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Thread: Conduit for future landscape lights

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Conduit for future landscape lights

    I'm busy installing some irrigation lines underneath my deck, and since I've already got the pavers pulled and the trench dug, I figured I might as well bury some conduit so it'll be there in the future if I want to put in some lighting. The area is small; about 60 feet long and the lights would be installed in and around a new planting bed.

    So, I have a couple questions:
    1. The entirety of the area to potentially be lit is within 10' of the pool. From my limited understanding of code (from reading on here), that means I can't use low-voltage lighting (correct?). Normal 110v on a GFCI is OK. Wrong?
    2. What size conduit, to have a couple different "zones" to be separately controlled? Just ballpark is OK, I want to be sure it's big enough.

    I have no idea at this point what/when/who/how this will take place, but I don't want to pull up my pavers again. Thanks!
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    That part of the NEC needs a major re-write, its a big mess (part 680).

    Existing lights have to be at least 5 feet horizontally and at least 5 feet ABOVE the water. Newly installed lights that are less than 10 feet horizontally have to be 12 feet high, go figure. 680 also says that no electric lines can be buried under or around the pool unless greater than 5 feet. But pool light electic lines in conduit are run right near the outside of the pool wall all the time and are passed by the inspector. What the code actually talks about here is underground feeder lines, but its not specific enough. See, big mess.
    For low voltage lights, they cant be less than 10 feet since the arent on a GFI circuit.


    That being said, it depends on the inspector, but mine didnt say one thing when he saw 12 volts lights 5 feet from the water on my pool. Really, I see nothing wrong with 12 volt lights near the pool. and if your not having it inspected.... Honestly, i've seen loads of pool with low voltage 4 and 5 feet from the edge of the pool.


    But you asked about conduit. I guess it depends on how many lines you run from your transformer to your lights. A lot of systems run one line from the transformer out to a node that feeds up to 4 lights, sometimes 5. The junction is put into a buried box much like a sprinkler junction box. I ran 1 inch poly irrigation line for conduit for my lights around the pool. I have 10 light out there and ran 2, 12 gauge lines out to two j boxes to feed 5 lights on each of 2 circuits. The one inch was fine to work with. I didnt have any joints. i just used a torch to bend the pipe where i needed to, and pulled a string line fish (the kind you get at HD in a plastic jug) and just left about 3 feet of string out each end until i was ready to pull the line the next spring.
    In the front i used 3/4" poly and did the same thing with one 12 gauge line.

    Now if your going to run 120 volt, you need to run the proper conduit, conductors, etc. But i'd do low voltage. Easier to install, and cheaper to run.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    I would run 3/4" PVC conduit everywhere that should be big enough to run several circuits of either low or 'not quite as low' voltage lights. Either way you'll need a gfci to feed either the transformer or the lights themselves.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    Like bama said, and I neglected to say, any line voltage lights need to be on a GFI plug or curcuit. A low voltage transformer should be on a GFI plug, but the low voltage side of the transformer won't be protected; that's why the code says no low voltage light less than 10 feet. As I said earlier, IMO, its not a concern.

    I'm going to disagree a little with Bama here on the conduit. Low voltage line is meant for direct burial; you don't need conduit at all. For MITS, all he needs is a raceway under the pavers to pull a wire through later after the pavers are put back. You can use PVC, but as long as you have irrigation pipe on hand (even 3/4") just use that. There is no code for a particular type of conduit since you don't need any to run the lines.

    Of course if you go the line voltage route, the PVC is the way to go. But I wouldn't even consider line voltage for landscape lights. Low voltage is the way to go
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    Thanks for the tips BK and Bama. I had already bought 1", so I'll just use that. Better too big than too small...

    Now, from reading BK's first post up there, it looks like there is NO code-compliant way for me to install lighting of any voltage in the spots I was hoping. Since it costs very little to run the conduit, I'll just do that and worry about the rest later.

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    680 also says that no electric lines can be buried under or around the pool unless greater than 5 feet.
    Just so I'm sure I understand this - I can run line voltage underground as long as it is >5' horizontally from the pool? I'm also hoping to run new wire to a non-functioning patio outlet while I'm working on the irrigation. I hate direct-burial wire, and will forever use conduit under anything I can't or don't want to move!

    Every day I live in this house, I get more and more irritated with the corner-cutting hack DIY work done by the previous owner. Guess how deep the gas line to my bbq/fire pit is? Code is 18 inches for yellow poly, and I poked a hole in it with the first strike of my digging bar, not 2" beneath the ground (no tracer wire, conveniently). Now, I have to abandon the whole line Good thing gas grills are for sissies anyway...
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    Now, from reading BK's first post up there, it looks like there is NO code-compliant way for me to install lighting of any voltage in the spots I was hoping.
    Yea, basically true. But, I wouldnt be afraid of doing low voltage, really. Like I said, I've seen plenty of it done and the inspector up here didnt say a word when he saw it except "nice lights".
    The closest i have a low voltage light to the pool is 4.5 feet. Even standing in the pool, you would have to have some mighty long arms to grab the light and pull it in with you. Even if you did, it wouldnt do anything. Those low voltage lights are out in the rain, snow, you name it. The lines are run in mulch beds routinely where there is standing water. Besides, you dont need a permit for low voltage in AZ, so you need no inspection.



    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    680 also says that no electric lines can be buried under or around the pool unless greater than 5 feet.
    That is true. But like i said, its done all the time when they run lines and conduit for the pool light and it's passed by the inspector. Put it in conduit and it'll be fine. IMO, thispart of 680 really refers to lines that feed a house, houses, or other actual structures or dwellings, not lines in conduit for lights and plugs.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    Thanks again. Another question of course:

    I'm also running conduit for the irrigation controller, because the wiring was previously just strung along the ground with some gravel kicked over it . From what I've read, the 110vac (power supply) and 24vac (for the solenoid valves) cannot share conduit. If I eventually install the 12v landscape lights, I'd like to stick the controls next to the irrigation controls. I'm thinking I need to run two conduits to that spot; one for the 110v to both controllers and one for the low voltage output from each. This is getting complicated...

    Turns out I was wrong about the gas; there is no code for burial depth, though 18" is the recommended standard. The gas company tech came to make sure it was safe as is, and said it would be OK just to have somebody come out and repair it .
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Conduit for future landscape lights

    I always recommend running 120 volt and lower voltages in separate conduits. Some people disagree with that but I've found over the years that it saves a lot of headaches.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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