How to Wire Outdoor Lighting


Outdoor lighting provides curb appeal as well as safety for your home. Special features of your home and landscape can be accented at night. Walkways and entrances can be well-lit to provide safety from tripping or to identify strangers before they can get too close to the house. Outdoor lighting must be wired from the main electrical source and some obstacles, such as running cable under driveways and sidewalks, will have to be considered. Before digging, always contact your local utilities to mark the location of underground electrical, water, sewer and gas lines.

Things You'll Need

  • Outdoor lights
  • Direct bury wire
  • Tape measure
  • Conduit
  • Sledgehammer
  • Pipe cutter
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Crimpers (if needed for connectors)
  • Connectors for splicing
  • Silicone caulk
  • Shovel
  • Plan the location for floodlights, spotlights and walkway lights and lay the lights at their location on the ground.

  • Dig a trench according to the depth required for your local area (6 to 24 inches) for direct-bury electrical lines. Contact your municipal office to check for the appropriate depth. Remove all sharp rocks and roots that could damage the coating on the wire. Place the removed soil to one side the trench so it can be replaced after the wire is installed.

  • Allow at least 3 feet of excess direct bury wire and follow the lights around the path for the planned lights. Remember to leave twice the length of the depth of the trench of excess wire for each fixture to accommodate the depth needed to reach the top of the ground and back into the trench for each fixture.

  • Measure the width of driveways or sidewalks with a tape measure and cut a length of conduit allowing 6 inches more than the width of the surface with a pipe cutter. Maintain the same depth as the trench when installing under hardscaping. Crimp the end of a piece of conduit and use a sledge hammer to drive the conduit under the solid surface. Cut off the crimped end with a pipe cutter when it reaches the other side of the solid surface. Push the wire through the conduit to maintain one continuous run of main wire.

  • Connect the lights with the chosen connectors for splicing the fixtures into the wire. Test the connections by turning on power to ensure that each splice is working properly. Coat each connection with silicone caulk and allow the caulk to dry according to package directions before burying.

  • Lay the wire into the trench. Cover with the excavated soil and sod.

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