January 29, 2010
Low-voltage systems are easy and safe to install and use. The danger is 120-volt power and requires high attention to safety. Working on 120 volt lines can be life threatening, especially around water or moisture. Be sure that power is turned off, and check it with a power meter. If you’re not completely sure about working with electricity, hire an electrician.
For safety, install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in each electrical outlet if you plan to use electrical power in or near waterfall. The GFCI senses any contact with water, and shut off the flow of electricity. Installing a GFCI requires professional skills. A less expensive GFCI outlet can be installed near the waterfall.
Calculate the electrical load needed to work your waterfall and all of its components. Pumps and other components are marked by number of watts or amps. Compare the needed power requirements with the number of amps or watts a circuit can handle.
Residential circuit breakers amps (current) x volts (potential) = watts (power). For the most waterfalls, a single 20-amp circuit is enough. If your power is more than 2,400, and you need 20 amps or more, install a second circuit. A large pump can require a 220-volt circuit, which needs its own power line from the circuit breaker. Leave it to an electrician.
First call to your local, electricity, water, and gas providers and ask them about located underground utility lines on your backyard before excavating. When install new lines underground, avoid over passing any area with a paving, deck, paths or an outbuilding if it possible.
Run the electrical line through a PVC schedule-40 pipe buried at 20 inches deep. At this depth, the line has less chance to be damaged when excavating near it. Install a switch in the house or a waterproof switch on a backyard to control the equipment of your waterfall.
Outlet and power box
Make the proper and safe installation of a waterproof power outlet or a separate box by building codes. These can note its location as well as the choice of materials. Determine location of the equipment because their cords should reach the outlet without use of additional extension cords.
Install the power box or outlet on short distance of galvanized pipe by screwing the pipes into holes of the new box or outlet. Excavate a trench as deep as building code requires from your nearest electrical box to the location of the new outdoor box or outlet.
Run the electrical line from the breaker panel of your home through a pipe and into the box or outlet. For long term support and stability, dig a 15-inch-deep hole, and then pour concrete into the hole around the post. Use a deep box-type outlet to cover the power cords when they are plugged in.