As a nation we’re spending more time in, and more money on, our garden than ever before. Research done by Zoopla and the Society of Garden Designers concluded that a well-designed garden is as important as a designer kitchen or bathroom. The study also found that 74% of homeowners have or would consider spending money on their garden to increase value. It’s not surprising when us Brits are prepared to spend an extra £15,000 for a garden when buying a property.
As lighting designers, you might not be surprised to hear that we think garden design is not complete without thoughtful landscape lighting. Whilst we’d love to be involved in your garden lighting project, we’d much rather everyone stays safe.
With that said, here are our top five tips for safe garden lighting.
1. Use GFCI outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are required by code. Make sure to use them. GFCI outlets are used throughout your home where electricity comes close to water. They’re needed in your bathrooms, kitchen, and garage, as well as outdoors.
What are GFCI outlets?
A GFCI is a device that’s designed to protect you and your family against severe electric shocks/burns caused by the electrical system in your home. By monitoring the flow of current, a GFCI outlet will cut power immediately when a fault is detected, preventing harm to anyone in physical contact with the electrical system.
If you’re planning to install exterior lighting for your outside space yourself, speak to a qualified electrician.
2. Choose appropriate lightbulbs
This tip is simple, yet very important. You only need to follow two basic rules to confirm the safety of your garden lighting when it comes to choosing your lightbulbs.
- Rule 1: Check that you’re using outdoor-rated bulbs. We recommend using bulbs with an IP rating of 4 or above to ensure protection against water damage for your garden lighting.
- Rule 2: Never attempt to insert a bulb that exceeds your fixture’s maximum wattage. This could cause overheated wiring and damage to the insulation.
3. Switch off lighting when not in use
Another straightforward but very important tip to take on board. Be sure to switch off your lights when either going inside or leaving the house completely. This isn’t just a safety precaution, switching off your garden lights will prevent overheating, reduce your energy usage and save you money. Win, win!
4. Do not overload the circuit
You need to be aware of everything you’re powering outside. Sound systems, exterior fans, grills, lights, and outdoor kitchen appliances cannot draw more power than the circuit can handle. This may trip the circuit breaker, resulting in underlying damage. For maximum safety, distribute the electrical load to a separate circuit, or several if need be.
5. General precautions
If you’re installing garden lighting yourself, make sure to follow this list of important safety steps.
- Switch off the mains power at the consumer unit.
- Use a socket tester to confirm circuits are safe to work on.
- Run all cables underground – at least 450mm deep-running when under patio or path and 750mm for lawns and flowerbeds.
- Protect circuits with a residual current device (RCD).
- Double check all finished work with a socket tester before using.
- Consult a professional Electrician
Are you in Hampshire or surrounding areas and thinking about your garden lighting?
Arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our landscape lighting experts today.