How Do-It-Yourselfers Can Properly And Successfully Install LED Recessed Lighting In Concrete

If you are planning to install LED recessed lighting in a new driveway or sidewalk, then you need to know how to properly encase it so it is protected from moisture and shifting concrete. This is an easy do-it-yourself project as long as you are careful to perform the installation correctly. Below is how you can do it:

Tools and materials needed

  • ¾-inch diameter Schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • ¾-inch diameter PVC slip tees
  • ¾-inch diameter PVC slip connectors
  • PVC primer and cement
  • Low-voltage wire in recommended gauge for fixtures
  • Recessed LED miniature lighting fixtures suitable for outdoor use
  • Wooden stakes
  • Wire stripper/cutter pliers
  • Electric drill with 1-inch Forstner bit
  • Oscillating multitool with plastic-cutting blade
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Gel-filled splice connectors
  • Telecom pliers to pinch gel-filled splice connectors
  • Measuring tape
  • Silicone caulk tube
  • Hacksaw or PVC cutter

Step-by-step procedure

1. Determine where you want to place the recessed lights - For driveways, a distance of 6 feet between recessed lights is ideal, and a distance of 3 feet apart is suitable for sidewalks. Mark the specific fixture locations on your pour site with wooden stakes driven into the ground.

2. Cut the PVC pipe to length and assemble the conduit - After you determine exactly where to place your recessed lights, the next step is to measure and cut each section of PVC that goes between the lights. Cut the pipe using a hacksaw or PVC cutter and join the pipe sections using slip tees; if you end up with an assortment of smaller pipe pieces that need to be joined together, use slip connectors to create the correct lengths. Use PVC cement to permanently join the tees and connectors to the pipes.

3. Insert the wiring inside the PVC conduit - Once the PVC conduit is assembled, thread low voltage electrical cable through one end of the conduit section; the "neutral" wire in the two-wire strand will extend all the way through the conduit from beginning to end. A small loop of the "hot" wire will protrude from each tee opening, so use your needle-nose pliers to pull them up and out of the tee. Be sure to tie knots in the end of the loops to prevent the wire from being accidentally pulled back into the opening of the tee and into the conduit.

4. Lay the conduit into its proper location and fasten it to the rebar - Once you have installed the wiring into the conduit, lay the entire assembly into the space where the concrete will be poured over it. Be sure to align the open ends of the tees vertically, and adjust the entire conduit assembly up or down so the open ends protrude above the surface level of the planned driveway or sidewalk. Fasten the conduit to the rebar with cable ties once you have adjusted it into its final position.

5. Pour concrete and allow it to cure - When the conduit is in place, pour concrete into the forms so it covers the rebar and fills the form to its proper level. Be careful not to splash or pour concrete into the open ends of the tees. Allow the concrete to cure for at least 24 hours before proceeding with the project.

6. Install the recessed lighting fixtures - After the concrete has cured for a day, carefully push the wire loops down into the tees so they are out of the way, but be sure you can still access the loops with your needle-nose pliers; cut off any protruding pieces of the tees with a multitool to make them flush with the concrete surface.

Next, use a 1-inch Forstner bit to drill out 1-inch lengths of PVC pipe below the surface of the concrete. Remove any remaining bits of PVC with your needle-nose pliers, then pull the wire loops back out of the tees.

Take the LED fixtures and remove all but 6-inches of attached wiring from them with wire cutter pliers. Strip the insulation from the ends of each wire leading from the fixtures so that about ½-inch of bare metal wire is exposed. Likewise, cut the protruding loops in half with wire cutters, then strip each end to a ½-inch length. Next, use a gel-filled splice connector to join one end of the fixture wiring to one end of the wire protruding from the tee, then join the remaining two wire ends together. Repeat this process for all remaining light fixtures.

After joining the wires to the fixtures, apply a small amount of silicone caulk to the barrel of the light fixture, then push the fixture down into the space above the tee. Hold it in place for a few seconds, if necessary, to keep the fixture from pushing up out of the hole.

If you have an extensive space or amount of lights you wish to install, you can opt for hiring a professional service. Contact electrical contractors in Edmonton to discuss your needs and options.