Initiative ELEKTRO+

Electrical installations for the garden and terrace

In summer we enjoy our gardens and terraces for dining, celebrating, relaxing and a whole range of other leisure activities. But, the outside area is only really suited for such purposes when we have an electricity supply. For lighting, music, an electric barbecue, lawn mower and many other applicances the home owner needs an adequate number of power points. Installation of at least one 230 volt outlet with three sockets and an antenna connection box is recommended.

Unlike interior electrical installations, exterior systems are exposed to the weather. Sun, wind and moisture all leave their mark. For this reason, materials, appliances and components must be weatherproof and explicitly designed for outside use. Power points in the garden and on the terrace, for example, must have hinged splash-proof covers to prevent water from entering.

To protect outside sockets and electrical installations from tampering and unauthorised access, it is mandatory to install double-pole switches which can be activated exclusively from inside the house to isolate external circuits. Together with residual current devices (RCDs), – see below – this helps to ensure good standards of safety.

Electrical safety outside

Water is an efficient conductor of electricity and moisture entering electrical installations and appliances can cause dangerous residual currents. In such cases, residual current devices (RCDs) installed in sockets and circuits will react immediately switching off the system. Using a defective applicance or damaged or faulty cables outside, especially in wet conditions, greatly increases the risk of injury or death from electric shock. Currents are easily conducted through the earth and through the human body, with a particularly high risk if the person is barefoot. For this reason potentially life-saving RCDs are obligatory for all external power points and electrical installations.

Practical solutions for cables in the garden

An external power column with multiple sockets for electrical appliances eliminates the need for extension leads and cable drums in the garden. Columns can be safely installed in almost any outside substrate. Cables should ideally be laid in sand or at least in stone-free soil and are connected directly to the 230 volt house circuit. Some power columns not only supply electricity but also act as attractive lighting sources for gardens, paths and terraces. It is important to note that not all external appliances can be safely connected to a power column. Permanent outside devices, such as electrical pumps for ponds or rainwater storage, must be equipped with individual circuits connecting them separately to the house system.

Better lighting for more security

Outside lighting for paths, lawns and garden buildings not only looks attractive but also increases security. Wall mounted lights and other sources, positioned carefully to avoid dazzle, prevent accidents on steps and uneven ground. Exterior lighting systems activiated by motion detectors are energy efficient and alert occupants to unwanted visitors. However, not all lights can be used outside. Only models which meet the DIN EN 60598 (VDE 0711) standard and carry a VDE approval sign are suitable. If chains of lights are put up in external areas the following guidelines should be observed: light chains with flat cables and lamp holders mounted on top should be positioned with the lamp holders facing downwards to prevent water from entering. Lamp holders fixed on the cable should not be altered or moved.

Professional planning of electrical installations

It is recommended that those planning electrical installations in outside areas should first seek professional advice. Failure to do so may lead to invalidation of household or property insurance cover. An electrician will manage the planning and implementation of external electrical installations and deliver appropriate solutions to suit your individual needs.

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    Picture: Electrical installation in outside area