Keeping Domestic Dwellings Safe

When you look at the statistics for accidental domestic fires, you can understand the need for the implementation of the new amendment to BS 7671:2008. In the year 2011-2012 over half of all the 37,601 accidental domestic fires were linked to their electrical services, and 10% of all deaths were caused by electrical faults. Stuart Jaycocks, Strategic Marketing Manager of Contactum looks at why the changes are so important.

From 1st July 2015 all new electrical designs should incorporate consumer unit enclosures made from non-combustible material, such as a ferrous metal with steel being the obvious choice. By using a ferrous material such as steel as the enclosure construction material, the risk of a potential fire from poor installation techniques or faulty equipment propagating out of the enclosure is minimised.

Our new range of ‘Defender’ Consumer Units has been designed to fully comply with the requirements of BS EN 61439-3 and BS7671. Constructed completely from steel and finished in a low smoke and fume paint to reduce harmful emissions in the event of a fire; these units have been designed to not only protect but also be aesthetically pleasing when situated in the home environment.

Whether the consumer units, breakers and other electrical components you choose to install are manufactured overseas or in the UK, they must be compliant to BS/EN 61439-3. All consumer unit enclosures sold in the UK must have been compliant to this since January this year, which has been the six month implementation period for this Amendment.

In fact, all sockets in a domestic environment should be RCD protected, whether directly at the socket or via a protective device fitted into the consumer unit. When considering installations in wet rooms, the electrician must refer to Regulation 701.411.3.3 which states that additional protection by the use of RCDs should be provided for Low Voltage circuits a) serving the location and b) passing through zones 1& 2, for example, wiring underneath a shower tray or otherwise within proximity of 0.6m of the shower tray.

A minimum voltage factor ‘Cmin’ is now included within Amendment 3 to ensure system designers understand the fault path Zs to take account of supply voltage variations depending on time and

place, changing of transformer taps and other considerations such as Network Switching. In summary electrical system design should take into account correct specification of circuit protective cable size and protective devices selection.

But it’s not just about having the right product to install, there is also a duty of care for the self-employed electrician and also those companies who employ or sub-contract electricians and installers to ensure that their installations meet the very best practice. Training of skilled persons by recognised bodies such as the IET to cover the changes to BS7671 Amendment 3 would be beneficial to both the contractor and the end user.

Amendment 3 has been brought in to protect lives, so having a quality product fitted correctly is the most important consideration. And when it comes to quality you cannot do better than buying British! The Defender single phase consumer unit from British manufacturer Contactum, has a modern sleek design suitable for all installations and offers a comprehensive range comprising 12 different enclosures sizes. IP4X rated and compliant with BS7671 and 17th Edition Wiring Regulations, the Defender allows up to a 22 module board as standard and installers can combine boards to increase the number of outgoing ways. This flexible board configuration enables optimal combinations of RCD, MCB and RCBO use – there are even pre-populated configurations available.


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