skp
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Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:03 pm

I have a pi with noir camera which I am planning to use as a night-time motion detector / video footage recorder setup.

The software part is easy to sort out, the tricky part now is practicalities of setting it up outside, providing power, etc.

It so happens my house has existing wiring for a light which is under a porch canopy. I never use this light. It occurred that maybe I could use it to power the pi. Obviously this is slightly non-standard as I would using the house's lighting circuit rather than the usual power socket circuit. But as the pi uses so little power, I wouldn't have thought this would be a problem in practice.

Maybe the non-standard nature of it means it is advised against? Seems a shame if so, many houses already have outdoor lighting, seems to me these would be very convenient for possible low power applications such as the pi. Has anyone ever tried this approach? I would either need a power adapter/transformer to convert the light socket to the usb-styple DC 5V, or some kind of light-socket-to-plug-socket adapter. I've never seen such a thing, probably because such messing about is discouraged (plugging in a high-power device to such a setup would be a Bad Thing indeed!)

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Douglas6
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:43 pm

Here in the US, outdoor house lighting is generally the same circuit as the rest of the house. And screw-in plug adapters are available at any hardware store.

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jbeale
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:47 pm

This is the sort of thing that works here in the US. There are also versions that provide another light socket, so you can still use the bulb as well as have extra outlets. If this kind of thing works at all it should work in this case; the Pi uses less power than any standard light bulb (more like a Christmas tree bulb).
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http://www.amazon.com/Leviton-125-2-Pol ... B001PCVTFC
Last edited by jbeale on Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rurwin
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:53 pm

Here in the UK they were stopped because too many people were causing fires with them. If you look around old junk shops or your grandfather's attic you might come across one.

As you say, as a source of power it isn't too safe, but a single Pi isn't going to take even as much power as a bulb and you sound like you know what you are doing. Just pay attention to safety -- electrical, mechanical and trip-hazards -- and you should be fine.

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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:42 pm

Removed.
Last edited by gordon77 on Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jasoncampbell4
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:11 pm

In the UK this is technically illegal*, not just inadvisable. If your house did catch fire I’d suggest your insurance would be effected.

However there’s no intrinsic reason it won’t work. However in older houses (or rather older electrics) there’s no Earth wire, just Live & Neutral an a lighting circuit. If you’ve had a modern distribution board (fuse box) fitted this shouldn’t be very dangerous but if the outdoor light trips out the circuit it will also trip out the Pi. Also be aware if the porch light is running of the indoor lighting circuit and you need to go fitting 500W outdoor spotlights to the circuit ensure the wiring is designed for that current. Again this will be more of a worry in older electrics, for example my house was built in 1927 and the electrics must have been redone at some time in the past when the cost of copper cable was so great they used something like nickel-silver cable instead!

You might prefer to get a LED PR (with light level monitor) Spotlight and connect that to an indoor 13 Amp fused spur of a socket circuit (you can replace the fuse with a 3 Amp) then attach the Pi to the lighting circuit- you can attach a plug socket within an outdoor junction box (waterproof and stops people just unplugging the power transformer to the Pi) in outdoor conduit (stops people easily cutting wires and allows you to use lower quality interior cabling). Fitting the light to a socket spur and the Pi to lighting circuit might sound about face/ backwards but it makes the most sense. The DC supply to the Pi is safe (maybe not to slugs but humans are fine) but suffers voltage drop more greatly than mains AC (which is potentially lethal) you may want to use the spotlight some distance away from the Pi and if one trips out the other will keep working as they are on separate circuits (unless everything trips out).

I can't answer anything on the implimentation of the Pi set-up as I'm new as well.


*New and modified installations must comply with the latest IEE Wiring Regulations. Either use an electrician registered with the self-certification scheme prescribed in the regulations, or if you carry out the work yourself, you must notify your Local Authority Building Control Department to get your work inspected and tested.


EDIT: I’m not a qualified electrician but I do ‘lay the cables’ and then a qualified electrician signs it off- this satisfies the law. Understandably though finding an electrician to sign off your work isn’t always easy since even if you have done it ‘properly’ you are doing their job and putting them out of work.

