When thinking about the type of lighting you want outside your household or property - it can be a tough decision as there are so many factors that can affect the capabilities and effectiveness of the lighting.
Every variety of outdoor lighting - whether it’s LED garden spike lights, outdoor string lights, decking lights, etc will all need attending to in similar manners due to the fact there are no plugs out in the open.
But, will the weather affect certain lighting? Will my cables get ruined? What cables will I need and do I need a garden extension cable for all of them? These are all questions that we will run through in this blog to make sure you understand the best plan of action.
Safety Precautions When Installing Your LED Lighting
Before getting into all the specifics on what cables you need for your outdoor lighting, you will need to know some basic safety precautions to look out for. Whether you’re installing them yourself or need to fix something if a problem occurs, having precautions before you begin is always best to keep yourself (or others) safe. Here are some tips to use:
When you begin to work on installing your outdoor lighting, a crucial basic instruction is to make sure you stick a note on any of the units you’re working on. If you don’t, others in the household could seriously hurt themselves - so it’s paramount to let them know!
Another element to consider is that you’ll have to make sure all of your outdoor lighting complies with your local building regulations and IEE wiring regulations. You may not have the right to install certain forms of lighting.
You will have to ensure that the main power and your breaker are switched off (or lock the breaker if possible). This is when you’ll need to socket test each circuit to check whether they’re safe to work on before you start using a voltage tester. Then you will perform the same task after you’ve finished installing (socket test using voltage tester).
After you think you’ve gone through all these safety precautions and are qualified to install outdoor lighting on your premises - you’re safe to begin learning how to install the outdoor lighting itself.
What Cables Should I Use For Outdoor Lighting?
Now that you have got a better understanding of how to keep safe and qualified when installing your outdoor lighting, knowing what cables are suitable for the outdoor environment is important for the longevity and safety of your lighting accessories/ equipment.
Cables for outdoor garden use over the years have been invented to survive the unpredictable conditions of the weather. Lighting companies around the world have realised that the outer layer of the cable must serve as a protection to the main cable due to factors such as water damage, extreme temperatures, UV rays from sunlight and many more external manipulations.
In recent years, companies have created a wide array of suitable cables that cancel out many of these external influences. Many of these cables have now been designed with plastic ducting, metal conduit, steel wire armouring and much more refinements to help with the protection of these cables.
As a bare minimum, especially in countries where the weather is unpredictable - a cable needs to be weather resistant as this is the most popular detail that ruins current outside cables. When purchasing outdoor lighting cables such as LED string lights, LED strip lights, LED spike lights, etc there will be different methods and materials used for each outdoor garden cable.
For example, materials like Ethylene Propylene Rubber, Fluorocarbon and Polychloroprene are naturally weatherproof. Whereas, other materials such as Polyethylene or PVC can be made weather resistant by adding specific protective equipment to them as they’re not as naturally weatherproof.
Types of Outdoor Cables
With your garden lighting cable, you want to make sure you invest in the right cable to do the job as efficiently as possible. Here are the types of outdoor cables we recommend to ensure that your LED garden lights can illuminate to the best of their ability without any difficulties to deal with:
This type of cable uses a unique way of combating the incoming outdoor implications by using THHN. This stands for ‘Thermoplastic high heat nylon jacket’ which you can purchase in the insulation or water-resistant version.
Whichever one you choose, they are excellent for hot, wet or windy conditions. MC, which stands for ‘Metal-Clad’ surrounds your THHN wire with an aluminium interlocked armour which enhances the ability to withstand the harsh external influences that may occur regularly.
Similar to the previous system, the SE-R model also uses THHN insulation but operates with a PVC jacket and ground wire instead. These service entry models come in a rounded finish whilst including a panel feeder and branch circuits in their design.
This means that the SE-R has great resistance to water, sunlight and flames if needs be. The wire will not be completely buried, however, the SE-R can be relevant in conduit. The cable operates up to 90 degrees celsius in any condition - therefore, no matter the weather, the cable will always be protected.
UF-B, standing for ‘Underground Feeder Cable’, serves as a directly buried cable without any need for conduit at all! Additionally, the ‘B’ in the name alludes to its use as a branch circuit cable. Not only can this cable be utilised outdoors, but it can be handy for indoor environments too if there are corrosion or moisture issues.
This cable has a PVC jacket and colour-coded PVC insulation as added features. Whilst the conductors are usually soft bare copper to help with the support of the 600 volts and the temperature reaching up to 90 degrees celsius, no matter the conditions.
Finding specialists for fittings on all these cables and purchasing a garden cable connector will cost you a pretty penny. But ultimately for the deluxe and stylish look of the end product - we think it is worth it. Free postage will be available on most of the cables, so you can enjoy being creative to manufacture the garden of your dreams!