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Created On: 01 December 2015 06:39 PM
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 ???????????????????   - frspikeyhead - 01 December 2015 06:39 PM  
 ???????????????????   - RB1981 - 01 December 2015 06:56 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 08:09 PM  
 ???????????????????   - JZN - 01 December 2015 08:27 PM  
 ???????????????????   - RB1981 - 01 December 2015 10:02 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 08:34 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Grumpy - 01 December 2015 09:11 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 01 December 2015 08:53 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 01 December 2015 09:34 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 09:16 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Grumpy - 01 December 2015 09:36 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 01 December 2015 09:59 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 01 December 2015 10:25 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 01 December 2015 09:27 PM  
 ???????????????????   - normcall - 01 December 2015 10:32 PM  
 ???????????????????   - rocknroll - 01 December 2015 10:49 PM  
 ???????????????????   - spinlondon - 05 December 2015 03:23 PM  
 ???????????????????   - potential - 02 December 2015 12:31 AM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 02 December 2015 09:10 AM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 10:50 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 01 December 2015 11:00 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 01 December 2015 11:15 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 11:19 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 11:25 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 01 December 2015 11:33 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 11:42 PM  
 ???????????????????   - ebee - 02 December 2015 09:18 AM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 01 December 2015 11:46 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 02 December 2015 12:09 AM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 02 December 2015 09:18 AM  
 ???????????????????   - geov - 02 December 2015 10:51 AM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 02 December 2015 12:07 PM  
 ???????????????????   - gkenyon - 02 December 2015 01:00 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Angram - 02 December 2015 02:59 PM  
 ???????????????????   - normcall - 02 December 2015 03:10 PM  
 ???????????????????   - ebee - 02 December 2015 03:57 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 02 December 2015 04:14 PM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 02 December 2015 04:22 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 02 December 2015 04:30 PM  
 ???????????????????   - frspikeyhead - 02 December 2015 05:30 PM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 02 December 2015 05:40 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 02 December 2015 06:01 PM  
 ???????????????????   - perspicacious - 02 December 2015 06:32 PM  
 ???????????????????   - John Peckham - 02 December 2015 06:42 PM  
 ???????????????????   - perspicacious - 02 December 2015 06:49 PM  
 ???????????????????   - ebee - 02 December 2015 07:46 PM  
 ???????????????????   - davidwalker2 - 02 December 2015 07:10 PM  
 ???????????????????   - frspikeyhead - 02 December 2015 07:33 PM  
 ???????????????????   - RB1981 - 02 December 2015 08:04 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 02 December 2015 09:44 PM  
 ???????????????????   - leckie - 03 December 2015 09:13 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 03 December 2015 10:06 PM  
 ???????????????????   - leckie - 04 December 2015 04:31 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 03 December 2015 09:28 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 03 December 2015 10:13 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 03 December 2015 10:36 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 03 December 2015 11:35 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zoro - 04 December 2015 09:21 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 04 December 2015 09:46 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Lozmic - 05 December 2015 07:51 AM  
 ???????????????????   - normcall - 04 December 2015 07:05 AM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 04 December 2015 08:40 AM  
 ???????????????????   - frspikeyhead - 04 December 2015 08:53 AM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 04 December 2015 08:56 AM  
 ???????????????????   - craigmckee - 04 December 2015 02:24 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zoro - 04 December 2015 09:10 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 04 December 2015 09:45 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zoro - 05 December 2015 03:25 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 05 December 2015 12:12 AM  
 ???????????????????   - Zoro - 05 December 2015 03:00 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 05 December 2015 06:41 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 05 December 2015 07:04 PM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 08 December 2015 08:12 AM  
 ???????????????????   - lyledunn - 08 December 2015 05:52 PM  
 ???????????????????   - rocknroll - 08 December 2015 08:00 PM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 10 December 2015 11:46 PM  
 ???????????????????   - poo - 08 December 2015 07:18 AM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 08 December 2015 08:33 PM  
 ???????????????????   - whjohnson - 09 December 2015 12:30 AM  
 ???????????????????   - lyledunn - 09 December 2015 09:22 AM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 09 December 2015 09:40 AM  
 ???????????????????   - Jaymack - 09 December 2015 10:29 AM  
 ???????????????????   - lyledunn - 09 December 2015 07:16 PM  
 ???????????????????   - frspikeyhead - 10 December 2015 06:44 PM  
 ???????????????????   - Zs - 10 December 2015 08:55 PM  
 ???????????????????   - paulskyrme - 13 December 2015 11:29 AM  
 ???????????????????   - michaelward - 13 December 2015 04:52 PM  
 ???????????????????   - AJJewsbury - 14 December 2015 09:41 AM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 14 December 2015 10:40 AM  
 ???????????????????   - michaelward - 12 January 2016 11:43 AM  
 ???????????????????   - mapj1 - 12 January 2016 02:51 PM  
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 01 December 2015 06:39 PM
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frspikeyhead

