Installing Garage Accent Lighting

June 7, 2013 | by Ethan (email) |

Editors Note: Today we’re featuring a guest contribution by Joe, one of our regular readers.

Originally, our house had landscape lighting and a sconce next to the front door, and the garage lacked any decorative lighting. I recently replaced the fixture next to the front door, and it looks much better. Unfortunately, we rarely use that door so the light isn’t used too much. We like having the landscape lights on at night (when we remember to turn them on and off) so we decided to install a timer and LED bulbs (to keep energy usage down).

I was really pleased with the timer, and I felt the garage could use some sconces flanking the garage door. Rather than install another time, I opted to use the same timer as the landscape lights.

I wont address every single aspect of the project, because they have already been covered here on OPC. I started with a new circuit coming from the sub panel in my garage. Everything related to wiring a new circuit can be found in this article Ethan wrote.

The timer I used is the Honeywell econoswitch, it automatically adjusts for sunrise and sunset times, as well as daylight savings, etc. You just input your location (in the form of latitude and longitude) and it takes care of the rest (obviously you need to set the time and your desired program). It also has a manual override.


I wired this switch to an outlet, to plug in the landscape lighting transformer, and from that outlet I wired up the sconces. I had to have a direct run from the outlet to each sconce because the boxes I used are basically pancake boxes, and should really only have a single wire coming into them.

The boxes I used to mount the lights are really nice. Instead of having to modify the siding to fit the box you can just put the box OVER the siding, and (if you have normal siding) it will just match right up to it without any gap. It also has an integrated electrical box so the only penetration you need in the wall is for a single piece of wire. The boxes are made by Arlington, and have many styles for different types of siding. I chose the flat one because my siding has a very large lap (7/8″?) and very tall “boards”. The fit isn’t perfect, but its good enough.

I decided to center the sconces on the short wall on either side of the garage door, so I measured the wall for where I needed to drill for the wire based on where the knockout on the box was. If I had to do this again I would NOT have used the center knockout. I would have used one of the offsets. The center knockout put the wires right behind the mounting bar for the fixture, and put a screw right near the wire, making it more difficult to wire.


I pulled the wire through the wall and caulked around it, then I put the cable clamp in the knockout and pulled the cable into the box and mounted the box to the wall using the provided hardware. My house has plywood sheathing so I didn’t have to worry about mounting it on a stud.


I stripped the jacket off the wire and attached the mounting bracket for the light, then I had to wire up the fixture. I found that if I temporary mounted the fixture incorrectly, I could leave the wiring exposed and make my connections without having to hold the fixture myself.


You can also see how that mounting bracket for the fixture is right over the cable coming into the box.

After making the connection I mounted the fixture properly and caulked around the top of it, leaving the bottom open to let any water out. the only thing left to do was plug in the landscape lights and put bulbs in the sconces.


The bulbs I used are LED bulbs that actually look GOOD exposed in clear fixtures, they have a glass globe and grey base, and a plastic light diffuser in the middle of the bulb. They’re not that bright, but I only wanted them as an accent light, so its perfect (they claim to be equivalent to a 25w bulb).


After turning everything on and programming the timer, all that I had to do was admire my work (oh, and that cleanup stuff).


18 Responses
  1. poiboybf says:

    Wow, those look great. That automatic timer looks cool too didn’t know Honeywell made one of those. Now all I need is a garage and I can start this project! 🙂

    • Joe says:

      Thanks! The timer IS really cool, we have had one on our front porch light for a while now, its nice to NEVER have to think about it, and the house looks more inviting with all of the lights on.

      • supimeister says:

        This is a really great idea… having to deal with setting up timers around the house when you go out of town is a pain and this exterior light being 100% good to go already would be really, really nice!

  2. nice project Joe … landscape lighting (+ the sconces) is great for curb appeal & security … and I love the idea of adding a timer – doing the heavy lifting of cutting lights on yes, but also cutting them off to save energy and extend bulb life. I’m not sure if I follow exactly how the timer needed to be wired in your situation with the transformer, but all good all the same. I have used these boxes several times myself and they certainly have made life easier. good tips here and thanks.

    • Joe says:


      I wired this switch to an outlet, to plug in the landscape lighting transformer, and from that outlet I wired up the sconces. I had to have a direct run from the outlet to each sconce because the boxes I used are basically pancake boxes, and should really only have a single wire coming into them.

      timer -> outlet for landscape lights -> sconces

      so that second plug in the outlet WONT be on all the time, I could have used a single plug outlet there, but I had the orange one, and none of the other outlets are orange, so I figured it was good enough.

  3. byeedo says:

    The sconces look great as accents. Is that a motion activated flood light in the center of the garage to provide additional light/security when needed?

    • Joe says:

      it WAS… but it wasn’t wired properly (had to have the switch on all the time, and the motion sensor wasn’t that good) , and I didn’t really like the light it threw, so I replaced it with a simple flood light. along with flood lights on either end of the house, I should probably add two more sets in the middle of the house to fully illuminate the front and back yard (back yard is on its own switch).

  4. Looks great & smart on the wallet. We’ve had a similar (non-Hubble) timer on our exterior lighting for a while and really like it. Set and forget!

    I wanted to ask about those lamps. Sweetie hates the appearance of our current CFL’s so I’d like to replace them with something. She also dislikes the white-bluish light given off by most LED’s. In your photo’s the light looks pretty warm, like a normal incandescent. Is that how they look to the eye as well? Did they have larger output options than the 25w equivalent?

    • Joe says:

      Just the 25W version, in different shapes and bases last I checked. They have a cooler “daylight” version of the bulb, but I think even the “warm” version is a little cold (like basically all non incandescent lighting), but it doesn’t really bother me since they’re outside.

  5. trebor says:

    Kind of off topic, but what has your experience been with having plywood sheathing on your house?

    • Joe says:

      Nothing special to note about it, its nice to screw stuff in wherever, but OSB would act basically the same. I would prefer plywood over OSB, but call me old fashioned.

  6. HANDYMAN51 says:

    The Honeywell Econoswitch looks very nice. Is it reliable for use in very cold temperatures, such as -20 deg. F ?

    • Joe says:

      not sure… my garage will hopefully never get that cold. If this timer dies before the one in the house, (or either of them die really…) I will try to remember to add a comment here about it.

      You might want to ask Honeywell about it though.

  7. NicF says:

    That Econoswitch is really neat. A friend of mine had something similar, but it was designed to look like a paddle switch and be inside.

    • Joe says:

      Not sure my garage counts as “outside” I do have another one inside the house by the front door (I really wish I could have only had one… but difficulties in routing wires prevented that).

      I had thought about X10… but didn’t feel like getting the whole system set up, as well as adding something to control them that would always have to be on.

  8. miah says:

    Thanks for the post! I need to replace my current outdoor lighting and will definitely be referring back to this post soon.

  9. bigredmachine says:

    you guys just never miss a trick. this is a great safety item as well as a must for most homes.

  10. Garth Steele says:

    Great post! I love the timer, great economy and safety choice for the home. The LED light look awesome as well. Good job!

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