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18th Edition Electrical Regulations

From January 2018 all Home (Domestic), Industrial and Commercial electrical installations are to be designed and then installed to new updated UK British Standard. The changes compared to the previous regulations are generally an incremental improvement to safety, takes account of new technologies or trends (such as Electric Vehicle charging) and improved presentation or clarification in the Standard documentation itself.

Hilarious Lighting Fault Petersfield

Recent fault I attended to in a small block of flats.  When the outside light by the front door was switched on, all the remaining lighting in the home was switched off!  It was dark at the time I attended which made it even more of a surprise.  Someone previously had decided to repair a broken plastic back box on the outside light switch with end result that wires were put in the wrong connections on the switch! All the time the outside light was not used there was no problem with the in home lighting.

EV (Electric Vehicle) Get Me Home Charging on 13A sockets

Owners of certain electric cars will likely to have a “Get Me Home” cable which can be plugged into a standard domestic 13A socket.  Useful if visiting friends or relatives and you have misjudged the power in the car batteries needed to get you home.

Take a little care with these charging cables because they often need a fairly continuous 10A of electricity while plugged in.  A 13A socket is designed to provide 10A of electricity but be aware this socket could be on the primary downstairs sockets circuits of a home which is designed for 32A maximum.  Where this same circuit could have high energy use tumble drier, washing machine, portable heaters or similar. Maybe in a busy home with guests present so more occupants than usual as well.  So suggest apply some common sense  to enquire as what you are planning to plug a Get Me Home Lead into.

Also if the property at which this lead is being plugged in happens to be an old small terraced house or flat that has not been renovated of late, be aware there are still quite proportion of old electrical services that are rated at 60A maximum for the whole house, and old Consumer Units (Fuse Boxes) with a maximum limit of 60A for the whole house. More modern installations will have 100A capacity for a whole house.

Electric Wall Heaters

OK, sure electricity for heaters on a normal day rate is expensive compared to say using gas energy, but electric heating does have it proper place in many homes.  However if an unsuitable heater, or heaters, are installed in the wrong place then annual running costs can be very expensive and/or the results for warmth may not as expected.

As an example, in my experience the heating systems that stand out most that have surprised tenants in rented homes are systems that have “wet” electric radiators where the circulated water is heated by electric energy on normal day rate prices.  These systems look the part when viewing a home to rent but when the winter energy bills come in then tenants begin to look at their exit clauses. For these systems even the Energy companies can underestimate what monthly direct debits needed which makes the situation even worse still for tenants.  On a lessor scale I have seen: large wall heaters plugged into normal power ring sockets which overload the circuit, and internet connected “smart” wall heaters that are connected to an off peak electricity supply only which means they can only be controlled from a smart phone between midnight and 7am!  For an all electric energy home there is even a risk of overloading the electricity supply into the house!

To avoid wasting money and causing inconvenience I suggest that if a homeowner is looking for a new or replacement heating solution then ask a suitably experienced independent electrician for advise, to either choose the heaters or at least suggest options for heaters that would be suitable. Most of the likely heaters a home needs can be sourced by tradesman direct from normal electrical wholesalers at very good prices.  Note that if a complete electric home heating solution is required then some heating manufacturers will offer a design service free of charge to electrician installers.

“Shocking” Kitchen Problem

I was recently called out for a reported minor electric shock incident.  Discovered a Double Socket Outlet plastic front had been incorrectly replaced by a DIYer. Worse still the DIYer must have been colour blind and or had  bad eyesight because the wiring into the back of the socket was exactly wrong;  The live wire was screwed into the Earth terminal! Luckily no one was injured, including me.  It was a quick job to repair and test. All safe now.

Electric Vehicle Charging Point

In Residential use if you want to avoid the ugliness and hassle of having that power lead trailing from your under the garage door or out of a window to your Electrical Vehicle, then how about installing a proper EV charging point.  If you are starting out and have a requirement for only a 16A (3.6Kw) powered point then I would seriously consider installing a 32A (7.2Kw) capable circuit. One reason being is the extra costs for a larger 32A cable and protection accessories are relatively small compared to the overall installation labour cost to run a cable from the home Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) through the house to a charging point.  Also your next vehicle or a change of use might benefit considerably with a 32A powered point so an upgrade would be less disruptive on the house and cheaper.

If you are thinking about the Tethered or Non Tethered choice, then certainly Tethered is convenient.  No wet grubby cable to tidy up and keep in the boot. But if you change vehicles often or have guests to stay with other types of vehicles to charge, then Un Tethered has its benefits.

Some designs of Charging Points have an outside grade 13A socket built in as well. Useful for vacuuming the car or powering that lawnmower.

Moving Into A New House?

If you are planning to move into a new home then consider taking the opportunity to arrange for any electrical (or even other work) to be completed before furniture and personal items are moved in. It is often cheaper to complete this type of work in an empty property compared to a fully furnished one.  This can be difficult if you are in a house exchange chain as this could be only for a few hours so a more practical approach would be to understand from your electrician which floors would have to lifted and where access is required, then arrange for those areas/rooms not to be populated with furniture and boxes for a few days.

On a similar theme, if you are thinking of having new carpets or floor coverings fitted then maybe take the time to think about any other improvement work you might want doing under the floor of the affected room. For example if fitting a few extra sockets in a room or running cables under the floor for another near by room, because it would be much cheaper to lift a floor in a room empty of carpets or furniture.