Overview

Installing a Garage Floodlight
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
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The floodlight shown here has two lamps and an infrared motion sensor, which automatically turns on the lights if a person or vehicle approaches the garage (they go off after a few minutes). Home electrical projects like this typically require you to connect wires to the main electrical panel and then fish them behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings—not an easy job. However, the wiring for this driveway floodlight is confined to the garage, so you can tap in to an existing electrical outlet and then use easy-to-install surface-mounted metal conduit to run the wiring.

The 1⁄2-inch-diameter conduit, known as EMT (electrical metallic tubing), is sold at home centers and electrical suppliers for about 20 cents a foot. You can also purchase right-angle conduit connectors ($4) and preformed curved elbows ($3) that allow you to turn corners with the rigid metal. Master electrician Allen Gallant suggests replacing the two-plug outlet with a combination GFCI receptacle and switch ($22) brought out from the wall with an extension box ($4.50). He prefers to assemble a fixture from separate parts (about $60 total) instead of buying a single unit because that way he’s able to upgrade the quality of the motion sensor.

WARNING: Before starting this project, turn off the electricity to the garage at the main electrical panel. Then test the garage receptacle by plugging in a radio or lamp to confirm that the power is off.
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    Tools List

    • lineman's pliers
      Side-cutting lineman's pliers
    • wire strippers
      Wire stripper
    • torpedo level
      Magnetic torpedo level
    • spade bit
      12-inch-long 7/8-inch spade bit
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Phillips-head screwdriver
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • ladder
      Ladder
    • fish tape
      Fish tape
    • hack saw
      Hacksaw (to cut conduit
    • round file
      Round file or reamer,
      to remove burrs on just-cut conduit
    • utility knife
      Utility knife

    Shopping List

    FLOODLIGHT:

    1. ROUND OUTLET BOX

    2. LAMP-HOLDER COVER

    3. MOTION SENSOR

    4. LAMP HOLDERS (2)

    5. 90-WATT HALOGEN BULBS (2)

    WIRING:

    6. 14-GAUGE INSULATED STRANDED WIRES

    7. TWIST-ON WIRE CONNECTORS

    8. ELECTRICAL TAPE

    9. 14/2 NONMETALLIC CABLE (AKA ROMEX)

    HARDWARE:

    10. 1/2-INCH EMT CONDUIT

    11. CONDUIT ELBOWS

    12. CONDUIT HANGERS

    13. STRAIGHT CONDUIT COUPLERS

    14. RIGHT-ANGLE CONNECTORS WITH REMOVABLE COVERS

    15. CABLE CONNECTORS

    16. METAL JUNCTION BOX

    17. EXTENSION BOX WITH CONNECTOR

    18. COMBINATION 15-AMP GFCI RECEPTACLE AND SWITCH

    19. 2-INCH GALVANIZED DECKING SCREWS for attaching electrical box to wall

    20. SILICONE CAULK to seal hole