Adding outdoor porch light is a perfect way to enhance functionality and aesthetic appeal of your home's exterior. Porch lights provide illumination for your outdoor living spaces and can also serve as an additional layer of security for your home.
Installing outdoor porch lights is a relatively simple DIY project you can complete in just a few hours, depending on the number of lights you plan to install.
In this guide, our experts will take you step-by-step and explain how to install outdoor porch lights, including the tools you'll need, how to choose the right location, and how to wire the lights to your home's electrical system.
So let's get started and shine some light on how to brighten up your porch.
How to install outdoor porch lights step-by-step?
Before we cover the steps to follow to install and hang your outdoor lighting, here are a few essential tools and materials you have to get ready:
- Outdoor porch lights - Select lights rated for outdoor use with a design to complement the style of your home.
- Mounting hardware - This includes screws and anchors to secure the lights to your home's exterior wall.
- Wire cutters/strippers - You'll need these to strip the wire ends of your new light fixtures and the existing wires in your electrical box.
- Voltage tester - This tool helps you to ensure the electrical wires are not live before you begin to work on them.
- Screwdrivers - Both a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver will come in handy when attaching the mounting hardware and connecting the wires.
- Electrical tape - This is used to secure the wire connections and prevent them from becoming loose.
- Wire nuts - The small, cone-shaped plastic connectors are used to join the wires together safely.
- Ladder - Depending on the height of your porch, you may need a ladder to reach the mounting location.
Before beginning the installation, be sure to turn off the power to the existing electrical box at the circuit breaker to avoid any electrical accidents.
Step 1: Drill Pilot Hole
The first step for installing outdoor lights is to drill a pilot hole. You can use a power drill and a small drill bit to create a starter hole for the screws that secure the light fixture to the porch.
The pilot hole should be slightly smaller than the screws to ensure a tight and secure fit. Choose the location for the pilot hole wisely - it should be centered and level, and double-check before drilling to avoid any mistakes or damages to the porch.
Step 2: Cut Hole
The second step is to cut a hole in the electrical box. You should use a jigsaw or a keyhole saw to carefully cut out a hole in the porch where the electrical box will be mounted.
You need to measure and mark the place of the hole beforehand to ensure it is centered and level with the pilot hole. The size of the hole should match the size of the electrical box. You probably have the typically standard 4-inch square box. After you cut the hole, the electrical box can be inserted and secured to the porch using screws.
Step 3: Run Wire
For the third step, you install the electrical wire that powers your outdoor porch light. You need to run a new electrical cable from your home's electrical panel or an existing junction box to the location of the new porch light. The cable should be suitable for outdoor use and buried at least 6 inches deep to protect it from damage.
Another option is to run the cable along the surface of your home's exterior using conduit or cable clips to secure it in place.
You should follow your local building codes and safety guidelines. If you're not comfortable and don't feel you have the knowledge to do it, consider hiring a licensed electrician so it will be done safely and according to building codes.
Step 4: Install Box
To install the box you have to attache an electrical box to the exterior wall of your home, where you want to install your porch lighting. This box provides a secure and stable surface to mount the light fixture and also protects the wiring connections.
First, mark the place of the box on the outdoor wall, drill holes for the mounting screws, and attach the box with screws and anchors. The type of box you'll need will depend on the size and weight of your outdoor light fixture and the type of wall material you're mounting it on.
The box should be leveled and flush with the wall, and the wiring connections should be safely secured inside the box. It's also important to follow all manufacturer instructions and local building codes when installing the electrical box.
Step 5: Install Light Hardware
In this step, all you need to do is fasten the screws to the mounting straps to the lightbox.
Ensure the mounting strap is level before you finally secure the screws.
Step 6: Wire Fixture
Strip the wire to remove about 3/4 inch of insulation from the ends of the wires coming from the outdoor light fixture and the wires in the junction box.
If your lighting fixture has a ground wire, connect it to the green or bare copper wire in the junction box using a wire connector.
If there is no ground wire on the fixture, connect the green or bare copper wire from the junction box to the mounting bracket or the ground screw on the fixture.
Once the wires are connected, tuck them carefully into the junction box.
Step 7: Install Fixture
Now, secure the fixture by using the screws to attached the mounting bracket of the fixture to the junction box.
The next step is to install the light bulb by screwing the light bulb of the appropriate wattage for your fixture, following the manufacturer's instructions.
After that, check and turn the power back on and use a voltage tester to ensure the wires are properly connected and the fixture is working. If the fixture is not working, turn the power back off and double-check the wiring connections.
Once it's all done, install the cover over and secure it according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Porch Light Tips and Tricks
Installing a porch light can be a relatively simple do-it-yourself project, but replacing a porch light takes more skill and effort.
When installing a porch light, you’ll need to purchase the appropriate outdoor exterior light and mounting hardware, then turn off the power that controls the existing light.
You’ll then remove the screws or nails holding the old fixture in place and carefully disconnect the wires from it.
Once all of this is done, you can attach the new fixture, connect its wires to those in your home’s electrical system, and secure it in place with mounting hardware.
When replacing a porch light, however, you’ll need to also identify whether there are any other components associated with your current set-ups, such as electrical boxes or wiring. That could be damaged or need to be replaced when removing the existing unit.
Additionally, you should make sure that any new fixtures are compatible with existing wiring before making any changes.
Both tasks require careful attention to detail and focus on safety procedures; if either task gives you pause then hiring an expert may be the best way to go about it.
How many lumens do I need for outdoor wall lights?
