Outdoor lights and pumps

17 04 2008


In the process of completing some paving (landscaping) at the front of my house I was wanting to put in a small water feature (with pump) and an some garden lights. 

One of the initial concerns was with the legal requirements associated with installing this type of equipment.  There was some conflicting advice, from various sources, which suggested that installing low voltage garden equipment required a licensed electrician.  As I am a resident of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia I contacted "Energy Safe Victoria" who confirmed that anything which worked on less than 50V did not require an electrician to install.  Further it didn’t require a minimum burial depth or conduit.  However, I’ve decided to use conduit for the main runs and bury these at 15cms or more.

Another problem I faced was working out the cable to connect the devices (pumps and lights).  As a side issue low voltage doesn’t carry well over extended lengths of wire and so some consideration has to be given to matching the transformer, devices, and type of wire to achieve the required outcome.   It appears that 240V is considerably easy to work with in this sense.  As I still haven’t confirmed which lights I intend to use I’m still working on aspects of which cable to use.  One Sales rep suggested that using a cable which was thicker than required was not efficient and that the cable should be well matched.  The sales rep couldn’t explain why this was the case other than to say this is what he had been told, but to me this seems like an issue that is not right or not that critical.  I would think if I install a cable which could carry considerably more current than I try to push over it – I’ll be fairly safe.  However, at this point in time I’m going to lay conduit and pull through the wire once I know what I want. 

Getting a suitable pump was another issue.  Most pumps seem to run from a 240V and supply and good advice on low voltage pumps was a bit scarce.  However, I found "Rock Around the Rock" had an informative web site and details and a wide range of low voltage pumps.  I even phoned them up and the guy I spoke to confirmed what was on the website about the capacity to extend the lead on the pump I was interested in to 60m.  This was re-ensuring given that I’d spoken to some other companies whose advice was a little conflicting or confusing.  I haven’t ordered a pump yet but I think the following 24V pump http://www.rockaroundtheblock.com.au/product.asp?pID=34&cID=8 will be suitable. It’s only around $50.  However the 30m + of cable I require will likely cost me twice this at $100.  Nevertheless the install will avoid the need for an electrician to wire up 240V, a deep trench and everything else associated with using 240V.

Lights are still something I’m working on.  Importantly I really want to use LED lights, because their lower power usage appeals to my environmental concerns.  However many of the outdoor LED lights tend to be very expensive, or very underpowered.  As I want to install this light at the front of the home I also want to ensure the lights  are somewhat secure against casual theft.  For this reason my preference is to get a light which can be set in concrete and one of the paving lights will likely be best for this.  However, these paving lights, especially those with a substantial number of LEDS are expensive.  A rep from the local "Ideal" electrical seller suggested using one of the cheaper outdoor spotlights, remove and silicone it’s mounting bracket and then mount this into a concrete block.  [The type of light which might work for this is Crompton CPLB120B, which has an IP67 rating and MR16 globe mount.  However, I’m pretty sure I’ve seem fairly similar lights with a different brand which are not much more than $20 each, which is a real bargain compared to some of the top shelf outdoor lights.]  This could well be an economic solution and as these spotlights often have a replaceable globe I could replace the standard halogen with a LED replacement globe.  The Led Shop Australia http://www.ledshoponline.com/ seem to have a bunch of suitable replacement globes.  Besides this there seems to be quite a number of different suppliers around of outdoor lights.  Even the local hardware store (Home hardware) appeared to have a far better range of garden lights (especially those with LEDS) than they did last time I looked. Online Lighting http://www.onlinelighting.com.au/ appear to have a good range and price list on their web site. HPM seem to have a range of lights available, but I’m not sure if everything is clearly present on their web site.  There are also a number of other online sites and sellers I might check with.  The local "Ideal" Electrical shop don’t stock much but they suggested they could get the lights I might require in.

I mentioned the IP67 rating above and it’s meaning is as follows.  IP stands for ‘Ingress Protection’.  An IP number is used to specify the environmental protection of enclosures around electronic equipment.  The IP number is composed of two numbers, the first referring to the protection against solid objects and the second against liquids. The higher the number, the better the protection.  It goes as high as IP68.  For my purposes anything IP67 or higher will suffice. 

Oh well a few things still to work out but that’s where I’ll leave it for today.