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.

Those green and yellow coloured wires under the kitchen sink

Home owners may have noticed in their homes there are often quite large looking green and yellow coloured wires (cables) connected to the mains water pipe, often under the kitchen sink.  There are similar cables connected to the mains gas pipe as well, if there is gas in the house. Are they important to electrical safety? well yes most definitely.  In situations where there is a fault in the house electrical system or the importantly the electricity supply system outside the house, then these cables are to help protect the persons in the house from electric shock and the home itself from fire risk.

One problem I find is these connections can become loose or broken and occupants of the home could well not even notice. These connections could be improperly made and left for many years unattended to.  If one of the cables is loose, broken or has a poor connection then under normal circumstances those living in the house would notice no difference in the electrical supply to lights and sockets. But if these was a fault then a dangerous situation could occur.

These cables and connections are important for home electrical safety.  If a home has any electrical changes such as a socket moved or a light switch moved then a qualified electrician will always first inspect these cables to ensure all is OK. If no electrical installation additions or changes are made on the property for many years then a Periodic Inspection will spot any problems. Periodic Inspections should usually be performed no less than every 10 years on a Domestic property.

Summary:-

Do not remove or tamper with these connections. They are labeled with Electrical Safety  Connection Do Not Remove.

If you notice any damage or disturbance of these green and yellow cables clamped to pipes then call in an electrician to have a look.

Arrange with an Electrician for a Periodic Inspection of your home at least every 10 years.  Note there should be a label on the home Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) stating when the next inspection is due.

 

USB charger sockets

For anyone thinking of installing a few of these widely available combined USB and 13A double sockets around the home, please be aware that electricians when testing circuits in home  will often need to know where USB sockets are and may need to disconnect/bypass them for the duration of any testing.  It would be useful to keep a note/list near the Consumer Unit (aka Fuse Box) of where they are installed. This is similar to smoke alarms, if a list is of where smoke alarms are located is kept near the Consumer Unit then it saves time if there is ever an electrical fault in the home.

Old Fuse Boxes (Consumer Units)

I am surprised at the number of very old Consumer Units (aka Fuse Boxes) I come across in homes, the type with that has rewirable fuses.  Sure these old fuses boxes probably still do OK what they were supposed to do 30 years ago, but since then the introduction of more convenient and technically superior electrical safety protection devices for Consumer Units has been available. Also these new Consumer Units are not expensive compared to the value of a home or home improvement projects.

One example of a safety improvement with the new Consumer Units is dealing with the situation where a home owner hangs a picture using a screw or nail and accidently hits a  cable buried under the wall plaster. With a new Consumer Unit very little electricity flows (not enough to give an electric shock to a human) before a switch automatically trips out to disconnect the electricity. With a rewireable fuse there will be a lot of electrical energy that flows for a little longer and a noticeable pop from the fuse when it blows, worse still it could be the screw or nail will remain live and the fuse will not blow at all!

I also tend to find that if a home has one of these old fuse boxes then the rest of the electrical installation has either outgrown its original intended use or has been fiddled with as number of times over 30 years such that it has become a hazard in places anyway.

If you have one of these old fuse boxes and want to refurbish a kitchen or bathroom, then it very likely it sensibly should be changed at the same time anyway.

Having said that, if a home owner has only budget for either a full electrical inspection or a new Consumer Unit, but not both. Then certainly I would recommend having the inspection done as the priority.

Wire Suspended Extra Low Voltage Lighting Systems

I recently had the pleasure of a job to replace two sets of wire suspended lighting fittings in a barn conversion home.  The result was excellent and ideal for an exposed beam ceiling.  It is has similarities to a track lighting system but instead has a pair of exposed wires strung across the room ceiling with the adjustable light fittings suspended from the wires at points required.   These systems have had in the past a bad name due to poor reliability of some systems and installation design complications.  But with the availability of quality reliable LED  12V lamps this poor reputation has now changed.  These new quality LED lamped systems  are overall (including any plastering, redecoration and floors up/carpets lifted for downlighters) are probably about the same price as down lighters install.  The main stream wholesalers appear to be wary of supplying the wire suspended equipment possibly due to warranty risks they may have experienced with the similar older halogen lamps systems The halogen lamped systems I personally would avoid.

This kind of stylish system could suit your home if you have a room that needs new or improved lighting but have requirements such as: very high ceilings, orangery or conservatory style, exposed beams, building conservation requirements, no access to ceiling void through floor above, fire Compartment building regulation complications, no ceiling void, need a flexible lighting scheme or simply like the look of a wire suspended lighting system.  Here is an example bought from National Lighting in Chichester http://www.nationallighting.co.uk/branches/nw39 :-

Wire Suspended 12V Lighting

It could have its uses in a Retail display environment as well.

If you are interested in one of these systems then I suggest care is taken with the selection of your electrician to design, select the products and install it. Reasons being, there is a specific section in the UK Electrical regulations that covers these systems, matching the various components in the systems is important for reliability and finally but important to the resulting effect there are choices to be made on the colour and brightness of the light from the LED lamps.

Lamps Overheating

There are still a fair few lighting fittings in use where changing to LED or CFL lamps (bulbs) is impractical, for example track or suspended lighting systems.  If replacing halogen lamps in these fittings then take care to install the correct wattage lamp.  For example many smaller light fittings have a maximum incandescent/halogen rating of 40 Watts.  Some of the ceiling lights arrays used in kitchens only take 35 watt lamps.  Fitting an brighter higher wattage lamp will very likely result in the light fitting to overheat resulting in damage to the fitting, early failure of the fitting, possibly an electrical fault and in a worse case a fire.

Checking the maximum rating of replacement lamps that can be fitted is an important safety measure.

Choices For Domestic Lighting Dimmers

It used to be fairly simple to select and install a dimmer for home lighting but it is now a little more complicated with the very common use of LED and Compact Fluorescent lighting. Making the wrong compatibility choices can result in flickering lights or/and a poor dimming range of adjustment  Under sizing a dimmer mean it will not last long.  Trying to dim lamps that are not designed to be dimmed will simply not work.  There are also complications to consider with any two way switching of the lights.

Careful planning is also needed if you have a dimmer already installed on filament/Halogen lamps but wish to change to LED lamps. Typically this would be a swap from Halogen GU10 to GU10 LED direct replacement lamps in kitchen down lighters.  Not only will the LED lamps need to be of a dimmable type but the dimmer needs to be compatible with the new lamps.

A good electrician will be able to design and install a reliable solution that best suits the requirement and budget.