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How to Install Deck Rail Lighting

Ask This Old House master electrician, Heath Eastman, installs undermount, LED deck railing lights for a homeowner whose only deck lighting includes a single, bright spotlight.

In this video, Heath Eastman installs LED strip lights to the underside railing of a deck. Heath helps a homeowner transform their dark deck into a suitable hangout spot for after the sun goes down.

What is Undermount Lighting for a Deck?

By adding undermount lighting, it can provide light for the deck but also illuminate where you might be walking. They are also very easy to conceal.

Heath goes through the process of installing waterproof strip lights and shows how you can make them last longer in the outdoors. By using mounting channels to put the lights in and heat shrink tubes to protect wire connections, he shows how to protect the lights from the elements.

Steps for Installing Deck Rail Lighting

In just a few hours and for a few hundred bucks, Heath shows how you can transform your deck into a space you’ll always be happy to come home to.

  1. Find the nearest power source. That will help you determine how much work will be required to run new cables to the deck lights. In Heath’s case, there was already an outlet off the deck that he used to connect the transformer to. If there is no receptacle nearby, you will need to install one. This will drive up the time and cost required to do the project.
  2. Measure how far back you want the lights to go. You don’t want to see the strip so Heath chose to set his back 1½ inches.
  3. Mount the track under the railing.
  4. Use an alcohol wipe to help the strip adhere to the mounting track.
  5. Slowly stick the strip along the mounting track(s).
  6. Make connections between the LED strips.
  7. Tuck the wires out of the way and staple it to the surface.
  8. Two should be left unconnected for the feed wire, somewhere central of all the strip lights. You don’t want to connect them all together because you will have the potential of the lights dimming towards the end because of voltage drop.
  9. Run a wire from a receptacle to the LED lights.
  10. Use brass barrel connectors to connect the lights to the wire. Put a shrink tube around each connector and apply heat.
  11. Hide and secure the wire.

Resources

Heath installed sections of 3’ White LED Landscape Strip Light—12VAC—1P67 Waterproof, which is manufactured by SuperBrightLEDs. Before buying, Heath suggests confirming that the lights are UL rated.

The other tools and materials required to install the lights, including the landscape wiring and pliers, can be found at home centers.


Materials


Tools