Is Your Consumer Unit Up-To-Date?

17th Edition Amendment 3 of BS 7671:2008 came into effect in July 2015 and stressed the importance of enhanced fire risk protection. 1st January 2016 marked the implementation of the switch to metal clad consumer units for all new electrical installations and designs.

The change to enclosures made from a non-combustible material is due to the rise in deaths from consumer unit house fires, which London Fire Brigade (LFB) has recorded. In 2013/14 alone there was a record 253 fires involving consumer units. This is a steep increase from 71 fires in 2011/12. LFB reported that the reason for the rise in fires was due to ‘substandard cable connections made by the electrician’, which led to the plastic enclosures overheating and igniting.

In effort to prevent overheating of the connections, the metal clad consumer unit or metal clad cabinet will contain the fire inside the enclosure and minimise any flames should they escape.

When completing an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) from 1st January 2016 and the plastic consumer unit is not underneath a staircase or not within the only route of escape and the connections inside the consumer unit are satisfactory, then it doesn’t need to be commented on. However, if plastic consumer units are underneath a wooden staircase or within the only route of escape from the property, then it needs to be noted on the report.

The Importance Of Surge Protection

18th Edition of BS 7671:2018 came into effect in July 2018 and stressed the importance of overvoltage protection. 1st January 2019 marked the implementation of the requirements of Sure Protection Devices within all new electrical installations and designs.
Surge protection is important. More commerical projects than ever before are now actively considering ways they can protect valuable electrical equipment from power surges, which can crash hard drives and modems and also ruin appliances.
Surge Protection Devices (SPDs) are used in electrical installation systems as protection devices. They are designed to prevent excess voltage appearing at the terminals of sensitive equipment.

Should an overvoltage event occur, the surge protection device diverts the resulting excess current flow to the earth and therefore protects the electrical appliance.

Any electronic equipment can be vulnerable to transient over-voltages, which can be caused by lightning activity or a switching event. This creates a voltage spike increasing the wave’s magnitude to potentially several thousand volts. This could cause instant damage or significantly reduce a piece of equipment’s lifespan.

The need for surge protection devices can depend on numerous factors. These can include the exposure of a building to lightning induced voltage transients, the sensitivity and value of the equipment, the type of equipment used within the installation and whether there is equipment within the installation that could generate voltage transients.