electrical for greenhouse and garden

Electrical for Greenhouses & Gardens

Does Your Garden or Greenhouse Need Electricity?

Boost your plant growth during colder months with an electrically outfitted greenhouse and garden. Grocery prices aren’t getting lower anytime soon – that’s why utilizing a greenhouse and garden can be a worthwhile investment. 

Greenhouses can range from small sheds to industrial-sized buildings, and a basic greenhouse can work great for anyone looking to give their plants a healthy boost. 

While a greenhouse can work without electricity, you can greatly improve your yield with a well-functioning electrical system. 

Installing a garden electrical junction box can also make it much easier to power lawn mowers and hedge trimmers, along with providing power to outdoor garden lights and water features

Does Your Greenhouse & Garden Need Electricity?

Just like most things home-related, the answer to this question depends entirely on what you need your greenhouse and garden to do. 

Using electricity in a greenhouse can be helpful for tropical plants, as well as many kinds of temperate plants that need protection from the winter cold.  Lighting and heating in greenhouses are also essential for rooting cuttings and germinating plants. 

Before you decide to power your greenhouse and garden, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to use my greenhouse and garden for?
  • Do I need to extend the growing season?
  • Do my plants need to be kept frost-free?
  • Does the operating cost outweigh the value of produce my plants will provide?

While there are a variety of options to heat and light your greenhouse and garden, electricity is the best option. Unlike natural gas or liquid gas/oil, it’s versatile, easy to control, and allows you to use various types of equipment.

Why should you avoid using natural gas or liquid gas/oil?

  • Gas and oil are combustible
  • Creates high levels of gasses and condensation
  • Higher loss in heat and energy
  • Failure to remove toxic gasses can be harmful to you and your plants
  • Costs more to install and maintain

With the price of gas, using electricity in your greenhouse and garden is the most cost-efficient route. 

How To Run Electricity To Your Greenhouse & Garden

Unless you’re an electrician, always hire a professional to wire your greenhouse and garden. Hiring a professional will ensure that your wiring is up to regulatory standards, otherwise, insurance companies could refuse to cover you in the event of a claim. 

Having a power supply isolated in the greenhouse and garden can make it much easier to switch power on and off, rather than having to go back and forth to your main panel. This can be achieved with an underground conduit. 

Your power supply should be fitted with safety devices that will allow you to disconnect the power from the system in case the supply cable gets damaged or overloaded. 

Typically, powering your greenhouse and other garden appliances can be done one of two ways:

  • Installing a circuit breaker and wire each of the appliances into separate breakers
  • Setting up a number of waterproofed, fused power sockets to plug appliances into

Installing 110V and 220V outlets with the equivalent amperage of that needed to supply a normal-sized room should be enough to cover your needs. It’s best to add as many outlets as you can because it can be more of a hassle to install them later. 

The last thing you’ll want is an out-of-reach outlet while you’re gardening! That’s why it’s important to hire a professional to do the job right because they’ll know exactly how much electricity you’ll need and where.

Maintain A Steady Temperature For Your Plants

Temperature control is essential if you want your greenhouse to be successful. 

It’s worthwhile to consider these 3 forms of greenhouse heating:

  1. General heating

To achieve frost-free conditions, a thermostat-controlled fan heater set to an ambient temperature can work great.

The same heater can pull double duty during the summer months by turning off the heating element and operating as a fan only. 

Adequate ventilation of fresh air and reducing humidity can help your plants to avoid growing mold and fungi.

  1. Bottom heat

Installing a thermostat-controlled heated bench or mat can create a perfect temperature for rooting cuttings or germinating seeds. 

While you can do it yourself and construct your own beds, there are premade beds available to buy. 

  1. High-level heating

When higher temperatures are needed, use a thermostat-controlled propagator and manually adjust it to your desired temperature.

It’s important to note that all of your plugs should be waterproofed. A professional electrician will make sure of that. 

Another thing to keep in mind is installing insulation into your greenhouse. With a home or commercial building, single-pane windows can cost you in energy bills. The same goes for a greenhouse.

