Running power across public sidewalk

Nightryder

John
Joined
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
6
Location
Chicago, Il
Im interested to see if anyone has experience in running lights across a public sidewalk and how they did it?

I have a medium sized service maple across a sidewalk that I think may be neat to put some spheres in at some point. Problem is the area that the tree is planted in is surrounded by sidewalk/road/driveways on all sides, so if I were to do it I would need to get power across the sidewalk. The area doesnt have too much foot traffic (maybe <25 people a day in the fall/winter) so I could potentially place a cable trench made of yellow/black painted diamond tread steel plate across the path (sidewalks are not publicly plowed around here so it won't get run over by a plow) I'm just worried about the potential tripping hazard and liability. Other option is to route power underneath via a pipe of some sort but that seems like a ton of work.

Thoughts?
 

Mark_M

Full time elf
Generous elf
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Dec 30, 2018
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228
Location
Auckland, NZ
I know @ShellNZ has bullet nodes in trees on council land. Shelly just used duct tape across the concrete path.

I'd avoid having cables across walkways and onto council land. But here's my opinions;
  • Using expansion cracks in the footpath and tape over top.
  • A WiFi based controller and a rechargeable battery - our admin Ryan has a mini video on a battery powered matrix, those power banks have more than enough capacity for what you need.
  • I would just run a conduit pipe under the footpath. Dig a hole either side of the path and shove a conduit pipe underneath.
 

Notenoughlights

260,000+ twinkly lights
Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Messages
16
Location
Christchurch, New Zealand
I had a led display sign for my TuneTo sign sitting in the window of my work van, that required 230V, so I just put out a power cord across the footpath each night (bright yellow so hard to miss) and bought it in again later on. Gaffa/Duct tape works well or you can get those cable protection bridge things that keep them tidy and hard to trip over https://www.bunnings.co.nz/stahl-100mm-x-1m-hard-heavy-duty-rubber-cord-cover_p4430760
 

Danno

New elf
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
46
Location
Perth, WA
I would put a conduit under the footpath. You won't need to worry about people tripping, recharging batteries, wifi range, or anything else. A bit of effort now, but it will last you many years and will cause the least amount of issues long term.
 

Tonyst

New elf
Joined
Feb 9, 2014
Messages
23
Location
Newcastle, NSW
I had an AUSGRID inspector come to my property due to some **!!?? person calling anonymously suggesting there was a problem. (There wasn't.) I had a 240v cable laid in the footpath expansion joint and covered with bathroom silicone that led to my tune to sign in the verge. This was fine (and effective) to prevent tripping. However the inspector said that the trip hazard was up to the Council, so I guess you will have no problem as you are private. However, the inspector had an issue with the cable being exposed for the few feet between the path and the sign. He said this could be damaged by something (eg a bike going over it) exposing the people to a potential electric shock. He said that a permanent installation would require the cable being 600mm down. However for temporary use I could get away with a hard conduit buried under the surface, or better still using an armoured cable (which is actually not that expensive) just below the surface to a avoid a trip hazard. This would stop the potential damage and thus the risk to the public.
 

TerryK

Retired Elf
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
12
Location
West Central Ohio
I would suggest finding and discussing this with someone familiar with any Chicago electrical ordinances. That individual will/should also be familiar with NEC/OSHA/NFPA requirements. It is the crossing of a public sidewalk that complicates the situation.

I've been away from the NEC for too long but I think to meet requirements you will need to go above or under the sidewalk. If over is allowed KateKate is pointing you in the correct direction although it will need to be illuminated due to night conditions and possibly lagged.

Tonyst's reply indicates his issues in NSW and you can/will have similar issues here in the US. Again, a reason to have someone in your area knowledgable with the regulations of how to run and run the cable correctly.
 

videoman3857

Full time elf
Joined
Apr 21, 2016
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425
Location
Glass House Mountains
Public liability is always an issue and there people out there that make their livelihood from insurance claims/litigation .
Personally, I would run conduit underground from an access point of your property to the Maple tree and use only extra low voltage lighting. Ie 5 or 12 volt DC. That covers any trip hazard and any dangerous voltage issues.
 

Mark_M

Full time elf
Generous elf
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Dec 30, 2018
Messages
228
Location
Auckland, NZ
I would put a conduit under the footpath. You won't need to worry about people tripping, recharging batteries, WiFi range, or anything else. A bit of effort now, but it will last you many years and will cause the least amount of issues long term.
He said that a permanent installation would require the cable being 600mm down.
The only problem that will happen from burring conduit under the path is if an official finds out. Going 0.6m deep (1.9ft) is a big depth under a path and you'll likely have it in a 'U' shape which makes it hard to pull cables through (if you need to change them). The conduit sticking out of the ground is a trip hazard on its own.

I like @Danno 's last sentence; effort now for the future ahead. But this is one I would draw the line at.
Yes! Conduit! but you're on public land. It's more liability and a pain getting the paper work to 'properly' handle the situation or risk someone finding out.


I'd go for wireless and having a battery recharged every few days. No wires to trip over and/or officials to penalise you.
Wireless has it's place.
 

djgra79

My name is Graham & I love flashing lights!
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Dec 27, 2011
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Cranbourne West
What about running cables overhead? Do you have a pole or high point in your yard like another sturdy tree you could run the cables across the heads of visitors to the tree(s) you want to light up? Can't trip on them then.
Would need to be considerable height to prevent any sag that is within reach of someone being able to jump up and grab onto obviously.
 

algerdes

Al Gerdes
Joined
Nov 29, 2012
Messages
149
Location
Lebanon, Illinois
When we do outdoor gigs with our sound/lighting rigs, we sometimes have to cross sidewalks with cabling. We use light stands on either side of the sidewalk, then bridge them with an aluminum pipe. Cables are strapped to the pipe. We are up about 8 feet, and the bases of the stands are wide enough to keep them from going over. Small sandbags are also used if we feel wind will be a problem.
 
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