Outdoor lighting is pure magic. The shimmer and sparkle. The glory of a tree set ablaze in multi-colored, white, or pure blue glow.

While wrapping every inch of your porch awning or your front-yard foliage in glowing bulbs sounds like an excellent plan, the safety and success of your venture depends largely on electrical protocols – designed to prevent injury and property damage – based on The National Electrical Code. Consult the following list for detailed safety measures that can help you prevent electrocution and home fires, for a festive and flame-free holiday season.

When installing electrical receptacles, abide by the following:

Keep outlets away from moisture

This one’s a no-brainer. Power and water do not mix. Be sure to install at a minimum of 12” above grade to keep receptacles out of accumulated water or snow.

Use GFCI

Protect receptacles with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers or receptacles. GFCI devices protect users from electrical shocks by comparing the input current on the “hot” side of the device to the neutral side and detecting imbalances that indicate leaking energy. If even a few milliamps are detected, this device quickly shuts off the power supply from the device, reducing the possibility that you will encounter a wayward – and dangerous – current.

Accomodate your load

If you have more than four receptacles connected to a circuit, install a 20-amp circuit to fully accommodate this amount of lighting power. The same applies if the lighting load includes more than one 300-watt light fixture.

Use a weatherproof electrical box

Outdoor receptacles should be installed in weatherproof electrical boxes to protect them against the elements. Bubble covers that keep cords covered from wind, rain, and snow while they are plugged in are best.

Before digging, call the underground utilities company hotline

Workers can come to your home and mark underground obstructions so that you learn where and where not to dig, for a barrier-free job-well-done.

Underground wiring

Bury underground wiring at least 18” deep using grey, schedule 80 PVC, which is more durable than its lookalike cousin, water pipe, a cream-colored piping.

Embed electrical box in concrete if your box is anchorless

This is key to electrical safety if your receptacle box runs out into the middle of your yard, where there is no anchoring point for the junction box. You can also attach the box to a post which has been buried in the ground. If you use this method, mount the boxes at least 12” but no more than 18” above grade.

Have questions? We’d love to help! Our experienced electricians fully support your desire to create a sparkly yard display that is the envy of your block. We will do all we can to help you install receptacles that are safe and easy to use.