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LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE - home - CONTENTS: Exterior Light Choices, Installation, Troubleshooting. This article describes exterior lighting for residential & light commercial properties. We begin with a discussion of how to install recessed lights in an exterior soffit or roof overhang. Also see our discussion of lighting requirements over stairs, at Lighting over Stairs and see LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE for details about lighting fixtures, bulbs, and indoor requirements. I've used your website many times to find trusted advice on building and remodeling practices. I know it is fine in aluminum soffits, but I am concerned about the effects of the heat on the Vinyl soffits. Photo (above) of recessed lighting installed in a roof soffit overhang, courtesy of Paul Galow. Here are the installation considerations that you should keep in mind when buying & installing outdoor light fixtures for a roof overhang or soffit.
IC-rated refers to lighting fixture housings rated for installation in contact with insulation, typically rated for handling up to 100 watts. Spacing - Clearance for Non-IC-rated light fixtures: these housings may not be installed in contact with building insulation and typically require a 3-inch clearance between the fixture surfaces and the nearest insulation.
Non-IC-rated fixtures may be able to handle higher light wattages, but are currently more likely to be replaced with "IC Air-Tight light fixture housings. Spacing - Clearances for IC-rated air-tight-rated lighting fixtures: these housings are IC-rated (as above) and are air-tight rated. You may not need air-tight rated fixtures in an outdoor building soffit, but see our notes below about ice dam effects of warm or hot light fixtures in an outdoor roof overhang or soffit.
Thermal overload (overheating) protection: currently all UL-listed recessed lighting fixtures sold for installation in North America include a thermal sensor device that will turn the fixture off if its temperature exceeds its design temperature.
3-inch and 5-inch recessed light fixture sizes are design alternatives to the 6-inch system. Angled surface or adjustable-angle recessed light fixtures may be desirable if you are installing recessed lighting into a sloped soffit or ceiling rather than into horizontal soffits or ceilings. Angled or adjustable-angle fixtures allow you to set the angle of the bulb in the housing to point at an angle different from the position of the fixture itself. Watch out: if your roof slope is very shallow or if the soffit follows the underside of roof rafters, the space for a recesed light fixture may be limited, even using IC-rated devices (and depending on rafter size). Before buying your light fixtures to use in the soffits, I'd give some thought to the bulb type alternatives that we describe below.
Do not try to support a recessed light fixture by simply cutting a hole in the soffit covering and securing the light to it.
If the roof eaves are enclosed with a horizontal soffit cover, you may need to install a short, horizontal support that is secured to the building wall at one end and to the inner face of the fascia or the rafter tail-end at the outer end.
If the roof eaves are enclosed with a soffit that is secured to the underside of the rafters, you will have still less installation space (and a 4-inch box will surely be needed), but the installation is otherwise simple since you can secure the fixture to the side of a rafter. On the installation sheet for your pot lights you'll see and follow any clearance and support details given by the fixture manufacturer. Most recessed light fixtures allow for a range of adjusting of the can position, but I'd pay some attention to locating the face edge of the can just above where you expect the upper surface of the soffit covering to reach when you are reinstalling that material. No surprise, all of your electrical wiring must comply with local electrical codes, for which the National Electrical code is usually the starting model. Even if your town permits do-it-yourself wiring, the results must meet the requirements of the electrical code. GFCI's (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection is not required by the NEC for outdoor overhead lights. 120V recessed lighting housing & fixtures will operate the entire circuit, switches, any timer or dimmer option, all on a 120V circuit.
12V (low voltage) recessed lighting housings & fixtures use a low-voltage transformer to provide power to 12-V lighting fixtures that typically use LED or halogen bulbs. Low-voltage recessed light fixtures are more economical to operate and generally involve lower temperatures - something that may be a consideration even in outdoor use if you have a snow and ice-dam concern for your roof edge. Watch out: It must be remembered that a lower voltage signifies a higher current in amperes.
