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How Do I Convert a Lamp Post to 12 Volt?

Mark Morris

Outdoor lighting has been a reality since the turn of the 20th century. Until recently, landscape lighting has been standard 110 volt electric. Recent advances in lighting technology have made it possible to achieve lights bright enough to light a path or other area from a low voltage system that can be installed by homeowners, without the assistance of a professional electrician. The fittings and wire used are similar in design to the older styles. You will need to replace the wiring and fixtures, but much of the structure can be reused.

Standard voltage lamp posts can be converted to low voltage.
  1. Locate the breaker for the lamp post and turn it off. Remove the screws holding the light fixture to the top of the post. Lift the lamp from the post. Loosen the screws to remove the wires from the underside of the lamp.

  2. Dig down around the bottom of the post and locate the buried wiring. Dig along the conduit, lifting the conduit as you go. Continue digging and lifting to the end of the conduit where the wires come up at the other end. Cut the old wiring loose at this end. Pull the conduit from the wiring and cut the wire 12 inches from the base of the post.

  3. Tie the new low voltage wire to the cut end of the wire installed in the lamp post. Use underground-rated wire. Dig the trench out as needed to put it 12 inches under ground.

  4. Pull the old wiring up through the post, pulling the new wiring from the spool up with it. Measure the distance from the lamp post to the nearest outlet. Spool out enough wire to reach the outlet, running through the trench left by the old conduit. Include enough slack to reach the outlet. Bury the wire in the trench with the dirt you took from the trench.

  5. Strip the ends of the wire with wire strippers. Fit the wires into the jaws of the wire strippers and close them firmly, cutting through the insulation. Pull toward the end of the wire to remove the cut insulation. Do this to both wires at both ends.

  6. Select a 12-volt post lamp with a base the same size as the original. Attach the wires to the bottom of the fixture by matching the black and white wires from the low voltage cable with the ends of the wire leads on the light fixture. Fit each pair of wires into a wire nut. Twist the nut clockwise to tighten.

  7. Tuck the wires into the top of the post and fit the fixture on top. Attach the fixture to the top of the post with the screws provided. Follow the instructions provided with the fixture for more specific details. In general, drill pilot holes into the sides of the post, through the screw holes in the light fixture. Install screws in each hole and tighten with a screwdriver.

  8. Remove the cover from a three-prong cord end by sliding it up. Fit the wires through the hole in the cover and fit the wires into the screws, the black wire attached to the nickel-colored screw and the white wire on the brass-colored screw. Fit the cover back onto the plug and insert the plug into the outlet to connect the power.