Tag Archives: Electrician

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.

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.

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.

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.