait until I could get a quote from the electrician before proceeding, that is now complete.

The original plan for the electrics was to go from the consumer unit to the shed with a completely new ring main. The biggest problem (or more of a pain) with this is that the consumer unit is in a downstairs toilet at the FRONT of the house, while the shed is as far away from the BACK of the house as possible. This would mean a cable would have to:

  • Go out the side wall of the downstairs toilet, into the garage
  • Run along the side and back of the garage wall, and then through the wall into the utility room
  • Along the utility room wall, then through the (brick) wall to the kitchen
  • Across the top of the kitchen cupboards
  • Out the main wall to outside (at 2nd level height)
  • Down the wall, along the fence to the shed
This would mean a very long run of cable. 

The electrician worked out that I really dont need that kind of dedicated ring main as the room will be running 2 computers, 2 screens a tv and a Tivo box plus an uplight - remember I'm not having a fixed ceiling light added, so no extra fuse will be needed for that.

After some fiddling round behind cabinets, we found that there is a plug socket on a 13 amp circuit for the dishwasher that can be tapped. So we're basically taking a spur from that socket which can then go directly out the wall to the garden then along the fence, saving a good 20 meters of extra cable!

So the complete job will be:
  • Fit fused switching spur in kitchen (I assume that's something along these lines but could be completely wrong)
  • Fit ~20-25 meters of SWA cable through to the shed
  • Three double plug sockets in the shed 
We did discuss an extra consumer unit in the shed, however from the looks of things it really isn't needed. The only benefit would be that if there was a fault in the shed, it would trip in the shed instead of the house. Given that I'm happy to walk 20 paces back to the house to flip the switch (assuming it ever goes off), it really wasn't worth having it put in. Obviously if I ever decide I want it in, it wouldn't be much of a job as the SWA cable can be cut and put into a consumer unit with minimal cable threading required.

The total cost for the electrics was way lower than I was thinking it would be. I've been scouting round forums looking to see how much people were quoted, just to get a rough idea. It was messy! Some people would be quoted £100 while some were quoted £1000+! I played safe and budgeted £600 as a precautionary measure. Much to my surprise the quote came in at a little over £200 - very reasonable! This is obviously all Part-P verified work too, so is completely legitimate. This means I can spend a little more on the interior and other finishing touches.

So, there's the electrics! It's being hooked up on Friday 13th...I just hope thats not an omen!

Solar Power

I should add at this point that being a bit of a computer geek kid of guy, I've bought a few of these new Raspberry Pi computers. Its basically a micro-computer that is about the size of a credit card, and runs on a measly 5v USB power supply. The three I've bought are on backorder and should be here within 10 weeks. My plan for them is to hook them up to a solar panel. I'm on the look out for a very simple panel on a stick. Maplin used to sell one but seem to have stopped now. The idea is that these three mini computers will run my local web server which I use for development. This means that I can avoid having a second beefy computer plugged in, and instead run these little devices off free power. Further down the line I may extend my options and opt for a bigger panel however I'm planning on starting small for now.


I'm also looking into running one of these Raspberry Pi's as a security system. I should be able to hook up a night-vision webcam which could be mounted in the corner of the room. Then using the raspberry pi, set it to record to a network drive inside the house (would be a bit silly having the drive in the shed). This on top of a standard motion sensor and door sensors should be ample security. 

There will actually be very little value in anything sold as I'm going to be selling my desktop computer and getting one of the new MacBook Pro's as these support 2 screens. Meaning I can use it as a desktop computer in the office during the day, then take it out with me at night. Meaning the most anyone could get away with would be a couple of cheapo screens and a badly screen-burnt TV. These however would be anchored to something non-movable using a Kensington lock.

Additional Wiring

I was planning on using a 'Slingbox Pro HD' to basically allow me to pick up TV from my Virgin TIVO box. This transmits the picture over your local network and allows you to change the channel. Unfortunately some clever person at Slingbox decided not to support HDMI, and another clever person at Virgin/Tivo decided not to support component cable connections from the box.

