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MikeinBurien 12-04-2005 10:14 PM

Wiring for external lights and outlets
Do codes typically require a junction box to be attached inside an outside wall for external lights and outlets?

Can I just run a wire through a hole in the outside wall and attach either a weather proof outlet box OR directly to a light fixture?

My existing lights (admittedly installed in the stone ages) have the wire simply coming through a hole in the siding. The lights are mounted directly to the siding and the wiring is attached underneath a cover that's part of the light.


mdshunk 12-04-2005 11:14 PM

All wiring must be in a box of some sort. Just having the cable coming out of a hole in anything is a violation. This was commonly done in the past, especially in the age of knob and tube wiring. It is a violation today.

For your siding fixtures, the corrective action would be to install an old work box, or most often a "pancake box". You can also have the wire come into the knockout in the back of a weatherproof box, and surface mount that box. Admittedly, this is ugly, and is a last resort.

MikeinBurien 12-04-2005 11:43 PM

That *does* sound ugly. I'll plan to leave the existing lights as-is for now.

I'm building an extension on the existing house and would like to install a couple of exterior lights and a couple of outlets.

In new work, what's the right thing to do for both of these items? I have 1/2" OSB, then Tyvek, then will have 3/4" cedar channel siding to finish the exterior.

What kind of boxes are needed for outlets and lights and where are they roughed in relative to each of the exterior layers?


mdshunk 12-04-2005 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by MikeinBurien
What kind of boxes are needed for outlets and lights and where are they roughed in relative to each of the exterior layers?

You'd ruff a 4" round ceiling box 80" up and 10" over (to the center) from the knob side of the door. Use a 4" round box, sticking out sufficiently so that it will be flush will the final finished surface. The other option is to leave a "tail out" of cable, and install an old work box (aka "cut in box") when you're finished. This might be desirable to some, particularly if you want the light fixture to fall centered between any grooves or special profile of the siding material.

MikeinBurien 12-05-2005 01:16 AM

I like the tailout option, but need to understand that a bit more. Do I leave a cut end of cable inside the wall and then do the old work cutout when I've completed the exterior siding? Or do I stick the cable through a temporary hole near where I expect to put the light, then cut the hole for the old work box and pull the cable into it?

If I decide to go the new box route and install the 4" round for the light ahead of installing the final siding, do the 4" rounds allow for 1 1/4" out from the stud? (1/2" OSB, plus 3/4" Siding).

I'm planning on chatting with the inspector tomorrow to get a definitive answer, but your help in preparing for the conversation is very helpful. Thanks!

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