Garden electrics

Your garden is an integral part of your home and as such you often need the same conveniences you have inside, outside.

Whether you want an external power source, lighting or require power in an ‘external’ building – We have the experience and expertise to help you acheive your design goals.

How does your garden glow?

Once an afterthought, gardens and garden lighting are now just as important to many homeowners as the interior of their home.

This NICEIC fact sheet offers illumination, inspiration and advice on how to install garden lighting professionally and safely.

Q Are there any rules for carrying out electrical work in the garden?

A Rules in England and Wales were tightened in 2005 to prevent the number of accidents caused by faulty electrical work. All electrical work in the garden must now be carried out in accordance with national safety standards and comply with Part P of the Building Regulations.

Q Can I carry out the work myself?

A You should only carry out work if you are able to do so in accordance with the wiring regulations BS7671 and can inspect and test that it is safe for use. To comply with the law you must notify your local building control office before starting any work and pay the appropriate fee for it to be inspected.

Alternatively an electrician registered with a government approved Part P scheme, such as NICEIC, should carry out the work

What to consider?

  • Time spent planning your lighting scheme will enhance your garden’s best features.
  • Visit local garden centres, DIY chains, electrical wholesalers and look at websites for inspiration.
  • Concentrate on the most attractive features, such as a plant or water feature, and don’t light everything in sight.
  • Think practically – light up steps and paths for safe access and combine with security lights.
  • Think about the controls – there are various options from wall-mounted light switches to hand held remote controls.
  • Avoid positioning lights so that they shine into a neighbour’s window.
  • Some outdoor lights can get hot, so place out of reach of small children.
  • Use an electrician registered with a government approved Part P scheme to carry out the work, such as one registered with NICEIC.

Don’t forget safety…

NICEIC expert Tony Cable says: “All sockets must be RCD protected for safety. An RCD or residual current device works by switching off the flow of electricity when a cable or flex is cut, and should be hardwired to your fuse box.


“Cables for fixed outdoor lighting installations must be buried at a sufficient depth to avoid damage from garden tools and should also be protected by an earthed metallic cover. This will require the electrician to dig a trench in the garden. Where possible lay piping or conduit for cables to pass underneath any hard landscaping. Your electrician can advise what to do if hard landscaping has already been laid.


“Decorative lights plugged into an outdoor socket, should be taken inside after use unless the box states they are waterproof – they are not designed to stay out all year round,”

What to buy…Always buy good quality outdoor lighting equipment from a reputable retailer and make sure the light fittings (luminaires) are weatherproof. An approved quality light fitting should always carry an IP rating, which indicates how well it stands up to external conditions.

Don’t forget to look for the BEAB Approved Mark or the European Community (CE) safety symbol too.

The same rules apply to light fittings for water features – make sure anything you buy is waterproof.