Installing electricity in the garden is not a job for amateurs. The electrical equipment in the garden can be lethal if it is installed incorrectly or if inadequate provisions have been made in the event of an equipment fault. Water is the main threat – it can seep through joints and gaskets, it can be drawn into electrical enclosures by capillary action, and it can penetrate ageing materials which corrode, crack, or are damaged by wildlife, pets, children, careless gardening or just time. Water conducts electricity and the ground is usually damp to some extent or others in most countries(especially in the UK), so that the contact of human feet with the ground is all that is needed to provide a fatal route for the electrical current. Proper circuit protection for all the exterior electrical services should include a residual current device(RCD) also known as an earth leakage circuit breaker(ELCB). This simple device ensures that the power is cut off immediately when it detects a leakage of current to earth, which indicates an electrical fault potentially threatening to life. Observe a simple rules and you will keep your garden safe, and your use of the garden with it’s lighting fittings installed – pleasant!
Do’s and Dont’s in Outdoor Electrical Installations
Do’s – safety measures in Outdoor Electrical Installations
- The installation should be carried out in accordance with the latest building and wiring regulations. If you are in doubt, please consult a qualified electrician.
- Ensure that all the exterior electrical circuits are protected by an RCD.
- Have your system tested and certified by a qualified electrical contractor.
- Turn off the electrical equipment before performing any maintenance function – even if this means just changing a lamp.
Dont’s in the case of the outdoor electrical installations
- Don’t install any electrical equipment outside unless you are qualified to do so.
- Don’t use switches, sockets, transformers or any other electrical devices in the garden if they are design for interior installation.
- Don’t protect the electrical equipment with plastic bags or temporary wrappings as substitute for proper weatherproof enclosures.
Laying cable outdoors – safety measures
The laying of the electrical cables in the ground may be subject to specific regulations. The aim is to ensure that the cables are buried deeply enough in the ground in order to avoid any disturbances. Where the armoured cables can be buried at adequate depth to avoid being damaged by any reasonable foreseeable disturbance of the ground, they can be laid in a buffer layer of sand and covered with cable warning tape. Where it is not possible to bury the cable deeply enough because of the presence of tree roots of unsuitable ground conditions, extra mechanical protection around the cables will be required. This is usually in the form of plastic ducts or conduits through which the cables are run.
Outdoors Luminaires Positioning and accessibility
Future accessibility must be taken into consideration when selecting and installing your outdoor luminaire. Access to the luminaire for lamp replacement or maintenance must be available throughout its life. You must ensure that it is safe and easy to get to the luminaire by either making it easy to remove from its location or locating it in an easily accessible position.
Key points to help access to the luminaire:
- make the power cable connection to the product an IP rated plug and socket so that the luminaire can be easily removed for maintenance and then quickly re-installed;
- always leave sufficient extra cable within the base of recessed ground products for unrestricted access.
More about the RCDs(what is a residual current device and what is the principle of operation for a RCD), the electrical safety in homes using the extension leads and adaptors, and some tips for your electrical safety outdoors(avoid electrical accidents in the gardens).