When deciding on the number of lumens required for outdoor wall lights, you should consider the size and area you are illuminating, as well as the desired light intensity and color temperature.
Generally speaking, areas such as walkways or paths will require a minimum of 200 lumens per square foot. Areas that require more intense lighting such as sitting areas or porches may need up to 400-450 lumens per square foot. Colored lighting may also require higher levels of lumens to ensure that colors appear vibrant and true to their tone.
The coastal areas will require higher lumen levels to increase ambient lighting from the sea. Ultimately, deciding the number of lumens needed for outdoor wall lights can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances, preferences and lighting ideas,.
Can you put a dimmer switch on outdoor lights?
Yes, you can put a dimmer switch on outdoor lights. Dimmer switches are a great way to control the brightness of your outdoor porch lighting, allowing you to create the perfect ambiance for your backyard deck or patio.
With a dimmer switch, you can adjust the lighting levels to your own preference depending on the time of day and season. You can use them to set a more subdued mood in the evening or during a barbecue with friends and family, while still keeping visibility adequate enough for safety purposes.
Can you change a light fixture without turning off a breaker?
Yes, you can change a light fixture without turning off the breaker. However, this is not recommended as it could be dangerous to do so and can lead to serious injury or worse.
When changing a light fixture, you need to make sure the power is shut off before you begin working on the fixture. This is done by switching off the breaker in the fuse box.
If this step is skipped, then there is a risk of electrocution since electricity will still be flowing through the wires of the light fixture. Additionally, if wires are being worked on and a person accidentally touches them with their bare hands or other metal objects then electric shock could occur which could also be fatal.
By taking extra precautions and ensuring that all power has been switched off before beginning any work on a light fixture, you can reduce your chance of injury or worse.
How much does it cost to keep a porch light on all night?
The cost of keeping a porch light on all night varies depending on what type of bulb is used.
If it is an energy-saving LED bulb, then the outdoor led can cost as little as a few dollars a year to keep the light running all night long.
If incandescent bulbs are used, it could cost up to around ten times more than that. It's worth noting that many solar powered lights also exist and could be used in place of traditional porch light fixtures.
These solar lights often require no electricity or just a small amount to power them when the sun isn't shining during the nighttime hours.
They are environmentally friendly and can significantly reduce the amount of electricity needed to keep your porch lit at night.
As far as other costs associated with keeping a porch lit all night, there may be additional wiring or installation fees which can vary by region or even by individual contractor who installs it.
The best smart outdoor lights bundle:
YARBO Smart Outdoor Lights Bundle (1 Smart Wall Lantern, 1 Smart Pathway Light Base Kit with 120W Power Supply, 1 Smart Spotlight Extension Kit)
According to our experts, the YARBO Smart Outdoor Lights Bundle is an excellent investment if you're looking to upgrade your outdoor lighting setup.
The bundle includes a wall lantern, a pathway light base kit with a 120W power supply, and a spotlight extension kit, providing a variety of lighting options for your outdoor space.
One of the standout features is the smart technology, allowing you to control the lights from your phone or through voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The lights are also energy-efficient, saving you money on your electricity bill in the long run. Our experts find the YARBO Smart Outdoor Lights Bundle has high quality and durability, as well as simple installation.
Second best outdoor light & sensor:
VIANIS Exterior Light Fixture with Motion Sensor, 2 Packs Oil Rubbed Bronze Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Porch Lights Wall Mount, Anti-Rust Aluminum Wall Lanterns with Tempered Glass for Garage Entrance
4.7 out of 5 stars
The VIANIS Exterior Light Fixture with Motion Sensor was found by our experts, as a high-quality product.
It is designed to enhance the exterior of your home while providing reliable lighting for your porch, garage entrance, or other outdoor areas.
This 2-pack set of oil-rubbed bronze wall mount lanterns is made with durable, anti-rust aluminum and features tempered glass to ensure that the lights can withstand outdoor elements such as wind, rain, and snow.
These light fixtures have a built-in motion sensor, which automatically turns the lights on when motion is detected, providing added security and convenience.
The dusk-to-dawn feature ensures that the lights turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn, saving you energy and money on your electricity bill.
According to our experts, the setup is fairly simple and you have clear instructions and all necessary hardware included.
Best outdoor lights offer under $50:
Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights, 3 Lighting Modes Porch Light Fixture for House, Dusk to Dawn Exterior Wall Light with Bulb, Waterproof Aluminum Anti-Rust Lantern for Garage Entryway, Motion Activated
According to our experts, Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights are a great solution for your outdoor areas.
This porch light fixture is equipped with a built-in motion sensor that automatically turns on when motion is dedicated and that adds another level of security and additional convenience.
With 3 different lighting modes, you can choose the level of brightness for your needs, whether it's for general illumination or added security.
The exterior wall light is made with waterproof aluminum and is designed to resist rust and other outdoor elements, making it durable and long-lasting lighting for your garage entryway or other outdoor areas.
Overall, the lights provide reliable and convenient lighting for your home's outdoor areas, with added security features that give you peace of mind. With their durable construction, convenient features, and stylish design, these low-cost lights will provide you with good lighting for your home.
With just a few simple steps, you have now successfully learned how to install outdoor porch lights. These bright lamps will help add ambiance and style to your home's entryway or yard.
With the correct illumination for your porch, you can boost the appeal of your surroundings at night.
Our experts hope this guide has been helpful and provided some insight on successfully installing porch lights. With this information, you're ready to get started and install lighting solutions.
Now, let's make that porch or backyard shine bright!