Posts: 830
Joined: 27 December 2004

Someone has probably already asked this question but I haven't been logged on for a considerable time. Now that the 3rd ammendment is finally upon us what happens with certification when adding a new circuit to a consumer unit that is insulated. How can one certify to the 3rd ammendment standard without changing the consumer unit to metal etc etc? And nobody is going to want to pay out for that.
 01 December 2015 06:56 PM
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RB1981

Posts: 484
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Given that that Requirement does not come into force for another month it isn't an issue.

-------------------------
Walsh Electrical Services
http://www.walshelectrical.ie/
RECI REC & NICEIC Approved Contractor
 01 December 2015 08:09 PM
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John Peckham

Posts: 8783
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I note that in my Electrafix newspaper received today that they have a clearance sale.on combustible consumer units.

How upset would you be as a customer if you found out that an electrician you trusted installed in your family home something that was known to be unsafe?

Would you be upset if tyre manufactures were given a grace period to clear their stock of defective tyres and fitted them on your car?

A decent honest professional electrician would not fit combustible boards in any house or even in any other premises without waiting for an artificial date!

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 01 December 2015 08:27 PM
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JZN

Posts: 787
Joined: 16 November 2006

I think the OP means; what happens next year when you go to a job requiring you to add a new circuit, but the existing consumer unit is plastic?

My take on this is just add to the plastic unit if there is space. You are not required to change the whole unit or add another unit in metal to accommodate your work.

Regards
Jon
 01 December 2015 10:02 PM
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RB1981

Posts: 484
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I completely agree John and would strongly recommend that distribution boards which will remain compliant in the New Year are used now. My point is that it cannot be classed as a defect before the Requirement actually comes into force. Why something which is dangerous has a grace period is indeed strange.

It is also difficult to reconcile the advice that new circuits next year could be installed into such an enclosure.

Originally posted by: John Peckham

I note that in my Electrafix newspaper received today that they have a clearance sale.on combustible consumer units.



How upset would you be as a customer if you found out that an electrician you trusted installed in your family home something that was known to be unsafe?



Would you be upset if tyre manufactures were given a grace period to clear their stock of defective tyres and fitted them on your car?



A decent honest professional electrician would not fit combustible boards in any house or even in any other premises without waiting for an artificial date!


-------------------------
Walsh Electrical Services
http://www.walshelectrical.ie/
RECI REC & NICEIC Approved Contractor
 01 December 2015 08:34 PM
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John Peckham

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Your new circuit must comply with AMD3 and the earthing and bonding has to be up to standard and the installation has to be able to take the extra load. As for the combustible consumer unit it can stay but you need to point out the potential hazard in " Comments on the existing installation" box on your EIC.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 01 December 2015 09:11 PM
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Grumpy

Posts: 755
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I really have to take issue with you JP over your alarmist and inflammatory comments about the millions of plastic CU's
"a potential hazard"
What does that mean? My Stanley knife is a potential hazard but, to date, I still have all my fingers.
"How upset would you be as a customer if you found out that an electrician you trusted installed in your family home something that was known to be unsafe?"
Unsafe? To me that means dangerous. Are you really suggesting that these millions of CU's are dangerous?
Would you be upset if tyre manufactures were given a grace period to clear their stock of defective tyres and fitted them on your car?
I'm sorry, but this is the one that tipped me over the edge. You're, rightly, highly respected on this forum, but how can you possibly draw any parallel to dodgy tyres and conventional CU's??
A year ago these CU's weren't "defective" they were mainstream.
I'm appalled.

