New consumer unit/fuse box – Replacement advice from qualified electricians
By Katie Anderson on February 6th, 2012
It’s technically known as a consumer unit but it’s more commonly referred to as a fuse board or even a fuse box. They are the heart of a home’s wiring system; fuse boxes work to distribute electricity to circuits in the house.
Prior to the arrival of mini circuit breakers (MCBs), the older type of consumer unit feature a horizontal row of fuses. New consumer units are more pleasing on the eye, and they have “toggles” so when they trip they just need flipping back up. Needless to say they are much safer.
Pre-1950 fuse boxes still exist but their numbers are low, and because it’s common for them to have exposed live parts these units should always be regarded with caution.
Different types of consumer units
There’s a wide range of consumer units available in the UK, from leading and well respected manufactures such as Volex, Legrand, Wylex, MK and Crabtree. Determining which type of unit that best suits your needs will depend on how many separate circuits you have in the home.
The basic types of domestic consumer units are:
- Main Switch Consumer Units
- Split Load Consumer Units
- Dual Residual Current Device (RCD)/ 17th Edition consumer unit
- High Integrity Boards
For security and aesthetics, consumer units tend to be located in out of the way places, for example in closets (but not clothing closets), basements and garages. However, they still need to be easily accessible.
New consumer unit regulations
New 17th edition wiring regulations were introduced for the UK in 2008, which required all circuits to have RCD protection. Since the new electrical wiring regulations were introduced, all new homes built in the UK have to be fitted with RCDs. These life saving devices are designed to protect against electrical fires and electric shocks, which can be fatal.
Although it is possible to make existing electrical installations in the home compliant, in most instances it’s easier, safer and ultimately more cost-effective just to remove the old fuse board and replace it with a modern consumer unit.
Switching to a new consumer unit
Consumer units must be installed by a certified Part P electrical contractor. Replacing an old fuse box in a typical three bedroom property should normally be completed in a day. day.
The electrical installation will need to be inspected and tested to ensure it is safe before the fuse box can be replaced with a new consumer unit. All cables will be upgraded and all circuits fully tested. An electrical installation certificate will only be issued after the job has been done and all tests are satisfactory.
Our Part P qualified local recommended electricians can install a fuse box replacement if you need to upgrade your old fuse box with a new consumer unit.