Outdoor lights are a great way to add aesthetic and practical value to your home or business. But the problem is, once they get wet from rain, snow, sleet or dew, then they stop working. This article will teach you how to waterproof outdoor lights so that you can enjoy them all year round!
Why should you waterproof outdoor lights:
- Protects from snow, rain, and dew;
- Saves you money over time by not having to replace damaged items on a regular basis;
- Makes your home or business more appealing to potential buyers when the time does come for relocation;
How To Waterproof Outdoor Lights Guide
1) Clean the Light Fixture
If the light fixture is new, it should come with a seal to protect it from rain and other weather elements. You can skip this step if you have just installed your outdoor lights. However, any time there’s a leak or moisture issue around one of them, go ahead and clean all of them first before applying anything else on top of their surface because they’ve been exposed to water at some point in the past.
2) Prepare Everything You Need
You only need a few things to waterproof your outdoor lights. You can buy those from any home improvement store or even some hardware stores depending on where you live. Make sure that the solution is safe for use outdoors and it doesn’t damage anything else around them such as plants, plastic surfaces, etc.
You will need such items:
- Caulk gun;
- Silicone sealant;
- Sandpaper in different grades (coarse, fine);
- Rubber gloves;
- cleaner wax if available at your local store otherwise another household degreaser will work just as well but make sure no residue will stay behind after cleaning;
- Cloths/rags suitable for drying the water off of surfaces without leaving lint marks;
3) Start Caulking
Use the caulk gun to apply silicone sealant on top of your outdoor lights. Cut off a small part at the end and insert it in between your thumb and index finger, squeezing it until you see some coming out from under where you’re holding it. It’s best if someone can hold these while you do this so that they won’t get damaged or any dirt/dust gets inside before sealing them back together again with glue afterward.
Place one bead of caulking around each light fixture, making sure not to put too much. Otherwise, it might leak once installed outside after drying for days or weeks later down the road depending on how long it takes for all air bubbles to disappear – usually, 24-48 hours is more than enough time but check the back of your caulking tube to see if it’s going to take longer.
If you’re using silicone sealant, make sure that there are no holes or cracks for water droplets to seep through after applying a thin layer on top of them from all sides before giving it some time to dry up completely before putting everything together again.
4) Smoothing Out
In case they’re metal fixtures, use sandpaper with different grades starting from coarse and finishing with fine paper so as not to leave any scratches behind once applied overtop whatever type of paint is present at the moment which could either be matte or glossy in terms of finish. If available at your local hardware store, purchase “cleaner wax” instead because this will do the same thing as a degreaser with a little bit of hard work involved for the last step.
5) Waxing and drying
Before you apply any type of wax over the top of your outdoor lights, make sure to wipe them dry using a clean cloth or rag in order to prevent lint from sticking onto them once dried off completely. If you’re using a cleaner wax, apply it with a dry cloth first so that each light fixture is covered evenly before drying them off again.
You may also attach outdoor lights to gutters rather than hanging them outside on wires. Use silicone sealant around all joints where metal meets metal, including light sockets and bulb bases. Silicone is also good at preventing water seepage through LED bulbs that have small gaps between base and glass fixtures.
How to protect outdoor lights from rain:
Think about the location of your outdoor lights:
- Lights on the front porch and back patio should be waterproof so they can withstand rain or shine;
- Outdoor lighting installed in a garage, backyard deck, garden, or porch needs to be weatherproofed as well. These areas are generally covered but may not always be dry due to elements such as wind and humidity. If you’re installing new lighting fixtures outdoors then it’s best if you plan ahead how you will protect them from the elements when necessary. Whether that means bringing them inside for storage during heavy rains, using covers and enclosures (such as an old PVC pipe), or by placing solar-powered lights wherever possible since these won’t need electricity provided by non-waterproof sources like extension cords – which could cause a short and possible fire;
- Outdoor lights for a gazebo, pergola, or other uncovered areas need to be waterproof as well since rain can fall anywhere on the roof of these structures including right over your light fixtures. The same goes if you have lighting around an outdoor pool – they are exposed to moisture so should be weatherproofed too;
To keep your outdoor lights protected from the elements, it’s best not to place them in direct contact with any kind of water or moisture. This means not placing a potted plant on top of a light fixture and making sure they are far enough away from sprinklers so that there is absolutely no chance for rainwater to get inside the bulb socket that can create an electrical hazard.
