How do I install temporary lighting for a job site?

Updated February 21, 2017

Temporary job site lighting provides construction workers with a safe work environment. A job site's temporary lighting must meet the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements. Temporary lighting must use ground-fault circuit interrupting (GFCI) receptacles when plugged into a temporary electrical-service panel's outlets. The NEC also requires removal of all temporary lighting and its wiring after completing the job. This includes wires run through walls. Holiday and seasonal job sites must disconnect the temporary lighting after 90 days.

Stretch out a string light from the farthest point away from the power supply to the power supply. Lay the string light on the floor. A string light has several light fixtures moulded into a wire at 10-foot intervals. Each light fixture uses a metal or plastic cage to protect a light bulb. Typical string lights stretch out to either 100- or 50-foot lengths.

Inspect the area above the string light. Do not route the string light through areas without a roof. When possible, place the string lights near the centre of each room.

Hang the string light to a roof truss or another type of structural support with plastic zip ties. Start at the end farthest from the power supply and space a plastic zip tie every five feet. Lift the string light to the truss then wrap a zip tie around the truss and the sting light. Slide the zip tie's tag end into its fastener and pull on the tag end.

Screw a 100 watt light bulb into each light socket. After screwing in the light bulb, close the string light's cage. Plastic cages snap together. Metal cages use a small latch to hold the cage together.

Inspect the temporary electrical-service panel for a GFCI protected circuit breaker or outlet. A GFCI monitors the electric current leaving and returning from it. If it notices a drop in the amount of current returning, then the GFCI trips. If the electrical-service panel does not use a GFCI circuit breaker or outlet, then replace one of the common electrical sockets with a GFCI protected outlet. Dedicate that outlet to the temporary lighting system.

Plug the string lights into a GFCI protected outlet. If the string lights do not reach the electrical-service panel, then stretch an extension cord from the electrical socket to the string light's plug. Secure the extension cord to the building's trusses with plastic zip ties every five feet.

Things You'll Need

  • String light
  • Plastic zip ties
  • 100 watt light bulb
  • GFCI protected electrical socket
  • Extension cord
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About the Author

Based out of Central Florida, Robert Sylvus has been writing how-to and outdoor sports articles for various online publications since 2008. Sylvus has been a home improvement contractor since 1992. He is a certified HVAC universal technician.