The way I’ve described above is wrong but works based on a risk assessment. The proper way is to have the whole outdoor electrics on its own fuse way (even distribution board) so that if it trips out it doesn’t affect other circuits (the house). This is what I did last summer, and then got the qualified electrician (a friend) to make the connection to the main junction box and test it.
Last edited by jasoncampbell4 on Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:34 pm

This seems to be a case where wired ethernet with a power over ethernet injector (PoE) would be the best and safest option. You've got to drill a hole for the cat5 cable to go through but getting it to carry 48V to power the remote Raspberry makes lots of sense and is safer than "playing" with 110V or 230V AC.

https://www.pi-supply.com/product/pi-po ... 16fd43adaa
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:13 am

This would not be a new or modified installation so long as it was not permanent. It would be the same as using an extension lead. But yes, an insurance company might be unimpressed.

KB6WIJ
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:36 am

What's wrong with a battery and a solar charger? No wires connected to mains at all!

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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:12 am

As long as we're discussing alternatives, PoE is what I've found most practical for remote Pi systems. I have one running on +12 V and another setup (longer run of CAT5 and supporting two Pi+camera setups plus a router!) running on +24 V. I use a simple passive "POE Splitter Cable" on both ends like http://www.ebay.com/itm/271968208115 and on the R-Pi side, I use a DC-DC converter to generate the +5V for the Pi (you have to adjust the output voltage using a tiny trimpot). They take up to +28V input and amazingly are less than $1 each with shipping! http://www.ebay.com/itm/3A-DC-DC-Conver ... 1907911778

If you want to run a 24V POE system from a 12V battery, you can use a DC-DC boost converter, something like http://www.ebay.com/itm/DC-DC-12V-to-19 ... 1371558570 and I made a 3D printed case for that board here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:524298

skp
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:58 am

Thanks for the replies, I should have mentioned I am in the UK. Those adapters that are available in the US are just the kind of thing I had in mind - interesting that they are no longer allowed over here. I can understand the historic reason for it, but it seems to me as though the regulations have not caught up with the fact that lots of low-power electronics are readily available these days.

I definitely don't want to mess around with the actual wiring in the house however, so it seems like instead I will look into other solutions. I notice it's possible to get longer pi-camera ribbon cables, so maybe I could have the pi indoors and the run a 50cm or 1m ribbon cable outside to the porch, where I could attach the camera.

Battery / solar panel is a nice idea but this was meant to be an inexpensive first trial project. There are so many bits of hardware I could potentially get, it's hard to know where to draw the line!

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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:33 pm

It would be easier to run a piece of thin twin-flex than the camera cable.

RS do a Pi power supply with an attached 1.5m lead. That gives you 5V at the end of the lead. (Power supplies without leads are required to give 5V at the socket, so a long lead would drop voltage.)

I use this one: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/plug-in-p ... -_-7653311
but the official Raspberry Pi one has the same specs and it's cheaper: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/plug-in-p ... y/8226373/

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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:19 pm

I've been wanting to wrap a lighted swag garland around my lamp post, but we don't have an existing outlet built in. Someone in Lowe's suggested I put a socket adapter on it to add an outlet, but they only have ones intended for indoor use. He said it should be ok as long as the light isn't exposed to rain/snow. The light is covered, but there is a gap that goes all the way around the base. Would it be unsafe to do that?
It feels good to be lost in the right direction! :P

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rurwin
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:43 pm

I doubt we can say without being qualified electricians able to inspect the lamp. However if you did get such an electrician I imagine they would feel obliged to say it wouldn't be safe. Indoors is indoors and outdoors is outdoors.

It isn't just rain you have to contend with. Condensation is an issue. Heat-cold cycles and UV light will cause the unit to fail much quicker outside.

You've also got to be aware of the insurance angle. If they could even think of arguing that the socket was even slightly implicated in any incident, you can bet they would void your claim immediately.

PhatFil
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:23 pm

something like this

Image
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/B22-Socket-E ... SwPpZaB4z5

will allow you to wire in a corded power supply (for temporary use)

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davidcoton
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:55 pm

PhatFil wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:23 pm
something like this

Image
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/B22-Socket-E ... SwPpZaB4z5

will allow you to wire in a corded power supply (for temporary use)

Please don't even think about that for UK systems.


First, there is no earth (ground) connection, so unless the equipment is double insulated (ie, designed not to use earth), it will be unsafe.
Second, you have no way of knowing which side is line and which is neutral. This should not matter with double insulated equipment, but if the wires are coded brown and blue, then they should not be reversed.
If there is an earth (green/yellow) wire, or a three-pin plug, on the equipment, you MUST NOT connect via a two-pin plug.
All these problems (and probably others that arise with (mis)using electricity outdoors, are unsafe and potentially life-threatening. "Temporary use" does not make it safe and is not an excuse.

