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Old 06-27-2012, 07:56 PM   #1
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post lamp in yard


maybe this is electrical?

My new house has a light post in the front yard. I'm positive there's no light switch to it. But, it comes on every night and goes off every morning. By itself. Elves?

Could it be solar?

Just wondered as I plan to be digging around it to plant ornamental grass and don't want to ram my shovel into electric wires.

thanks

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Old 06-27-2012, 08:33 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Startingover View Post
maybe this is electrical?

My new house has a light post in the front yard. I'm positive there's no light switch to it. But, it comes on every night and goes off every morning. By itself. Elves?

Could it be solar?

Just wondered as I plan to be digging around it to plant ornamental grass and don't want to ram my shovel into electric wires.

thanks

Well,be careful when your digging near that post,because there will be electric wires nearby,your lamp turns on and off by a photo cell,probably mounted on the post.

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Old 06-27-2012, 08:46 PM   #3
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post lamp in yard


Some sensor are mounted to the pole, some are at the base of the part on the very top, and a few are simply screwed into the lamp socket and the bulb screws into that.
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:04 AM   #4
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canarywood and Joe,

Thank you.

Is it likely that any wires would be on the side of the lamp post facing the house? Are they inside of PVC or something protective, so that if I dig gently I won't disturb them (or get shocked)?
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:50 AM   #5
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First find the electrical breaker for it. Do not dig while it's live. Just because the light is off DOES NOT mean there's no power to the pole! The sensor uses live power all the time, it's only after dark that it then turns on the light.

Cover it's sensor to have the light turn on. Then turn off electrical breakers until you find the one that powers the pole. Or if it's already marked, turn that one off. If you cannot find it then call an electrician. An electrician can also help you find the wire without digging.

Once it's off then carefully dig down at the pole (presumably toward the house) and find the wire. It may be in conduit (one would hope) or it could be a direct burial wire (about as thick as a finger). Note where it's located for future reference. It it was done properly it'd be in a conduit, buried at least 18" below grade.
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:13 AM   #6
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wkearney,

thank you. Now it sort of makes me nervous. It didn't occur to me to look at the breakers for one for the lamp post.

Maybe I won't plant anything around it. I'm really trying to eliminate as much maintenance in the yard as possible.
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:27 AM   #7
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You still need to know where it's breaker is located. Even if you're not digging today. If something goes wrong with it you'd still want to be able to kill power to it. Now's as good a time as any to figure it out.

Don't forget, the line for it also runs under the rest of the yard back to the house. Knowing where that's located is also good for future reference. An electrician can find the line from above ground without having to dig for it. I have a shed out back that I was surprised to discover the line ran a lot farther than expected. It ran in all the way around an addition and then across half the house. The because someone previously must've thought it easier to dig all the way over there instead of drilling a new hole. I discovered this while digging somewhere quite far from where I expected any wires to be. Fortunately I didn't break the line with my shovel, it wasn't even in conduit.
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:40 AM   #8
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The line under ground, going to the light, may or may not be in conduit, but, at a minimum, it needs to be GFCI protected, and while you may or may not need to bring in an electrician at some point, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you stay safe. First, do as wkearney suggested to identify the breaker that it is on, and identify whether it is or is not a GFCI breaker. If it is, test it. If not, it is unlikely that the light is on a dedicated circuit, so see what other receptacles may be on the same circuit, and whether any of them are GFCI type. If one of them is, test it, and see if the light still works. Whether the breaker or a receptacle that is wired to provide protection downstream, when the GFCI test button is pressed, the light should stop working. If you do not find GFCI protection for the light, I would advise hiring an electrician to take a look at it for you.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:39 AM   #9
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Do you have a "call before you dig" service in your area? Where I live Alberta1stcall will come out and mark all underground utilities. I don't think there is a charge for that service.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:55 AM   #10
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Do you have a "call before you dig" service in your area? Where I live Alberta1stcall will come out and mark all underground utilities. I don't think there is a charge for that service.
The "call before you dig" service is only for public utilities (gas, water, electric, cable, phone, etc) Anything that comes from the street only.

Not private underground runs such as electric to a shed/lamppost/garage, irrigation lines, in some cases, not even cable/phone.

You should still call them to see where utilities are just as an "FYI" for future reference.

Around my road, we have no buried utilities except what is installed on private property. Cable, phone, and electric are done aerial, and we have no natural gas or water services installed yet. Been the same way since 1979 when we moved in. All we have buried is our irrigation lines, and electric for our well at 18"-24" deep. I can't tell you how many times we've dug into the irrigation lines already. Even at 6" deep
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:28 PM   #11
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Dexter,

(1983 house). None of the receptacles in the bathrooms or kitchens have GFI. I'll check on getting those installed soon.

None of the outdoor receptacles have GFI either.

I'll turn the breaker off and see what else goes off.

thanks
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seansy59

The "call before you dig" service is only for public utilities (gas, water, electric, cable, phone, etc) Anything that comes from the street only.

Not private underground runs such as electric to a shed/lamppost/garage, irrigation lines, in some cases, not even cable/phone.

You should still call them to see where utilities are just as an "FYI" for future reference.

:
That makes sense seansy59.
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:35 AM   #13
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Dexter, (1983 house). None of the receptacles in the bathrooms or kitchens have GFI. I'll check on getting those installed soon. None of the outdoor receptacles have GFI either.

I'll turn the breaker off and see what else goes off.
GFCI are great to have, but plenty of us have lived for many decades without them being present. Have them added if you like but I wouldn't lose sleep over it. Just make sure they're added properly. It's always not as simple as just replacing a plug.

A handy tip for breakers is use a plug-in radio. Set it to max volume so you can hear it from wherever you leave it and the breaker panel. That way when it goes off you'll know you tripped the controlling breaker. Otherwise someone else with a cordless or cell phone is good.

It can be a real surprise to discover just how unusual some of your circuits may be wired. Over time all sorts of additions or changes get made. Someone naively (or stupidly) decides to just patch into another circuit because it was convenient. Or just outright mistakes get made.

So mapping out all of your breakers, outlets and fixtures is a really good idea.
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:47 AM   #14
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If you use a radio make sure there not a battery back up.
Just pull out the battery if there is.
Still want to add the plants then all you need to do is dig down just enough to get rid of the sod and just lay a double layer of landscape blocks instead of having to dig down to far.
The wedge shaped ones work great, Then just back fill it with top soil.
Back sure to make it big enough. When I make one for my self I let the grass grow up high and run my mower around in a circle to see how big it needs to be so I can cut around it without having to keep back up.
(I have a Z turn so it does not have to be to big but a rider would need a bigger one.)

I just hate to weed wack so my whole yard is planed around keeping it to a minumum.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
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GFCI are great to have, but plenty of us have lived for many decades without them being present.
Granted; no argument here.

OP, the reason that I said that it needs a GFCI is that you said it now makes you nervous. And, not knowing where the line is, how deep it is, and whether or not it is in conduit, you should be somewhat nervous, particularly when planting flower or bushes, or otherwise digging in your yard. But this is your home, your castle, and it is the last place on earth that you should feel nervous about your environment. So no, as far as am concerned, it is not imperative that you provide GFCI protection. On the other hand, if you were to do so, and were to subsequently contact the line with a shovel, or whatever, the worst case scenario would be that the GFCI would trip, and the line would need to be repaired or replaced.

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