-------------------------
Only dead fish go with the flow. Be a salmon!
 01 December 2015 08:53 PM
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Lozmic

Posts: 25
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From my experience customers are reluctant to have an Amanda 3 CU fitted given the choice , until Jan. Their logic is they would prefer an insulated combustible CU in preference to non combustible metal CU. They fear the risk of the CU becoming live is greater than the risk of a fire In a CU.
Chris
 01 December 2015 09:34 PM
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Zs

Posts: 3814
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Frspikey,

With regard to your question, been on my mind that, not for long though because unlike you I chose to ignore it. I'm going to watch for what everyone else is doing. I rub shoulders with some of the best so I shall wait until they are all telling me the same thing (everrr?).....and then I'll copy it and pretend it is mine . I am capable of original thought but on this one there are too many opportunities to sit on the fence. So I hide from any form of decision.

Lozmic, your reply is interesting because I've tested that. I'm installing both at the moment. It depends on how you explain it to the client. That means that we are not only electricians but that we are salesmen as well. Our clients trust us and take our advice. I have views on why each is suitable and I offer them my views.

In passing, it is great to be back on the tools for more days and in a position to talk to clients about things like this. I realise how much of a role the client-facing electrician plays....I'll expand on that one day when all this stupid flooded house and sleeping on the floor is over (yep, still on the floor and still a bit out of sorts) .

Wayyy back, I remember chuckling at one of ours who posted a question about the neutrals touching the plastic in a DB and whether or not he should go to prison for so doing. You know how we can shove them right through the bar until they touch the top? Well, I've been a bit careful of that since that was discussed. However, if it is a TT I still have my doubts about the metal boards. Personally, I think they forgot about TT when this was being discussed and also personally, I think the TT thing on Metal boards will change back. No gossip or suspicion there, that's just what I think....the intuition of a woman, when was it ever wrong?

My intuition tells me that Paolo Nutini will come round my house for tea and a guitar jam..... Oh, OK.

Am I right, (from the previously mentioned 'best') that this is about the hot melted plastic not actually catching fire but dripping onto the carpet or curtains and setting fire to them?

Anyway, for the time being I'll write something which has a suitable mumble-swerve in the wording, on my certs that covers me and I will wait for instruction from Napit or of course the NICEIC if I am writing on behalf of one of their members.

Zs
 01 December 2015 09:16 PM
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John Peckham

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Chris

I think what you have just said is complete B****cks! I would not think most customers would think that, where would they get that idea from? And even if they did I feel sure you would be able to explain why that is very unlikely? Do they have a complete Class 2 installation with Class 2 appliances?

The reason the new regulation went into AMD was at the request of the London Fire Brigade as they have been attending 5 fires a week where the ignition source is the consumer unit. That is the London FB only what quantity can be added to that from the rest of the country?

-------------------------
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http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 01 December 2015 09:36 PM
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Grumpy

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Originally posted by: John Peckham

Chris



I think what you have just said is complete B****cks! I would not think most customers would think that, where would they get that idea from? And even if they did I feel sure you would be able to explain why that is very unlikely? Do they have a complete Class 2 installation with Class 2 appliances?



The reason the new regulation went into AMD was at the request of the London Fire Brigade as they have been attending 5 fires a week where the ignition source is the consumer unit. That is the London FB only what quantity can be added to that from the rest of the country?


