10 Tips For Powering Your Shed Or Garden
With the May Day Bank holiday coming you may want to take advantage of the extra day off (and hopefully nice weather) and get stuck into a new DIY project. Perhaps you want to install an elaborate new water feature that needs mains power to run, or you may be considering creating an outdoor Office/Man Cave at the end of your garden in the shed that never gets used.
Turning your Shed into a Man Cave (Or a She Shed!) is an everyday project and one that with the right level of foresight and planning can be painless. For the best results follow these tips below from Meteor Electrical on getting mains power to your Shed or Garden.
SAFETY TIP: Never attempt any electrical work without the necessary qualifications or without fully consulting a professional electrician first. Attempting this kind of work alone can lead to a poor end result at best and serious injury at worst, so always ensure you are comfortable with what you’re doing.
1. Plan your layout and devices
Before you begin any work you need to consider what you actually want from your new source of power and what you can safely fit into the project. If you’re retrofitting into a previous space, check it for leaks and ensure it’s well insulated to prevent mould or moisture build up.
Draw up a basic floor plan and know what electronics you want in the space, including lighting. Your electrician will want full details on everything you intend to do with the space and the more information you give them the better the end result will be.
2. Consult the Experts
If you want to save costs you can do a lot of this work yourself, however you should obviously only attempt this if you feel competent enough do the work involved.
Regardless of your skill level, unless you are a qualified electrician, you should never attempt to do any main electrical work. Instead, get an electrician to consult on the project before you begin. This will allow you to decide where your trench will run (if you decide on running underground wiring) and what materials you will need.
In addition you may want to consult with a professional decorator to select the most appropriate materials and finish, to ensure that your new project lasts and it is not vulnerable to damage from moisture.
3. Read up on your legislation
You can’t begin any work with rerouting your mains electricity without first ensuring you comply with the legal building regulations. Contact your local authority to inform them of the project and fully understand what current rules you need to meet.
In addition when you come to sell your property you will need the necessary certification to hand, you’ll need a Part P inspection upon completion of your project you can get this from your NICEIC qualified electrician.
4. Consider alternative sources of power
While most cases for external home projects will require rerouting mains power, renewable energy is now reaching the stage where smaller projects can solely be powered by a solar panel.
If you only need lighting for your new project you can buy a solar panel kit that is fairly simple to install and will provide several hours’ worth of illumination using a completely sustainable source of energy. However, to install enough solar panels to run a few mains outlets wouldn’t be cost efficient if you plan on running devices like a TV or computer then you’re best option is to direct your mains power instead.
5. Overhead or Underground?
Before you begin your project you need to decide how you want to run your new cabling. Overhead is much faster to install but with a much higher risk of damage to the wiring, which could create a safety hazard. You should only consider overhead wiring if you’re running power less than 10 feet from your home to the new outlet.
Running cable underground ideal is ideal if you’re planning to turn your project into a permanent fixture. Use a PVC conduit for your wiring, or a specialist underground cabling. Ensure you bury at a depth of 18 inches beneath paths or patios and 30 inches below grass and flowerbeds.
6. Get a RCD
A RCD (Residual Current Device) is essential to any outdoor electrical project. The purpose of the RCD is to immediately shut off the electrical flow in the presence of dampness or overheating, this prevents potential fires and severe injury through electric shock.
While any larger outdoor project will require a RCD, no matter the scale of your project we strongly recommend installing this device for safety reasons.
7. Use your time wisely
As we are talking about a project with a fairly long list of things to do, it can seem tempting to spread this work across many months. However, if you’re in a country where the weather is inconsistent (as is the case in the UK) you’ll want to use good weather to your advantage. Use long weekends like bank holidays and time off work to get a lot of the work done in a few days.
A good plan is to dedicate an amount of time to the technical side to your project (electrics, installation and preparation) and commit to a later date for all the aesthetic elements (painting, carpeting ect.).
8. Outsource machinery when necessary
You can save time in your renovation by renting industrial tools from your local hardware store. If you decide to run an underground trench you may want to get a petrol driven trench machine, this will turn a task of many hours into a much faster step that saves a lot of time in the long run. These machines can be hired out at a low cost.
9. Avoid Cutting corners
While a project like a shed conversion can seem like a lot of work, all the steps need to be followed in order to create a final result that is safe and looks good. Some people decide to save time by using an outdoor extension cable in place of proper rerouting of the mains power.
These cables are designed for temporary use, they are fine when running power tools for any power tools you need to use during the project. But using this method for a permanent solution
presents a long term risk of damage and fire hazard.
In addition, when sourcing any materials ensure all electrical items are bought from legitimate retailers with the appropriate BSI kite marks and regulatory stamps.
10. Get Online
If you want internet access in your shed or outdoor space you’ve got two options. If you have a strong wireless connection and a short distance from your router to your new project you can use your Wi-Fi as if you were in your house. Test your reception signal in your new area if you don’t think your router is up to the job you can use an armoured ether net cable instead. As this cable isn’t transmitting any electrical current you can set this up as you like, however if you plan on running your cabling underground you can incorporate the Ethernet cable at the same time.
Another solution you may want consider is a signal booster, these are designed to amplify the signal from your router so devices can work at a greater range. While these will not provide the speed of a wired connection they produce a signal that is fine for general internet use and browsing.
If you are planning on a bank holiday garden project this May Day, visit Meteor Electrical for all your outdoor electrical needs.