Last updated: August 5, 2021

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An outdoor socket is a practical thing. It allows you to easily use electricity outdoors. Thanks to today's state of the art, you can choose from a wide range of basic models, from flush-mounted or surface-mounted to smart home dreams. However, safety must not be neglected either.

In our outdoor socket guide, we compare models and give recommendations to help you find the right outdoor socket. In addition, we explain what the IP class is, which cables you need for your outdoor socket and what costs you should expect. Equipped with the most important purchase criteria, the search also becomes clearer.




Summary

  • An outdoor socket allows you to use electricity outdoors. You use the existing electricity grid.
  • Areas of use are, for example, your garden, the roof, a terrace or balcony. You can also equip your caravan with an outdoor socket.
  • Since an outdoor socket is constantly exposed to the weather, it must meet special safety standards.

The Best Outdoor Socket: Our Choices

Outdoor socket outlets: purchase and evaluation criteria

An outdoor socket is not only practical by nature, but must also fulfil other criteria. We have summarised for you what you should look for when buying.

In the following, you will find out what is behind these keywords.

IP class

Electrical installations such as outdoor sockets are divided into different IP protection classes. IP stands for "International Protection".

Outdoor socket outlets are permitted from IP 44.

The type of safety class provides information about the sensitivity to external influences and can be read off using two digits. The following tables provide an overview of the meaning of the individual numbers.

The first digit describes the protection against contact and foreign bodies. If you have children who like to poke around, you will probably be interested in this number.

1st digit Protection against foreign bodies / contact
0 No protection
1 Against solid foreign bodies with a diameter of at least 50 mm / back of the hand
2 Against solid foreign bodies with a diameter of at least 12.5 mm / fingers
3 Against solid foreign bodies with a diameter of at least 2.5 mm / tools
4 Against solid foreign bodies with a diameter of at least 1 mm / wire
5 Against all contact / dust deposits
6 Against all contact / dust

The second digit indicates the degree of protection against water. This includes both rain and splashing water from the pool.

2. Number Protection against water
0 No protection
1 Against vertically falling dripping water
2 Against dripping water from an angle of maximum 15 degrees (against the vertical)
3 Against spray water from an angle of maximum 60 degrees (against the vertical)
4 Against splashing water from all sides
5 Against water jets
6 Against strong water jets
7 Against temporary immersion
8 Against permanent immersion

Consider the hazards in the environment where you want to install the outdoor socket. Choose an IP safety class accordingly.

Number of plugs

Before buying your outdoor socket, it is important to consider what you will actually need it for. If you only want to start an electric barbecue on your terrace from time to time, a single plug is sufficient.

You can also find double, triple, quadruple or quintuple outdoor sockets. If you often have several power consumers outside, this comes in handy.

Appearance

There is a wide range of design options for outdoor sockets. Most manufacturers also offer their products in different versions. You can usually choose between different colours.

When buying your outdoor socket, you should consider how it will look when installed.

For example, you can find outdoor sockets in a wood or stone look. With a ground spike, you can flexibly move your socket wherever you need it.

It may happen that an unwary visitor mistakes it for a real stone at first glance.

If you want to bring light into the darkness, you can also use an outdoor socket with an integrated light. Solar technology is particularly environmentally friendly and energy-saving.

Protection

As always when working with electricity, the safety aspect must not be forgotten. It is not only the IP classes that need to be considered.

For example, an outdoor socket should always have its own residual current circuit breaker. The right cables should not be missing either. In general, an outdoor socket must also be waterproof to a certain degree.

Some outdoor sockets are switchable - with or without remote control. This is especially useful if you have children. Lockable outdoor sockets have the advantage that not everyone can tap into your electricity.

Outdoor sockets: frequently asked questions and answers

Not completely sure about buying an outdoor socket? No problem. You'll find answers to your most burning questions here.

What is an outdoor socket?

The special thing about an outdoor socket is that it is not located inside a building. Instead, it provides electricity outdoors. For example, if you want to use an electric barbecue on your balcony, you don't have to run extra extension cables outside.

Außensteckdose-01

If you often spend time on your terrace, an outdoor socket is a good idea.
(Image source: Florian Schmidinger / unsplash)

To ensure that nothing can happen despite the weather, dust and the like, an outdoor socket outlet has a different design than the one you have in your living room. Its own safety regulations apply.

Who is an outdoor socket suitable for?