Installing a lining of bubble plastic or cellophane inside of the roof and walls will reduce heat loss and save you from costly energy bills. 

Find Your Light Solutions For Plant Growth

Plants need light to germinate, but natural light in your greenhouse can be lost if you have fitted insulation. An electrical light system within your greenhouse will counteract the loss of natural light and encourage plant growth.

For greenhouse lighting, fluorescent lights designed for damp conditions can be used. Fitting time-controlled fluorescent lights can supplement poor natural light during the winter months. This can be achieved with a simple adaptor that fits into a wall socket. 

With all of this heating and lighting being used, how can you avoid a spike in energy costs?

Grow lights are a perfect solution for your greenhouse. Energy-efficient LED lights will operate cooler than regular lights and guard against leaf burn on your plants. With its low heat emission and low energy consumption, investing in grow lights will help save you from costly energy bills. 

Alternatively, a light control system could reduce electrical costs by 33%. 

More Benefits of Installing Electricity In Your Garden:

Installing electricity in your garden can be beneficial in all seasons as you can power:

  • Automatic watering systems
  • Any accessories that need a good power supply to run
  • Garden lights to create a cozy atmosphere and provide a visual aid when using the garden at night


While there are temporary solutions available, installing permanent electricity is a longer-lasting solution to getting electricity to your greenhouse and garden. 

Gardening can be a big job. Having electricity available makes it that much more convenient. 

Kobalt Systems For All Your Garden Electrical Needs

Founded in 2015, Kobalt Systems offers expert full-service electrical, communications, and security services. 

Our professional team of highly trained master journeyman electricians offers cost-effective electrical solutions for your backyard. 

Contact us today about improving your gardening game, and so much more.

digital lighting control system

The Benefits of Digital Lighting Control Systems

How Modern Lighting Control Systems Can Improve Employee Morale and Productivity

 In the world of business when you’re trying to run a company or get things off the ground, custom lighting may not be at the top of the list of priorities. However, proper lighting holds more value for your business than you might realize, and it is something to take into careful consideration. 

Studies have shown that the right lighting control system can hold many benefits, particularly for your employees and teams. Read on, and we’ll tell you all about these systems and why you should get one installed.

What Is a Digital Lighting Control System?

A lighting control system is a smart, network-based control system that allows your lights to be managed via communication between various system inputs and outputs. This is done using one or more central control devices. They are mainly used for indoor and outdoor lighting of commercial and industrial buildings, but can also be used for residential homes as well. 

These systems help to ensure that the right amount of light is used when and where it’s needed. Due to their energy-saving nature, they are sometimes also referred to as Smart Lighting.

So, simply put, a basic commercial lighting control system will enable the user(s) to determine the light output, turn on the light in specific areas when or where it’s needed, and turn them off when no one’s there anymore. But they can also be more technical than that! 

Technology has now advanced to where you can control details such as the exact colour of the light for a specified space, so you can have one setting in the break room and a completely different one for the working area with computers. You can also set your lighting to automatically dim or turn off when an area is unoccupied.

Not to mention you can monitor your energy usage, provide performance reports, and set off alarms if levels aren’t correct, among other settings. It can be completely customized!

Why are Digital Lighting Control Systems Important? 

Not only do digital lighting control systems conserve energy and save money by only being used when they’re needed, but it turns out that the right lighting can actually boost the productivity of your employees, too.

According to Buildings.com, Purdue University and JLL conducted a two-year study that looked into the effects of customizable indoor environment conditions.

First, the researchers installed sensors in the workplace of study that measured the temperature, light level, and occupant actions as the employees/participants went about their eight-hour day.

The participants were split into two separate groups: one used Purdue-designed customizable desktop computer controls that gave them individual control of the light and temperature, and the other group was left with the typical thermostat and light switches mounted on the wall.

The study found that the first group, who were given the customizable controls on their laptops or computers, were more engaged than the second group with the standard controls. They relied more on natural daylight than artificial lighting, and with the temperature and lighting just as they needed, they also reported stronger levels of productivity and performed better in cognitive tests than the other group.

