How to Install a Lamp Post
Time Required: Over 1 day
Outdoor lighting illuminates your yard. It brightens your patio and helps deter crime or vandalism at night. Lamp posts are an ideal outdoor lighting option for front and back yards. They provide ample overhead lighting coverage. Use this guide to learn how to install a lamp post in concrete or without concrete.
Safety Tip: Turn off all power to your main breaker box before you start to avoid serious injury.
Here's is the first step on how to install a lamp post.
- Choose the best lamp post for your space. In most residential settings, an 8-foot lamp post works best. These provide plenty of overhead light without spilling over into your neighbor’s yard.
- Choose your lighting style. Some post lamps come with one bulb. Others provide a brighter light or a diffused light with multiple bulb setups.
- Choose a shade. Clear shades provide more light. Frosted glass shades offer more ambient lighting.
- Coordinate your existing outdoor sconces and other lighting hardware to create a more cohesive look.
Figuring out how to wire a lamp post isn't difficult. The best option is to simply wire your lamp post to a nearby outlet. Use a GFCI-protected one mounted on a nearby deck, patio or porch.
- Before you begin, locate the outlet you want to connect to your lamp post. Know how far apart these two points are.
- Once you measure the distance from the outlet to the lamp post, you'll know how much conduit to buy for your light fixture.
- Run plastic conduit from the light to the outlet. Rigid non-metallic conduit (RNC) may be the best option. It is considered a safer choice to bury underground.
- Use a posthole digger to create a hole that’s about 18- to 24-inches deep and 6-inches in diameter. Check the lamp post manufacturer's guidelines.
- Fill the bottom with 6 inches of gravel.
- Dig a trench that runs from your lamp post area to your power source with a shovel.
- Place soil on a plastic tarp as you dig to make refilling this area easier.
Tip: Electrical codes vary on the proper depth for burying conduit, but a good rule of thumb is 18 inches for PVC, 24 inches for direct wire burial and 6 inches for RNC (rigid non-metallic conduit).
Here's the basic steps of wiring a lamp post to an outlet with rigid non-metallic conduit (RNC).
- Use elbows to bring the conduit down from the house and into your trench. Cut pieces as necessary.
- Add conduit to the elbow in your posthole area so it comes up about 6 inches above the ground.
- Connect your conduit pieces using PVC cement. Thread the correct length of 12-gauge UF-rated electrical wire through the pipe.
- Leave about 10 extra feet at the post location. Leave about 6- to 8-feet of conduit at the house location to reach the breaker box.
- Place the conduit pipe, along with the fitted wiring, in the trench.
- Fill the trench with the soil reserved on the plastic tarp.
- Pour ready-mix concrete into the posthole, taking care to leave 6 inches of conduit exposed. Do not get concrete into the conduit or onto the wires.
- Use a concrete float to smooth the top.
- Put the lamp post down on the ground and pull the wires through, working from the bottom to the top.
- Slide the shaft of the post over the conduit, pushing it about 12 inches into the concrete.
- Make sure the wires stay exposed through the top of the post as you work.
- Use two work straps and wrap them both around the post.
- Stake them into the ground about 36 inches away from the post.
- Put them on opposite sides to help keep the post straight.
- Adjust the work straps while using a level against the lamp post.
- Once the level is straight, leave the lamp post to set for a minimum of four hours.
Tip: For best results, let concrete set for eight hours or overnight before removing the work straps.
After your concrete has hardened, remove the work straps. It's now time to wire your lantern to the lamp post. For this part, you’ll need a utility knife, wire strippers and wire nuts. Make sure all power is off at the main breaker box before you begin.
- Peel away 2 to 3 inches of insulation from the UF wire on the lamp post side. Look for white, black and green or copper wires. There should be matching wires on the lantern side.
- Use your wire strippers to expose about 1/2-inch of bare copper on all the wires. Do this on the post and lantern side. Pair the wires from the lantern to the post based on colors. Use your wire nuts to hold the joined pairs together.
- Slide your lantern onto the post. Tighten it with the provided screws to hold it in place.
- Hire a licensed electrician to connect the wires to the appropriate breaker box or do all the wiring from start to finish.
Tip: Consider using a professional electrician to add a switch or retrofit an existing switch for your new post lighting fixture.
Lamp posts typically require using concrete for stability and support. However, if you’re trying to install a temporary lamp post, here's how to do it without without using concrete.
- Dig a hole that is 18- to 24-inches deep and 6 inches in diameter.
- Clear out rocks and loose dirt clods as you go. You need a smooth, solid surface when you’re not using cement.
- Place the post in the hole you just dug. Fill the hole with a 10-inch layer of gravel using a shovel. Plumb each side of the post using a long level.
- Add a 1-inch layer of dirt to the hole. Add water until the dirt seeps into the layer of gravel.
- Repeat this process until wet dirt begins to cover up the top layer of gravel.
- Add a 2-inch layer of dirt and use a shovel or digging bar to compact the dirt. Use your level to check that the layer is added.
- Keep adding dirt in 2-inch layers until you reach the top of the hole you dug. Re-check with your level to make sure the top layer is flush.
Installing a lamp post is a simple way to add outdoor lighting to your yard. You can follow the step-by-step instructions in this guide or you can use our professional installation services. When you ready to get a new lamp post or the tools to get the job done, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.