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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4257
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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I want to install flood lights on the exterior of my house.

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I want to install flood lights on the exterior of my house. This would be from scratch, not replacing any existing outlets. Please help!

Jason :

Hello. Thank you for asking your question on Just Answer...

Jason :

How many lights do you want to install, and how many switches will control the lights?

Customer:

2 lights on the left and right corners of my house. Just one "new" switch. I have a one story house with an easy to move around in attic.

Jason :

Will you be installing a brand new circuit from the breaker panel?

Customer:

not sure? can i get away with tapping into something thats existing?

Jason :

Yes, a nearby outlet should be fine. Will you have 4 new bulbs at about 60 watts each?

Customer:

that sounds right? just your standard 2 floods per outlet i guess?

Customer:

by outlet do you mean a plug or switch? or either?

Jason :

It can be a light switch, as long as there's a neutral wire in the box. With light switches, there isn't always a neutral in the box. With plugs (outlets), there is.

Customer:

I have a fan and can lights on my back porch coul i tap into those? if not the only exterior plug i have is next to the service panel on the side of my house.

Jason :

It really depends on where you want the new switch to be located? Do you have a place in mind for the new switch?

Customer:

yes right next to the switch that controls the fan and can lights.

Jason :

Can you open that existing switch box and tell me how many wires are in the box, and their colors?

Customer:

there are 4 switches next to each other 2 for interior lighting and 1 for the can lights on the porch and on for the fan. sure hang on a min......

Jason :

Mainly, I need to know if there is a bundle of white wires all connected to each other in the back of the box.

Jason :

I'll be surprised if you don't have a group of neutral (white) wires in the box.

Customer:

ok i take it back there are 3 switches. the left one is a 3 way, the middle on is for the outdoor fan and the left one works the cans. there is a bundle of wires back there hard to tell if they are white because the genius builder sprayed them all with paint and texture. on the left side of the switches there is a green ground and the left there is a black and a red

Jason :

I suspect there is a group of whites behind the switches. Assuming there is, can you get a new wire up the wall from the existing box, into the attic? Can you replace one of the existing switches with a stack switch?

Jason :

A stack switch is two switches, one on top of the other, that only take up one slot in a wall box.

Customer:

yes i am sure i can get a new wire up into the attic. i am pretty sure i could install a a 4 switch box also? or would that be a pain in the ass?

Jason :

It probably would, but it would look better. Stack switches are easy to install, but some people think they look kind of cheesy. It really depends on how concerned you are with aesthetics.

Customer:

rather have the 4 in a row.

Jason :

Me too. And I'm sure you can do it. OK, you are ready for further instruction, right?

Customer:

absolutely

Jason :

Do you have a volt meter that you can use to identify a constantly hot wire in the existing box?

Jason :

On the single pole switches, one of the wires will be hot all the time, even when the switch is off. That's the wire you want to tap into the feed the new switch.

Jason :

On the new wire that you have to route from the box into the attic... at the 4 gang box, the new white wire needs to be added to the bundle of existing white wires. The new black wire connects to one of the side screws on the new switch.

Customer:

so i am going to add the new white wire to the existing switch not the new one?

Jason :

The other end of this run of wire needs to go to the box where your first new exterior flood fixture will be located. Then, route a new run of wire from the first fixture box to the second fixture box. At that point, you are ready to install the fixtures. Make your connections color for color, and you'll be all set. The new white wire at the switch box gets added to the group of whites in the back of the box. You won't be connecting a white wire to any switches, only black wires to switches.

Customer:

alright to recap... the wires from the flood light all are connected (white and black) and on the new switch only the black is connected and the white to the bundle?????

Jason :

Yes, you've pretty much described it. New white to existing bundle of whites. New black to bottom side screw of new switch. Other side screw on new switch needs a jumper black wire from a constantly hot wire that is already in the switch box.

Customer:

Other side screw on new switch needs a jumper black wire from a constantly hot wire that is already in the switch box.

Customer:

what does that mean?

Jason :

Before you take the existing 3 gang switch box out to replace it with a 4 gang... I strongly recommend making a detailed diagram of the existing connections. You have to feed the new switch with a constantly hot power source. You already have a constantly hot power source in the existing box. You need to identify a wire that is hot when all switches are off. If that wire comes from a splice (a set of two or more black wires), add a short section of black wire to that splice, with one end in the splice and the other end connected to the top side screw on your new switch.

Jason :

You may find numbering the existing wires to be very helpful when you start rewiring the existing switches, after replacing the 3 gang box with a 4 gang box.

Jason :

I think may be trying to speed through this, I apologize for that. But I think you've almost got it. I can tell by what you are telling me that you have done this type of work before.

Customer:

not exactly i have done a lot of home improvements and actually work for a home builder (sales side) so i am familiar with some of it. i have replaced plenty of fixtures and installed fans and im understand the concept but could not grasp how to start a new run.

Jason :

That's okay. I know you can do it. And I'll be here to help you as much as necessary.

Customer:

do i connect the 2 flood lights together white and black and the run on to the switch?

Jason :

Yes. Imagine the opposite end of the new wire from the switch box going to the first new flood fixture. Then, from the first flood fixture box to the second flood fixture box. This would give you two sets of wires in the first flood box, and one set of wires in the second flood box. Once you hold your fixtures up to the boxes, they will have another set of wires on them. That will mean 3 sets of wires at the first box, and 2 sets of wires at the second box. At this point, it will be all blacks together, and all whites together, at both boxes. And of course, all grounds together.

Jason :

Are you still with me?

Customer:

yep hang on...

Customer:

so from the new switch connect white switch and black jumper to the hot in the box, then black white to first flood, then from first flood to second flood black and white?

Jason :

Yes, as long as you don't mean connect white wire to switch at switch box. The new switch will get two black wires connected to it. One of the blacks goes out to the light fixtures. The other black is a jumper whose other end taps into a constantly hot wire/splice. The new white connects to existing bundle of whites.

Customer:

alright heres where you are losing me. so from the switch take one run of black to the 1st flood then connect to the second flood. from the second flood do i return to the switch?

Jason :

No. You will route new romex from the switch to the first flood, and from the first flood to the second flood. The romex will contain one white wire, one black wire, and one ground wire. At the two flood boxes, it's all blacks together, all whites together, and all grounds together. At the switch box, it's new white added to old whites. New black to bottom side screw on new switch. Top side screw on new switch gets a short piece of black wire whose other end is connected to a constantly hot splice that is already in the box.

Customer:

alright gotcha! i really appreciate it! i bought a book from lowes and it was not as informative as you have been thanks for all your help!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason :

You are most welcome. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Customer:

no thanks for everything!

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