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Consumer Unit Upgrades

Nearly all new domestic electrical work will require RCD protection to comply with the current regulations. Many older consumer units (commonly known as fuseboards) won't have this capability and so will need upgrading before any work is carried out. Consumer units don't just split your incoming electrical supply into different circuits for ease of installation or maintenance, potentially they are life saving devices so having them installed properly and in correct working order is crucial. The easiest way of complying with the current regulations when having new electrical work is with a consumer unit upgrade.

Schneider Easy9+ - Amendment 3, dual RCD, high integrity consumer unit.

Amendment 3

If you've spent any time yet looking at upgrading your old fuseboard, you'll have seen this term banded around. It refers to BS7671 - the wiring regulations. When the 17th edition (third amendment) was issued it became compulsory to install non-combustible consumer units in all domestic settings. In practice this means all new consumer units fitted in the home will be made out of metal instead of the plastic versions previously used.

Dual RCD

Also with the introduction of Amendment 3, it is recommended to fit boards with a split RCD system - this means that half the dwelling is wired on one RCD, one half on the other. If an RCD trips, then you still have power to half the building, meaning you're not operating in total darkness or without any sockets until the RCD is reset or an electrician has attended to solve the fault.

High Integrity Consumer Units

Many of the larger boards now come with this option. It gives the designer of the installation the opportunity to have circuits not protected by either of the dual RCDs. There are several potential uses for this - you may want to have smoke/fire/burglar alarm systems protected on their own RCBO (a cicruit breaker with it's own dedicated RCD built in), so that a blown light bulb elsewhere in the house won't affect their power supply. In some circumstances, customers prefer to have fridges & freezers not protected by an RCD, so that a trip causing power loss won't leave them with defrosted food & a costly insurance claim. Please bear in mind that without an RCD, the cabling must be fully protected using armoured cable or metal conduit or trunking. This can look unsightly and is best dealt with either at the stage of kitchen refitting or as part of a full/partial rewire.

Installation

Installation of a new consumer unit must be done in at least three phases.

Phase 1

This consists of an initial site survey followed by some testing of the current installation. Certain methods and practices deemed acceptable in the past will affect the operation of RCDs and must be put right before any further work is carried out.

Prices from:

£280

+VAT

Phase 2

The whole electrical installation must then be safely isolated - some installations will have an isolator switch (normally next to the meter) that can be safely locked off. If one is not present this may involve co-ordination with your DNO to install one or to remove & replace the main fuse. Once the supply is dead, the new consumer unit can then be installed.

Phase 3

Once the installation is complete, an initial verification is undertaken followed by a series of tests. The electrician will provide you with an installation certificate and also submit the certificate to our competent persons scheme provider, who will notify your local building control of the new installation.

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