For any use of mains electricity outdoors, unless you know and understand the wiring regs (BS7671), consult a qualified electrician.
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TudorJ
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:36 pm

Well every circuit, all 12 of them, in my house are protected by separate RCBOs (residual-current circuit breaker with overcurrent protection). These are 30ma trip current with a trip time of less than 30ms. They use a current transformer which measures the current out on the line connection to the return on the neutral connection and if the answer is not zero they trip. They do not need an earth connection. Look up the Wiki. Unfortunately they cost about £35 each and if regularly tested make your home very safe, but you must still not be complacent. One of these on an outside connection, with a 3amp fused connection would satisfy what you need.

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davidcoton
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:49 pm

TudorJ wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:36 pm
Well every circuit, all 12 of them, in my house are protected by separate RCBOs (residual-current circuit breaker with overcurrent protection). These are 30ma trip current with a trip time of less than 30ms. They use a current transformer which measures the current out on the line connection to the return on the neutral connection and if the answer is not zero they trip. They do not need an earth connection. Look up the Wiki. Unfortunately they cost about £35 each and if regularly tested make your home very safe, but you must still not be complacent. One of these on an outside connection, with a 3amp fused connection would satisfy what you need.
UK Wiring Regs require that almost any new socket installed indooors or outdoors must have RCD (includes RCBO) protection. RCD protection really does save lives.

The use of an RCD is an essential part of outdoor mains electrical safety. It is NOT a sufficient safeguard in itself.
Installation of (almost) any outdoor mains electrical wiring in the UK requires Building Regulations (Part P) notification, which in practice means the work should be done by a qualified and registered electrician. (There is a DIY route, it will end up with the local Building Inspectorate charging you for the electrician you didn't employ.)
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PhatFil
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:55 pm

davidcoton wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:55 pm
PhatFil wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:23 pm
something like this

Image
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/B22-Socket-E ... SwPpZaB4z5

will allow you to wire in a corded power supply (for temporary use)

Please don't even think about that for UK systems.


First, there is no earth (ground) connection, so unless the equipment is double insulated (ie, designed not to use earth), it will be unsafe.
Second, you have no way of knowing which side is line and which is neutral. This should not matter with double insulated equipment, but if the wires are coded brown and blue, then they should not be reversed.
If there is an earth (green/yellow) wire, or a three-pin plug, on the equipment, you MUST NOT connect via a two-pin plug.
All these problems (and probably others that arise with (mis)using electricity outdoors, are unsafe and potentially life-threatening. "Temporary use" does not make it safe and is not an excuse.

For any use of mains electricity outdoors, unless you know and understand the wiring regs (BS7671), consult a qualified electrician.
Er yes, but most dc power bricks with a cord even in the UK will be 2 wires, and quite often connected with an apple-esq figure of 8 2 pin plug terminating their feed. But Yes Dont leave equipment thats earthed hanging without an earth connection..

Perhaps i made too many assumptions regarding where the OP was starting from. Assuming competence to wire a plug/connector safely, and employ suitable bits n bobs.

Any power bricks used should also be boxed in weatherproof/waterproof with cable entries and exits glanded and sealed. with feeding and exiting leads positioned with natural drips away from the containment.

Any flex expected to sit under sunlight and UV should also be sleeved in a suitable uv proof conduit or ducting, NEVER tack mains flex along the top of a fence/wall, one too many summer days exposure and a casual grip on the fence top could be fatal..

but with a post connection drip point before the flex is led off to its destination and diligently wired when connected to a suitable psu (dbl insulated-
fed by a figure-8 2pin lead is a giveaway), drawing 2-3a max. Is probably a lot safer than climbing up step ladders to connect in the first place.

'Temporary' refers more to something legal to fit as a consumer under what i know as 'Part P regs' as temporary installations (i read that as meaning at the end of a plug...) are excluded from the requirement to be fitted by a certified fitter. Make a permanent connection with a junction box and you will need to get an electrician in to fit it, So you may as well get a dedicated 16a feed terminated with an ip68 comando socket installed

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davidcoton
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:45 pm

Most of what you say is correct, including the aspect of UV causing PVC cables to deteriorate.