Because of this I've ordered a 30 meter WF100 Coaxial cable from and will be running this to the shed and placing the Tivo box in there. This is assuming there isn't a huge amount of signal loss.

Assuming the cable works (I'll be testing it down there first before fixing it into place) Im also going to run ethernet to the office. I was going to skip this and stick with the trusty home-plugs however if I've got to run a cable down there anyway, I may as well run 2 and get a solid network connection. 

The end is really in sight now. Once the electrics are in place I can get the room completely plaster-boarded and skim over the joints (that should be fun...remember that I've got practically zero DIY experience prior to this!). Once its skimmed over I can get on with the interior work. I've also got to find some sort of vent to fit into the wall which is proving to be a nightmare to find anything that will work with the thickness of wall. 

Right thats all for now. I'll probably be posting an update on or around Friday 13th when the electrics are being done!

(Sidenote: Hmm...ok I lied, that wasn't a small update at all!)


  1. Hey Mate,

    i have been following your blog as I will be doing pretty much exactly the same build. I have ordered a Shire Security Cabin (I got a good deal from a local supplier).

    My advice is run Cat5E cable from your house. The mains plug things work OK but nothing beats the quality of cable. A 305m drum should set you back no more than £50 (305m is probably way overkill but it's cheaper than buying shorter lengths). Blackbox are good supplier. If you are thinking of running 2 cables, run 4. Also I will be running WF100 cable to my shed and I bought exactly the same as you from satcure. I wired up my whole house with this and it works fine. It should do exactly as you need.

    On another note I have to run SWA cable from the front of my house round the back and to the end of a 110ft garden so your 20m is paltry!

    What did you use for the stud timber? And what did you use for the membrane?

    Good luck


    1. Hi Stu,

      Yeah I think it probably will end up being cat5e. I may go for Cat6 - either will be fine but I guess cat6 offers a bit of futureproofing. I've been using a 200mbps homeplug for the last year in a bedroom and its been excelent. I'm sure it would continue to work fine in the shed, but obviously has the speed bottleneck - makes sense to put ethernet down there to get full speed! We recently got upgraded to Virgin's 100mbps broadband so ethernet will allow me to take full advantage of it (IIRC the 200mbps home-plugs struggle to get 100mbps in real-world use)

      Glad that the WF100 worked for you - I had a few people tell me it wouldn't work however after posting on cable forums an engineer said it should be ok and will only loose about 5dba on a 30 meter run. Worst case scenario is that I'll have to get a virgin tech to adjust the power on the line.

      For the stud timber I used Wickes 'Studwork Timber' (linky: - it provided a near perfect space for the 50mm celotex insulation.

      For the membrane on the walls it was a 50m roll off eBay. Its actually labeled as roof membrane (despite sold as being for walls). It's very similar (if not the same) as this stuff:

      Good luck on your build and be sure to post some pictures up! :)


  2. i to was going to use a night vision camera (i got one to keep an eye on my baby when she was young) and get it to record to my NAS in the house.
    geeks and their sheds huh.
    I saw you was looking at ventilation, did you look at the solar powered fans? they keep the air flow going pretty well it seems.

    1. Hi Ross,

      I did look at one solar fan that Dunster House sell but it was £100! I'll definitely have a look around and see if I can find one a bit cheaper though!

    2. :) that was my first thought @£100 it was a bit steep. Ebay or maplins i think!

    3. I did have a thought. If I'm going to end up putting a solar panel in for the raspberry pi's I could just run this fan off it and get a bigger panel. I'd have though a 40 watt one would be more than enough for a standard computer fan.

      Theoretically all I'd need is a fan, a bit of plastic ducting, a vent on the inside, and a shuttered vent on the outside. Then hook it up to the solar panel battery, the same way the raspberry pi's would hook up to it.

      This is all 'in theory' - I've not looked into it enough to understand what is/isn't possible!