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I want to add an outdoor light or two on an exterior wall that has no lights.

(I'm about to get a puppy and have a door out from my bedroom that has no lights. Since I live in the mountains and have seen and heard bears outside on that wall, I'd like to know for sure at 3am before going out for a puppy pee break.)

Factors:

  • I'd like a bright flood light (or two). Not a dim solar-powered failure.
  • Ideally the light would be motion-triggered in addition to some way to force it on from inside.
  • Some of the exterior is 8" concrete.
  • There is a light switch next to the door that controls an exterior light around the corner from the desired face.
  • There is an outdoor outlet one floor down, around the corner from the wall.
  • There is very little eave over the face where I want the light (maybe 1').
  • I need some solution (if not the final one) in place in two weeks. Hard to find an electrician in that time.

Here's a hack diagram of the situation:

enter image description here

I want the lighting along the exterior face on the right in the picture.
The yellow circle is the existing outdoor light.
The dotted "S" is the interior light switch controlling the deck light.
The dotted "O" is an outdoor outlet (tucked around a low concrete wall).

Is there any way I can just run an extension cord from the outlet up to...something?

Are there any LED lights that you would consider acceptably-bright for an outdoor safety flood? And solar-powered?

Can I patch into the cord from the light switch by drilling through from the exterior?

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    Could you install a new fixture where the existing light is, something with adjustable lamps so you can aim one around the corner? Something like this. – Tester101 Mar 11 '15 at 4:45
  • @Tester101 That would probably be the fastest, least-intrusive fix. However, I'd prefer to heavily light the north face with multiple lights. Not a bad idea for the short term, though, and certainly something I could do without an electrician if it can peek around the corner well enough. – Phrogz Mar 11 '15 at 16:00
  • FWIW, my preferred electricians wanted to charge $600 and arrive a week too late. My final solution instead was low-voltage lighting plugged into the outlet, with a large number of flood LED lights snaking through the grounds outside. An outdoor-certified remote-controlled switched outlet between the wall and the transformer lets us turn on the lights on demand using a tiny key fob. – Phrogz Apr 5 '15 at 3:24
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    That's a very good approach, partly because it solves a lot of electrical-code issues. You should write it as an Answer. Since you're already doing low-voltage, you might find automotive off-road lights to be interesting options. Some of them are bright like landing lights! – Harper May 23 '16 at 23:39
1

You can run the light from the switch. This is a one hour job for an electrician. It doesn't get much faster than that.

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You could run conduit around the corner from your existing light to the new light and just feed the new light off the same switch. Regular NM cable doesn't have UV-resistant sheathing and won't give you a weatherproof entry into either light fixture, and MC isn't weatherproof. But in a pinch, if you consider it temporary and if you feed the fixtures from the bottom ( so water drains out instead of filling up the fixtures) I suppose running some NM around the corner temporarily wouldn't be the most red-neck solution ever.

Other than that, and if you can't replace the fixture with one that will shine around the corner as per @Tester101's comment:

If there is a neutral in the box with the existing switch, you could tie in a new switch leg there. If insulation in the wall isn't too big an obstacle, you could drill through from the outside, above the switch where you want the new fixture. Run cable inside the wall to the switch box (use a fish tape or something rigid to guide it), then install the new fixture on the outside wall where you drilled, hiding the hole and your new cable.

If insulation in the wall is an obstacle, you could drill through the wall right at the switch box and run conduit up the outside wall to the new light fixture. You have a few options for conduit (metal, PVC, liquidtight). I'd probably just talk to somebody who knows what they're talking about at your nearest hardware or national home improvement chain store. If you use PVC, be sure to use an expansion coupling and PVC conduit straps or your conduit (or something else) will probably break when the temperature swings far enough and it expands or contracts (I've seen 1 1/2" PVC that literally snapped in two at well heads, when it cooled and contracted).

Either way, you might have to cut the old switch box out to give yourself room to work, and to replace it with an "old work" double-gang box. A reciprocating saw enter image description herecan cut the nails that are attaching the existing box to the stud next to the door, if that's what you have, then you can pull the box out of the wall. Be careful not to cut any electrical wires. The old work 2 gang box would look something like the image just below. The ears in opposite corners pop up when you tighten the screws and clamp the box to the sheetrock, and the tabs in the back of the box stay attached to the box and clamp the NM cable when you push it into the box.

enter image description here

  • We don't like redneck solutions round here. – Tester101 Mar 11 '15 at 10:09
  • @Tester101 I agree, honest!! But at least I'm not suggesting hanging a couple of bare bulbs from an old clothes hanger on a tree branch. ;-) I figure if he promises to only leave the NM stapled to the wall for a little while, so he can see bears, giving him enough time to obtain the right conduit and fittings, I doubt it would be any worse than an extension cord. Actually, stringing up an extension cord temporarily while he goes after the conduit might be another option. It would be better than tripping over the extension cord while running from the bear... – Craig Mar 12 '15 at 1:45

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