LED bulbs are the least costly to operate, most costly to buy, and are cooler in operating temperature. You might consider LEDs (or the much less costly CFs below) to keep the temperature coolest in your soffit lighting, not only out of respect for the vinyl soffit covering but in snow-climates, to minimize the effects of heating the roof overhang and contributing to ice damming up-roof from the lights. Also, in our OPINION, because some roof eaves are high, making changing bulbs a risky ordeal, the prospect of installing very long-lived bulbs in these fixtures such as LEDs or the CFs below is appealing. Compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs, typically in 9W to 42W ratings, are less costly to operate, less costly to buy than LEDs, cooler operating temperatures than the bulbs below.
We found conflicting reports, some saying these bulbs work fine outdoors (we use them here in New York at our place), and a few claims that these bulbs may not last well in very cold outdoor environments. Halogen bulbs and fixtures of course offer brightness, and these are often used in weatherproof outdoor floodlights or areas lights.

Incandescent (conventional light bulbs), most costly to operate, shorter life, hotter temperatures, my last choice, but incandescents are often chosen for interior recessed lighting where a warm bright lighting color is desired.
Some new (and expensive) LED bulbs and color-corrected CF bulbs can also provide bright and warm interior lighting. Metal halide bulbs are very high performance (very bright) lights used in special applications such as museums, building lobbies, showrooms.
Cutting the hole for recessed lighting fixtures: use the dimensions or template provided by the fixture manufacturer.
Watch out: the size of the fixture opening for recessed lighting may vary significantly depending on whether the installation during new construction (the fixture housing is installed before the ceiling or soffit cover is installed) or a retrofit installation. Reinstall the soffit covering: If you managed to remove your soffit covering intact, then its' ready for reinstallation. Do not allow the soffit covering material to contact the can surface, especially if you are using vinyl soffit covers. At below left our photo illustrates a surface-mounted outdoor light fixture installed beneath a building overhang. At the outdoor but under-roof light fixture below we lack weather protection and the bulb base is broken.
We inspected a home that caught fire after the owner installed an over-watted incandescent bulb in a plastic coach light fixture like the one at left.
Below left we see an indoor light fixture screwed to a vinyl sided wall, and added to that unsafe installation is the use of an extension cord adapter on the fixture. Below we illustrate a closer look at a wall-mounted floodlight that includes cracked unsafe electrical wires, an opening into the box missing a weather cover, and exposed electrical wires almost touching the metal light fixture. Similar to the plastic light fixture fire we cited above, even in a well built metal light fixture such as the coachlight at left, if the bulb and wiring become loose and damaged it is possible to short-circuit the wobbly bulb simply by touching it. Continue reading at LIGHTING, EXTERIOR FAQs or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below. In older homes that may have existing recessed lighting fixtures, homeowners sometimes cover these fixtures with insulation. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. We have several different styles of keypads and therefore the steps on removing the battery cover are different, below are the instructions on how to remove the battery cover for each style. The second oldest style keypads have a pin hole at the bottom of the keypad cover, you will have to insert a small Phillips screw driver into the small hole at the bottom of the cover and gently pull outward to loosen and slide the cover down to remove.
Send us your support question via email and one of our Technical Support Representatives will reply shortly. If you have been reading our blog posts you know how much we love to have extra space and storage, and we love to pass these tips onto our clients so they can enjoy the benefits of more storage in their homes. Garages are very useful for storage and of course offer much more security and privacy then an open carport would. While adding a garage to your home, its also the perfect time to add another room, such as a laundry room.
After exploring one of our favourite websites Houzz, we found a great article on converting the garage into extra living space. Hard to believe this beautiful living area used to be a garage (see pic below- Ed Ritger Photography). Most of the fixtures and the furniture were custom-made for the house or were salvaged or repurposed by Michelle. We provide lighting installation suggestions about the type of light fixture to use, light fixture support, clearances, fire safety, moisture resistance, switch location, and electrical code citations for exterior lighting on buildings. In particular, can regular IC or non-IC 4" or 5" can lights be installed in the eves in Vinyl soffits?
These points include addressing your worry about the effects of heat on vinyl roof soffits as well as other installation advice we found while researching the question. In some building electrical code jurisdictions, Non-IC light fixtures are not allowed if insulation is present at all. Because an air-tight light fixture housing will run hotter, the wattage in these fixtures and the trim selections may be limited - do not violate the manufacturer's instructions. Arcadian Lighting warns that if you install a Non-IC fixture in a building where insulation is nearby and the sensor detects insulation, the fixture may continue to shut down even if you remove the insulation (as its sensor is now contaminated). In most jurisdictions your electrical code compliance inspector will insist on an IC, damp-location-rated fixture.
