When choosing you new low energy lamps it is well worth making sure you have the shade of white that suits the room and the type of lighting you want. Take the trouble to look on the box to see what you are thinking of buying. Generally the colour of white can be bought in the range from 2700K to 4000K.
2700K is a warm white colour that replicates halogen and old style incandescent lamps. This might be what you would need if mixing new LEDs with order style lamps or for use in relaxation rooms such as a lounge or bedroom.
3500K is a noticeable whiter shade than 2700K which may suit a bathroom or kitchen.
4000K is a bright clear white that may suit a white brightly decorated bathroom or kitchen. It offer a very clean modern look.
4000K and upwards to 5000K is sometimes called “daylight”.
While looking at the label on these new lamps you will notice they are rated in Lumens as opposed to Watts. This is something we will all have to get used to because simply buying an old 100 Watt bulb is not something you can do now.
For any spot light lamps such as GU10s and downlighter take care to check the beam width specification as well. They can vary for example between 35 degrees to 60 degrees. Importantly a wider beam width means you can use less downlights for a given size of room, but take care to ensure the end result gives the desired level of light because wider beam width usually means a lower lumen output compared to a narrower beam width. Hence getting an electrical contractor who has experience with light level design is important.
Often places that sell these lamps will have a few on demonstration side by side so you can see the difference. I usually carry a few in my stock so I can demonstrate to customers the differences.
I found this today in a loft above a bathroom. It is not a very good picture but you may just about be able to see the electrical cable feeding downlighters has had the sheath melted and the insulation damaged. What appears to have happened is work in the loft had disturbed the cables resulting in them lying on or close to a halogen lamp of downlighter without a frame. These lamps run very hot and as you can see it has melted a cable. This particular type of lamp is a GU4 type which can be found in kitchen and bathroom downlighters without a protective frame or cover around. It operates at 12V (not normal domestic 230V) for a longer life. This means there is a often little box near each lamp called a transformer that converts the 230V to 12V.
This is a maybe a reminder that home electrical installations should be inspected regularly to try to avoid problems such as this. The new 2015 Electrical Regulations now state that inspection of loft spaces has to be part of a BS7671 periodic inspection of a domestic propery. As a bonus a good electrician at the time of an inspection will be able to advise on electrical safety improvements, low energy choices, fire safety options and convenience improvements. Also be careful who you let lose in your loft to do any work!
If you have any of these GU4 lamps in light fittings in your home then maybe it is time to think about changing them for LED downlighters anyway. Particularly as some of these open frame type fittings in a kitchen fire scenario will allow heat and smoke almost immediately through into the ceiling cavity. New replacement quality LED downlighters run at lower temperatures, are often fire rated to reduce the speed at which a fire could spread, are virtually maintenance free and usually can have a cage option on the back of them so roof/cavity insulation can still be closely installed over the top.
With the colder weather upon us there is the risk of a common problem with 1st floor domestic bathroom extractors. The roof spaces are often cold but the damp air in the bathroom fan extractor tubes will be warm. The result can be condensation forms into puddles in the vent tube which can be quite considerable. This water then either drips onto the electrics of the fan or can leak out onto the plaster board ceiling. The solution is to ensure the extractor fan installer/electrician insulates the ventilation tubing and takes due consideration of where any water puddle forming will end up. This unfortunately does add to the cost of an extractor installation.
NexElec’s business has again successfully completed the inspection and assessment by NICEIC as an electrical installations Domestic Installer for 2015. NexElec passed the assessment without any corrections being noted as required. Thank you to the customers who agreed for the installation work I did for them to be used as reference sites.
Starting June this year there will come into force a number of changes to the British Standard electrical wiring regulations for all homes and other premises. These changes will affect home owners planning to make certain types of changes to home electrical wiring. Electricians offering to undertake these changes, or new installations, will need ensure the work is compliant to the updated BS7671 Amendment 3 regulations. Currently both the new and the previous versions of regulations can be applied because the changeover is gradual between now and January 2016. To avoid any problems resulting from this regulation change then home owners would be wise to ensure any electrical work is undertaken by a business that is registered in a Competent Persons scheme such as the NICEIC Domestic Installer scheme.
The main changes in the regulations are to improve safety. The most significant is that new installed or replacement Consumer Units (also known as mains Fuse Boxes) will need to be of a non combustible construction. For many years Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) cases in homes have been manufactured from plastic materials and are often installed in a location that is the means of escape from a home. There has been enough incidences of home fires caused by overheating Consumer Units that lobbying by London Fire Brigade of the British Standards has resulted in this safety improvement where all new Consumer Units installed after January 2016 at the latest will have steel construction cases.
Another important change has been introduced as a result of requests by Fire Brigades after an incident involving loss of life in property fire. A contributing factor to this loss of life incident was wires that had been exposed to heat were drooping down to block a fire escape route. Quite simply the plastic fixings holding up wires melted. Fire officers and persons escaping had problems getting out of smoke filled rooms because the wires blocked the doorways. The simple change in the new regulations is to ensure that cables installed over escape routes are secured with metal fixings, this will keep the escape routes clear in the event of fire damage to cabling.
Here is an example of the problem that resulted in these changes to the regulations for securing cables:-
Besides a welcome increase in safety how else will these change affect homeowners? In the case of the new Consumer Units there is unfortunately an small increased cost. Not only for the item itself but also there is an increase in the labour required to install them.
