Author: Terry Peterman Installing an outdoor lamp post along a driveway is a terrific way to illuminate the exterior of your yard. In addition to lighting a path to your home, this type of lighting can enhance the safety of your yard by letting you easily see any potential hazards, as well as deter any unwanted criminal activity. The installation of an outdoor lamp post is one of those DIY projects that can be safely taken on by a competent DIYer. I recently received an e-mail from one of my website visitors who had a question regarding the installation of an outdoor lamp post; more specifically, whether it would be necessary to install an electrical box along with the lamp post. The following video and article answers this question.
Q: I’m going to be installing an outdoor lamp post alongside of a driveway. I have a new lamp post assembly, which came with an 18/2 SJ cord prewired from its’ 3-lantern head down to the base of the pole assembly. The pole assembly will be mounted onto a 2ft deep concrete footing with a PVC conduit installed inside of the footing. A 14/2 NMWU cable will be run underground from the house to the lamp post.
Since the lamp post has an 18/2 SJ cord prewired down to the base of the pole assembly, I am wondering if the underground cable connection should be made at the base of the pole, where the prewired 18/2 SJ cord terminates –OR- should I remove the prewired cord, and run the underground cable through the pole to the lantern head? If the connection is to be made at the base of the pole, will it be necessary to install an electrical box on top of the footing where the base of the pole will sit? The base of the pole has also a large canopy. – Stephen
A: Stephen, the base of the lamp pole itself is an approved junction box for the termination of the underground cable and connection to the SJ cord that is prewired from the lantern heads on down to the base. When fixtures get appropriate approvals from accredited agencies, they approve the entire fixture as a whole, and a suitable location for the electrical connections is a part of that inspection.
You could run the NMWU cable up to the lantern head, but only if that is more convenient for you in some way, like easier access to the splice should something go wrong. The advantage of that would be one less set of splices, thus one less potential trouble spot.
The only issue you may have in your project is the size of the underground wire. I would check with your local electrical authority to make sure that #14/2 is large enough. Some jurisdictions specify that 12 gauge wire is the minimum size allowed for underground installations.
So in conclusion here; no, you do not need to install a junction box on top of the PVC conduit at the base of the footing, the fixture itself is approved for the electrical connections. Enjoy the light and good luck with the outdoor lamp post installation project!
Don’t feel comfortable tacking this project yourself? Remember: Can’t do it yourself? Get help from a qualified electrical contractor/