Light Pole Installation Guide: How to Install a Light Pole

Light Pole Installation Guide: How to Install a Light Pole

What is the purpose of Light Pole Installation?

Installing exterior lighting is a project that is often overlooked. Light poles are crucial for your safety. Whether used to brighten up residential areas, highways, or even an outdoor sporting event; all would be dangerous without properly installed light poles. That said, you should be able to follow this simple guide to properly install a light pole.

How to get started

If you are thinking about installing a light pole, here are some things to consider before beginning the process:

STEP 1: Be sure to familiarize yourself with your city’s requirements. (*Disclaimer: check with a foundation engineer and an electrician to help with installation and wiring.) Different municipalities provide their own guidelines.

Step 2: Consider the wind rating for the area you plan to install. Each state has different average wind speeds, which is an essential factor in deciding the type and depth of the pole. Click here to view your city’s wind rating.

Step 3: Recognize the type of soil. The ideal soil should be solid and firm and should not retain water. Depending on how solid the foundation is, you might have to dig deeper, which will affect cost.

Light Pole Installation methods

Before you begin, you must obtain the proper concrete installation tools. After considering your city's requirements, wind speed, depth, and soil condition, choose which installation method to use; the Direct Burial or Anchor-based installation method. Hiring an engineer to guide you through the process is highly recommended to ensure proper installation.

Here is a breakdown of the following light pole installation methods:

Direct Burial Light Pole Installation

The direct burial method, also known as the embedded method, allows poles to be installed straight into the ground. Aluminum and fiberglass are the recommended pole materials as they do not rust. Remember that steel poles, base plates, and anchor bolts are not needed for this installation.

The light pole shaft needs to be longer than normal (10% of the ideal height you had in mind, plus 2 feet). The soil should consist of silt, clay, soil, and a small amount of crushed rock. Please note it will be difficult to create a solid foundation in areas with loose soil and sand.

Below are the suggested burial installation steps to follow:

Step 1: Dig or use an auger to create a hole. The suggested heights and depths are listed below, depending on the type of pole you will be working with:

Height Depth
8-18 ft. 3 ft.
18.1-25 ft. 4 ft.
25.1-40 ft. 5 ft.
40.1-50 ft. 6 ft.

Be sure that the diameter of the hole is about twice the diameter of the pole’s base.

Step 2: Lower the pole into the hole while guiding the wires through the cable entrance holes to the hand hole.

Step 3: Lay 4 to 6 inches of backfill into the hole. Support the pole and use a plumb bob to level the pole, packing the backfill as you go.

Step 4: Add an additional 4 to 6 inches of backfill and continue to plumb the pole.

This method is less costly and can be used when installing light poles within athletic courts and residential areas.

How to install a direct burial light pole in cement?

If you are using cement to fill your hole, all of the previous steps will remain the same, except you will want to use a concrete mixture to fill the hole instead. The following tools will be necessary; a conduit pipe fitted wiring and a concrete float.

Step 1: Fill the trench with reserved soil

Step 2: Pour in a concrete mix into the post hole you are working with (6 ft of the conduit pipe should remain exposed after this step has been completed). Do not cover any wires or conduit with the concrete.

Step 3: Smooth out the top of the post hole with a concrete float.

Anchor-Based Light Pole Installation

The anchor-based installation process tends to be costly and time-consuming; however, this foundational method can be beneficial in certain locations, specifically parking lots. According to CBS News, 20 percent of car accidents happen in parking lots. Often, light poles are damaged as a result of these accidents. Shopping mall parking lots use the anchor-based process because light poles can be easily replaced.

There are two ways to install an anchor base light pole foundation.

Method 1: DIY concrete foundation: This method involves digging a hole, pouring in the concrete, and attaching your anchor bolts. This can be a long, exhausting process; however, it still gets the job done.

The following steps on how to construct an anchor bolt base foundation are listed below:

Step 1: Cut out the template and template supports

Step 2: Layout and drill your bolt pattern

Step 3: Secure the bolts to the template

Step 4: Place the template on the forum and make sure it is leveled

Step 5: Fasten the template to the supports, secure the supports to the H frame

Step 6: Secure the cage to the supports

Step 7: Secure the concrete and remove the template

Method 2: Helix foundation: This method is often used to implement utility poles, cell phone towers, solar panels, and distribution lines. These durable, grounded anchors are great for keeping everything in place because the helix-shaped plate allows all bolts to be screwed in quickly and easily without the need for concrete. This plate acts similar to a big corkscrew with a plate attached, digging a hole into the ground. Typically, you will want to use steel poles. You can drop the pole in manually or use a crane.

Wiring the Light Pole

Before you begin, make sure to turn off your power source located within the main breaker box. Have the following tools on hand; wire nuts, wire strippers, and a utility knife. It is highly suggested to hire an electrician.

How is light pole installation different in residential versus commercial settings?

Residential light pole installation requirements differ from commercial light pole installation. The type of installation depends on your location, as some cities have requirements for which ones you use. Please note:

  • Commercial light pole installation is a long process due to traffic and crowded populations
  • Commercial light poles are often thicker and sturdier.
  • Residential light poles have a shorter warranty and can be installed in soil or cement. Whereas light poles in commercial settings will typically be installed using cement to withstand tougher conditions.

How much does installing a light pole cost?

The cost of a light pole installation depends on the size and the location of the hole. The cheapest option, the Direct Burial method, costs between $200 to $400. The Helix foundation ranges from $500 to $700. The final, yet pricier, installation option is the traditional Anchor-base method, costing $600 to $1000.

Common outdoor lighting installation problems

Errors are common. Here are three of the most common installation mistakes that people make:

  1. Mismatching: Improperly installing your anchor bolts may cause measurement errors, leading to a pole that does not fit. Once the foundation and the anchor bolts are set, there is no going back unless you have an adaptor or start over and redrill.
  2. Crooked installation: Direct burial may result in crooked light poles.
  3. Not hiring an engineer or electrician: Hiring an electrician or engineer is highly recommended to design the proper foundation for each application.

Check out our product instructional videos page or subscribe to our YouTube channel to learn more about light pole installation and other helpful tips and tricks.

If you have any more product-related questions about installation, feel free to give us a call or message us. We’d be happy to help!

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