Well what quantity indeed?
BTW did LFB correlate CU fires with meter changes, just out of interest?
And if we're now resorting to barracks room languange then I find you stance on this utter b***cks

-------------------------
Only dead fish go with the flow. Be a salmon!
 01 December 2015 09:59 PM
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mapj1

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Well, its very clearly not as simple as some would like. If it was overwhelmingly obvious, then it would not be a UK only thing, and even in the UK lets not forget it is just a domestic only thing.
The only way to eliminate the dangers from electricity all together, is not to allow it in the building. Otherwise there is a balance of shock risk verus a fire risk to be made. Both are very small.
More like winter tyres in summer or vice versa, than like selling old stock I think - in the sense that there are cases where one or the other is better.
Lets not forget that steel rusts and that maintainance in a domestic setting is not as clear cut as industrial - and een in TNCs lands there are several cases where rotting ConSac cables have livened up the neutral.
Could be fun.

Personally I do not consider the London Fire brigade as the highest authority on electrocution or earthing faults, fires yes, electrons no .
Lets see what the accident figures do over the next decade..

-------------------------
regards Mike
 01 December 2015 10:25 PM
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Zs

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Well, this is going to be a long thread. Good question Spikey.

I apologise in advance JP but I see where Grumpy is coming from and I do think that you are scaremongering a bit. So sorry to challenge you my friend. I appreciate the concerns and validity of the FB submissions which caused this change in 'Amanda' 3.

However, a DB installed in June of this year, or indeed until January 2016 must not be declared as a hazard. All of us were working to a standard and purchasing compliant Distribution Boards. Hazard is too strong a word. If I agreed with that I'd be changing my own and nothing is further from my thoughts than my own, or more importantly, my Mum's TT distribution board.

Non- Compliant because of this amendment maybe, but IMVHO that is as far as it goes. We see one, we check the tightness of the terminals and indeed that the neutrals are not snuggling up to the top of the board.

What code will you be issuing for a DB in plastic which was installed to 17th Ed 0, 1 or 2 JP? A hazard means a code 2 at least.

50p that you will go for a 3; requires improvement.

I do love you, but I think you are wrong on this JP.

Zs
 01 December 2015 09:27 PM
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Lozmic

Posts: 25
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John - this was not what I said just the thoughts of mainly elderly customers. My post was anecdotal , nothing more. Will be fitting an amend the 3 unit next week and always promote the policy change but not always successfully.
Chris
 01 December 2015 10:32 PM
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normcall

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I've just found out that the London Fire Brigade haven't found any fires solely caused by plastic fuseboxes in my area.
Does this mean that they have been using different materials in the London area or different installation standards?

What will be the excuse in a few years time when these new non-combustible enclosures also have a similar problem?

Sorry boys and girls, the argument really does not hold water and seems to be a knee-jerk reaction. I had a fusebox go off with a bang a few years ago due to a disable lady overfilling the bath - which happened to be above the supply intake. I'm sure many can think of similar events.

-------------------------
Norman
 01 December 2015 10:49 PM
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rocknroll

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I think you will find that the original statement by the chief fire officer at last years meeting started off quite tamely, he commented that there seemed to be an increase in the number of fires at the cut out / consumer unit area, whilst they were not able to determine the probable cause which could be loose connections or even the increase in associated energy theft, analysis eventually showed that the thermoplastic used in some of the enclosures was of poor quality and readily ignited under test and then the fun began, or should I say in festive spirit the snowball started rolling:

regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------

Edited: 01 December 2015 at 11:00 PM by rocknroll
 05 December 2015 03:23 PM
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spinlondon

Posts: 5494
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Originally posted by: rocknroll

I think you will find that the original statement by the chief fire officer at last years meeting started off quite tamely, he commented that there seemed to be an increase in the number of fires at the cut out / consumer unit area, whilst they were not able to determine the probable cause which could be loose connections or even the increase in associated energy theft, analysis eventually showed that the thermoplastic used in some of the enclosures was of poor quality and readily ignited under test and then the fun began, or should I say in festive spirit the snowball started rolling: [IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG][IMG][/IMG]


regards

Interesting, considering that there was recently a test case regarding fires starting in DNO's metal cut outs (as reported somewhen on this forum).
From what I understand, the outcome was that although the DNO's are aware the metal cut outs are dangerous, their current policy of replacing them as and when they get round to it is not in breach of their policy to replace them all.
At present the replacements are plastic?
 02 December 2015 12:31 AM
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potential

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Originally posted by: normcall

I've just found out that the London Fire Brigade haven't found any fires solely caused by plastic fuseboxes in my area.

