How to Install Outdoor Lighting and Outlets
Need more outdoor lighting, but don’t have the plugs to provide electricity? You could resort to self-powered solar lights, or you could install a new outlet for outdoor lighting. Installing outdoor lighting is something most handymen and women can do on their own, even if there currently isn’t a source of electricity available in the desired location. Follow these steps to give yourself new outdoor lighting and outlet installations.
Plan Your Lighting Project
Before you can purchase the necessary tools and equipment for your job, you’ll need to plan your project. Map out the space where you wish to install the new lighting fixture. You’ll probably need to run a safe underground line to a distant location if an outlet doesn’t currently exist where you want the light. Purchase the right amount of 120-volt household current line to run from an existing outlet to where you need the light. You will need:
- Rough map of your deck or yard
- Locations of all available outdoor outlets
- Voltage/amp capacity of available outlets
- Measurement of how much wire you’ll need
- Number and types of light fixtures you wish to install
- Trowel or shovel for digging a trench
- Fundamental wiring skills
- Basic carpentry and electrical tools
Purchase plastic-shielded cable for outdoor use (underground feeder cable), digging tools, and basic electrical tools if you don’t already have them. Installing outdoor lighting is relatively simple, but you should still have at least a basic knowledge of how to wire a fixture.
Run the Wire
Once you map the route for the wire you’ll run underground (spray paint is a common method for wire mapping), dig a 12-inchdeep trench that connects your outdoor outlet to where you want the fixture. If you don’t have any available outdoor outlets, you can install one.
First, mark the location of your new outdoor outlet next to an existing electrical box. Make sure to tap into a circuit that will have enough capacity to handle your light fixtures. Go outside and drill a 3/4-inch hole in the siding of your home over the smaller hole.
Turn off the circuit breaker for the outlet, remove the receptacle from the electrical box, and unscrew the wires from the outlet. The box must be large enough to safely hold more wires. Drill through the wall (away from a stud) and siding for a new outlet location. You will need to run cable between the two outlets, wire the interior outlet, and wire the exterior outlet.
Don’t forget to protect your new outdoor outlet with a weatherproof box cover. Run your plastic shielded cable from the outlet to the location you want your exterior lighting, burying it in the trench.
Install Your Light
Build or purchase a light post to contain your fixture. Then, connect the light post or other fixture to the cable you ran using a basic electrical connection process. You may need help from an electrician if you’ve never connected a fixture to a cord. Mount your light fixture to the post based on the directions, and you’re done! Enjoy a well-lit outdoor area.