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Old 09-25-2007, 10:19 AM   #1
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


I want to replace my current exterior fixture with 3 or 4 recessed lighting fixtures in my soffit. My soffit is wood so cutting the holes would be no problem. My question is, can I add 3 or 4 lights when I only have one 12 gauge wire coming from the existing fixture? The wattage I will determine later. Probably nothing more than 40 watts per light.

If I can add 3 lights to one circuit. Do I need to splice in extra 15 gauge that will run from the main circuit to each additional light?

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Old 09-25-2007, 10:43 AM   #2
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


a 100w fixture is less than 1 amp at 120V, so 3 or 4 fixtures of any reasonable wattage will be no problem for 12ga wire. You can run 12-2 from each fixture to the next, to the next, to the next, in a line. No need to run separate wires from the original box to each additional light.

The more relevant consideration is what size the breaker is, and what other loads are on that same circuit.

Do a calculation to see how much load is on that circuit, and whether you can add the extra fixtures you want to.

Nate

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Old 09-25-2007, 11:41 AM   #3
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


Thanks. Right now I have a 100 W bulb and since it is only exterior, it will not be on all the time. I will double check the load. I basically just want a more ambient lighting to my outside instead of a bright bulb lighting my front steps.

Any other suggestions on doing this?
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:54 AM   #4
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


It sounds fine and perfectly legal to do it just like Nate stated. #12 is rated for 20 amp and should be on a 20 amp breaker. But it could be on a smaller breaker? But as he said "what else is on the circuit"?

Turn off the breaker to the existing light. See what else it turns off.
If it turns off your fridge then let us know.....lol

One formula for current is: watts divided by volts
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:57 AM   #5
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


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Originally Posted by cibula11 View Post
Thanks. Right now I have a 100 W bulb and since it is only exterior, it will not be on all the time. I will double check the load. I basically just want a more ambient lighting to my outside instead of a bright bulb lighting my front steps.

Any other suggestions on doing this?
Yes, low voltage outdoor lighting. Home Depot or Lowes, your choice. Big selection on the internet.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:59 AM   #6
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


As a retired electrician, I may be able to give everyone a few tips. First, it is not recommended to tie into an existing 20 amp receptacle circuit. Most communities electrical code requires lighting ckts to be 15 amp with #14 gauge with ground Romex inside type. The best choice, if possible would be to start a new ckt from the ckt breaker panel. A GFI type breaker is a must for safety since this ckt will be serviced (replace bulbs) on the outside of the house with a ladder. Ideally, this #14 Romex should be run to a convenient wall switch, then up into the attic to access the soffit area. Once there, cut a hole into the soffit for a single gang Old Work rough in switch box. A single gang plate with photo electric eye mounted to it will be installed at this location. Remember, hot in to black lead and red lead out is switched hot. From there continue to run #14 Romex to each 4 inch can. I would strongly recommend using CFL bulbs for economy of operation plus they last for years, even burning all night. 5 or 7 watt CFL's will provide plenty of nice looking outdoor lighting. Make sure the color temperature of the CFL's is around 2700K for best appearance. I hope this information helps.
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Old 06-28-2009, 11:55 AM   #7
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


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Originally Posted by memphis tom View Post
As a retired electrician, I may be able to give everyone a few tips. First, it is not recommended to tie into an existing 20 amp receptacle circuit.

Who says. Its not a code violation. If he has the capacity he can and should extend this circuit.

Most communities electrical code requires lighting ckts to be 15 amp with #14 gauge with ground Romex inside type.

Maybe, but the NEC does not require lighting circuits to be on 15 amp circuits. If he has #12 wire he can use a 20 amp beaker.

The best choice, if possible would be to start a new ckt from the ckt breaker panel. A GFI type breaker is a must for safety since this ckt will be serviced (replace bulbs) on the outside of the house with a ladder.

This is not considered a wet location. (under soffit) Servicing has nothing to do with GFCI's. He does not need a GFCI protected circuit in this application. The inspector ultimately decides if it's wet or not.

Ideally, this #14 Romex should be run to a convenient wall switch, then up into the attic to access the soffit area. Once there, cut a hole into the soffit for a single gang Old Work rough in switch box. A single gang plate with photo electric eye mounted to it will be installed at this location.

