Choosing the Right Consumer Unit for Your Home
As a responsible homeowner, it's important to prioritise the safety and efficiency of your electrical system. One key component that plays a significant role in this is the consumer unit, commonly known as the fuse box. In this article, we'll explore different types of consumer units, with a focus on split load boards and the benefits of incorporating Residual Current Circuit Breakers with Overcurrent protection (RCBOs) into your home's electrical setup.
Understanding Split Load Consumer Units and RCBOs
Split Load Boards:
Split load boards are designed to provide some resilience to your electrical system by dividing circuits into different groups. For instance, splitting circuits so that if an RCD trips each part of the house will have either lighting or sockets working.Residual Current Devices (RCDs) ensures that even if one circuit experiences a fault, there will always be a source of light available. This enhances safety and convenience within your home.The problem is that something like a failed light bulb can cause half the circuits in the house to turn off, including those running the freezer and internet for example.
Split Load board with RCD's protecting circuits to their right
Advantages of RCBOs:
RCBOs offer advanced protection by combining the features of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) and Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs). Unlike traditional setups with a single RCD, RCBOs protect individual circuits, isolating faults and minimizing disruptions to the rest of your electrical system.
The structure of RCBO boards also makes them more future proof. New technology is beginning to get introduced in to consumer units. Consumer units with RCBO protection are far more likely to support exchanging modules to support the technology.
This is a fuse box I installed in Marlborough.
RCBO board, where each module has a built in RCD and test button
Double Pole RCBOs with Switched Neutral
Double pole RCBOs with switched neutral take safety a step further. By completely isolating faulty circuits, they provide an extra layer of protection for both your home and anyone working on the electrical system. This feature makes fault finding easier and ensures that, in the event of a fault, the affected circuit is completely isolated and can't impact on other circuits.Not all electricians use them, but I believe that it's worth paying the extra £4 to £5 per circuit.
Surge Protection Devices (SPDs)
Adding Surge Protection Devices (SPDs) to your consumer unit is a wise choice, safeguarding your home against electrical surges caused by equipment switching and indirect lightning strikes. Type 2 SPDs are commonly used to protect against smaller surges, offering an additional layer of defense for your valuable electronic devices.
Most homes have thousands, probably 10s of thousands of pounds worth of electrical equipment with electronics in; TV's, computers, washing machines, LED lights, mobile phones, etc. An spd could be protecting them against sudden failure and generally extending their life.
For homes with overhead lines, a Type 1 SPD is recommended to protect against direct lightning strikes to the cables. This proactive approach can prevent extensive damage and ensure the longevity of your electrical system. If you are living in local villages like Broad Town, Broad Hinton and even some parts of Royal Wootton Bassett you may have overhead lines.
Other things to think about
Clear and accurate labelling makes fault finding and testing so much easier. It takes an hour or so to work out which sockets and lights are on which circuit and then to label this clearly on the fuse box. But it saves so much time and pain later I feel its well worth the investment. It's so hard to work on fuse boxes where there are 5 circuits just labeled lights.
Investing in a modern consumer unit with features like split load boards, RCBOs, and SPDs is a proactive step towards enhancing the safety and reliability of your home's electrical system.
Considering a new fuse box
Email a picture of your fuse box to Alan: Alan.email@example.com