It’s a fascinating study, and a simple search online will lead you to many other articles that study this topic and back the claim, such as this article from FacilityManagement.com, and the work of Jennifer Veitch. Ultimately, a customizable lighting control system is crucial and a worthwhile investment, and a win-win for everybody involved. Who doesn’t want that?

Other Benefits of Digital Lighting Control Systems

In case you’re not quite convinced, here are some other benefits of a control system that you might not have thought about:

  1. Increased safety. Think of a bathroom that switches on the lights when you open the door and walk in, allowing you to see the large puddle of water on the floor and prevent you from slipping. Appropriate lighting around computers can also help prevent vision damage, migraines and headaches, and improve overall mental health and morale.
  2. Change the appearance of a space. Adjusting your lighting can change the way a room looks and feels, change the atmosphere, reduce glare and overall, match the chosen functions of the space. 
  3. Enhanced efficiency with LED lighting. Most commercial lighting systems use LED, which is much more energy-efficient. This can lead to a 60% reduction in electrical overhead costs for medium-to-large size businesses, and a 30% decrease in lighting costs.
  4. Increased security in the workplace environment. This is particularly noteworthy if you’re in a high-crime area. Automated lighting is proven to deter thieves, and prevent other crimes from happening. A thief won’t want to be identified when the light suddenly turns on above them!
  5. They’re flexible to use with very user-friendly controls. A digital lighting control system might seem to be a hefty undertaking, but it is worthwhile when you consider the positive impact it will have on your employees and the business overall. It’s simple to adjust the lighting to your preferences, just turn the lights ON and OFF with a switch or adjust light up and down using a dimmer. 

If you’re looking to install a commercial lighting system for your business, contact us today at Kobalt Systems. We are your electrical and lighting experts in Victoria, BC, and we offer fast and friendly service with top-tier products. Learn more about us and check out our services page to see what we have to offer, or you can call us directly at 250-213-3788.

residential exterior lighting for deck

Choosing the Right Exterior Lighting and Motion Sensors/Timers for Your Home

Outdoor Lighting is an Integral Part of Home Security

Exterior lighting is an important aspect of the design of any building. Lighting not only enhances a property’s appearance but also its security. Outdoor lighting is a key element in making the building look welcoming. It also plays a significant role in deterring theft and ensuring safety for your home and family. At Kobalt Systems, our experienced exterior lighting installers are also journeymen electricians specialized in installing:

  • Landscape Lighting
  • Stair and Pathway Safety Lighting
  • Pool and Hot Tub Deck Lighting
  • Motion Sensor Lighting 
  • Garden Shed Lighting
  • Outdoor Kitchen & Barbecue Lighting

In this post, we’ll explore the different kinds of exterior lighting options that are available and explain why the right outdoor lighting system can make all the difference.

Active and Passive Outdoor Lighting

Did you know that there are two types of occupancy sensors?  

Passive Outdoor Lighting

The most common kind of motion sensor lighting is passive. These passive exterior lights are ones that “see” motion by detecting changes in infrared energy. When a sensor that’s attached to an outdoor lighting fixture senses a change in the environment and its temperature, it triggers the light to turn on. Warmer objects like animals, people, and cars are particularly easy to detect this way. Most of us are familiar with this type of lighting fixture.

Active Outdoor Lighting

Active motion detectors have a transmitter and receiver. They measure motion by detecting the amount of sound or radiation reflected back to the receiver. A transducer within the sensor acts as a sort of meeting point for the signal, and this is where the pulse is sent off and the echo is received back.

Where Should I Put Motion Lights in My Yard?

Where your motion lights are installed will depend on which areas you want to secure and the design of your home. It’s typically best to mount motion sensor lights six to ten feet above the ground, positioned so movement will be picked up across the sensitivity zone instead of directly at the detector. 

For instance, you could have the sensitivity zone cover a portion of your front lawn to have intruders detected long before they get to an entry point of the house. 