Yes, a switch most likely is required along with the photocell should he use one.

Remember, hot in to black lead and red lead out is switched hot. From there continue to run #14 Romex to each 4 inch can. I would strongly recommend using CFL bulbs for economy of operation plus they last for years, even burning all night. 5 or 7 watt CFL's will provide plenty of nice looking outdoor lighting. Make sure the color temperature of the CFL's is around 2700K for best appearance. I hope this information helps.

CFL's outside are not the best idea. Especially if he lives in a cold climate. But he could try them and see.
Welcome to the forum. We appreciate anything you can bring to the table to assist the DIY community. Keep in mind, there are many licensed professional electricians and contractors posting on this site. People that know the code and the trade. So, make sure your tips are on the money. The tips you gave above are not. We have DIY'ers that could have picked your post apart like I did.
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:03 PM   #8
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


Must be "Dig up 2 year old thread Day"

I agree, many 20a outlet circuits are not used that much
We have one that powers bedrooms, dining room - very little use

In bigger houses with lots of lights using a 20a circuit for lighting is needed to keep the number of circuits at a Min

I don't have a single outside light that is GFCI protected
Every single one requires a ladder to change a bulb

We do not get extremely cold here
I do use CFL's outside, in cold weather they are slower to warm up to full brightness
I use over 200 CFL's in my Christmas display & they do work
Some people in colder climates also use them with success
But results can vary & some Mfg bulbs are "worse"
I think CFL's have been getting better over the years

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 06-28-2009 at 04:15 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:36 PM   #9
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I think some of the people making comments fail to realize that the national electrical code is just that a national code and often does NOT reflect a local county code that is usually much more strict. The reason a 20 amp ckt is NOT allowed is strictly for personel safety. An individual coming into direct contact with a 15 amp ckt is more likely to survive than one coming into contact with a 20 amp ckt. GFI receptacles or GFI breakers ARE required here ANYWHERE they may be near water or outdoors. This county is just very demanding of the safety issue over and above the normal wiring requirements. They also require All lighting ckts to be 15 amp and all receptacle ckts be 20 amp. I would suggest to anyone out there to check their LOCAL electrical code first as the national code is for minimums only. It was just a place to start from.

As for CFL's, they work fine above 0 F degrees. I have used them exclusively outdoors for the last 4 years with great results. CFL's are being improved monthly. This should clear up any misunderstanding. Thanks.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memphis tom View Post
I think some of the people making comments fail to realize that the national electrical code is just that a national code and often does NOT reflect a local county code that is usually much more strict. The reason a 20 amp ckt is NOT allowed is strictly for personel safety. An individual coming into direct contact with a 15 amp ckt is more likely to survive than one coming into contact with a 20 amp ckt. GFI receptacles or GFI breakers ARE required here ANYWHERE they may be near water or outdoors. This county is just very demanding of the safety issue over and above the normal wiring requirements. They also require All lighting ckts to be 15 amp and all receptacle ckts be 20 amp. I would suggest to anyone out there to check their LOCAL electrical code first as the national code is for minimums only. It was just a place to start from.
Thanks.
Where are you located & what is the exact code?
Please provide a link, what county? Memphis?
You get hit with 15a or 20a you can be just as dead
NO code here or any where that I know of prohibits 20a lighting circuits
Nor do I know of anywhere you are required to run a 20a outlet cirecuit instead of a 15a circuit, Many Mfgs REQUIRE a dedicated 15a circuit for certain devices. My jacuzzi for one, floor heat for another
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:54 PM   #11
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Exterior Recessed Lighting


Memphis Tom. Take note of the date in the post before responding.

This guy has already done the job and either moved or had his house forclosed by now.

I won't comment on your advice out of respect for my elders
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Old 06-29-2009, 11:18 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
I won't comment on your advice out of respect for my elders
Since I am older and retired myself I will comment on the advice. It's wrong.
While we all know that the AHJ has the final word, we also know what the NEC has to say about installations. And some of us have a fair grasp about how electricity works. 15 amp safer than 20 amp. Theres no difference on how they both can kill you. Maybe we should use 10 amp circuits in bedrooms as it's much safer.

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