Make sure your lights are rated for the outdoors
Just because they are used outdoors does not mean that they will last. If the light is meant to be placed outside, ensure you choose an appropriate unit for its location. There are outdoor lights designed specifically for use in humid and wet conditions where other units might fail. If they aren’t, then water might infiltrate them and cause an electrical short or corrosion inside of the casing which can lead to a fire hazard.
Only use outdoor-rated extension cords for outdoor lights
Extension cords are not designed to be used outdoors, so they can’t handle the moisture or sun exposure of being outside. You could use an indoor extension cord for temporary purposes if you have one on hand, but it is safe to practice to only use extension cords that are rated “outdoor-rated” when using them in your yard at night.
If you don’t have an outdoor extension cord on hand, simply re-position the lights. This way your lights will be out of direct rain and sun exposure while still being accessible to visitors who might need extra light for safety or convenience reasons. If it is not possible to move them temporarily, opt for a different set of lighting instead so that they can stay in place without weather damage.
Make sure you are using the right outdoor-rated light bulbs
Light bulbs that are made for indoor use aren’t designed to handle water or humidity, so they should never be used outside. Only choose lighting options with an “outdoor” rating on them, which means it is safe to use in your yard. If you have lights already installed without this designation, make sure to replace the bulb before trying again.
When placing lights outdoors, choose ones with low voltage bulbs so there won’t be any risk of electrocution if water starts seeping inside the fixture itself where wires may have come loose.
Be aware of the material that can catch fire
While most outdoor lights are made from plastic, there is a chance that they can melt if exposed to heat. This is dangerous and can cause a fire. If you place your lights in an area that may get hot, such as near the grill or by the fireplace, make sure they are made from non-flammable material to prevent this from happening. Metal lighting fixtures are a great option as they do not burn or melt.
Consider investing in outdoor lighting fixtures that are made of waterproof and shockproof materials so your light isn’t damaged if a storm occurs or someone accidentally kicks them over.
It is also crucial for outdoor lighting to be resistant against rusting and corroding from rainwater because this would decrease their lifespan significantly which will end up costing more money long-term than originally planned for.
Only use decorative lights made for outdoor use
When picking outdoor decorative lights (for example, for Christmas or Halloween) make sure they are designed for outdoor use. These lights should be made of non-conductive material and have higher waterproof ratings than regular indoor lighting.
Using decorative lights that are not designed for outdoor use is dangerous and can result in fire or electrical shock.
Use outdoor solar light if you have no power source
Put them in a place where they will get plenty of sunlight. You can also cover the top with a plastic bag to keep water out and increase their power intake.
Pay attention to the metal parts, because if they are exposed then that could be an issue.
If you live in a place with heavy rains or snowfall then it may not work out so well for your outdoor solar lights.
There is also another option where you can use regular indoor lighting and attach them up high on something like a patio umbrella that will keep the water off them but still allow light through. This method does mean having to find places close by since these types of lights won’t last too long outside in direct sunlight either though!
Don’t put them under bushes or plants where there might be moisture around their base during rainfall events as this will lead to failure over time with rust.
Use cord protectors to secure plugs from water damage
Cord protectors are available in home improvement stores for a few dollars each, or you can make your own cord protector with electrical tape and tubing from the hardware store. If the cord protector is exposed to water, make sure all parts are waterproof.
Cord protectors can be used for both indoor and outdoor lights because they seal off plugs from rain or snow damage.
Make sure your outside lights have a drip loop in the wire connection where it enters an outlet box or comes out of the ground so that any moisture will not seep into outlets. Drip loops also give power cords good strain relief when using large-gauge wire with high voltage bulbs like floodlights.
Drip loops should point down toward the ground at least 10 inches . This keeps them clear of leaves and other debris that could block drainage if you live in colder climates. If you don’t have one of your current light fixtures, take the time to install one.
Fixtures should also have a tight-fitting weatherproof cord connector inside, and be sealed with caulk or exterior sealant around the wire connection points on your home. This will stop water from seeping into outlets through cracks in drywall that are common in older homes.
Use light shields
Light shields are designed to protect the bulb from moisture and dust. They also prevent light dispersion, which can be a safety hazard for drivers on highways or pedestrians at night. Some lights have housings that include built-in lens hoods to keep out rain, sleet, snow, and debris while still allowing full illumination of the roadway. This is especially important if your outdoor lighting fixtures shine toward an area where people could walk.
If your light doesn’t include hooded housing, you can purchase an add-on lens to install on the existing fixture. In general, outdoor lighting fixtures are not designed to be completely waterproof because moisture and humidity cause problems with electrical connections—especially when they’re exposed to salt air or corrosive chemicals in rain runoff from roadways or lawns treated with fertilizer.
