How to Install a Porch Light

The quickest way to upgrade your curb appeal is with two new beautiful lanterns flanking your front door. See how easy it is with help from our expert tips.

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Porch lights add safety, security, and style to an entryway. They illuminate steps and help you see callers before you open the door. You'll need to supply power and install an interior switch, but first, you need to hang the light. A cable box makes it easy to control all the wires and fixtures needed for this project. Below, we show you how to cut an opening in your exterior wall, fit a cable box, and install a light fixture. 

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What You Need

  • Voltage tester
  • Drill
  • 1/4-inch bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Fish tape
  • Drywall saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Strippers
  • Long-nose pliers
  • Lineman's pliers

Cutting a Hole for the Box Opening

Step 1: Make Pilot Hole

Using a 1/4-inch bit, drill a finder hole and use a bent wire to check that the box is not positioned over or too near a stud.

Step 2: Trace and Cut Hole

Check for any pipes or cables in the wall. If clear, trace the outline of the box on the siding. Use a jigsaw to cut an opening for the box.

Install the Box and Fixture

Step 1: Install Work Box

Before wiring the switch use a fish tape to pull the switch cable out through the fixture box opening. Strip 8 inches of sheathing and clamp the cable to the box. Install the box. For two lights, run cable and install the second box.

Step 2: Mounting Strap

Strip the individual wires, removing about 3/4 inch of insulation from each. Attach the mounting strap (typically provided with the light fixture) so the mounting bolts are positioned to hold the fixture.

Step 3: Wire Fixtures

Make sure the power source is turned off. Support the fixture with a wire coat hanger. Connect the ground. Splice the white lead to white wire and black to black. Fold the wires into the box and install the fixture onto the mounting bolts. Caulk around the base. Wire the switch, install a bulb, and test.

Tip: Install a Programmable Switch

For convenience and security, wire porch lights with a programmable switch. Set them to go on at dusk and off at bedtime. For added security, program the lights to stay on until dawn. Such switches have override options for turning the light on and off at will.

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