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Help with festoon garden lights

Discussion in 'Electrics UK' started by Milleniumaire, 12 May 2021.

  1. Milleniumaire

    Milleniumaire

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    We already have a number of garden lights, installed around 4 years ago. A 1.5mm SWA runs from the house to a waterproof box in the garden and from the box are 4 runs of lights; 3 SWA runs, each with 2 spotlights using 3W LED bulbs and a run of cable to 6 wall lights, each with 2.5W LED bulbs. So that it 33W in total over a distance of about 150m, 100m of which is buried SWA. The 1.5mm SWA from the house is connected to a 6A MCB which is on an RCD protected circuit and is operated by a light switch.

    What the missus would like to do is to run a new 20m length of festoon lights (40 bulbs, probably 1W or maybe even 0.5W each). I have a couple of issues.

    All the festoon lights I've looked at come with a 3 pin plug, so expect to be plugged into an appropriate internal or waterproof socket and we don't have either! It has crossed my mind to remove the plug and simply connect them up to the supply in the waterproof box, obviously ensuring the exit of the cable is waterproofed.

    I have a few issues doing this:

    1. I feel a little uncomfortable cutting the moulded plug from a supplied "light fitting".
    2. I lose the fuse protection provided by the plug.
    3. My wife wants to be able to unplug the lights, which will be hung along a 20m length of pleach hedge, so that she can cut the hedge more easily. So, ideally, I need to be able to unplug the lights a couple of times a year.

    I wondered if it is possible to purchase a waterproof plug and socket, allowing me to connect the socket upto the wiring in the garden wiring box and connect the new lights (with the existing plug removed) to the waterproof plug. I suspect this still wouldn't provide fused protection!

    I would appreciate some advice on the best way to achieve the above. Also, if anyone has a good experience of a particular brand of festoon lights (there are lots to look at), that would be very useful.
     
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  3. Milleniumaire

    Milleniumaire

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    Last edited: 12 May 2021
  4. flameport

    flameport

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    1 - cut it off, the replacement plug will probably be much higher quality than the moulded effort.
    Moulded plugs are only used because they are cheaper and quicker to fit than the other kind.

    2 - So what - it's a 6A circuit, additional fuse not required and it wouldn't do anything even if there was one.

    3 - Fit the plug and socket, either that Knightsbridge one or this Hylec version: https://www.screwfix.com/p/hylec-teeplug-1-entry-3-pole-plug-socket-cable-connector/38456
    Just make sure that the pins are connected to the lights and the socket tubes are connected to the supply.
     
  5. Milleniumaire

    Milleniumaire

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    So, in the end I purchased a BG IP66 Weatherproof outdoor switched socket, and have fixed this to the side of the existing wiring box. I also purchased a couple of plastic BG 1-1.5mm flat cable glands and used some standard 1.5mm grey PVC cable to connect the new socket to the existing wiring box, using the glands to waterproof the connections.

    I wasn't too sure about using standard PVC cable outside, but it is a very short run and I noticed all the wall mounted floodlights around the house use this cable. I understand that standard PVC cable is not UV resistant and can become brittle over the years.

    It then occurred to me that I have some 1.5mm SWA left over from when the landscaping was done and the garden lights installed, so I am considering replacing the short run of PVC flat cable with a short length of SWA. It is probably overkill and I will also need to order some metal glands to fit it. As I've never used SWA before I did some Googling and watched some videos, and "earthing" the steel armour is obviously a big issue. The SWA I have, and that was used in our garden, is 3-core 1.5mm and I can see within the wiring box that one of the core is used for earth, however, it would appear that NONE of the armoured cables have had their armour earthed.

    Should I be worried? This was installed by a qualified electrician, so is a bit of a surprised based on what I have read, given that all the existing SWA cable is buried around the garden; some under the patio, some under flower beds and some under the lawn.

    I was thinking that the very short run of SWA that I was planning to fit wouldn't need the steel armour to be earthed as it isn't running under the ground and because it is so short, would be unlikely to be damaged. Besides, it wouldn't be any different to the wiring up of the PVC cable, but would be fully weatherproof and much more protective!

    Here's what the original wiring looks like:



    As you can see there are no earthing tags to earth the steel armour, only to the core being used for earth.
     
  6. Milleniumaire

    Milleniumaire

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    Ah, I've just realised the earthing tags are actually underneath the wiring box, rather than inside it. I noticed there are two screws inside the box with a single earth leading to them, which didn't make sense, but now I realise on the underside of the box is where the steel armour is connected to these screws.


    So, happy with the existing wiring and I guess the question is should I also earth the new SWA cable given is runs from a new connection at the base of the box to the new weatherproof switch fixed to the side of the box i.e. very short run, above ground and therefore unlikely to be damaged!
     
  7. winston1

    winston1

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    Yes you should.
     
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