I have two 12"x12"pilaster block columns in my front porch with a poured lintel above and slab below. The pilasters are also poured solid with down-rods and rebar in footer. It is new construction. I would like to install a porch light on each column but have no idea how:

  1. To cut an opening to fit the electrical box (1 gang circular) in solid concrete.

  2. To pull cable through the block?

For #1 above: Would i have to manually chisel out the squares? Or is there a square drill bit for sinking a box in solid concrete?

For #2 above: I think it'll be difficult to drill through 12" of poured concrete and risk hitting rebar down-rods. Is it better to route some EMT conduit to the 1-gang box? If so, what type of 1-gang would i need and how far does it have to sink into the column?

Thanks in advance

  • 2
    Have you considered a surface mount box? Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:13
  • 2
    Rather than ask a question I would suggest that almost any installer would go the route of surface mounted boxes and conduit. Normally if the lights were planned ahead of time the boxes and conduits would have been embedded in the concrete as it was constructed.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 17:38
  • Would surface mount electrical boxes look abnormal for front porch lights on a pilaster column? Wouldnt the box protrude past the stucco layer? If you have a picture of what this would look like, please share.
    – true. lion
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 22:36
  • What type of conduit and box would be right for this job? EMT? I found this box: garvinindustries.com/electrical-junction-boxes/…
    – true. lion
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 22:38
  • The type of box that you linked would not be appropriate for outdoor use. You want to find weatherproof type boxes and mate that up with the proper types of weatherproof conduits and fittings.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 12:32

1 Answer 1


Can you cut a groove in surface, and bury your conduit in that, then replaster/stucco the pillar.

Moving outside the box:

A: Make it symmetrical: that is, put a light on both sides. Now you have the same ugly everywhere.

B: Hide the conduit in some kind of raceway.

c: Be blatant and mount the conduit on the surface, then sheath the column with faux brick or stone.

D: Trench in a line to a distance away, and use a floodlight

  • I did not want to cut a groove unless i really have too. After @ThreePhaseEel mentioned surface mounting, i agree, i think 2 ugly conduits running down from the soffits to the electrical box would "blend" in "ok", ugly but not so bad. I like option "C". Floodlights will be on separate circuit and located at 4 corners of house under soffit.
    – true. lion
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 14:21
  • Wait..can you clarify what you mean in option "D"? pictures?
    – true. lion
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 14:24
  • D: don't put the lights on the porch columns - light the porch from somewhere in the yard, either from ground level or a dedicated post that's built with the electrical installation in mind, shining a directed light onto the porch.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:33
  • Is there a reason for not putting lights on the columns?
    – true. lion
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 17:20
  • Was just an option. If it's too much hassle to put lights on the column, could light from floods on either side. Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 19:03

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