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Post Lamps - Holiday lights and GFI?

1409 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Skelleyman
Hello all,

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving?

So last year, I replaced my lamp posts that were wood and rotted to the core after we purchased the house. I got the idea from my brother for a 4 ft sonatube cut it half, filled with concrete, leveled it off and used a 3" PVC in the center. The 3" lamp posts sold at big box stores slide right in and out. Just made a hole and put a 1" PVC through to stop the lamp from sliding into the ground. Used a hand hole J-Box and spliced off that with silicone/waterproof wirenuts and taped around those. 15A circuit. However, this circuit controls several of my outside lights, porch, driveway, spot lights and 2 post lamps.

I wired the receptacles that came with them. I paid like $30 per post with the outlet. My question, if we use the outlets for a 1-2 amp two prong Christmas garland lights, is this okay or should the circuit be GFI protected? I know the outlet meets UL specs when closed I imagine but don't want anyone to get electrocuted. Naturally, the outlet only works when the post light's are turned on. Any thoughts on this?

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For me, it makes sense to have any outside lighting, electric, and outlets GFCI protected. Putting in a GFCI breaker is a very wise choice. But that's just me.

I do a large 10,000 light display every year. 3 years ago, it snowed for the first time that year, and my display kept tripping out the 15a GFCI outlet on my porch. I eliminated the section of lights on the bank of power strips on the porch, and unplugged that cord/section. I reset the GFCI and lit up the rest of the display for that night. The next morning, I found the problematic cord where water entered the connection between a 3 way splitter and more cords. It had melted in between where water entered. If the GFCI did not trip, I probably would have had damage to the other cords, and possibly a small fire under my pine trees.

I now tape all connections with electrical tape tightly. $5 worth of tape and an extra hour worth of work is a nice feeling knowing the lights stay on brightly through the rain and snow, and that the wiring is safe and watertight for a holiday cheer around the neighborhood.
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So is it then as simple as just swapping the breaker for a GFCI breaker? This breaker powers:

Lamp Posts w/ non-GFCI receptacles at the moment
Porch light
Driveway Light
Spot/flood lights on the corners of my house

The Driveway light only has one switch as does the porch light. The Lamp posts have one switch in which when on, they both go on as do the receptacles since they are tied in as well.

The Flood lights however have multiple locations where those can be turned on or off on 3-way switches. However all tied to same circuit. Can I just swap the breaker, is it that easy and simple on me?
It would be the easiest option. Unless you want to trace down the incoming feed of the lampposts and install a GFCI outlet and run them on the load side of the GFCI outlets. This may be difficult though.

Doing the GFCI option will protect all outdoor wiring on that circuit.

Make sure when you switch out the breaker, it is a 15a only. DO NOT PUT IN A 20amp!
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