consumer unit

Do I Need A New Consumer Unit?

The consumer unit or fuse box is a critical component of all electrical installations as it provides power to the electrical circuits in your home. It is absolutely essential that your consumer unit is maintained, remains in full working order, and you can detect when a problem is brewing. Otherwise, all of your electrical installations will be adversely affected, and the safety of your home could be compromised. Thankfully, we’ve put together this guide to help you recognise the signs that your consumer unit needs to be replaced.

When To Get A New Consumer Unit

As highly experienced electricians in Harpenden and the surrounding areas, we have come across many damaged, aged or otherwise faulty consumer units over the years, meaning that we are extremely well-versed in recognising the signs that a consumer unit is in need of replacement. If you are unsure as to whether or not you need a new consumer unit and would like to have your current one assessed, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team, who will also be happy to arrange a replacement, should it be necessary, at a time that is convenient for you.

Consumer Unit Switch

What Is A Consumer Unit?

As previously mentioned, your consumer unit, also known as a fuse box, is responsible for powering all of the circuits on your property. It is the point at which electricity enters your property and is distributed between all of the circuits installed in your home, supplying electricity to both the inside and outside. A consumer unit is made up of several different components, all of which must function correctly in order for it to do its job properly. Take a look at Consumer Unit World for a breakdown of these components.

Signs That You Need A New Consumer Unit

As a homeowner, it is essential to be aware of the signs that you need a new consumer unit so that you can catch any issues with your current installation quickly and avoid them worsening. If these issues are ignored, you risk causing damage to your electrical installations, which can be expensive to fix, especially if it is extensive. By addressing them promptly, you will also avoid increasing the risk of an electrical accident on your property. We have compiled this list of common signs that your consumer unit is faulty and in need of replacement so that you can familiarise yourself with them and take action as soon as possible.

Labelled Consumer Unit

Your Consumer Unit Is Outdated

As experts in electrical wiring in Bedford and the surrounding areas, we recommend having your consumer unit professionally inspected and assessed at least once every ten years through an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report). This inspection is designed to evaluate and test all electrical installations, along with your consumer unit. Once it is completed, you will be presented with an EICR certificate detailing any electrical repairs necessary, each of which will be coded depending on their severity and threat to human health. To find out more about EICRs, please feel free to take a look at our previous article.

If you are unsure about how old your consumer unit is, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for that indicate that it is an outdated model. These include the following:

  • A wooden backing – consumer units with a wooden backing are very old, dating back to the 50s, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • The material of the body – some older models of consumer units are constructed out of light-grade metals or Bakelite.
  • Exposed wires and cables – uncovered, loose wires in your consumer unit are a sign that it is outdated.
  • No RCD protection – while newer consumer units will include a test button, usually marked with a ‘T’, outdated models will not.
  • Frequent tripping – tripping can be caused by multiple different issues with your electricals, but an outdated consumer unit is one potential cause.
  • Metal pin connectors – metal pin connectors that have been pushed into the board are a sign of an outdated consumer unit.

It is important to replace outdated consumer units for several reasons: not only will the unit’s components deteriorate over time, affecting their function and safety, but regulations surrounding the manufacturing of consumer units change over time to ensure their safety. This means that the safety of newer models will be far more reliable than that of older models, which may have been manufactured using methods, designs and materials that have since been declared inefficient or even dangerous.

Old Consumer Unit

Your Consumer Unit Is Damaged

A damaged consumer unit is problematic for several reasons. Not only could this affect the function of your electrical installations, but it could also pose a danger to human health due to the risk of electrical accidents. Whether damage to your consumer unit is due to deterioration over time or a fault elsewhere in your electricals, it is essential to have your unit replaced, should you notice it.

The following signs should alert you to potential damage to your consumer unit:

  • A loose or warped cover – the cover of your consumer unit should be secure and fit properly without leaving the interior exposed. Over time, the cover of your consumer unit may warp, meaning that it will no longer fit properly.
  • Exposed wires – as mentioned previously, uncovered wires may be a sign that your consumer unit is outdated. However, wire coverings may also deteriorate over time, increasing the risk of electrical accidents.
  • Burnt plastic – darkened patches caused by burning or singeing are a sign of an electrical fault and indicate the need for repairs or replacement.
  • Failed EICR – if your consumer unit is damaged or otherwise faulty, this will be outlined on your EICR certificate.

If you notice any of these signs, it is vital that you get in touch with an electrician as soon as possible. The dedicated team of professionals at IN2 Electrical are fully trained, highly experienced and more than happy to help you out.

Damaged Wire

Your Consumer Unit Doesn’t Meet Your Needs

It is possible that your consumer unit does not meet your electrical needs for various reasons. This should absolutely be addressed so that your lifestyle is not limited by your consumer unit, and you do not risk an electrical accident by misusing it. If your consumer unit is unsatisfactory for any reason, you can always have it replaced or even have another one installed.

Here are some reasons why your consumer unit may be unable to accommodate your needs:

  • Your unit is overloaded – if your current consumer unit is supplying a lot of circuits, it may be overloaded. This increases the risk of an electrical fire. Instead of overloading your consumer unit, invest in your safety by having a second or more advanced one installed.
  • You are planning renovations – renovations such as home extensions and garage or loft conversions will require the installation or extension of circuits, meaning that it may be best to upgrade or replace your consumer unit.
  • You are planning installations – installations such as electric showers and solar PV panels may mean that replacing or upgrading your consumer unit would be a good idea.

At IN2 Electrical, we believe that no homeowner should have to rethink renovation or installation plans due to their consumer unit. If you would like to upgrade your unit or even add a second, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Home Extension Electricals

Consumer Unit FAQs

Here are the answers to some common questions that people have surrounding replacing and installing consumer units:

How Much Does A New Consumer Unit Cost?

The cost of buying and installing a new consumer unit will vary depending on how many circuits it supplies, so you can expect to pay between £300 and £600.

How Do I Go About Fitting A New Consumer Unit?

It is essential that your new consumer unit is fitted by a qualified electrician. If you would like the help of the IN2 Electrical team, please feel free to contact us.

How Do You Extend Cables To A New Consumer Unit?

Our dedicated team of electricians at IN2 Electrical has the knowledge, skills and training required to complete your consumer unit replacement from start to finish, including extending the existing cables to accommodate your new unit.

Consumer Unit

Know When To Replace Your Consumer Unit

Your consumer unit is vital to the functioning of your electricals, so it’s essential that it is properly maintained. This means having it tested and replaced as and when needed. We hope that our article will help you to recognise the signs that your consumer unit is in need of replacement so that you can have this done before any severe issues develop.

If you are in need of the help of our fully qualified electricians in Bedford or one of the surrounding areas to replace or install a consumer unit, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today. We are more than happy to set up a free, no-obligation consultation with you and provide you with a quotation.

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