View Full Version : Lights under soffits

04-09-2012, 09:59 PM
A few people have asked for more information on putting the retro C9 lights under the the soffits or eaves using vinyl j-channel . I got the idea originally from Bazillion Lights (at the bottom it's mentioned) (http://bazillionlights.com/Tech/LightsTechWindowFrames.html) and all the credit for this goes to him of course.

It's pretty easy to do. What you will need:

- C9 sockets (You can of course use C7's adjust accordingly).
- C9 light bulbs - I went with the Retro LED C9 with the colors red, white (Sun White), green. Last year I had three 3 channels, one for each color. This year I'll be expanding this to 3 channels for each section of lights (9 sections total).
- SPT wire for the length you are going to do your run.
- Male / Female vampire plugs.
- Vinyl J-Channel - for me I went with 1 1/4" - I ordered this from Menards (http://www.menards.com/main/building-materials/siding/vinyl-siding/accessories/1-1-4-j-channel/p-92653-c-5840.htm). I'm only mentioning this so you will think about getting it ahead of time in case they don't have it in stock. ;) I went with white but they do have other colors. I included a link I found for it. Of course double check everything... It comes in 12' 6" segments.
- 2" Binder clips

Tools: Saw, Drill, small drill bit (for pilot holes if you think you need them), Step drill bit 3/4", measuring tape, and a pencil.


First figure out the length you will be running the lights. For me I had 37'.

Next determine how long you want each piece of J-Channel to be. Ideally you will want to do something like I did in the pics. A small 4' or 5' section. You will pre-assemble these ahead of time. When time to put the display up they just clip on. When done you take them down and store them. Very easy to manage this way. I went with 8 4' sections and 1 5' section. I figure if you short change it you can always center it (unless your really off then make another). If it's over it's just some minor surgery to correct it.

Figure out how many lights you will have and the spacing that will fit to your sections. For me I used 225 bulbs with a 2" spacing between each bulb: the eight 4' sections has 24 bulbs (8 of each color) and the one 5' section has 33 bulbs (11 each). Mark the J-channel at the intervals. Mine wasn't perfect (either spaced or centered) but it was close and at the distances we're dealing with it still looked good. For multi-colors just make sure each section is identical (both start and finish). That way any one section can be placed anywhere. If you have an odd one like I did (the 5' section) just have it follow the pattern and put it on the end.

At the intervals drill a pilot hole. Once I got to around a 100+ holes I just winged it without the pilot hole...

Use the the step drill bit to make the 3/4" hole. The bulb end you plug into the socket will fit through the hole. When connected the bulb and the socket will sandwich the j-channel keeping them in place. The J-channel drilling wasn't hard at all but you will be glad when done... Have good ventilation and you probably should wear a mask. It will be a bit messy and the drill bit will gum up a little. It does sweep up pretty easy.

Make the C9 socket strands to fit your lengths of j-channel / hole interval. Leave a little bit on the ends for the plugs - just a couple inches of overlap is more than enough. One section will connect to the next one of course and so on.

Connect the bulbs to the strand sandwiching the j-channel.

Test the lights.

Then repeat until all section are done of course.


Mounting the lights. I used 2" binder clips. You can get a gross of them pretty cheap on Ebay. Use the clips to clip the j-channel under the soffit on the lip (see the pics).

Again this method does a few things.

1. The lights are really tidy. I've used these just one season and we had a bad wind storm one night. They did not move.
2. The lights are a bit out of the elements being under the soffit.
3. Installing, removing, and storage is a breeze.

It is a bit different looking but I was happy with the results. Nothing says you can't still put lights on top of the gutters too. ;)

I still have to figure out if icicles would look good hanging from this instead of the gutters like usual. If someone thinks of a good way to use them with this I'd like to hear it.

Here are some pics:

A completed and mounted section: Sorry I don't have a daytime fully installed pic. I do have a night time from a distance...

Night time from a distance (full house): This has just the green channel on. One goal I have is to be able to have my display be all red, green, or white. Red and green are done and white will happen this year.

An end with measurements:

A view of a clipped on section:

Closeup of a bulb out:


If you have any questions or need more pics just ask. I hope this all makes sense.


04-09-2012, 11:04 PM
It looks really clean! I like it. Thanks for the good description and the pictures.

Your soffit apparently has some perfect edge for you to clip to. handy!

Which vinyl J-channel did you use? Do you have a link?

04-09-2012, 11:09 PM
Good write up. Enough pictures to tell the story. Thank you very much!


04-10-2012, 01:10 AM
Looks great Jason, very informational!

04-10-2012, 06:02 AM
It looks really clean! I like it. Thanks for the good description and the pictures.

Your soffit apparently has some perfect edge for you to clip to. handy!

Which vinyl J-channel did you use? Do you have a link?

The Menards link in the post has a link to the j-channel. There are a couple kinds but that should be the one I used (it's been a while since I purchased it.

Also the edge to clip on to can be ta challenge. My garage was an addition and it was easier to clip to than the house. I would recommend checking the soffits out first to see if a binder clip will fit underneath the lip.


04-10-2012, 08:43 AM
Nice! Excellent write-up and great pictures!

Now, this gives me the idea that this would also work for RGB pixels, and be less labor intensive than the work I did with coroplast.

Thanks for this!

04-10-2012, 12:16 PM
Binder clips. I use them all over the place. Great little tool to use.

04-10-2012, 12:39 PM
The Menards link in the post has a link to the j-channel.

Thanks - sorry, I didn't see that it was a link.

(Aside: For presumably aesthetic reasons, web design (CSS) seems to have migrated to making links harder to see nowadays, vs the old convention of underlined blue text. Yes, they bother to override the browser defaults to reduce the visibiliity of the links! Are there add-ons for popular browsers which clearly highlight links in text, even if the CSS hides them?)

04-11-2012, 12:16 PM
"J" molding "What a great idea!" I have a few pieces just sitting in my garage doing nothing (until now). Thanks for the idea! Great pics.


05-23-2012, 01:31 PM
I am so happy that I have joined this forum. You just gave me a new idea for decorating my home for the next christmas. I'm not a technical guy but your instructions were pretty clear and thanks a lot for the pics.

05-23-2012, 05:19 PM
Welcome to DIYC, Carradine! You'll find jewels of info all over this site.