Adding a Porch Light

Intro

Porch lights add safety, security, and style to an entryway. They illuminate steps and help you see callers before you open the door. You need to supply power and install an interior switch, projects described separately on this site.

Checklist

Time
About 6 hours to run cable, install fixture and a switch

Tools
Voltage tester, drill, 1/4-inch bit, jigsaw, fish tape, drywall saw, screwdriver, strippers, long-nose pliers, lineman's pliers

Skills
Locating studs; cutting into siding; stripping, splicing, and connecting wires to terminals; installing boxes; running cable into boxes

Materials
Fixture(s), outdoor box(es), two-wire cable, interior switch box, switch, electrician's tape, caulk, wire nuts, bent coat hanger

Install the Box and Fixture: Step 1

Before wiring the switch use a fish tape to pull the switch cable out through the fixture box opening. Strip 8 inches of sheathing and clamp the cable to the box. Install the box. For two lights, run cable and install the second box.

Install the Box and Fixture: Step 2

Strip the individual wires, removing about 3/4 inch of insulation from each. Attach the mounting strap (typically provided with the light fixture) so the mounting bolts are positioned to hold the fixture.

Install the Box and Fixture: Step 3

Support the fixture with a wire coat hanger. Connect the ground. Splice the white lead to white wire and black to black. Fold the wires into the box and install the fixture onto the mounting bolts. Caulk around the base. Wire the switch, install a bulb, and test.

Cutting a Hole for the Box Opening: Step 1

Using a 1/4-inch bit, drill a finder hole and use a bent wire to check that the box is not positioned over or too near a stud.

Cutting a Hole for the Box Opening: Step 2

Check for any pipes or cables in the wall. If clear, trace the outline of the box on the siding. Use a jigsaw to cut an opening for the box.


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