Recessed stair lights can be used on either indoor or outdoor staircases. They are particularly effective when used on outdoor staircases and decking as they provide a gentler, less intrusive form of lighting compared to the usual overhead outdoor floodlights. The following is some help and tips on how to deal with recessed stair lights installation, the process is the same for either indoor or outdoor lights.
What Power Source are you Going to Use?
If you’re installing recessed lights into an indoor staircase you will most probably be using the ‘line’ power that is generally available. However, if you’re installing ‘line’ voltage lights you’ll need to be a certified electrician.
Therefore, we’ll presume you’re installing the recessed lights outdoors and you’ll be using low-voltage lights with either an outdoor transformer or a solar power source. If you’re using a transformer then make sure each light has its own run of wiring, otherwise the lights end up having to share the 12 volts available and will appear very dim.
Also, don’t forget that the transformer must be housed in an approved box and any cables running from the transformer to the lights should run through an 80 PVC conduit. Solar powered lights are ideal if you live in an area with plenty of long sunny days, or at least a guarantee of 6 hours sunlight a day. With solar powered lights, there’s no need for any trailing wires and installing them is very straightforward.
Recessed Stair Lighting Bulbs
The bulbs used for these lights can be incandescent or LED ones. The choice of which one to use is simply down to the effect you’re trying to create. LED ones are more expensive, but they are also more efficient and will last a lot longer than incandescent ones. Solar powered lights will use LED bulbs. Solar powered lights are dependant on storing electrical energy in a NiCd battery obtained from its photo-voltaic cell. As such the battery may need replacing after a period of time.
Wiring Recessed Stair Lights
The biggest problem during installation is really making sure that no wiring or connections are showing. To do this you might need to conceal the wiring underneath hand rails or by drilling holes down through upright posts. When buying your lighting system you should look at the type of connectors used for the wires.
Barrel connectors are the easiest to ones to use. Being barely thicker than the cable itself any holes you have to drill or routing work you have to do can be kept to a very small radius. Other types of connector used are: wire nuts, snap connectors and disk connectors.
Disk connectors should be avoided as they are the bulkiest of them all and are the ones most likely to create connection problems later on. Having got the wiring in place you need to fix the light fitting to the step. Obviously wiring is not an issue if you’re installing solar powered lights.
Positioning Recessed Lights
It’s entirely your choice whether to fit them to the stringer if you have one, or the tread or the riser of the step. However, by fitting it to the riser you will give the light fitting an extra level of protection from both people walking on the stairs and the elements.
Regardless of whether the light face is round or rectangular you’ll most likely need a Forstner bit to drill the hole to take the light fittings housing, you may well also need a jigsaw or reciprocating saw if the fitting itself is rectangular.