It starts with an outdoor socket but usually turns out that the customer wants a lot more for their money. How do you keep the price right and choose what to install, asks Timeguard?
How much protection?
First, decide what level of IP protection you need for the job at hand. In simple terms, the higher the number, the greater the degree of protection, and the costs will inevitably reflect that, so make the right choice at the start.
The ratings you are likely to see at the wholesalers are IP55, IP65, IP66, and IP68. The first IP number is an indication of dust protection, and the second digit defines the protection from water/moisture. So, for instance, an IP55-rated product is protected against dust ingress that could be harmful to the normal operation of the product, while IP65 or IP66 are fully dust-tight. A 5 for water ingress is proof against a low-pressure nozzle, while a 6 indicates protection against a high-pressure water jet. For very high levels of protection, IP68 is dust tight and protected against long periods of immersion in water under pressure and is therefore often chosen for in-line connectors that may be exposed or even buried in the garden for years on end.
Remember, IP ratings do not measure a product’s lifetime, so remember to look for high quality brands and check for UV stabilisation to help protect against early degrading and becoming brittle.
Take a look inside the box to avoid flimsy tabs that can snap off, and check for good seals (neoprene is a hard-wearing long-term seal).
If the user wants to be able to check the status of outdoor power at a glance, the option of clear windows is ideal, but check the spec for a polycarbonate that will stay clear and not cloud over.
Look for impact-resistant cases, especially for installation in heavy traffic areas. Locking covers will add safety, avoid nuisance tampering and even prevent power theft.
Where simply on/off switching or a bell push is required, choose a switch that looks like a switch and gives instant tactile feedback. Timeguard’s single and two-gang rocker switches offer IP55 or IP66 protection and neon backlighting so they can be found in the dark.
Fit for purpose?
Is SRCD protection needed? For extra downstream safety, the answer is likely to be “yes” and not installing it is pretty much unthinkable where power tools are to be used and the likes of lawnmowers and hedge trimmers will be plugged in. There are plenty of options on the market that offer SRCD-protected sockets in weatherproof enclosures, so there is no need to compromise. Just be sure that your choice complies with the latest British Standard (BS 7288:2016) and is RCD Class “A” rated.
Also, be clear on the difference between “Active” and “Passive” protection. Most outdoor application uses will call for “Active” SRCDs, meaning that users have to manually re-set the device to restore power, after checking over the equipment they are using.
If control and energy saving when using, say, patio heaters are a consideration, why not fit an outdoor wi-fi controlled weather-protected fused spur? The user can simply program ON and OFF times or switch ON or OFF via their mobile phone.
Alternatively choose Timeguard’s new IP66 weatherproof in-line WiFi controller, installed within range of the home router to extend app-based control to outdoor devices, using the free, global Tuya Smart App and voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
From garden mowers and tools to barbeques, patio heating, decorative heating, and music, the need to draw power outdoors is ever-increasing: often a simple socket outlet is just not going to be enough, but you have to balance your solutions with the customers’ budget.
So, look at options for in-line connectors and junction boxes as well, to reach the far end of the yard or garden or wall-mounted enclosures with multiple sockets protected inside. Just be sure they offer the right IP protection for the job and have branded quality you can rely on. As ever, a chain is only ever as good as its weakest link.