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Changes to Consumer Units

BS 7671 Amendment 3 & changes to
Consumer Units

As you may be aware there are changes being made to the wiring regulations BS 7671 with Amendment 3 which is due to be published in January 2015. One of these changes is expected to involve consumer units installed in household premises and is focused on the material their enclosures are manufactured from.

What is driving the changes?
Investigation into several fires involving plastic consumer units, by the London Fire Brigade, has concluded that a key cause of the fires was substandard cable connections made by the Electrician. These resulted in overheating, which eventually ignited the plastic enclosure.

The new Regulation 421.1.201 is expected to state:
Within domestic (household) premises, consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies shall comply with BS EN 61439 3 and shall:
I. Have their enclosures manufactured from non-combustible material, or
II. Be enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material and complying with Regulation 132.12.
Note 1: Ferrous metal e.g. steel is deemed to be an example of a non-combustible material.
Note 2:* the implementation date for this regulation is the 1st January 2016. This does not preclude compliance with this regulation prior to this date.

What impact will this have?
This would mean that eventually all new consumer units installed in UK homes, i.e. within domestic (household) premises must have their enclosures manufactured from a non-combustible material, or be enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed from a non-combustible material. This is likely to result in an increased use of metal enclosures.

What is meant by ‘within domestic (household) premises’?
It is understood that Regulation 421.1.201 applies to consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies to BS EN 61439-3 inside all domestic (household) premises including their integral/attached garags and outbuildings or those in close proximity.

 

When will Amendment 3 come into effect?
The third amendment to BS 7671:2008 Requirements for Electrical Installations will be issued in January 2015 and is intended to come into effect on 1st July 2015. Installations designed after 30th June 2015 are to comply with BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment 3, 2015.
However, Regulation 421.1.201 does not come into effect until the 1st January 2016. This does not preclude compliance with this regulation prior to this date.

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