|Australians love outdoor living throughout the year, which means a lot of electrical equipment around the yard and especially in the pool area. When you have a pool or spa, you need power nearby to run the various pumps, filters, cleaners and lights that help keep them healthy and fun to use. Then there’s all the other goodies that come with outdoor living such as barbecues, stereos and outdoor kitchens. Unfortunately, power and water are a lethal combination, so it’s vital to get it right when it comes to outdoor electrical installation.
That’s where dedicated outdoor power points and switches are a must as their design restricts the entry of water from the inevitable splashing and spillages that are bound to result when there’s a large body of water nearby.
Outdoor power points and switches are generally an afterthought and people usually rely on electricians to supply what is needed. That’s probably a good thing according to David Hilder of Schneider Electric, which supplies the well known Clipsal brand.
“There are Australian wiring rules that the electrician needs to comply with, which detail the level of protection that is needed. There is an International Protection (or IP) rating prescribed by the wiring rules that the electrician needs to look at and then install the appropriate switch or power point,” he says.
“For example, the usual switch in a home has a rating of IP53. The first number (in this case the 5) is the protection level against solids, while the second number (in this case 3) is the protection level again liquids. When it comes to solids, the higher the number is, the smaller the solid has to be to enter the holes. In this case, 5 is resistant to dust. The second number in the IP rating is for water, so the higher the number, the more resistant it is to water entering.”
Clipsal has a set of products that have a high degree of IP protection. When it comes to switches and power points for extremely wet areas near pools and spas, householders should leave it to their electrician to buy the appropriate product as dictated by the Australian Wiring Rules. These products are mainly available from electrical wholesalers.
“Electricians are the experts and they will know what Australian Standard and wiring rules apply and therefore what needs to be installed,” David says.
Never attempt any electrical work yourself. Not only is it illegal, it could also be lethal.