I am installing a lamp post in my front yard. I already have electrical ran
to the outside that was used for a lamp post many years ago (previous
owners). They ran the cable not in conduit underground about 6 inches at
most. I am going to put a new lamp post in and I was thinking that the
electrical cable should be in a conduit. The existing cable is underground
rated (or so it says on it). Thoughts on the conduit. Also, in the trench
would you lay gravel or sand? Any general advise anyone can offer? Tips,
tricks, or advise from experience?
While conduit is not necessary, it just seems better, doesn't it! Do it
if it is easy or inexpensive to fix just to give yourself some
peace-of-mind. Deeper would definetly be better and I imagine there are
some electrical codes that should be consulted. Make sure the circuit
is on ground fault interrupter (GFI). Just back fill with dirt (or
whatever is natural).
In our area (California) all electrical conduit and wire must be 24"
underground. May have to be in metal conduit, but not sure.
Would be quite a surprise if somebody digs up a live electric wire with only
a spade. I guess too many people bit the dust.
NEC requirements for buried wiring vary depending upon amperage of the
circuit, type of conduit, type of protection, such as ground fault, and
direct buried cables. It also varies depending where the trench is, such as
under a driveway, road, etc. etc. Personally, in a residential application I
like to sleeve U.F. cable through PVC pipe or flexible non metallic conduit,
for added protection. More protection is obviously better. In your
situation, at the very least I'd install GFCI protection on the circuit
The GFCI needs to be placed upstream (ahead of) the switch which means
you might have to do a little detective work to see how the circuit is
routed. The idea here is to place it in an accessible location so
that you can test and reset the circuit when neccessary. If you are
lucky, you might just find that there is a duplex outlet upstream and
you can just replace it with an inexpensive GFCI and follow the wiring
GFCIs are required to be grounded, if a ground is available, but they
are also allowed to be installed when there is not a sufficient
ground. In the latter case, a little sticker is placed on the outlet
that says "No Ground" or something similar.
is better, conduit is better, etc. Just git-er-done and don't worry.
Unless you are planning on digging in that area for some other reason.
Oh, you already know there is a wire there. Also, anyone who sees a lamp
post should be smart enough to assume there is a wire somewhere. I would
just get on with installing the lamp post then enjoy the rest of your
day and admire the complete job. Don't make more work than you need to.
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