- Features | March 16, 2017
3 Things to Consider When Specifying Outdoor Power for Your Customers
An explosion in technology is changing the way people live, work, and use space. Wi-Fi, cell phones, and tablets have blurred the lines of where people connect for work and leisure – inside, outside, it no longer matters. As a result, people are spending more time outside for work and leisure activities, and they’re bringing their mobile devices with them. This presents homeowners, businesses, and facility managers with a new challenge – providing the convenience of safe, permanent, and dependable power sources for outdoor events or for charging cell phones, tablets, and laptops outside.
Facility managers discovered that delivering safe, reliable, permanent power to their employees and guests creates an environment promoting longer stays, better productivity, and more positive experiences. Let’s face it, people love being outdoors; and now they want all the power they need, right where they need it. This is a business development opportunity for contractors with customers who are managing corporate or educational campuses, hospitality facilities, parks or green spaces, town squares, Main Streets, farmers’ markets, or open air retail areas – anywhere people gather outdoors.
IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT SOLUTION
There are a variety of electrical solutions for the residential and commercial markets, but some options are safer and more visually appealing than others. The most common permanent power option found in residential and commercial applications are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles with waterproof covers. While this works well for the homeowner, this has not been the most robust, reliable, and safe alternative for commercial and public spaces. Oftentimes, when outdoor power is needed in public and commercial settings, facility managers are using makeshift solutions. Most of these temporary workarounds are unsightly, unproductive, and often hazardous. Extension cords, homemade outlet box solutions, or a temporary generator is a stopgap, not a solution.
Here are three questions you should ask yourself when specifying an outdoor project:
- How will the power be used?
- Where will the electrical receptacle be located?
- Is it safe for outdoor use?
Your answers will help you recommend the right permanent power solution to fit your customer’s application.
HOW WILL THE POWER BE USED?
Identifying how your customer intends to use the outdoor power will help you determine the appropriate solution, voltage needs, and gang and outlet configurations for the application.
If you discover that a customer wants to install outdoor power in a public space so employees, students, or guests can charge their cell phones and laptops, a charging pedestal with a combination of USB ports and GFCI receptacles will do the trick.
If facility managers are asked to supply power, data, and A/V hookups for an event space, hospitality facility, sports venue, or open public space and they don’t want the general public to use the receptacle, a permanent in-ground power box with a lock-out feature may be the best solution.
WHERE WILL THE ELECTRICAL RECEPTACLE BE LOCATED?
Facility managers and electrical contractors frequently voice concerns about the durability and safety of outdoor electrical receptacles. Because many outdoor electrical boxes are on short posts or lay on the ground, they get hit with groundskeeping equipment and sustain damage and are susceptible to weather, vandalism, and abuse.
When recommending an outdoor power solution, the physical location of the receptacle should factor into your specification. Power for public use to charge a mobile device