Norman Bradshaw puts the Hamilton Air wireless controller through its paces on a garden lighting project.
If you have your own garden, you’ll know just how much of a valuable space it proved to be during lockdown. For some, it has been their sole means of escape from their house, turning it into an outside extra space of refuge.
As such, the garden has been given a lot more attention, with electricians seeing the demand for projects like hot tubs, swimming pools and the necessary lighting that goes with them increasing at a significant rate. Garden lighting projects aren’t always the most straightforward to undertake as the external conditions have to be carefully weighed up against what the client might want as a lighting scheme. Nowadays, clients demand more from their garden lights, to be useful not only for security but aesthetics too. Whether you’re lighting a wall, decking, a feature or just want to create some background, your proposed scheme needs to be effective.
Thankfully, some manufacturers have seen the need to invest time and effort to meet these new demands. Hamilton is one brand that has risen to the challenge by developing the Hamilton Air controller – a wireless product that allows you to control the look and feel of a garden wirelessly.
Four channels, one box
The kit is comprised of three very well controlled items which work seamlessly together. The main unit is a four-channel radio receiver/power which can be mounted outside as it has an IP56 rating, plus there’s two wireless controllers – a wireless switch plate and a remote-controlled key ring, with an operating range of up to 250-metres.
The four-channel radio receiver is at the heart of this controller. Each channel can control a maximum load of 1.25kW, with a total load capacity for the controller of 4kW. Each channel can also be programmed to come on from one second up to 4.5 minutes by adjusting the DIP switch. Alternatively, you can just switch a load off and on manually. The programming features are particularly useful if you want to control an electric garage door or gate as, once activated, it can be programmed to switch itself off after the programmed time (30 seconds, for example). This way no one can override it and enter a premises uninvited.
The Hamilton Air can also be integrated with any lighting circuits of your choice, either inside or outside. Just wire it into the unit and let the box do its tricks. Sockets for light loads can also be powered from the unit as long as you don’t allow the total load of all the channels to exceed 20A (each channel is rated at 5A max).
The perfect project
I’d already started a garden project, so the timing of this kit becoming available was perfect. As I already had power to an outside socket, I simply re-fed the cable to power the Hamilton Air controller. Three cables were then run around the perimeter fence on decking boards where they were then terminated into some of Hamilton’s IP66 Elemento garden sockets or Elemento IP66 switches. From there I connected the 12V spike lights to the sockets. One circuit controlled the lights over the pergola which was the first section I tested the Hamilton controller out on. The results were very pleasing indeed.
One evening it was snowing and the whole lighting system looked amazing against the night sky. I was able to stay inside and switch the lights on/off by utilising both the four channel remote control and wireless switch to control the different features. The neighbours even commented on what a difference it made to the garden! Another channel was then used to run one of the circuits to the garden shed. This one will power a light in the shed and eventually a small flood light.
What I really like about this kit is the versatility that the four channels give you as you can break the project into sections once you’ve connected the main outgoing circuits into the controller. In my case, there are some other features that I wish to add and as the main cables are already run then it is not going to be too complicated to make the changes.
The Hamilton Elemento weatherproof IP66 double sockets and switches integrated well with the planned lighting scheme and were a real pleasure to work with. Another of the features I particularly liked about this range was that the products felt very robust and did not bend or warp easily.
Furthermore, the sockets can be installed after you’ve fixed the back and front halves together. This is handy because if you have an unexpected downpour when installing, you can simply close the front lid and all will be watertight inside the unit until you come back. That happened to me a couple of times and I was able to keep the cables dry inside the socket housing until the second fix.
It’s fairly easy to sum this product up: if you choose to use the Hamilton Air controller with its two wireless devices for control, you can be absolutely confident that you’re using a product that will give your clients what they want – a garden lighting scheme that they’ll be keen to use and show off, making the garden that perfect extra space to relax and enjoy.
To view the Hamilton Air Controller data sheet click here