Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
Having previously installed similar lighting around our wildlife pond with great effect, as shown below, I felt inspired to do the same thing with our decking.
Challenges and Solutions
I couldn’t just buy LED strip lighting, fit it in place, and plug it in. There were issues that had to be contended with first, in order to ensure the safe and long-term operation of the lighting. The main issues to be resolved included:
- Getting outside power
- Getting the cabling from the power supply source to the lights
- Protecting the electrics from rainwater and water ingression
In tandem with fitting decking lights, I was also wiring up a power supply to our new robotic lawnmower recharge docking station.
So some of the solutions in wiring-up the docking station to the mains power also resolved part of the issues relating to the LED lighting for the decking, e.g. fitting an exterior electrical socket in a convenient location and lifting decking to gain access for cabling.
However, I still needed to ensure that all exposed electrics would be properly protected from rain and water ingression. The specific items that need to be kept dry are:
- Extension lead
- AC power adaptor
- LED lights controller unit
- Both ends of the LED strip lights
There is a wide selection of exterior water-resistant boxes to choose from, specifically for housing electrical components. After some research I chose a suitable box that was large enough to comfortably house the extension lead, AC power adaptor, LED lights controller unit, and one end of the LED strip lighting, but also small enough to easily fit under the decking.
For the end of the LED strip lighting, which would be exposed to the elements, I sourced silicone end caps on Amazon that slip over the end of the strip lighting to help protect it from weather. Although, I felt that the silicone end cap in itself wouldn’t be sufficient in guaranteeing the end of the LED strip lighting would be waterproof. So I also purchased a tube of silicone for absolute protection.
To hold the LED strip lighting in place along the decking edge, I also purchased a pack of suitable silicone fixing clips, which are screwed in place as required.
How I Installed Multi-Coloured LED Lights Around My Deck
Having conceived the idea and sourced and purchased the materials, my next step was to plan the sequence of installation—in conjunction with the wiring for the robotic lawnmower’s charging station—then carry out the installation as follows.
Exterior Weatherproof Double Electrical Socket
An exterior weatherproof double socket was in a suitable location on the outside of the conservatory wall, in accordance with UK Regulations.
One of the sockets would provide power to the robotic lawnmower charging station, while the other socket would provide power to the LED strip lighting.
For added convenience, I wired the extension lead to the exterior socket via an exterior switch.
Lifting Decking to Lay Cables
Lifting a section of decking just in front of the conservatory’s patio doors not only enabled me to feed the power cable from the robotic lawnmower’s charging station to the exterior power socket, but also enabled me to lay the power cables for the LED lighting, and the water resistant box for the electrics under the decking; where they would be out of sight and protected.
Exterior Weatherproof Electric Protective Box
Once the extension lead was laid under the decking from the power socket, I then put all the electrical components together inside the weatherproof electric box; to protect them from the rain.
The components I fitted into the protective weatherproof box were:
- Socket end of the extension lead
- AC power adaptor for the LED lights
- LED lights controller unit, and
- One end of the LED strip lighting
Although I only needed a single extension lead I chose to use a double as ‘future proofing’, e.g. in the event of wishing to add a second set of lights in the future, rather than having to replace the extension lead I can just plug additional lighting into the spare socket of the existing lead.
Setting the LED Lights
Having connected everything up in the water-resistant electric box, before relaying the decking, now is the good time to set the coloured LED lights to your desired setting.
The coloured LED strip lights come with an infrared remote control, and the sensor for the remote control is hardwired into the LED lights controller unit; which is not waterproof.
Once the controller unit is placed inside the protective electric box, under the decking, changing the settings becomes impossible without taking the decking up and opening the lid of the protective box.
Therefore, this is a good point to spend some quality time to experiment with the remote control, and choose the setting you like. The options available (including Random) includes:-
- Wide choice of colours
- Speed of colour change, e.g. fast, slow
- Type of colour change, e.g. flash, blink, phase etc.
Replacing the Decking
Once I used the remote control to make my desired options, I snapped the lid onto the protective box, laid it on the ground beneath the decking and then screwed the decking back in place.
Weatherproofing the End of the LED Lights
Although the LED strip lighting itself is weather protected, and waterproof, e.g. will work even under water (such as in a pond), the strip lights are designed so that two or more strip lights can be joined. Therefore, the ends are not waterproof.
Technically I could join two or more LED strip lights together, to extend the total length, but it does require additional power which the AC power adaptor supplied with the lights doesn’t provide e.g. it becomes more technical. To keep the installation simple I just stuck to the one LED strip light; which was quite adequate for my needs. The LED strip lights are 5 m (16 feet long), and although it would have been nice for it to be a bit longer, I was quite happy to work what I had.
Therefore, to make the end of the LED strip light waterproof I squirted a blob of silicone inside the silicone end cap and pushed it onto the end of the LED strip light.
Fitting the LED Lights to the Decking Edge
With all else done it was just a simple case of fitting the LED strip lights in place underneath the decking edging; holding it in place with silicone fixing clips at regular intervals.
The silicone fixing clips are held in place with tiny screws; about an inch long, but thin. In fixing the screws you need to be careful that you don’t:
- Accidently screw through the LED lighting strip itself, and
- Screw the silicone fixing clips too tight, because they are only silicone and therefore the screw head will easily push through the holes in the fixing clips if tightened up too tight.
Testing the LED Lights
With the job done, it was just a matter of switching the exterior switch, screwed to the outside of the conservatory wall, and enjoying the light show.
© 2019 Arthur Russ
Arthur Russ (author) from England on June 14, 2019:
Thanks Liz and Doris. I've always shied away from solar lights because they are so dependent on the sun for recharging the batteries; and then some of the cheaper ones I've seen others use don't always last for more than a couple of hours after dark.
Whereas, what I want in our garden are lights that I can turn on and off at will, and which has a bit of colour and flashes; for which LED RGB lights fit the bill nicely.
I guess your solar rope lights must look quite spectacular strung down your atrium staircase; although I hope I've given you some inspiration for when you do replace them.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 13, 2019:
This is really great. I've fallen in love with your deck and your lawn mower. My husband is the electrical engineer in the family, but I believe you've made the instructions so simple that even I could install the lights. I need to replace a set of solar rope lights he strung down our atrium staircase. Those would be nice.
Liz Westwood from UK on June 13, 2019:
This is an impressive display with a great guide on how to achieve it.