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Outdoor Lighting / Wiring Into Weatherproof Box

 
 
CDobyns
 
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 02:46 pm
Before I headed out on a recent business trip, my wife insisted I rush the installation of some outdoor floodlights, in order to ward off burglars (whether real or imagined), while I was gone. I've done this type of installation before, but the only source of electrical power available was an all-weather outlet box on our deck. In the interim, I spliced the electrical line onto a length of outdoor power cord and simply plugged it into the all-weather plug (see image below), and heavily taped and waterproofed the splice, as a tempory connection. That installation has worked fine, and the burglars (real or imagined) have apparently been sufficiently deterred.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/100_2149.jpg

The long-term plan is to run the floodlight wiring into the all-weather electrical box, and run it out of the box within the wall cavity, and straight up into a swithbox which currently exists on the inside wall directly parallel and within the same stud space as the all-weather exterior outlet box. I plan on swapping out the single switchbox for a double and wiring in the floodlights to the existing circuit, which also currently controls a small exterior light.

All the above is within my capability, since I've done it before, but I'm less clear on how to run the exterior wiring into the exterior box properly, in order to maintain the all-weather integrity, since the two access openings on the external box are currently three-prong plugs. I want to retain at least one plug for the deck, but can I swap out an all-weather connector which will enable me to run the wiring into the box and then vertically up into the the space between the studs and into the interior switchbox? And can I do that without have to completely swapout the entire external all-weather box? Suggestions?
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 02:58 pm
@CDobyns,
I'm not an electrician by any means, but you should not disengage the "3rd" plug which is the ground. You've heard of all the horror stories in Iraq where our soldiers are getting electrocuted; that's because of faulty wiring. You may want to install a GFI outlet that's completely enclosed in a waterproof casing.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  3  
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 05:33 pm
@CDobyns,
CDobyns wrote:
All the above is within my capability, since I've done it before, but I'm less clear on how to run the exterior wiring into the exterior box properly, in order to maintain the all-weather integrity, since the two access openings on the external box are currently three-prong plugs. I want to retain at least one plug for the deck, but can I swap out an all-weather connector which will enable me to run the wiring into the box and then vertically up into the the space between the studs and into the interior switchbox? And can I do that without have to completely swapout the entire external all-weather box? Suggestions?


Since you plan on running the wires inside the wall cavity you shouldn't be using the front of that box for connecting your wires. You'd access the body of the box inside the wall and use the correct fittings to secure the (correct) new wires to the box through one of the knock-out openings (There is no telling what the box behind that faceplate is. If it is a weather-tight box then it will actually have "screw outs" instead of knock-outs.) in the portion of the box that is inside the wall. That's pretty easy to do if the inside wall is open. If it isn't, you either need to open the wall to access it or "fish" the new wire down to the box opening.

You should be using appropriately sized ROMEX cable to do all of this with - not a power or extension cord (the cord in your pic looks like low-voltage outdoor cable which is extremely unsafe if true.) . Of course, you shouldn't be doing any of this until you've confirmed that the wiring to that outlet box and it's associated circuit breaker have adequate remaining capacity as well.
CDobyns
 
  3  
Reply Sun 24 Aug, 2008 07:07 pm
@fishin,
Okay, already some good input - and thank goodness I've got most of this covered. For cicerone imposter, the good news is that, as an outdoor receptacle, I know factually that this outlet is already on a GFCI. And in the floodlight interim installation, I religiously maintained the ground wire throughout the circuit.

For fishin, I did confirm that there was a sufficient amount of capacity on the circuit/breaker. As you probably already noted in the graphic, this installation is using the appropriate size ROMEX wiring. I will concede again, that admittedly the use of the outdoor three-wire power cord splice (which you correctly spotted) was not the optimal installation, but it was a stopgap for a couple of days to ward off the "burglars". And again, the splice connection was sealed and secured six ways to Sunday - since I acknowledge that it was the weakest link in the whole circuit.

I did study the idea of fishing the installation into the exterior box from below, but give the thickness of the deck and height position of the exterior box, the whole thing (below the level of the deck) is effectively sitting on top of the sill, which is also sitting right on top of the concrete foundation - so absent a jackhammer and the consulting services of a structural engineer, coming in from "below" was not in any way a viable option. So, in the brighter light of more information, which I probably should have provided upfront, any suggestions for the front door approach? I've seen what appear to be outlet adapters, which allow mixed (plugged outlet + wire) installations in this type of all-weather box. I hesitated to suggest a response, so as not to predispose anyone to a solution, but that's looks viable to me. I was hoping that someone would independently confirm that approach, and still will - even though I've maybe predisposed folks to an answer now.