However, you miss the point about "temporary". It is NOT defined in Part P. It is not the same as "connected by a plug and socket" -- Part P specifically includes "fixed" wiring "even if the final connection is by a standard 13A plug and socket" (Section 2.8 of the Approved Document). The wiring not covered is unsecured extension cables removed after use. The fact that wiring is "temporary" does not change the conditions that must be met to keep it safe, though the long-term risks (deterioration by UV light) may not be relevant. Lack of waterproofing is as dangerous in a temporary circuit as in a permanent one. You can get Part P for yourself here.

The Wiring Regs apply to "all consumer installations external to buildings", and have a special section (740) for temporary installations at fairgrounds and similar. Unfortunately free downloads are not available.
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PhatFil
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:16 am

davidcoton wrote: Most of what you say is correct, including the aspect of UV causing PVC cables to deteriorate.

However, you miss the point about "temporary". It is NOT defined in Part P. It is not the same as "connected by a plug and socket" -- Part P specifically includes "fixed" wiring "even if the final connection is by a standard 13A plug and socket" (Section 2.8 of the Approved Document). The wiring not covered is unsecured extension cables removed after use. The fact that wiring is "temporary" does not change the conditions that must be met to keep it safe, though the long-term risks (deterioration by UV light) may not be relevant. Lack of waterproofing is as dangerous in a temporary circuit as in a permanent one. You can get Part P for yourself here.

The Wiring Regs apply to "all consumer installations external to buildings", and have a special section (740) for temporary installations at fairgrounds and similar. Unfortunately free downloads are not available.
Yes, And I am not qualified in any way to give electrical advice. Clearly ;)

I am a new comer in here however and i fully appreciate a forum like this open to the public, can not afford to promote potentially unsafe installations. Nor can we be seen to give advice contrary to local codes. And i would hope my contributions here will be seen to be positive in the balance of things.

however can we not assign more intelligence to someone who can probably negotiate the gpio pins of a pi And can ask the question in the first place and agree the collective wisdom has served its purpose and provided the information required for the OP to make a reasonably informed decision.

Now a sad ol git who lives alone like myself may have a greater propensity for risk in such matters, and far less to gamble than perhaps the father of a young family. or just a chap with a mrs who would hit the roof with no insurance cover after a burglary due to a keen eyed loss adjuster

Yeah i am missing the point re Part P 'intentionally' while ignorance isnt an excuse it sure helps looking honestly surprised that any given upgrade is deemed ultra vires when the 'It was like that: for years / when i moved in. ' explanation simply wont wash.. should it ever come to that and if im around to answer questions..

It has been said the only thing i will leave behind is a crater ;)

Btw i have a tame sparky who passes a critical eye over all my projects, and did all the consumer unit hook up when i rewired the house.

boyoh
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:34 am

If you have a 13a switch socket in you hall way near the porch door. You could use a power adapter
to feed your project, This you could do your self. You will not be breaking any regulations
A 12vdc 2/3a Adapter should do the job If you have a socket in a room upstairs near the front
door you could use that, drill a small hole near the skirting board for the cable, You should have
no problem extending the adapter cable


Just a idea
BoyOh ( Selby, North Yorkshire.UK)
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pcmanbob
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:32 pm

boyoh wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:34 am
If you have a 13a switch socket in you hall way near the porch door. You could use a power adapter
to feed your project, This you could do your self. You will not be breaking any regulations
A 12vdc 2/3a Adapter should do the job If you have a socket in a room upstairs near the front
door you could use that, drill a small hole near the skirting board for the cable, You should have
no problem extending the adapter cable
+1 on the above much safer option use 12v DC power supply and then in the project box outside fit a 5v buck DC-DC converter that way you will have no problems with any volt drop over the cable run ( unless its really excessive ).
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davidcoton
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:55 pm

+1 on using a 12V supply from indoors, with reasonably thick wires. Cable rated at 6A should be fine even for 10-20m. Then a 12V to 5V switching regulator in the project box.
Just be careful about polarity where the cables are joined -- it is expensive when it goes wrong. :oops:
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rin67630
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Re: Outdoor power using light socket

Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:07 pm

KB6WIJ wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2016 3:36 am
What's wrong with a battery and a solar charger? No wires connected to mains at all!
You don't seem to have got any experience with that, did you?

Unless you are living in tropical regions, you would need at least a 100W solar panel and a 12V 180 Ah battery to expect passing a winter month with only a few hours bright sun.

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