5 Tips for Installing an Outdoor Light Switch

an outdoor light
  • 4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50
What You'll Need
Electrical box
Caulking compound

An outdoor light switch seems like a simple thing to install, but it is not as simple as it seems at the beginning. There is a lot to consider when you install an outdoor light switch. There are many factors to consider when installing one of these light switches. The information below will share with you some tips on how to properly go about installing an outdoor light switch.

1 - Check the Codes

Installing an outdoor light switch is never as easy as you hope it will be. When you conduct any improvements on your home yourself you need to realize that the township you live in may have a different idea than you. To you, it is no big deal to install an outdoor light switch but your town may think differently. Always check with the town you live in for any codes concerning outdoor lighting. Make sure you do not need a permit and also learn how to make it legal to avoid possible fines.

2 - UL and UF

Safety is a primary concern when you install anything regardless if it is inside or outside of the home. Only use UF cable when installing an outdoor light switch as it is rated for outdoor and underground use. It also requires a break or termination point where the switch is wired into the home. This prevents power surges from interfering with your internal wiring as it is grounded. Materials with a UL rating should also only be used for the same reason as the UF rating.

3 - Conduit

Any wire that is above ground may be required to be inside a conduit. This is another way to protect the wires from the elements. This may be required by code in your area.

4 - Outdoor Light Switch Location

When you are installing an outdoor light switch the area where you place it is very important. Putting the switch in the wrong location can cause problems with wiring and the use of the switch. Locate where the wiring is in relation to the exterior of the home. Use outdoor lights as a guide as the wiring should be behind those fixtures. Placing the outdoor switch anywhere else will require additional wiring and possible modification of the exterior.

5 - Weatherproofing

With an outdoor light switch, it's imperative that you only use materials that are weatherproof. This should be an obvious tip, but if the switch is placed under a roof, like on a porch, you may not think about it. Moisture can build up inside the light switch without it ever coming into direct contact with the elements. When this moisture builds up and gets inside the switch it can cause a short circuit which can lead to an electrical fire. They make products that are weatherproof for this particular job. Use a light switch that is waterproof along with boxes and receptacles. It is also a good idea to use silicone caulk around the edge of the light switch to prevent moisture from entering the box.