Post lights are expensive, and digging for the cable is definitely no fun. And if you have been procrastinating like I have, it could be too late to dig – the ground may already be frozen. The solution: install low voltage garden lights on top of existing posts!

I think lights on each side of the gate makes any house look like a mansion, but I couldn’t find any commercial lights that would fit on a standard chain link fence. The alternative would be to install post lights on each side of the gate, but digging the ditch for the electrical connection is an awful lot of work. It could of course be hired done, but I am too frugal for that.

The ditch digging ruled out the post light, and I couldn’t find any gate lights that would work on my existing gate posts. Then I stumbled over a big box of metal garden lights in the second hand store. The idea to turn these lights into gate lights was born!

These are standard Malibu brand garden lights, and the end of the little tubes have 1/2″ standard US electrical pipe threads (NPT). For two mechanical engineers (me and my husband Bill), it was a piece of cake to design an adapter between the threaded tube and the metal fence post. We 3D printed it in silver colored PET (polyester), which hopefully will last well outdoors (but if they don’t, we can just print new ones).

Because the lights are low voltage, the wire doesn’t have to buried. We actually ended up connecting the gate lights to the existing lawn lights. All I had to do was to bring out the soldering iron and an extension cord, and connect the wires.

If you happen to have similar garden lights and the same kind of fence posts, and have access to a 3D printer, you can download my design from Thingiverse here and print your own.

I really love the gate lights, particularly when I come home after dark. I think the four lights framing our two gates make our little house look like a mansion. 🙂

 

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The gate lights in the day…
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….during night….
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…and in the snow.
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The original garden light with the ground stake.
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1/2″ US electric thread (NPT).
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The 3D printed adapter.
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The fence post originally had a cap, but it was just pushed on and was easily removed.
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The original “vampire connector” had to be cut off in order to remove the ground stake and screw on the new adapter. The copper wires are twisted together before soldering. Note the heat shrink that is already on the wire!
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Solder the wires. You can also use crimp connectors, but I prefer to solder. My experience is that soldered connections last longer.
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And shrink the heat shrink tubing to electrically insulate the connections.
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Push the adapter into the fence post and connect the wires. Done!