The Barnet Loft Companyt - Upgrading a fusebox.

Don't put yourself or your family at risk. Get a new modern consumer unit (fuse box) with RCD protection.


Having a modern consumer unit fitted with RCDs gives the best protection because they usually cover all wiring, sockets and appliances. If you have an old fusebox you should seriously consider replacing it.

Under UK Wiring Rules all sockets in new electrical installations and any new sockets added to an existing installation must have RCD protection. Its estimated more than 13 million homes in the UK don't have RCD protection - make sure yours isn't one of them.


Upgrading an old consumer unit to one incorporating two residual current devices (RCDs) is a job that many people will now have to consider. The 17th edition of the wiring regulations requires most circuits in a domestic property to be protected by an RCD. It is often a better and cheaper option to upgrade the consumer unit rather than alter the existing installation in order to comply with the new regulations.

Swapping the consumer unit may also involve some additional electrical work, to enable the installation to meet the standards set by the new wiring regulations. This might include splitting circuits or running in new cable. An older property might have all the lighting and sockets supplied by just two circuits. It would be better practice to split these so that the lighting and sockets for each floor are on separate circuits with their own circuit breaker. Other problems that require attention include borrowed neutrals. This is where a neutral return path was not available and a link to another circuit has been made. Correcting this fault would, in many cases, require a new cable to be laid back to the consumer unit.


What is RCD protecton ?

A Residual Current Device (RCD) is a must have safety device which switches of electricity in a fraction of a second if you get an electric shock.  Old fuses can take seconds to burn out, so in the event of an accident this vital time differential in a new modern consumer unit really could save your life.


Modern Consumer Units are fitted with RCD Protection

A fixed RCD in a modern consumer unit gives the highest level of protection as it covers all sockets and appliances that are connected, so whether you are mowing your lawn, drying your hair, using your food mixer or worried where your children are putting their fingers, you can be safe in the knowledge that you are protected.  RCD protection also reduces the risk of fire caused by faulty wiring or appliances.

UK regulations introduced in 2008 require that all new electrical installations have circuits that are protected by an RCD.  Other countries made RCD protection mandatory in new installations many years ago, so it is no surprise that the Electrical Safety Council are leading a safety campaign with the key message that “RCD Protection could save your life.” 

Checking earthing and bonding arrangements

Before the consumer unit is changed, the electrician will have checked the distributor’s equipment at the origin of the installation and the earthing and bonding arrangements. This is to ensure that they are safe and that they comply with the regulations. Many older properties do not have a double pole isolation switch between the meter and the consumer unit meaning that the electrical distributor will have to be called in before work on the consumer unit can start. The distributor may oblige by installing this main switch.

Most domestic properties have the following arrangement at the origin: the service cable entering a sealed unit with a fused line (live) conductor with a 100amp main fuse or service cut-out, 25mm meter tails, a digital or analogue meter, 25mm tails to consumer unit. It is here that the main switch would be placed. The ‘automatic disconnection of supply’ would be provided for by 16mm earthing conductor and 10mm main bonding conductors to gas, water and other services. These arrangements vary with larger or smaller installations; your electrician will advise you on what is required.

Installing the new consumer unit

The nature of this work, disconnecting the overload protection and connecting the cable to a new means of basic and fault protection means that the electrician will have worked on all circuits. He will therefore have to conduct an electrical test on all circuits to ensure that they are safe and will then have to issue an electrical installation certificate before the job is handed over. Any faults found on a circuit will have to be corrected before the circuit is energised.


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