How to add a power supply in an outdoor public space
The UK’s outdoor economy is stronger than ever, reflecting a public appetite for minimising the amount of time spent indoors and, for many, a re-evaluation of their appreciation of being outside.
As pop-up retail stalls and al-fresco dining and bars have become a common feature of many towns and cities, coupled with peak levels of park usage and tourist destinations booming, the potential value of outdoor space has been transformed. For any land owner or manager, this offers an opportunity to leverage the value of spaces such as courtyards, gardens, large paved areas or even vehicle yards more than ever.
Making these spaces practical, however, requires having a reliable power supply in place for users to access as and when required. The majority of newly converted outdoor spaces will not be used all year round – or even all day/week – so being able to set-up and pack up equipment with ease is essential.
Putting an on-demand power supply in place is easily achievable for most locations through the range of pop-up power units, in-ground service units and power bollards provided by UK company Pop Up Power Supplies. Its units eliminate the need to hire noisy and unattractive generators, which is why they are already installed in many high-profile tourist attractions, shopping centres, sports stadiums and numerous other locations across Britain, large and small.
But what are the main considerations specifiers and clients need to think about when deciding which power supply units to install on their property? Here are the five main areas:
Site conditions and characteristics
What characteristics of the proposed location could influence the installation of a submerged power unit like an in-ground or retractable unit, or a power bollard?
You need to consider the ground conditions in respect of the potential for it becoming waterlogged or if the ground slopes with a high level of surface water run-off. In these areas, in ground units or pop up units should not be used and a power bollard – with the right treatment – would be a better option.
The ground conditions must also allow for the depth of the unit where an in-ground or pop up unit is proposed. This could be as deep as 1050mm for an in-ground unit and 1350mm for a pop up tower unit, allowing for a drainage pit beneath the unit.
Consider too the traffic in the proposed location if this is in an area such as a pavement, courtyard/plaza or street – what is the likely volume of pedestrians, cycles and vehicles in the space, if any?
Safety and security
Any electricity supply in a public place requires very careful consideration in respect of safety and security. It must be designed in a way that prevents the risk of electrocution by accident or by deliberate means as much as possible.
This is one of the major benefits of a pop up, in-ground or power bollard unit. None of these units can be accessed without a key when locked and not in use – only a very dedicated vandal is likely to be able to force open up the units.
Choose a pop up unit and it stays locked away when not in use. When required, the unit is raised from the ground using a simple turning handle and returned to its submerged position when no longer needed.
An in-ground unit features a flip-lid which is needs to be unlocked for access to power sockets. And once power leads are connected, the flip-lid can be locked down to provide a continuous, unattended power supply.
Anticipated usage and user demands
How will the power unit be used? How many power sockets will be needed? And would the location also benefit from a supply of water or data cables?
Equipping any outdoor space with a power infrastructure is going to add a great degree of flexibility to the location, but when designing the power supply, it is important to have a picture of the typical and maximum usage that will be required.
Under-specifying could mean that the unit would not be future-proofed for any possible changes or additions to the equipment used on the site, which may necessitate power generators being hired for larger events.
Materials and quality
The materials used to manufacture power supply units will be a major factor in how durable the unit will be and its longevity (design life).
In the case of Pop Up Power Supplies’ in ground, pop up and power bollard units, AISI 304 and 316 stainless steel, cast iron and concrete are used to create strong, hard wearing units. These materials and high quality construction help to protect against unauthorised access and the effects of long term exposure to moisture and environmental conditions.
Finally, consider what visual impact the power supply unit could have on the site.
A power bollard will be visible all the time as an integrated part of the street or outdoor furniture. These are available in four different bollard designs to suit different design and aesthetic goals and they can be finished in any RAL colour. That makes it easy to achieve a look that complements other outdoor elements such as seating, railings and benches.
For applications and locations where you are seeking to keep the power supply out of sight for all or most of the time, the in-ground unit or pop up unit are better options. In-ground units remain submerged at all times so the only visual evidence of their presence is the flip-lid, which can match the surrounding surface covering anyway – including tarmac, paving stones and grass – and any protruding cables when they are in-use.
Pop up units are hidden away apart from when they are in-use. This is often regarded as a perfectly acceptable approach for even the most architectural sensitive locations.
Find out more
For more detailed insights into specifying power units for outdoor spaces, Pop Up Power Supplies has produced a 17-minute CPD presentation which is available to view on YouTube 24/7 – watch the CPD here: https://youtu.be/U0BRt46Q_2I.
Further technical information and datasheets can also be accessed in the resources section at www.popuppower.co.uk or by calling 020 8227 0208.