Typically, outdoor sockets are thought of in the garden, where you have a power connection on the patio or for the lawn mower. But outdoor sockets also make sense on the roof or balcony.

An outdoor socket can be used, for example, for Christmas lights or an electrically operated fountain. When doing outdoor work, you will also notice that it is a practical thing to have.

Caravan owners and camping enthusiasts will also appreciate outdoor sockets. When you are in the great outdoors, you don't have to struggle with the power supply any more than necessary.

What types of outdoor sockets are there?

There is to decide whether you mount your socket outlet below or above the plaster on your wall. Accordingly, a distinction is made between surface-mounted and flush-mounted.

Type Features
Surface-mounted With a surface-mounted socket outlet, installation is usually not very complicated if you already have prepared cables. You can recognise this type of outdoor socket by the fact that a small "cube" or similar protrudes from the wall.
Flush-mounted flush-mounted sockets are less noticeable because, like most sockets you have in the house, they lie flat against the wall. This is often perceived as more visually appealing. However, you also have to be careful not to make holes just anywhere, otherwise there can be problems.

In the end, the decision between these two options is a mixture of personal preference and local conditions.

How much does an outdoor socket cost?

Depending on the material used, workmanship, safety standards, etc., outdoor sockets can cost different amounts. As a rule, you can expect to pay between 10 and 30 euros.

Type Price range
Surface-mounted Approximately 5 to 90 euros
Flush-mounted Approximately 10 to 30 euros

Before buying, always make sure that the socket outlet complies with all regulations. Bargains can otherwise turn out to be a safety risk.

What alternatives are there to an outdoor socket?

Even though an outdoor socket is practical, not everyone needs to have one. If you don't need the power connection outside regularly, you can help yourself with an extension cable, for example. This way you can still have your radio or electric barbecue with you at the garden party.

For nature lovers, it is often not quite so simple. But with creative approaches, solutions can be found here too.

Außensteckdose-02

At campsites, you usually only need a connection cable to use the local network. In the great outdoors, things look different.
(Image source: DLC / unsplash)

Here are 3 alternatives to an outdoor socket if you don't have another power source when camping:

Type Description
Electricity generator Powered by internal combustion engine, sometimes wind or water power, can be quite noisy
Solar power bank Powered by sunlight, only enough for smaller devices like smartphones
Three-phase alternator Powered by the V-belt of your camper/car, Disadvantage: Cost in fuel, car battery can run down

In the end, you decide what you like best. Aspects such as environmental friendliness, cost, weight or ease of use can vary depending on the model.

What are the regulations for an outdoor socket?

Because an outdoor socket is exposed to special dangers due to the weather, it must be able to do more than just supply electricity. To guarantee your safety, you should observe the following points:

  • IP: As explained above, outdoor sockets must meet at least the IP 44 standard. To achieve this, use a socket outlet with a hinged cover, as is common in damp rooms.
  • RCD: A separate RCD cuts off the power supply in case of problems (e.g. if moisture penetrates). Another control switch inside provides double safety.
  • Junctionbox: You also need a junction box in accordance with the DIN VDE 0606-1 standard that applies in Germany. This is where the cables are brought together. Since in most cases a hole has to be made in the wall for this, you should have an electrician do it.

Which cable do I use for an outdoor socket?

If you need to run a cable into your garden, you should use NYYJ or NYCWY type underground cables. Buried cables are robustly insulated and should be buried at a depth of 60 to 80 cm. This minimises the risk of rodents, for example, tampering with them.

To avoid overloading by greedy energy consumers, a cross-section of at least 1.5 mm is recommended. Keep a minimum distance of 30 cm from other cables.

How do I connect an outdoor socket correctly?

In general, you should leave the installation of your outdoor socket to an electrician, especially when it comes to drilling holes in the house wall. Without the necessary expertise, the consequences can be life-threatening. Safety first!

Conclusion

Outdoor sockets can be used for a wide variety of applications - for example in the garden, on the balcony or on the caravan. As long as the prescribed safety standards are met, you don't have to worry too much about potential problems. When buying, it is important to ensure that the socket has an IP rating of at least 44 so that your plans do not fall through.

However, with a variety of models available today, you're sure to find something suitable. From ground spikes and small columns to smart sockets with internet connection, everything is available. In the end, your outdoor socket should not cause you any headaches. If everything works, it will fade into the background - and you will have time for the important things in life.

Photo source: Morgano/ 123rf

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