Exterior motion lights are most effective when they are positioned to cover the walkway(s) leading up to your front or back door, and your driveway. You want those lights to come on when you arrive home at night so you’re not going from your vehicle to your house in the dark. It’s also a good idea to light up your decks or patio, and any other potentially unsafe locations, such as an outdoor stairway or a swimming pool.

To be extra secure, we recommend placing a motion light at every approach/entrance to your home, whether it be your fence gates, dark corners of your lawns, or even around bushes and trees. Proper outdoor lighting is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to discourage intruders.

Motion Detectors vs. Timers

There are two options for your exterior lighting: motion detectors and lights on timers set to go on at intervals you choose. Both have their advantages, but here we’ll break it down into a pros and cons list for both.

Pros for motion sensors:

  • Highly energy efficient. They only turn on when needed, so there’s no need to go and turn off the lights before you go to bed.
  • Hands-free.
  • Easy deterrent against crime. An intrusion is far less likely to occur or continue when all the lights suddenly pop on.

Cons for motion sensors:

  • Lack of control.
  • If you have pets or there are animals nearby, you may notice your exterior lighting on a lot more than you had planned.

Pros for lighting timers:

  • Convenience. By setting your lighting to only be on for a certain amount of time and time of day, you’re wasting a lot less energy (and money!).
  • If your hours and schedule are consistent, this can make a big difference for efficiency and hands-free, worry-free lighting.
  • Safety. Setting your lighting to be on starting at dusk can give you a bit of peace of mind, and keep your home safer. 

Cons for lighting timers:

  • Not as energy-efficient. Lights may be on when nothing is happening and no one is outside, so they might not be needed.

Either of these options for security lights are very useful. Of course, LED lights are very energy efficient compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. When in doubt, you can always get the best of both worlds by setting up a variety of both motion-sensing lights and timed lights. 

Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Lights

These lights get their name, “dusk to dawn,” because they are placed in your yard or garden and turn on after the sun has set and turn off once it rises again in the morning. Along with the time-controlled and motion-activated lights, there are two other types of fixtures to make note of.

Photocell and solar outdoor lights

Photocell lights are ignited by the changing of natural light, meaning that they automatically change when daylight shifts to night. They also adjust when the nights get longer or shorter with the seasons. Some contain motion sensors, as well, so they sometimes count under that category.

Smart/connected outdoor lights

These are just like the time-controlled lights, as you can set the time you want them to turn on or off. The difference is that with smart lights you can control and schedule your exterior lighting with an app on your smartphone or other devices, like a smart home system. Smart lights can be controlled via Bluetooth or WiFi, so you can have complete control no matter where you are or what device you happen to have with you. All you need is the adjoining downloadable app. (This is also the case for smart light bulbs.)

Exterior Lights Provide Style and Security

By now, you probably have an idea of what kind of exterior lighting you want for your outdoor space. While security is your number one priority, the light fixture you choose can also add some extra style and curb appeal to your house, day or night. Depending on what light levels and light coverage you’d prefer, what power source you’d prefer to use, whether you’d like a built-in timer or smart functions to have complete control of your lights, there are many options for outdoor lighting.

Here at Kobalt Systems, we are experts in home lighting and smart technology. We can help you with the installation of a complete custom outdoor lighting system for your home in and around Victoria, BC. We also offer residential alarm systems with the option for indoor / outdoor security cameras, motion sensors, smart locks and more. No matter the size of the job, our team of highly trained professionals are here to help and we take pride in our integrity and expertise. Check out our reviews page to see what our clients are saying, then contact us today to get started on your innovative new exterior lighting project.

solar panel installation victoria bc

Solar Panel Installation Can Lead to Big Savings

Advantages of Installing a Solar Energy System

Solar energy is a great way to reduce your electricity bills. Installing solar panels on the roof of your home or business will allow you to generate free, clean and renewable power for use in your house. The savings from this are significant as it reduces your monthly bill by up to 70%! If you’re looking at ways to cut down on your electric costs, then solar could be an ideal solution. Here we look at how solar works, what benefits there are, and why people choose to install them.

Solar Energy Definition

What Is Solar Energy and How Does it Generate Power?

