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SWA between fences
1 Posts
Hi everyone, 

I’m an electrician and have been asked to provide power to an outbuilding for local power and garden lighting. 

The client has shrubs, trees and bushes therefore direct burial isn’t an option and fixing to the concrete fence posts isn’t possible. There is however a gap between the fence (separating the clients fence and their neighbours). The client has asked if I can run the cable directly on the ground, between the fence line? 

The SWA will be physically protected by the fact there are fences either side, and cannot be damaged here. Are there any regs that prevent this sort of installation method? The length is approx. 15 metres. Obviously there would be appropriate protection via means of an RCD at the source and warning tapes on the cable itself. 

What are everyone’s thoughts? I don’t feel overly comfortable running directly onto the ground, but maybe in a thick walled pipe (purple in colour, perhaps) would be sufficient? Maybe even some pegs to hold the pipe in place? 



7 Replies
2467 Posts
There are no wiring regs as such breached by surface cabling, (and a visit to any pop festival will show you that such things can be semi-permanent and walked and driven over, even when not armoured cable) but who does the land belong to, and how easy is it to inspect/maintain?
1881 Posts
maybe in a thick walled pipe (purple in colour, perhaps)
I thought purple was meant to signify motorway communication cables - usually it's black for LV power (or sometimes red).
The client has shrubs, trees and bushes therefore direct burial isn’t an option
Would moling be a possibility? (just a pit at each end and use a pneumatic mole to insert a smooth duct between them)

   - Andy.
231 Posts
It sounds like you have access; you are thinking of pegging the pipe.
You are using a warning tape; probably the yellow stuff with printing on it about a cable below.
So long as you have [written] agreement from your client that they are happy it goes in this void and that they have consulted the owner of both of the fences, then from your view there is no problem. There is no regs issue.
But it is odd there are two fences, side by side . Be careful of boundary disputes, you do not want to be involved.
Chris Pearson
1763 Posts
I share the OP's misgivings. The Electrician's Guide to the Building Regulations gives advice at 5.7 . Leaving it loafing on the surface my well be safer than burying it in a shallow grave - at least it may be seen. It may or may not be vulnerable to attack by squirrels.

The dual fence situation does seem odd. I would expect that one fence is on the boundary and the other one has been erected by the landowner inside of that, but which is which? Even if the current occupiers are content with the situation, one or other fence may be removed by a future one.

From a personal perspective, next door's electric gates are fed by a cable which has just been tucked under the concrete gravel boards of the fence. Foxes have burrowed under the fence, but not in that particular section, so it has withstood the test of time.

Looked at from a slightly different perspective, would anybody code it in an EICR?
I have come to do a fair few temporary site supplies for construction sites (Rail related usually) that are sometimes out in the middle of a muddy field.

It is very common to lay the SWA cables direct on the ground from a DB (Called an MDU - Main Distribution Unit- in this industry). This DB is just a metal box on a metal stand that stands alone in the middle of the field adjacent to the supply - either from the supplier or from a Generator.

Interestingly the work temporary in the rail industry is deemed to be 25 years or less I believe....... so maybe claim your supply to the bottom of the garden is temporary...............

1) This Stops the diggers from digging it up and everyone can see it, its laid on what's supposed to be safe routes, usually between cabins of some sort, offices, meeting rooms, drying rooms, Canteens, workshops, store rooms, guard huts, Covid temperature sensor access gates etc etc. 
2) There is no structure initially to fix it to anyway.

I'd certainly be happy with it on the ground in this case. Less likely to be damaged than shallow buried.
122 Posts
Well, I thought that it's ok to run an SWA on the surface BUT, not on the surface under lots of foliage, as long as it can be seen BUT, not laid across a newly mown lawn!!



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