Wondering whether to change your old fuse box to a new consumer unit? Here’s the main questions we get asked
Changing from a standard fuse box to a consumer unit is a complex task that requires a qualified, certified electrician to carry out the work.
Choosing the right consumer unit can also be a difficult decision as there’s a lot to think about based on your needs and the complexity of your property’s electrical circuits.
You might have a lot of questions about changing to a consumer unit.
And while many of your questions will be specific to your business and your own requirements, here are some of the main questions (and answers) that we go through with our customers on a regular basis.
Can I replace my own consumer unit?
No. This is a job that should only be done by a qualified electrician.
In fact, it’s a legal requirement that this electrical work is carried out by a qualified, certified professional electrician, so you’ll actually be breaking the law by trying to do it yourself.
When should I replace my consumer unit?
For commercial properties you should have a check performed every five years.
If you’re a landlord, either for a domestic or commercial property, then you’ll be required to carry out a new test whenever a new tenant moves in.
For a domestic property, you should check your consumer unit at least every 10 years, although you can have tests completed more frequently if you want.
Do I need to apply to building regulations when changing a consumer unit?
Changing a fuse board for a consumer unit requires a building regulations application to be made before the work is completed.
This is so the work can be inspected and checked. However, it’s possible for the electrician to self-certify the work in some circumstances.
How much does it cost to change a consumer unit?
It depends on a number of things, like the number of circuits on the unit and the scale of the project. However, the typical price is between £300 and £600 for a circuit ranging from a six-circuit consumer unit to a 12-circuit consumer unit.
How can a consumer unit help?
UK wiring regulations demand that all circuits are protected against overloading, a fault that can result in a fire within the cables in a worst case scenario, as well as any residual current, a fault that can cause electric shocks.
Consumer units and other circuit protection devices can all help reduce these risks.
What size consumer unit should I get?
When choosing a consumer unit, one thing to consider is to plan for the future and not choose a size based on your current requirements.
This is because as your circuits grow, you’ll need to expand the number that your consumer unit can manage. If you max the circuits on your current unit, you’ll have to spend more money installing a new one.
Instead, you should plan a consumer unit change based on future need.
So if you currently require a 10 way unit, install a 12 way unit or if you need a 16 install a 20 way unit.
What is circuit separation?
As part of your circuit protection plan, you should separate high priority circuits from the rest of the circuits in your property.
Doing this removes the chance of the high priority circuits being shorted by residual current or an overload on another circuit.
The high priority circuits you should protect will include your security systems or smoke alarms. But any circuit that includes any vital equipment or appliances will be deemed high priority depending on your needs.
Which type of consumer unit should you get?
There are three main models of consumer unit you can choose from, the best unit for you will depend on your property’s individual needs:
- Fully loaded consumer unit: This is a low cost option that includes a dual RCD board and metal consumer units (MCB). These are ideal for smaller properties with simpler circuits. The main downside is that they’re not flexible when it comes to configuration and circuit separation.
- Main switch consumer unit: This allows for every circuit to be protected against earth fault currents, overload and short circuit currents and providing total circuit separation. However this option tends to be more expensive.
- High integrity consumer unit: This model works as a combination of a dual RCD and main switch unit, offering total circuit separation and protection for high priority circuits, while giving residual current protection for the rest of your circuits.
Ready to change to a consumer unit?
If you’re looking to upgrade your electrical systems with a modern consumer unit, get in touch with us today.
We have a fully qualified and certified team of electrical engineers who have provided installations and advice for hundreds of customers.
If you want more information, get in touch.