And am I mistaken, or has the format of this forum changed recently? I could hardly find the core forum topical areas in order to post this? Maybe it has changed, but I just haven't picked up on the "intuitiveness" of the new look.
fishin
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 04:13 am
@CDobyns,
The site's format has changed. Your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. Wink

Something you could attempt if fishing through the wall cavity isn't possible would be a box extension. They screw onto the front of the existing box and have no back in them. The existing outlet then screws onto the front of the extension. The entire idea of them to to make the box deeper. I can't recall ever having seen one with knockouts in it but you could look at what is available in your area.
You'd be looking for something like this:

http://www.drillspot.com/pimages/2906/290680_300.jpg

If you could find one (Or drill your own hole in one that doesn't have knockouts)
you could come out of the box with an outdoor conduit fitting and then bring the thing inside the wall cavity where ever you are able to.
dadpad
 
  3  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 04:29 am
@fishin,
http://www.rd.com/images/tfhimport/2004/20040401_OUTDOOR_LIGHT_page003img001.jpg

Fishin is onto it (as usual). Take the conduit out the bottom of the extension.
fishin
 
  2  
Reply Mon 25 Aug, 2008 03:17 pm
@dadpad,
Ooooo! That's a purdy pic dadpad! I wish I had found that earlier!
CDobyns
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Sep, 2008 04:59 pm
@fishin,
I thought I would revisit this topic and give everyone a sneak preview of my likely, next course of action on resolving this electrical problem, and more importantly addressing the "jury-rigged" outlet plug solution that I am currently using.

Seems like the approach suggested by most, and coincidentally the approach that I was leaning toward originally myself, was to "build-out" the existing weatherproof electrical box and then bring in the Romex wiring, and eventually fish that that back into the wall space - and up into the interior electrical box that runs parallel on the inside interior wall. To accomplish this, I plan on using the pictured electrical box extension (and the pictured installation detail), and then bring in the Romex wiring through one of the external openings (unless someone advises me strongly against this approach). I wish I knew how to scale this picture, and I generally know how to do that with HTML code, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/100_2159.jpg

I guess the one part I'm a little hazy on is, I know I'll need to install three "plugs" in the extension box openings, but I'm less clear on what kind of connection is appropriate to route the Romex cable into the box, and still maintain its weatherproof integrity. I guess my friends at Lowe's will be able to provide me with the answer, but it's fun to ask folks on the forum for input also. Thanks!

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/100_2161.jpg
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 04:33 am
@CDobyns,
CDobyns wrote:

I guess the one part I'm a little hazy on is, I know I'll need to install three "plugs" in the extension box openings, but I'm less clear on what kind of connection is appropriate to route the Romex cable into the box, and still maintain its weatherproof integrity. I guess my friends at Lowe's will be able to provide me with the answer, but it's fun to ask folks on the forum for input also. Thanks!


You can't just run the romex into the box with a connector. The entire length of the romex that is outside will have to be in a weatherproof conduit to meet building codes (and it isn't smart to sidestep the code on this particular issue.*). Lowes (or Home Depot, etc...) will carry the grey Schedule 40 PVC outdoor conduit in the same aisle that you'll find that exterior box. Buy as much conduit as your need (you can buy pre-formed 90 deg or 45 deg turns if you need them too!) the fittings and another weatherproof box for your terminnation at the other end of the conduit. Since you'll be pulling romex through the conduit you'll want 3/4" or 1" diameter.

Once you have the counduit in place you run your romex through the conduit and hookup the wires and mount your lighting fixture to the other exterior box. That will give you a weather-tight system all the way to the fixture.

* You REALLY do want to have that romex in a conduit. The romex has insulation but that is for electrical purposes and exposure to the elements will impact it fairly quickly. That insulation also offers NO physical protection to the wires. If someone bumps the wires with a hedge trimmer, garden shears, etc... they'll cut right through and zap themselves. The conduit is mandated in the building code for a reason and this one is completely legit.
0 Replies
 
CDobyns
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Nov, 2008 01:54 pm
@CDobyns,
Just as a follow-up to this original posting, I thought it would be beneficial to post some pictures that show a little "before" and "after" - regarding the installation of the weatherproof box, which now includes conduit running into the box, for the floodlight wiring.

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/100_2343.jpg

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z319/CGDobyns/100_2344.jpg

The exterior weatherproof extension box all went together very easily. Strangely, the most troublesome part was running the floodlight wiring up (or down) through the wall space behind the outside outlet and then up into the electrical switchbox on the interior wall. Although the vertical distance seemed to be no more than about three feet, no amount of "fishing" with a coat hanger ever seemed to be successful. Only after taping two coat hangers together was I able to fish through to the bottom outlet and pull the connecting wire. Speaking of fishing, hopefully this installation meets with fishin's standards - since he is (thankfully) the collective code of standards conscience for this board.
0 Replies
 
 

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