On a related subject, there are still homes in the UK still have much older versions of Consumer Units (Fuse Boxes), what some might recognise as the old style fuse box with removable/plug in wired or cartridge fuses. These were probably installed between 1950 and perhaps as late as 1990. Assuming correctly installed and the installation has not been in expertly tampered with since, then these are often still serviceable as they were intended. But home owners and occupiers should be aware that some of the very old Fuse Boxes are beyond their original expected service life and more importantly a considerable improvement in safety can be achieved by replacing these older style units with a new Consumer Unit containing modern safety devices. Electrical safety for domestic installations has improved considerably in the last 25 years, in particular the introduction of devices called RCDs which are considered to be of such great benefit that almost all new domestic installations and new circuits legally have to have these RCDs installed.
NexElec Limited would be pleased to offer inspection and installation services for home electrical safety improvements including replacement Consumer Units.
Because of a change to the UK electrical installation regulations the costs for a Domestic Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) are very likely to increase and the new Consumer Units that I have seen for far from manufacturers are not so compact or pretty to look at. The pricing for these new Consumer Units will be become clearer as more options from manufacturers become available.
However the good news is these new Consumer Units are designed to be a lower fire risk than many previous designs, because that is why they have changed the regulations!
These regulation changes for Consumer Units come into force from June this year but to allow for Manufacturers to get organised with new products there is an agreed relaxation that both old and new regulation Consumer Units can be used until January 2016.
Electricians reading this might be as puzzled as I was when I first took the cover of this old reported as faulty domestic smoke alarm/detector. Yes the Red and Black cables which look to be the feed are the live and neutral from the nearby lighting circuit. I did wonder if this detector had actually ever worked wired like this. It was supposed to be paired with another one. I changed them both for new maintenance free types and briefed the home owners how to test and look after them. Job done.
Probably only of interest to Electricians is this. I found this a few days ago in a domestic kitchen while fixing a work surface lighting fault. If you look closely at the flex (which fed the light fitting) there is a significant dent in the insulation that has caused damage. The “dent” was caused by a front plate screw on a Switched Fused Connection Unit being too long and carelessly assembled.
Interestingly in the same back box was the wire on the right being used as the CPC (earth wire) to the adjacent point. Note the colour choices made by the installer because they must have run out green and yellow sleeving!
The Domestic Electrical Regulations for Consumer Unit (Fuse Boxes) are changing in 2015 to include mandatory fire resistant Consumer Units for new installs. So I though it would be topical to post this image of a melted Miniature Circuit Breaker. I discovered this one a while ago in a flat within sheltered housing where a storage heater was reported as not working. It was probably a loose connection that caused the problem resulting in overheating. The consequence was the adjacent MCB had melted as well, but luckily no fire.
After I attended a briefing and update session today by the NICEIC I can report on some of the main points of interest to property owners:-
- Between January and July 2015 electrical installations work undertaken can comply with either the old or the new regulations. From July 2015 the new regulations will apply except in one regard in respect of replacement or new Consumer Units. Any electrical contractor engaged should by January be conversant with the new regulations.
- Not unexpectedly the changes to regulations are there mainly to improve safety to persons and property. A few of the changes are to better align our regulations alongside common European regulations.
- For home owners, from January 2016 at the latest, the main change will be a slightly different construction for Consumer Units (aka Fuse Box) for any new or replacement installations. Consumer Units will need to be of a fire resistance construction, in other words steel. They may not be quite so pretty and the method for the cables entering the Consumer Unit may not be so flexible or pretty either. We shall have to wait and see what the manufacturing industry comes up with over time as they accommodate this new requirements. I would forecast that prices for these new steel Consumer Units will be more expensive to manufacture and will take a little longer to install. It also means that from mid 2014 there could be a flood of 3rd Amendment Regulation non compliant Consumer Units available at knock down prices.
- For commercial businesses, schools, colleges and government buildings there will be stricter requirements for additional protection against electric shock on socket outlet circuits by increasing the use of safety devices called RCDs. It will be a useful change in increasing safety but it does mean perhaps increased costs and in some cases a different approach to design circuits for computer equipment in offices and education establishments.
- The will be more focus of design, inspection and testing of control circuits such as those used for central heating systems. This could present some challenges for Gas/Oil heating system engineers who may in the future have to call in an electrician whereas previously they could have completed the wiring to control valves, controllers and thermostats themselves. This too will have cost implications on home owners.
- The regulations for formal Inspection are changing a little as well. Enough require all new stationary and reference material for electrical contractors. Also new methods and adjustments to learn how to use for recording results.
- Interestingly there is a new regulation that when Periodic Inspections and Tests are being undertaken in Homes and Business Premises then inspection to some degree or another in accessible loft spaces is now required unless recorded as a reasonable non compliance. Previously the inspection of wiring in loft spaces was a reasonably accepted omission. This is certainly a safety improvement as I personally have found a fair number of safety issues with wiring in lofts.
- Another change is the need to ensure cables that run above or across safe exit routes but be secured with supports that will resist heat/fire. This is to avoid fire fighters and escapees being tangled up in drooping wire when try to get out of fire damaged building. Apparently the Fire Fighters requested this changes because there had been several deaths because of this problem. To installing electricians this is a fairly easy requirement to meet by using metal type buckle clips or purpose designed cable retainers for use inside trunking.
- In the new Regulations there will now be approximately 1500 individual regulations, and increase of several hundred compared to the current issue.
- As is usual for these electrical regulation updates they are not intended to be applied retrospectively. So for example if your home has an Consumer Unit (Fuse Box) with a plastic case then it does not mean you have to change it just for that reason alone. But if it had to be changed for any other reason then it would have to be a steel cased model to be compliant.