Installing Waterproof Outdoor Lighting

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Outdoor lighting can provide security, safety, and style to your dwelling. You want to be sure that any lighting you install is built to withstand the elements, particularly if the conditions are damp or harsh. Waterproof outdoor lighting can be just what is required for these conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Lighting fixtures
  • Electrical wiring
  • Wiring conduit
  • Wiring tools
  • Wirenuts and tape
  • Decide where you'll be placing your lighting fixtures. This is the fundamental element involved in doing the work. Knowing where the light(s) will be will have a direct effect on the materials required, the work that needs to be done, plus the cost and the time you'll be budgeting for the job. Every job will be different, but for the purposes of example, we'll imaging that we'll be installing a waterproof light fixture on an outdoor deck in the rear of your house.

  • Decide where you'll be tapping into the power. In our case, we'll tap into an existing wall outlet, near the door leading to the deck. This will give us a power supply near where we need the light, and let us install a switch to turn the light on and off in a spot that's convenient. With the electricity off, remove the faceplate to the power outlet, and unscrew it. In the wall above the outlet, cut a hole large enough to install a wall switch. Behind this opening, drill a hole to the outside. Run wire out of the hole of sufficient length to reach the light location, and connect this to the wall switch. Now drop wire down to the existing outlet, and connect it between the wall switch and the outlet. See the diagram for an illustration.

  • Install conduit to carry the wiring to the light location. Start with a connection to the house at the point where the new wiring exits from behind the switch. Then run the wiring conduit from that location to where you'll be installing the light. Be sure that the junction of the conduit with the house is watertight. Seal any gaps with a silicon sealant to ensure it stays tight.

  • Install the light at the location you've chosen. Specific installation instructions will vary, depending on the light chosen, but the basic principles are usually something like this: Install the light's base plate, ensuring that the wiring is fed through the opening of the base. Attach it securely using screws or nails, depending on the surface you're applying it to. Once the base plate is secured, attach the wiring to the light, being sure that you have solid connections. Then, finally, the installation of the light is completed according to the specific instructions. Most waterproof lights have a secure and watertight gasket that must be sealed after the light is installed.

  • Turn the power back on and check for proper operation. Within the first few weeks after installing the light and wiring, check all connections and attachment points to be sure they are still tight.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never work on a live circuit -- always turn off the power first.

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