Does this mean that they have been using different materials in the London area or different installation standards?
.................

I suggest it means that in your area fuseboxes are installed to a high standard and that your locality is lacking the type of people who are likely to make "alterations" to their electricity supply.
 02 December 2015 09:10 AM
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Zs

Posts: 3814
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Ah, Mike, I'll not edit because I think it is a healthy discussion.

However, I know that we have certain payers on here who's words are taken as having a significant level of authority. You, JP, OMS and R&R are those at the top of my list. JP in particular is very skilled at coming across with a fantastic level of authority. So loads of us are scared to challenge.

(You wanna try challenging Jobbo....now there's a brain. I tried it once...)

As such, the responsibility weighs higher on your shoulders because hundreds of people look in on here and both sides must be allowed to digest. I learned long ago not to challenge OMS on anything other than domestic for example.

The 'hazard' word implies that we are installing sub standard kit. the regs give us headway on plastic boards. I think JP is implying that my work is not up to scratch if I comply with the regs and install a plastic DB before January 2016. I think also there is a suggestion that all of those DBs I/we have installed are putting our clients in danger and I don't want my clients alarmed by my purchase of compliant equipment.

Not forgetting that JP is an inspector with the opportunity to make our clients think that we have carried out a dodgy install.

And so on. gotta go see a job which I think is about to feature the word 'extraction'. Not on my watch. Putting diplomatic hat back on.

Zs
 01 December 2015 10:50 PM
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John Peckham

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Zs


I am saying C3 for a combustible CU anywhere in a dwelling. The NICEIC are saying C3 if it is in an escape route or under the stairs if not just ensure you note it on the EICR.


We both agree that if you find any trace of thermal damage then C2 or maybe C1.

Norm

I assume the LFB have not found any consumer unit fires in your area as they don't cover your area?


Perhaps my views are based on evidence I have seen that is not in the public domain?

I will summon up my forum friend Zoro to support my view.

You might want to ask your favorite manufacture when and why they removed the fire retardant from their consumer unit plastic.

I think a lot of older plastic consumer units are perfectly safe it is the newer ones I have a problem with.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/

Edited: 01 December 2015 at 11:16 PM by John Peckham
 01 December 2015 11:00 PM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
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then maybe we want to also consider "back to the future" plastic compositions, rather than the current one track 'steel is king in all situations' mania.
I'm sure we will soon find that it is quite possible to install a metal board so it fails dangerously too, and unless you insist on fire stopping it, and precede it by some form of ADS that does not itself pose a fire risk under overload, then much of any potential advantage is lost.
And electricity is not the dominant cause of fires. Banning home cooking would save more lives in the short term.

-------------------------
regards Mike
 01 December 2015 11:15 PM
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Zs

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'You might want to ask your favorite manufacture when and why the removed the fire retardant from their consumer unit plastic'.

No JP, I don't want to ask them, I am a busy lady who has no voice on JPEL or other panels. You do though, and at the moment that worries me because at least two of us in a very short IET thread think that you are barking up the wrong tree. I want you to tell us about the fire retardant removal for Hager boards ( my favourite mfr) on here and not play games hiding anything you know that might be important to all of us and our clients.

Stop messing around and cut to the chase JP.

Zs
 01 December 2015 11:19 PM
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John Peckham

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Zs

Check your emails and I owe you 50p.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 01 December 2015 11:25 PM
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John Peckham

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There was a plastic CU that did pass the independent testing of a number of different manufactures. I cannot understand why this manufacture is not shouting that from the roof tops.

It would appear most of the forum members think I have gone bonkers, perhaps I have.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 01 December 2015 11:33 PM
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Zs

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It was BG

It's OK JP, you're fine and it is good not to be too scared to challenge you when you post preposterous nonsense.