Two fixtures of different diameters will permit the same lighting output provided that they are rated to accept the same bulb and wattage. If you have not already done so, remove one of the vinyl panels from your soffit to inspect the interior area for space, clearances, and also to see how the soffit was constructed. So in a sloped roof overhang whose soffits are affixed directly to the rafter under-sides, an adjustable-angle recessed light fixture allows you to still aim the fixture straight down if desired.
Usually we can do this by pulling out the L-channel or J-channel at the bottom of the fascia board, leaving the J or F channel on the building walls in place.

Often for getting power to lights in a roof soffit, you can find an available circuit in the building attic, or in a nearby garage. Remember when planning wiring routing that you will want to locate a switch for these lights at a convenient spot indoors, preferably by an exit door. We installed motion-sensing surface mount lights under an outdoor soffit that covered the approach to a building door - they have been much appreciated since. 120-V systems are usually less costly than a 12-V low-voltage system, are less energy efficient if using incandescent or halogen bulbs.
The conductor on the secondary side of the [low voltage] transformer at 12-volts must be sized for the full load amperage.
Halogen bulbs are energy efficient and deliver pure white light in both wide and spot beam patterns.
You will want to measure twice and cut once to get your round openings properly centered below each light fixture. We're not concerned about airflow as we would be with indoor recessed ceiling lights, but we like to discourage insects and small birds from making a home in the soffit or in the fixtures themselves. This fixture, one of a pair along a walkway beneath the overhang, lights the passage to the building's front door. Without warning, our outdoor dusk to dawn light stopped working Tried cleaning the fixture's sensor & changing floodlight bulbs, but that didn't help. If the fixture has power and the bulb is good, someone who can follow the wires can bypass the sensor - if the fixture lights, replace just the sensor. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively.
Please keep in mind that it will take quite a bit of force to remove, but do not worry about breaking the battery cover, as it is designed to be removed this way. You will need a Phillips head screw driver to remove the battery cover, once you remove the battery cover the battery cover should slid off.
To remove the battery cover, insert a flat head screw driver in the oval cut out and apply pressure on the screw driver against the battery cover and slide the battery cover down then remove.
As a contractor we can advise you if your carport conversion will be worthwhile as we need to check various building components such as measuring and checking your existing slab, ensuring there is enough room for a garage door, evaluating the type of roof needed (might be existing- if so, a structural engineer might need to examine it), and we will check your electrical. What a great idea, we love the folding sliding doors and what a nice way to fill the space where the garage door used to be. Well, Seattle-based artist, designer, and welder Michelle de la Vega managed to turn it into a functional, practical, and adorable little house. For such a small amount of space, it looks downright spacious and comfortable, complete with a stunning fireplace for those cold and damp Seattle evenings. You won't be insulating your soffit outdoors, at least not normally, but using an IC fixture there means that issues about fire clearances are just about eliminated.
Note that by choosing CF or LED lighting you should be able to increase the light output while keeping the fixture temperature down. Special fixtures and trim are however, available for wet locations.[14] including Dekor's waterproof 12-V LED lighting fixtures[15]. Incandescent or halogen bulbs, some up to 150 watts, can be installed provided that you accept a more limited trim choice (possibly allowing more air movement through the fixture). These instructions also describe the requirement for selecting an electrical wire (conductor) size based on the distance between the light fixture and the low voltage transformer.
It is still possible to turn the switch off, leaving the plastic switch-block in place but prying it away from the switch with your thumbnail, or better, by loosening its mounting screw.
Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission to use illustrations from their publication, The Illustrated Home which illustrates construction details and building components. With aging parents and children living at home longer, we need to think what the needs of the future home buyer might be looking for in a house layout. You can also install CFs or LED bulbs that are designed for installation in a 120V bulb socket.
Carson Dunlop provides home inspection education including the ASHI-adopted a Home Inspection Home Study Course, and publications such as the Home Reference Book, the Home Reference eBook, and report writing materials including the Horizon report writer, and home inspection services. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order.
Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order.

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