HINTS & TIPS

DOUBLE INSULATION

In the 1980's and 90's it was fashionable for house builders to install plastic (double-insulated) light fittings, particularly for outside lights. Because they were double insulated, these fittings had no earth connection and it was common for the installers to cut the earthwire off.

These days the fashion is more towards metal fittings. If you are thinking of swapping your plastic lights for metal one's it is essential that the metal casing is earthed to prevent electric shock in the event of a fault occurring. If you have any doubt make sure you get a qualified electrician to check for you. In most cases it shouldn't be too difficult to run a new earth wire, or re-connect an existing one.

OVERLOADING

With the trend in recent years to have more sophisticated TV's, with surround sound equipment, amplifiers, satellite, cable and FreeView boxes, many people have  run out of socket outlets. The easy answer has been to fit 3-in-1 adapters and multi-point extension leads. This can lead to dangerous overloading of the socket, which should be avoided.

In most cases it isn't difficult, or expensive to add an additional double socket into the ring circuit, thereby sharing the load. It also looks much neater. Have a look in my Gallery for some examples. Also have a try at the free socket calculator lower down this page.

TRIP HAZARDS

When we are lucky enough to get a few sunny days we all love to get out into the garden. Perhaps to have a barbecue, or al fresco dinner on the patio or decking, which has become popular in recent years. With the growth of wireless networks, everyone wants to use their tablets and laptops, or hi-fi equipment outside and are tempted to run an extension lead out to the decking. This can pose a trip hazard and is easily solved by fitting a weatherproof socket. These are readily available and surprisingly low-cost, but don't be tempted to do it yourself, just because you can buy one from B & Q or Homebase. This is a job that must be done by a qualified electrician and again, is relatively inexpensive in most cases.

Many people are also choosing to have water features or ponds in their gardens. Again, these can be powered by a weatherproof socket located nearby, or you could choose from a growing range of solar powered fittings. Solar power technology is developing and improving rapidly and prices are dropping almost as quickly. Now you can get beautiful water features in all shapes and sizes, many with rechargeable back up batteries that keep them working for several hours after sunset.

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by the Electrical Safety Council. For more safety information visit www.esc.co.uk