Consumer Units


If your fusebox is 5+ years old or it's not been checked, It’s highly recommended to get it in touch with
P&Q Electric.

Benefits of a modern Consumer Unit:

  • RCD (Residual Current Device): a safety device designed to protect against personal electric shock. These trip when a circuit overloads, protecting the wiring from burning out and your family from nasty electrical shocks.

  • Circuit Breakers: In the event of an electrical wiring fault the circuit breakers will trip whereas in the old type of fusebox there is the potential that the electricity supply would stay connected until a fire occurs. The built in circuit breakers will trip within 40 millionths of a second if you accidentally touch any live cables, this will save the life of the person touching them.

  • SPD (Surge Protection Device): The surge protective device (SPD) is a kind of product that protects valuable electrical and electronic equipment against transients, originating from lightning and also from switching sources. Surge protective devices are devices consisting mainly of voltage-controlled resistors (varistors, suppressor diodes) and/or spark gaps (discharge paths).

 

What you need to know

From 1st January 2016, all consumer units installed or replaced in domestic properties are required to be made of or be enclosed by a non-combustible material, typically a ferrous metal such as steel.

Existing plastic consumer units can be retained for alterations and additions, unless they show signs of thermal damage or the manufacturer’s design has been altered. This does not mean your existing plastic consumer unit is necessarily unsafe but it does mean if you are having it replaced, it will need replacing by a non-combustible one.

SPD
(Surge Protected Device) Information

The whole nature of how elec­trical equip­ment is used in homes and at work has evolved; with every­day activ­it­ies re­ly­ing on elec­tronic equip­ment.

Products such as com­puters, print­ers, tele­vi­sions, in­dus­trial con­trol equip­ment such as PLC’s, alarms, mi­crowaves and wash­ing machines are com­mon place. These can all be vul­ner­able to transient over­voltages, which can signific­antly re­duce the equipment’s lifespan through de­grad­a­tion and dam­age.

A tran­si­ent over­voltage or surge is a short dur­a­tion in­crease in voltage meas­ured between two or more con­duct­ors. In short this means any­thing from mi­cro­seconds (mil­li­onths of a second) to a few mil­li­seconds (thou­sandths of a second) in dur­a­tion.

 

From January 2019, the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations require all new electrical system designs and installations, as well as alterations and additions to existing installations, to be assessed against the risk from surge voltage damage and where necessary, protected using SPDs (Surge Protected Devices).

Contractors will need to install SPDs (Surge Protected Devices) to protect against transient overvoltages in situations where there may be serious consequences. These are listed as loss of life or serious injury, interruption to public services, interruption of commercial activity, damage to cultural heritage, or impact on sites with large numbers of people.

 

At all other sites (apart from single dwellings in some situations) a simplified risk assessment will determine the need for SPDs (Surge Protected Devices).

SPD (Surge Protected Device) FAQ:

What does surge pro­tec­tion do? 

A surge pro­tec­tion device is de­signed to pro­tect elec­trical devices such as com­puters and TV's from voltage spikes. The surge pro­tec­tion device (SPD) at­tempts to lessen the voltage sup­plied to an elec­trical device by either block­ing or short­ing to ground any un­wanted voltages above a safe stand­ard.

 

Do you really need surge pro­tec­tion?

If elec­trical equip­ment is used then a surge pro­tec­tion device is def­in­itely needed as elec­trical equip­ment comes with sens­it­ive com­pon­ents that could be dam­aged very eas­ily. A surge pro­tec­tion device will in­crease the longev­ity of elec­trical equip­ment.

 

Can a power surge dam­age a TV?

Yes, elec­trical surges have the cap­ac­ity to over­load and short out any elec­trical equip­ment in a home, sig­ni­fic­antly de­grad­ing the life of the equip­ment. Any­thing that is plugged into a wall can be af­fected by elec­trical surges. 

Electricity Plugs

Old Fuseboxes

Many older fuse boxes use a piece of fuse wire which is designed to burn out under load. These wires need replacing every time they are overloaded - additionally they can become brittle and break due to everyday usage.

If you have a fuse box like those shown below you would benefit from an upgrade to a new modern consumer unit (fuse box) with circuit breakers instead of fuse wires, and RCDs for additional protection.

A Residual Circuit Device (RCD) protects by constantly monitoring the current flowing in the live and neutral wires supplying a circuit or an individual item of equipment.