New ideas for outdoor power
Purpose-designed outdoor lighting and wiring accessories are affordable, increasingly attractive and, above all, the only really safe approach to using power outside. As fitting them is a job that any sensible installer would rather be doing in the summer months, now is the time to take a closer look at the options says Timeguard Managing Director, Andy Douglas.
Leading the field is the company’s popular WeatherSafe Vision range of switches and sockets. These do just what the name suggests as crystal-clear windows give users a clear view of the status of switched equipment in use outdoors. This boosts both safety and economy, as the power supply is less likely to be left on when not needed if people can actually see what is going on.
The sockets are good looking and their full size solid plastic windows will stay clear for years to come, while the patented neoprene seals ensure no-compromise IP66 protection against strong water jets such as garden and yard hoses. The design caters for the long tails of moulded-on plugs and the lids are easy to click open and shut without the use of force, which adds to long life and reliability
Following the runaway success of the Timeguard Vision Timeguard has introduced a sister range with opaque covers, known as Weathersafe Extreme.
The Weathersafe Extreme products are as stylish as their Vision counterparts, and they share the same patented neoprene seals for superior IP66 protection.
By far and away, the top sellers from both ranges continue to be the dual-gang sockets. However, installers should consider the additional protection afforded by built-in RCD circuit breaking, even when RCD protection is provided at the consumer unit indoors. The additional cost to the whole job will be marginal but the additional safety and peace of mind immeasurable.
One of the surprise successes in the outdoor power marketplace has been multi-connector boxes. These IP66 and IP55 enclosures enable you to provide your customers with safe power outlets for multiple devices. An added advantage is that they allow room for bulky transformers for lighting, fountain pumps or pool filters or for time switches that do not fit into stand-alone covered outdoor sockets. In other words, the simple multi-connector box solution is an easy way to match pretty much any user requirements.
In truth, there’s no real technical magic about the multi-connector boxes, but our models are well thought out and designed with easy installation in mind. They are supplied with 13A socket strips, a mains cable knock out for the supply to the socket strip and sealed cable outlets for leads to appliances and equipment.
Timeguard took the market by storm last year with our innovative use of LED lighting in the NightEye range. Instead of just putting LEDs into old-style heads, we went back to the drawing board and came up with a completely new look.
The LED NightEyes give instant brightness just like halogens but they are under half the size and use a fraction of the power. Their design is revolutionary, packing a lot of power into a small package, with no compromise on outdoor ruggedness or weather proofing (IP44).
Single and double versions are available in a choice of black and white housings. A single 8W LED gives illumination equivalent to 100W, while the double models, with a total of 16W consumption have output equivalent to 100W from a conventional lamp. The clever design allows for the lamp to be panned and tilted and the versions with integral PIR detectors have a detection range of 10m. A Lux level adjuster can be set to prevent these lights operating in daylight and the time for which lights stay on is also adjustable by the user.
Energy saving lighting
With their fast start ‘instant-on’ lamps, other recent additions are the ECO range of energy saving lighting. They combine competitive pricing with guaranteed quality and are up to the job as courtesy or security lighting, with a choice of manual, automated or dusk-til-dawn control options to meet all requirements while cutting running costs by up to 80%.
Other options in the ECO range include a traditional coach lantern and a modern take on bulkhead lamps for walls or ceilings with a pyramid design.
There are no short cuts to the really successful ideas. You can’t just add a couple of features and give something a new name. Increasingly product design is crucial – and good design does not come cheaply. It involves not just new tooling, but significant project investment.
Nevertheless, time and again we have gone the extra mile with products that look good as well as having extra functionality. The end results work for building owners and occupiers, installers, building managers and wholesalers alike.
Know your IP ratings
Any electrical product designed for outdoor use will quote an IP rating and usually you will find that the greater the protection the higher the cost of the product. The most common ratings in outdoor power sockets and switches are IP66, IP56, IP55, IP54 and IP44.
A quick reminder: IP stands for Ingress Protection, then the first number indicates the protection against solid objects, the second number shows the level of protection against liquids and, in our damp and wintry climate, it is probably this number that matters most when choosing outdoor sockets and controls. (Just for the record: an IP66 device will be totally protected against dust ingress and water ingress).
Moving on to the second number, protection against liquid ingress, an IP55 device will protect against water jets projected from a nozzle in any direction. IP54 is protected against splashing water. IP66 protection means the device is rated for heavy seas and powerful jets of water. So IP54 might be fine for a wall switch or bell push, but you’d probably not want anything less than IP55 for a socket outlet. Areas where pressure hoses are likely to be used would call for full IP66 rating, but for a socket to be used for a lawn mower or other garden appliances which may just get splashed by rain or the hose, then a more basic IP55 model will suffice.
It is also important when helping a customer to choose a product to consider the type of use that the customer will put it to. Some are designed to have a good IP rating when the lid is closed but the IP rating is lower or lost when the lid is open and with an appliance plugged into the socket. This is suitable for occasional use such as a lawn mower where the socket will not be sprayed with water when in use. This type of product tends to have an IP rating of up to IP55. However if the socket is to be in continuous use or to be used when the socket might be sprayed with water, for example by a lawn sprinkler then a product where the IP rating is maintained when appliances are plugged in should be installed. This type of product may have an IP66 rating.