How to Install Exterior Lighting Fixtures

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Install Outdoor Light Fixtures: Light fixture box and new light fixture wiring. I want to replace an old outdoor light fixture with a new one. Does an exterior light fixture need to have a support box?

Wiring an Outdoor Light Fixture

Electrical Question: I want to replace an old outdoor light fixture with a new one. Does an exterior light fixture need to have a support box?

  • There was no electrical box when I removed a light fixture.
  • I’m not sure if an electrical box is necessary for an outdoor light fixture.

This electrical wiring question came from: Scott, a Property Manager from Cambridge, MA.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Scott.

How to Install Outdoor Light Fixtures

lighting repair wiring

Application: Install Outdoor Light Fixture.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best Installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor or Certified Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Tool Pouch of Electrical Tools, and Voltage Tester, Fiberglass Ladder.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience working with electrical wiring, the number of lights that will be replaced or installed and access to the light fixtures.
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit or power source, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with the electrical wiring and light fixture connections.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring for outdoor lighting should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Procedure for Installing an Outdoor Lighting

  • Light Fixture Box
    Scott, if the new exterior light fixture has a built in junction box or an enclosure where the wiring connections can be made and protected then you would not need to install a junction box.
  • Light Fixture Wiring
    If the new light fixture has the wire leads hanging out of the housing and there is no provision for internally containing and protecting the wire connections then yes, you would need to install a weather proof junction box and gasket cover.
  • Supporting the Light Fixture
    If the fixture is to be installed onto a supporting junction box or mounting bracket then you must provide a fixture box as well. For specifics for your exact light fixture, see the manufacturers installation sheet or manual for complete details.

More about Electrical Wiring for Outdoor Lighting

Electrical Code for How Many Wires in Junction Boxes

Electrical Junction Boxes

  • Electrical Junction Boxes for Home Wiring
    • Understanding electrical junction boxes and what they are used for.
    • Home electrical wiring is the process of installing electrical wire to a location that will serve electrical devices or an appliance.
    • One very important component is the box where the wire will be installed.
    • The type and size of the home wiring electrical boxes will depend upon the circuit size, application and its location.

For more information about Electrical Code
Electrical Code
Electrical Code

  • Home Electrical Code
    • Electrical Code Directory covering outdoor lighting.

This link is helpful as a Property Manager
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all projects.


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