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After a hard day's work, often having been cooped up in a stuffy old office, there's not much that can beat relaxing in the great outdoors. Just breathing in the fresh air with your feet propped up lifts your spirits and soothes your soul (or your aching soles)! And cooking outside? Heaven on earth.

Innovative Weatherproof Electrical Products

Steve Maurer, IME
After a hard day's work, often having been cooped up in a stuffy old office, there's not much that can beat relaxing in the great outdoors. Just breathing in the fresh air with your feet propped up lifts your spirits and soothes your soul (or your aching soles)!

And cooking outside?

Heaven on earth.

I'm not a grilling expert by any means. But I do love to burn me some burgers and steaks on the grill! Back when Mary and I were newlyweds, I'd even cook a special dinner out on the charcoal powered grid, no matter the weather! Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night … you get the picture.

Of course, cooking outdoors has come a long way from my days of firing up a hibachi on the porch in a snowstorm, wearing a parka to defend against the cold. Outdoor kitchens and supplies are an industry almost unto itself. A quick Google search located two businesses dedicated to outdoor kitchen supplies, as well as the omnipresent home improvement stores, all within a few miles of the old homestead.

While hot coals on a cold day was my norm, many of today's outdoor kitchens rival fine restaurants and local barbecues. And where there are fancy food preparation necessities, there must be one more requirement … electricity.

NEC compliant outdoor switches that look great
NEMA Type 3R ratings are part of the NEC for damp and wet locations. And outdoors is definitely a damp and/or wet location. Obviously, if you're going to wire in components for your outdoor-loving customers, you still need to follow the codes involved.

And sometimes that means it may look downright, well, ugly.

There's nothing that spoils the aesthetically pleasing smooth lines of an outdoor kitchen like a switchbox with flip lid or bubble cover. It sticks out like a sore thumb. Even if the switch box is recessed, the necessary weatherproof wall plate isn't anything to write home about, right?

Sure, it could be painted to match the décor. But whether gray, white, or floral printed, it's still a hideous bump on the wall.

But now you have cool new options to give your clients.

A new development on the market is a switch that's NEMA Type 3R rated and looks good, too. With the visually pleasing look of a decorator style switch, this device protects its innards in two ways. First, an internal sealing system for a watertight seal safeguards the switching mechanism.

Additionally, a bellows gasket suctions to the subplate, forming a watertight seal to protect the contacts, springs, and other components. Topped off with a snap-on wall plate (in either white, almond, or gray color schemes), and you have an appealing solution to an unsightly problem … and a safe one, at that.

No more ugly switch boxes allowed!

By the way, homeowners aren't the only ones this weatherproof switch might appeal to. Outside breakrooms for office and commercial facilities will also benefit from NEC compliant switches.

One more thing. The switch is designed to be wired either as a single or a three-way switch. That means you don't need to carry two different switches to the job site.

But as the late inventor and TV commercial pitchman Ron Popeil might say, "Wait … there's more!"

They need to plug stuff in, too
Outdoor kitchen illumination isn't all that's necessary. Oh no … it's lights, action, cooking!

And while receptacle boxes that are NEMA 3R compliant can stick out of the wall, recessed boxes just plain look better. In-use covers allow appliances and the ever popular hanging party lanterns to stay out and plugged in all day and all night.

Don't forget they need to be protected by a GFCI device, receptacle, or breaker.

Most will have several inserts included to choose from, keeping inventory and stock to a minimum. There are even lockable covers to keep the outlets secure when not in use.

Take advantage of the outdoor kitchen craze and help your customers create an outside living space they'll be proud to show off.
Photo courtesy of Hubbell Wiring Systems
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