The sun provides us with all our energy needs – without its rays we would not survive. However, most of that energy comes in the form of heat rather than light which means that only around 5-10% of sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface. This leaves 90-95% of the available energy trapped within the atmosphere where it cannot reach ground level. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels can gather and store this energy for immediate or later use.

What Type of Solar Panel Do I Need?

It’s your choice. All solar panels are made up of tiny cells, called solar cells or photovoltaic cells. There are two main types of photovoltaic cells in solar panels: crystalline silicon and thin film PV. Crystalline silicon cells have been used since the 1970s and were originally developed for military purposes. They consist of a single layer of semiconductor material sandwiched between two conductive electrodes.

Thin film technology was introduced in the 1980s and uses multiple layers of different materials including metals, oxides, nitrides and polymers. Both technologies work using the same principle – when exposed to sunlight, electrons move from one electrode to another creating an electric current. Solar panels made of thin film PV are the most popular today, since they’re more economical and easier to install. However, with the lower cost comes a lower efficiency. To learn more, take a look at this excellent post on the types of solar panels at Solar Reviews.com

Why Do People Install Solar Panels on Their Homes or Businesses?

There are many reasons why people decide to invest in solar panel installations. Some may want to offset rising fuel prices while others see it as a long-term investment option. Whatever the reason, if you’re considering investing in solar, it pays to know exactly what you need to consider first. You should also take time to research the best options available and find out about any incentives offered by local authorities. Once you’ve decided to go ahead, it’s important to get quotes from several companies who offer solar installation services. 

How Much Can I Save By Having Solar Panels Installed?

Generally speaking, the return on investment is very good. Thanks to the Canada Greener Homes Grant, you could even be eligible for thousands of dollars in rebates for the purchase and installation of solar panels and energy-storing batteries. 

You could also be eligible for a rebate for improving the energy efficiency of your home through the Better Homes BC and Better Buildings BC programs when renovating or building a home or business. Renewable energy products are PST exempt too. Own a business? You could be eligible for tax credits as well. 

Best of all, you’ll see continued savings after installation, since BC Hydro will credit you when your energy production exceeds the amount of energy used. Combined with the use of smart home products, today’s solar panels go a long way towards creating a net-zero building that generates more power than it uses. 

Solar Panels Can Help Save on Home Maintenance Costs Too

Did you know that solar panels can increase the life expectancy of your roof? Roof replacement is a major project for many homeowners and one that comes with a high price tag. 

A longer life span for your roof can generate additional savings that many people don’t realize. In our opinion, it’s another tick mark for the “pros” column when you’re trying to decide whether to invest in solar. 

The reason is simple: UV rays degrade traditional roofing materials, so having the solar panels cover the roof and absorb the sun’s rays translates to a longer-lasting roof. If you absolutely can’t have solar panels mounted on your roof, you can still use a ground-mounted solution, as directed by a geotechnical specialist and photovoltaic technician, who can advise on the optimal placement to take advantage of all that clean energy.

Will My Solar Panels Work Even When It’s Not Sunny?

The amount of energy produced depends on factors like location, weather conditions and other variables. With the changes in our climate in Victoria BC and increased hours of summer sunshine, it’s a good idea to start harnessing all that solar energy to power your home or business. Even if it’s cloudy, your solar panels will still be working hard for you. 

Today’s solar panels are up to 3x more effective than earlier models and have much better low-light performance than they used to. On a rainy Victoria day, you can expect about 20% of peak output, which is just fine when you have stored solar energy as well. This 20% can drastically reduce your energy consumption and your average cost on your electric bills. 

Solar panel installation at your home or business is a smart economical decision, provided you have the right conditions and adequate sunlight. Not sure if you want to go full-tilt on a whole-home solar power set up? Some of our clients have chosen to use solar energy to heat their pools and hot tubs, reducing the impact these creature comforts have on their energy bills. As highly experienced electricians, we can take care of the installation of your solar panels, so you can start saving on your energy bills immediately. For more information, email Kobalt Systems or call us at (250) 213 – 3788.