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I'm going to be running new 14/2 from an outlet mounted on the inside of the same wall, through the header, and into the eave/soffit cavity outside. This new outlet will be used to power a nest camera and some string lights.

To keep things looking clean, I was thinking of just doing a surface install to the side of one of the ceiling joists that extends into the soffit. The soffit is wood, so to give me access to this outlet (both during installation and for somewhat adhering to code) I was going to install an access panel in the soffit.

My question is can I run the Romex directly into the box mounted to the joist? Or, since that outlet will still technically be accessible, do I need to use conduit over the Romex wherever it's visible from the open access panel?

Unrelated but for completeness, I intend to drill a hole in the soffit to route the lights and camera cables into the soffit cavity and plug them into the new outlet. Then caulk around that hole to close things up.

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I suppose if you put an access panel in the soffit and a receptacle inside the attic. As far as the NEC is concerned there doesn't seem to be a problem. However if you install a piece of equipment with a standard cord connection on the exterior and run that connection through the soffit. That does violate the NEC.

I may not be correct, but I imagine everyone including myself who has viewed this post is wondering, "If you are cutting in an access panel in the soffit, why not just install a duplex flush in the soffit?".

Personally I am against installing devices in remote, concealed areas since they could potentially become faulty and create a fire hazard. There is a potential that this type of condition could go unobserved until a fire is out of hand.

Hope this helps and good luck

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  • "If you are cutting in an access panel in the soffit, why not just install a duplex flush in the soffit?" <-- very much this!! While you're at it, make it a GFCI outlet - code may not require it, but a $30 outlet (vs a $3 outlet) is far cheaper than burning the house down. – FreeMan Jun 5 at 12:59
  • Thanks for the help. I didn't realize that running a cord from outside to inside like that would violate code. I'm not overly concerned about code, but also don't want to take steps on the one hand to satisfy code and on the other violate it. I had wanted to avoid installing a surface mount outlet just because I don't think it will look as nice. You're right that this is the right way to do things, though, so I'll plan for that. Thanks again! – niqolas Jun 5 at 13:56
  • @FreeMan How will you reset a GFCI in such a difficult-to-access location? I mean I agree GFCI protection is advised and maybe required - but if you put TEST buttons in difficult locations, the unit does not get tested. Or reset lol. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 5 at 17:18
  • The same way you plug something in to it, @Harper-ReinstateMonica, with a ladder. And, while I know you're supposed to test GFCI outlets/breakers monthly, do people actually do it? (Well, people who aren't professional electricians...) – FreeMan Jun 5 at 17:30
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    @FreeMan correct. See also "GFCIs in ceilings for lights/garage door openers". – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 5 at 17:38
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Power only low-voltage things.

You're quite correct to want to avoid bringing 120VAC outside. However, your plan of bringing the appliance's cords through outside wall penetrations is a code violation.

Here's the point: Bringing low-voltage through wall penetrations is legit.

So the camera, who's kidding who? It's not a 120V camera, it's a low-voltage camera and you'll be plugging a wall-wart into the socket. The lights, I don't know, but I bet if you shopped you could find 12V/24V DC versions of those lights.

Well, bringing that low voltage stuff through the wall penetration is ducky-doo. It solves both problems: Keeps the 120V branch circuit indoors, and brings power through the wall.

Heck, with cameras you can even use Power-over-Ethernet, though I would not bother if this works well.

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