Lamps on vinyl privacy fence posts - how to wire?

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Old 06-18-18, 09:01 PM
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Lamps on vinyl privacy fence posts - how to wire?

I'm about to install a 6ft vinyl privacy fence around my yard, about 400ft in total, with several gates. The fence posts and rails are all hollow.

I'd like to put lamps on ten of the posts, and ideally some outdoor receptacles for yard tools, etc. I've also got a shed that currently doesn't have power, which is 150 linear-fence-feet from the house, which would be the longest circuit run.

What's the appropriate way to run the wiring? My preference would be to run two or three 15A burial-rated 120v circuits inside the fence rails/posts, and protect each one with a GFCI breaker. (One circuit for the lamps, one for the yard outlets, and one for LED lights and an outlet or two in the shed). I imagine I'd bury conduit to carry the cable under each of the gate openings. Something tells me I should also add a grounding rod or two at the farthest points of the circuits.

Am I crazy to think that would be safe? Thanks!
 
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Old 06-19-18, 05:09 AM
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Something tells me I should also add a grounding rod or two at the farthest points of the circuits.
A grounding rod would serve no purpose and should not be used. All receptacles must have a ground wire and a ground rod is not a substitute for that.

Unless you install a subpanel in the shed you can onlt have one 15 or 20 amp circuit to it. However that circuit could be a multiwire circuit, two hots and a shared neutral, to the shed which would provide two 15 or 20 amp circuits. You could run to the shed first then to the lights.
 
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Old 06-19-18, 09:18 AM
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If I'm following correctly, your thought is to pull UF-B (gray) cable through the hollow fence rails essentially using them as a conduit?

I don't think code really covers this situation, so it would be up to the inspector to approve on a one-off situation. The sticking point for me would be how do the pickets attach to the rails? If you are nailing or screwing into the hollow tubes, there is a likely chance of cutting or damaging the cables which would not be a good plan. If it's all molded together in a single piece of plastic, it doesn't sound too bad.

For the sections that are buried, the depth should be 12" if you use a GFCI breaker or 24" for a standard breaker. When the cable enters and exits the post, make sure to drill a smooth hole and maybe use some sort of rubber grommet if there is a sharp edge. The plastic could cut the cable jacket.
 
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Old 06-20-18, 02:12 PM
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Thanks Ben and Ray!

The sticking point for me would be how do the pickets attach to the rails?
Here's a photo of the fence, with a cross-section of the rail. The "pickets" fit into that slot shown on the top of that cross-section. That leaves the three squares available in the top rail, and three more in the bottom rail. Those squares are each 2"x2".


And here's a cutaway of how the rails connect into the hollow 4x4 posts:


I'm kind of surprised that I can't find any reference online to someone else doing this. Lamps on fence posts are fairly common. The hollow posts and rail system seems almost purpose-built for pulling cable. It would be a huge waste to dig a 24" trench along the fence.

I wouldn't expect the electrical code to speak to this specifically, but I don't see any safety concerns, and it sounds like you guys don't either, especially when using GFCI breakers. I'll need to account for the vinyl expanding/contracting with temperature fluctuations.

Other than that, nobody wants to talk me out of it?
 
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Old 06-20-18, 02:44 PM
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No I don't really see a problem with it. A picky inspector could find some problems, but I'd be comfortable doing this on a job.

I don't remember having done lights on a vinyl fence. I've done a couple on wooden fences where I ran conduit along the underside of the bottom 2x4 rail, and a couple on brick pillars/fences where the conduit gets buried inside by the masons.
 
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Old 06-22-18, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
A grounding rod would serve no purpose and should not be used. All receptacles must have a ground wire and a ground rod is not a substitute for that.

Unless you install a subpanel in the shed you can onlt have one 15 or 20 amp circuit to it. However that circuit could be a multiwire circuit, two hots and a shared neutral, to the shed which would provide two 15 or 20 amp circuits. You could run to the shed first then to the lights.
However that circuit could be a multiwire circuit, two hots and a shared neutral, to the shed which would provide two 15 or 20 amp circuits.
Ray, I hadn't heard of a multiwire branch circuit before, so thanks for mentioning that. After reading up, it seems like it would be a great idea. I just haven't been able to figure out whether it's possible to GFCI protect it at the upstream panel. It seems like each hot is often going to have different loads vs the shared neutral, which I would think would trip one or both breakers' GFCIs. I'd like the circuit to be GFCI protected the whole way while it's in the fence, otherwise I'll need to bury it deeper under the gates, and I'm dealing with very rocky and rooty soil.

Thanks.
 
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Old 06-22-18, 12:56 PM
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You would have to use a two-pole GFCI breaker for a multiwire circuit. These can be a little pricey depending on your panel brand, but are generally pretty available. You might have to order from an online dealer or find a local electrical supplier who sells to the public as they often aren't stocked at the big box stores.

Here's an example for Siemens panel: https://www.amazon.com/Siemens-QF220.../dp/B01HQGLX06

Eaton/Bryant Panel: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Eaton-BR...20CS/206677554

Cutler CH and Square D Q0 / HOM will also be easily findable. The more odd panel types might not be available.
 
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Old 06-25-18, 06:05 AM
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Amazing; thanks! This is going to make a huge difference.
 
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