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The Electrical Code is Critical for Exterior Landscape Lighting

Leave It to the Professionals? No Chance! Unless Their Reputation is Well-Researched

© 2011 by Asha Stuttard; All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission

Outdoors tree with Christmas lights; photo by claudmey

Note: In this guest article, the author’s experience underscores the importance of finding local consumer reviews when hiring a tradesman. Just being able to place a listing in the phone book is not enough.

In the UK, “Part P” regulations relating to electrical safety for dwellings are new rules designed to ensure electrical safety in the home, the garden, and its outbuildings.

Part P has made it obligatory to rely on a professional electrician for certain work so I recently employed one I know and had reason to trust. The electrician’s task was to extend some garden lighting which I had installed myself many years ago and to backlight a display cabinet.

Although I’d used armored cable and weatherproof junction boxes for the outdoor work, the electrician said the boxes would just about pass muster for DIY purposes — but weren’t up to scratch in terms of what a true professional would use.

Enter the Professional Electrician

I was suitably impressed and thought what a good job it was that I’d got a suitably qualified pro in after all — thus complying with the regulations.

The extra cost was definitely worth it so I left the qualified electrician to get on with doing what he seems to know best how to do, and enjoyed some tea and biscuits on the sofa in front of the TV.

A few months after the job was done, though, I decided that the position of a few of the lights was wrong and since I had the model of professional work to follow I thought I would move them myself.

Time for an Electrical Inspection

I needed access to the external wiring the electrician had installed and gradually began to identify various problems with the work. First off, two round cables had been passed through the same gland in an IP65 box (standard electrical junction box) and the box had water in it.

A flat cable into another box had been passed through a round gland which also didn’t provide anything like an effective seal. Then two other glands were as tight as could be but the cable still slipped and forth due to too large a sealing washer.

The work just goes to show what’s wrong with the ethos of getting a professional in. Yes, the regulations demand it and they’re there for good reasons; but it’s still better to do things yourself whenever you possibly can — then get that work checked by a qualified professional to comply with the law.

It seems there are just too many people out for a fast buck these days and no one is going to care as much about your home and your project as you do.

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Article © 2011 Asha Stuttard; All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.