The current 18th Edition Regulations have taken Domestic home electrical installation design another step up in complexity. In some ways it is not so much the increases in safety in design that have been introduced, but instead more about ensuring safety of new technologies, appliances and devices that are available and in common us in homes.
Some of the new devices available for increased safety were created by manufacturers in response to Fire Brigades asking for them. An example of this is a new safety device that can detect electrical arcing (sparking) in damaged cables and connections. This being a very useful safety feature to reduce the risk of fire.
Many other regulations or modifications to regulations stem from new energy saving and convenience technologies. The most obvious example of this is Electric Vehicle (EV) Chargers. One of the recent changes that was welcomed was a change to try to make it easier to install EV chargers.
As an example our homes are increasing being filled with relatively expensive communications, computer, CCTV, home control and media equipment. Also energy generation and energy savings systems are now very common and these include computer controlled systems. As consequence of these changes the manufacturers and regulators have fortunately responded with cost effective options for over voltage surge protection devices that will prevent damage should the Energy Distribution network have a fault or lightning strike that could normal damage sensitive equipment in a home.
To add to this changing picture is a recent new BS standard for Fire detection and Alarms, which applies to domestic homes and larger premises.
The end result of all these changes is good for safety, low energy use and convenience for home. The downside for us electrical designers is life is somewhat more complicated than it used to be. In a typical low ish technology home, the impact of these changes on costs of electrical work is small, perhaps in some cases insignificant. But as homes become more modernised and more home convivence features are introduced, the costs of these recent regulations usually do start to have an impact on installation costs. The most obvious extra costs is the training we electrical designers require to keep abreast on the new techniques.
My first message here is that I recommend homes owners choose their electrical installation tradespersons carefully. The Nexelec Competent person scheme is operated by NICEIC and there are other scheme providors that are similar. The NICEIC do keep and eye on my training, installation and testing skills with annual checks. But they cannot keep an eye on every job a tradesperson does and is much easier now for an electrician to come across something a little different they have to work with.
My 2nd important point is I recommend home owners take the time to explore what the latest options that are available for energy saving, carbon foot print reduction, micro generation and heat generation schemes, Smart EV Chargers and home automation. I reckon they are all good in the right place and well worth considering.