How To Install Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting comes with a multitude of benefits from both a safety and a style point of view! Whether you’re wanting to install outdoor lighting create a social atmosphere for patio dining or you simply want outdoor lighting to serve a practical purpose such as lighting a clear path or making your garden less of an easy target for burglars, outdoor lighting is a great solution for gardens and outdoor areas.
While you can certainly hire a professional electrician to install your outdoor lighting (and if you’re not very experienced, we recommend doing so!), you can install outdoor lighting yourself if you make sure that you follow the correct safety precautions.
Safety Precautions When Installing Outdoor Lighting
To make following these safety precautions even easier, we’ve made a simple checklist for you to refer to if you’re thinking about installing outdoor lighting.
- Ensure the mains power is switched off
- Switch off the breaker and, if possible, lock it
- As you work, stick a note on any units you’re working on as a reminder to yourself and to notify others the work is taking place
- Socket test each circuit to check they are safe to work with before you begin (a voltage tester will be required for lighting circuits)
- Socket test (or voltage test) all finished work before use
- Install all outdoor lighting in accordance with your local Building Regulations
- Install all outdoor lighting in compliance with the latest IEE Wiring Regulations
Once you’re sure you’re qualified and safe to install your outdoor lighting, take a look at our guidance on how to install different kinds of outdoor lighting.
How to Install Outdoor Wall Lighting
Outdoor lighting can be fixed to the exterior walls of your home in order to effectively illuminate areas such as paths, patios and doorways. These outdoor wall lights can be connected via spurs from existing lighting, or via power circuits.
In order to do this, it’s good practice to use an RCD (residual current device) so that in the event of a fault, the power will shut off straight away. Many modern lighting units already come fitted with an RCD and RCD protection is, in fact, compulsory for most electrical devices, but it’s always worth checking that your lighting has an RCD fitted in case you do need to wire one in separately.
- Drill a hole in the wall where you want your light fitting to appear – make the drill hole tilt slightly upwards with the higher end towards the inside of the wall and the lower end towards the outside of the wall. Place a plastic conduit inside the drill hole and feel your cable through.
- Make sure the cable cores are connected to the right terminals within the unit, or use strip connectors to connect the cable cores to its flex cores. Prevent any damage from damp by tightly wrapping these in PVC tape.
- Fix the light to your outer wall and apply a silicone sealant to prevent any moisture from getting into the fixture.
- Run the light supply cable back to a suitable place for cutting into a main lighting circuit cable back inside the house. The circuit cable should have a four-terminal junction box.
- Install a switch indoors and run a two-core-and-earth cable back to the position of the junction box at a length of 1mm²
- Ensuring that the power is off with a voltage tester, isolate the circuit and then cut through the main circuit cable to make the appropriate connections in the junction box
How To Install Mains-Powered Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can be powered from a spur off a ring circuit by using a 5 amp fused connection unit. Outdoor lights should be supplied via a 1.5mm² three core steel-wire-armoured cable (SWA), plus the outdoor lights themselves should be weatherproof and RCD protected for your safety.
How To Install Outdoor Lighting With An SWA Cable
- The three cores of an SWA cable are brown, black and grey. You must ensure that the black core is covered with green or yellow sleeving at each connection point to indicate that this is the earth cable
- SWA should be buried between 450mm-750mm deep underground to prevent it from being accidentally cut, which could prove to be fatal. If you want to take an extra precaution, run an electrical route marker table above the cable at around 150mm deep
- Secure an SWA to the wall of your house using cable clips which can be fixed to any masonry using plugs and screws
- If you need to cut through the SWA, use a junior hacksaw, and strip back the armouring as necessary using pliers
- Connect the cores of the SWA to a 1.5mm² two-core-and-earth cable which should be in a weatherproof adaptable box currently fixed to the wall of your house. The SWA should enter the box via a weatherproof gland that’s protected with a plastic gland shroud – this is incredibly important in preventing the cable armouring from corroding
- Connect the cable to your lights, paying close attention to any earth connections and waterproof seals to ensure vital weatherproofing
How To Install Low-Voltage Outdoor Lighting
If any of the above options are looking a little too complex, you may wish to consider low-voltage outdoor lighting. Low-voltage outdoor lights are the easiest to install, and also the safest! These outdoor lights can usually be found on spikes which are easily pushed into the ground. Instead of running complicated and dangerous wires, low-voltage outdoor lighting uses power from a transformer by way of a two-core cable.
- Plug your 12-volt transformer into an indoor socket that’s protected from the weather (garages or sheds will be fine as long as they are weatherproof)
- Depending on the circuit length and load, the cable size may vary – drill an appropriately sized hole in the wall (or door, or window frame), line with a conduit, then pass the cable through
- Plug the hole with a silicone sealant to protect against any moisture
- Lay the cable either on or just below the surface – it’s safe to do so because of the low voltage, just make sure it isn’t a trip hazard!
How To Install Solar Powered Outdoor Lighting
Of course, an even simpler alternative is simply to install solar-powered outdoor lighting. Eco-friendly and able to run at no cost to you, solar-powered outdoor lights are a popular choice of decorative outdoor lighting that don’t require mains.
Discover all kinds of outdoor lighting options right here at Dusk Lighting, and remember, if you’re unsure if you’re able to install an outdoor light fitting yourself, seek the advice of a qualified electrician first.