Your Cart

Your Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Sockets and Switches in the UK

Your Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Sockets and Switches in the UK
18 June, 2024

Your Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Sockets and Switches in the UK


As more UK homeowners embrace outdoor living, the demand for reliable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing outdoor electrical power has never been higher. Whether you're setting up a garden office, illuminating your patio with LED, or simply adding some low voltage festive lights, having the correct outdoor sockets and switches is essential. This blog post will guide you through the ins and outs of choosing and installing outdoor electrical fixtures in the UK.

Why Outdoor Electrical Installations Matter

Outdoor electrical sockets and switches that are IP rated offer unparalleled convenience and versatility for your garden or patio. They allow you to power everything from lawnmowers and garden lights to hot tubs and water features without the hassle of trailing extension leads from inside your house.

Key Benefits:

  • Safety: I.P. rated outdoor sockets and switches prevent hazards associated with using indoor power sources outside in a damp environment.
  • Convenience: Easily power appliances and equipment without the need to run electric cables through opened windows or doors.
  • Weather Resistance: Designed to withstand the elements, these IP rated fixtures provide reliable power year-round.

What to consider when installing Outdoor Sockets and Switches

When selecting outdoor electrical components, consider the following factors to ensure safety and durability:

  1. IP Rating: This indicates the level of protection against dust and water. For the UK climate, an IP rating of IP66 is ideally recommended to ensure protection against our heaviest rains, and dust.
  2. RCD Protection: Residual Current Devices (RCDs) are crucial for preventing electric shocks. Ensure that your new external socket or switch has RCD protection, your electrician will confirm this by checking your fuse board.
  3. Durability and Material: Opt for UV-resistant and impact-resistant IK rated materials to withstand harsh weather conditions. Polycarbonate or stainless steel options are particularly robust.
  4. Ease of Installation: Look for products that come with clear installation instructions and data sheets and designed for professional installations.
  5. Aesthetics: Choose designs that complement your outdoor space. Modern outdoor sockets and switches come in various styles and finishes to match your garden décor.

Types of Outdoor Sockets and Switches

Here are some types of outdoor sockets and switches that are popular among UK homeowners for various outdoor electrical needs:

  1. Weatherproof Double Sockets: Such as the OA036AG is Ideal for general outdoor use, these sockets usually come with an IP66 rating and are protected by easy-to-open covers. They are perfect for powering multiple devices such as garden lights, power tools, and patio heaters.
  2. Portable Outdoor Power Boxes: These are versatile solutions for outdoor events or garden projects. They typically feature multiple sockets and come with a weatherproof casing, making them ideal for powering several devices simultaneously in a temporary setup.
  3. Single Switches for Lighting: Such as the OA411AGUThese switches are designed specifically for controlling outdoor lighting. They are durable, often featuring an IP66 rating, and come in a range of styles to suit different garden aesthetics.
  4. Twin Sockets with Built-in RCDs: These sockets offer the added safety of integrated RCDs, making them ideal for powering appliances that require a higher level of electrical safety, such as water pumps or hot tubs.
  5. Smart Outdoor Sockets: For tech-savvy homeowners, smart outdoor sockets allow you to control your outdoor electrical devices via a smartphone app. These often come with weatherproofing and are perfect for integrating with your smart home system.
  6. Outdoor Timer Switches: Perfect for controlling outdoor lighting and garden water features, these switches can be programmed to turn on and off at set times, offering convenience and energy savings.

Installation Tips

While some DIY enthusiasts might (unfortunately) tackle outdoor electrical installations themselves, it is vital to hire a qualified electrician to ensure compliance with UK regulations and safety standards. Here are some tips for a successful installation:

  • Plan Ahead: Determine the locations for your sockets and switches, ensuring they are easily accessible and not in areas prone to flooding or heavy water exposure.
  • Use the correct electrical cable: Outdoor power installations require specific UV rated electrical cable that can withstand harsh outdoor conditions. Install BASEC approved steel wire armoured cable with an XLPE insulation to BS5467. This SWA cable provides the most appropriate protection.
  • Use the correct cable gland: Should your electrician install SWA cable using side or bottom entry into the switch or socket, an Ingress Protected cable gland should be used. This is known as a CW armoured cable gland.  
  • Check Local Regulations: Ensure your installation complies with the latest UK electrical regulations, including Part P of the Building Regulations.
  • Test Regularly: Have your electrician test your outdoor sockets and switches to ensure they are functioning correctly and safely because being outside these installations are more vulnerable compared to other circuits within your home. Therefore, ask your electrician to include these external installations within his EICR, also known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Maintaining Your Outdoor Electrical Fixtures

Maintenance is key to ensuring the longevity and safety of your outdoor electrical fixtures. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Regular Visual Inspection: Check for any signs of wear, damage, or moisture ingress. Have your electrician replace any damaged components immediately.
  • Clean Gently: Use a soft cloth and mild detergent to clean the exterior of your sockets and switches. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.
  • Cover When Not in Use: Use protective covers for sockets and switches that are not frequently used to prevent dirt and moisture build-up.


Outdoor sockets and switches are an efficient addition to any UK home, providing convenience, safety, and flexibility for a wide range of outdoor activities. By choosing the right products and following proper installation and maintenance practices, you can enhance your outdoor space and enjoy the benefits of reliable, weather-resistant power all year round.

So, whether you're setting up a garden office, planning a summer barbecue, or simply looking to add some ambience to your patio, make sure your outdoor electrical installations are up to the task. Happy gardening and enjoy your electrified outdoors!

Add Comment

You must login to add a comment. If you do not have an account, you may register for one. Registration is free!