Most people don’t know all that much about electricity, but they do know that mixing it with water could be fatal. So, naturally, using electricity outside where precipitation and moisture are commonplace might seem like an incredibly risky prospect. Fortunately, with the advent of improved and more affordable technology, using electricity outdoors is safer today than perhaps ever before! Safe, that is, if it is set up and installed properly.
Here are four tips for safer and more reliable outdoor electrical devices to help you enjoy your outdoor space without the stressful risk.
Only Use Outdoor-Listed Products
Not all electrical products are created equal. When designed for light-duty indoor use, many products will use cheap materials that are safe for simple use but crumble under more strenuous conditions. For example, an indoor extension cord might be cheaper, but the insulation that surrounds it won’t survive for more than a couple of weeks when left in sunlight.
Outdoor-listed products will have some sort of an indicated outdoor listing, typically by UL or another electrical safety board. This listing essentially certifies that this particular product is designed and manufactured to distinct specifications that make it safe for use in an outdoor environment. They may cost a little more to purchase, but you’ll be happy you did when these products dramatically improve your safety and decrease the risk of an issue.
Never Use an Extension Cord Permanently
There is an old proverb that says “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary solution.” In the case of an extension cord, the temptation to use this temporary solution permanently is no doubt strong. However, extension cords are never meant to be anything more than a temporary way to provide power to an area of your property that is otherwise unpowered. Over time, extension cords fall apart and become a serious safety risk, especially when exposed to sunlight.
If you have a feature on your property that you wish to continue to use permanently, we strongly recommend either installing a permanent electrical outlet in a more convenient place or running an electrical line and installing a junction box that you can permanently wire your new device into. Outdoor-rated outlets and junction boxes are weatherproof and protected from the elements, making them safer in every way.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings When Using Electricity
Are you attempting to plug something in while standing in a water puddle? Is your extension cord wet, or is the outlet you’re accessing showing signs of recent water contact? Do not continue! Knowing your surroundings and being smart about when and how you plug something in could save your life.
Water on the ground could create a dangerous short that sends electrical current surging through your body. It only takes a few seconds of exposure to a large quantity of electrical current of this sort to kill someone. Likewise, carefully inspect any extension cords and outlets before plugging something in. Make sure everything is completely dry in order to avoid a shock injury risk. Likewise, never run an extension cord or any other electrical device through a puddle or other ultra-wet terrain unless that device is specifically designed for use with water.
Properly Shield All Wires & Connections
All electrical lines run outdoors should be contained within proper shielding. Outdoor-rated conduit is generally extremely affordable and provides not only a stable structure, but protection from everything from the elements to insect and rodent damage. Conduit can be buried underground, suspended overhead, and so much more, and is readily available at any electrical supply or home improvement store. If you’re looking to install outdoor lighting (such as garden lighting), a patio ceiling fan, a water fountain, or any other feature, run an electrical line to it with a proper conduit system.Let the team at A-TEMP Plumbing, Heating & Electrical handle your outdoor electrical service needs! Call (503) 694-3396 today to schedule an appointment.