Light shields that fit over the bulb should have a tight seal against the socket so water can’t seep inside once it’s under pressure (like during a heavy rainstorm). If you need extra protection for bulbs near pools, fountains, ponds, streams, rivers or other areas where there is moving water nearby then go for weatherproof housings instead of standard ones.
Use GFCI Outlets
When you’re picking out outdoor lights, make sure to use GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets and extension cords. It’s a fast-acting ground fault circuit breaker that cuts off electricity in as little as 1/40 of a second in the event of a ground fault . This will prevent electric shocks in case of a short circuit or leakage from rainwater.
Don’t leave any socket open and exposed
It’s easy for water to leak into outdoor sockets and cause a short or worse, an electrical fire. If there are any open sockets that aren’t in use then you should cover them with waterproof light switch plates.
These can be bought cheaply from your local hardware store and they come in many different styles so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that fits perfectly over the socket covers you already have installed on your wall.
As well as protecting against leaks, these weatherproof lights switches will also help dust and other debris stay out of the connections which could disable the exterior lighting fixture entirely if left unchecked.
What is IP Waterproof Rating?
IP stands for “Ingress Protection Rating” which is a standard set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to help differentiate between water-resistant and waterproof products.
The IP rating system consists of two numbers: one that designates how well it resists intrusion from external particles such as dust or dirt; and another number, after a slash (/), denoting its resistance against water damage. These ratings range from 0 up to 65 and higher (with no upper limit). A product with an IPX0 designation means that it provides neither protection nor tolerance against the intrusion of foreign materials – think about unprotected electronics placed in thick mud or submerged under several feet of flowing water.
The first digit you see represents your level of protection against solid objects – from dust and dirt. The highest level of protection is a 7, which means the product has been tested to seal off its internal components from solids like mud or sand up to 12-hours under conditions specified by the test procedures (typically quite dusty environment).
If you see an 8 as your first digit it signifies that the product possesses “ingress protection” but not complete sealing. Anything greater than this number provides what they call “complete protected sealing” where no particles can enter into openings in products such as outdoor lights fixtures .
Can outdoor LED lights get wet?
Yes. Standard outdoor LED lights aren’t made to be submerged or used underwater like some outdoor lighting fixtures are able to do.
Can you leave outdoor lights in the rain?
Outdoor lights are typically installed to last and endure harsh weather conditions. But, if you plan on leaving them outside during the heavy rain, they might not make it through your next storm!
What happens if outdoor lights get wet?
Usually, they stop working. They will no longer light the way, and you’ll have to buy new ones. There are two ways to prevent this from happening: waterproofing your lights or adding a drip loop.
How can you hang lights outside without an outlet?
You need to make sure the outdoor lights don’t get wet and that the electricity doesn’t come from a standard house plug (110 V). You can tap into one of your exterior outlets for power or consider using solar-powered string lighting.
However, if those options don’t work out for you – there is another way to go about it by purchasing an LED light kit. That will allow you to place the transformer inside then run wire through conduit around corners or along walls until it reaches where you want it – all while staying dry!
Should you seal outdoor lights?
Sealing outdoor lights is important to prevent damage due to rain, snow, and ice. Outdoor lights are exposed to changing weather conditions which can cause them to stop working properly. Sealing outdoor lights with weatherproof sealants and caulking will keep them protected from moisture.
How do you seal a light fixture?
Use caulk to seal any areas where the cord enters the light fixture. Caulk is available at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and some discount department stores. It comes in a variety of colors so you can choose one that matches your outdoor lights fixtures or paint them after the waterproofing.
You want to make sure there are no gaps or cracks for water to get into the area around the opening on either side of it.
Do not put caulking right on top of metal screws because this will prevent them from being able to hold up weight later down the road when other parts are added onto them like decorative lawn stakes or hanging baskets full of flowers!
Does rain affect outdoor Christmas lights?
If you live in an area that has a lot of rain, then it is important to know whether or not your Christmas lights will be affected. The answer depends on how susceptible the electrical components are to water damage. If, for example, LED bulbs are used along with sealed sockets/connectors and low voltage wiring, they can withstand even if it rains hard. However, this isn’t always the case since all outdoor decorations are made differently depending on their manufacturer.
How do you dry out outdoor Christmas lights?
Some experts recommend using a fan to dry out your lights, but you can also use an air conditioner if one is available. You want the air movement from these items to help evaporate any water trapped inside of the strands. If they still aren’t working after this process, leave them in direct sunlight for at least two days before trying again.
Useful Video: How to Waterproof Outdoor Lighting Guide