I had it confirmed today that I'm not yet menopausal. On the day that I become so, it might not be a good idea not to P me off...I plan on being magnificent

Zs
 01 December 2015 11:42 PM
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John Peckham

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Zs

Spot on!

So as in the big yellow bumper book of fun there is no definition in Part 2 for non-combustible what does non-combustible mean? Would it have been better to use the term " Non flame propagating" for which there is a definition in Part 2.

if you think this is a new regulation you might want to have a look in the 3rd edition of the Wiring Regulations published in 1897. It says "Switchboards shall be made on incombustible material".

So BG boards might just be OK, all we have to do is ask ask BG to confirm they meet the requirements of AMD3.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 09:18 AM
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ebee

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"there is no definition in Part 2 for non-combustible"

I wish there was and all consumer units etc had to be type tested and sampled periodically. I would be happier to install compliant insulated units in many cases.

Trouble is - would it be policed properly?

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 01 December 2015 11:46 PM
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John Peckham

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I forgot to mention I have had a consumer unit fire on an E7 board some years ago. An old plastic board which was self extinguishing so did not burn rapidly giving off flame a dripping flaming globules of plastic like a modern CU. The tails started to burn back like a fuse and lots of choking acrid smoke.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 12:09 AM
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mapj1

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Oh my !

I look wonder if there may be a few lightly edited posts in the morning, - the difference between a bulletin board and a private conversation is the general broadcast nature of it, so you might like to imagine there may be hundreds of snotty noses pressed on the other side of the glass reading as you type. (well thats how I imagine it, and I know it''s very possible to get the tone wrong even so)

Please don't frighten the horses...

-------------------------
regards Mike
 02 December 2015 09:18 AM
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AJJewsbury

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You might want to ask your favorite manufacture when and why they removed the fire retardant from their consumer unit plastic.


There was a plastic CU that did pass the independent testing of a number of different manufactures. I cannot understand why this manufacture is not shouting that from the roof tops.


there is no definition in Part 2 for non-combustible what does non-combustible mean?


There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions on this subject still, I could add:

If all steel construction, drop-down door and fireproof paint are essential to a AMD 3 CU - what do the manufacturers offer us for 3-phase domestic use?

What should I use for intakes that are located in (damp) domestic cellars (as is common in these parts) where IP rating and corrosion resistance have traditionally been top of the requirements list?

- Andy.
 02 December 2015 10:51 AM
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geov

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".....On the day that I become so, it might not be a good idea not to P me off....."

Zs, I'm now not sure if it will or won't be a good idea to P you off! I don't think I'll try either way!

I do think many (most?) of us believe the issue of non combustible, non fire propagating, non whateverelse has been very badly handled, and will leave installing electricians with the various issues already mentioned (damp conditions, TT etc, etc).
Why was the fire retardation of plastic units simply not enforced?
Also John, why should there be information relating to this issue, not in the public domain???? We're not exactly talking national security.
And for the record, I have been (reluctantly) fitting Amd 3 compliant boards since October, unless the client specifically says otherwise (and after I have explained the changes in Regs).
 02 December 2015 12:07 PM
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Lozmic

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Are meters manufactured from non combustible material. I ask this as it is not uncommon for meter tail to work loose over time, particularly under stairs or by doors.
Also most CUs I have been called out to due to overheating has been detected by the householder from the smell. Will this still be the case for the ' hermatcally sealed' a net 3 units.
 02 December 2015 01:00 PM
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gkenyon

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OK, so we all know now that in January we start making comments about the consumer unit on EIC, Minor Works and PIRs, if it's not non-combustible.

What is an unknown, is whether if in February, there's a house fire, related to the intake / CU - but the PIR had made the note, and insurance company uses it as an excuse not to pay up?

What if that CU was fitted in Sep 2015, or even Feb 2015, or Dec 2015 ?

"Fit for the purpose for a reasonable length of time"?


Just asking ... it's perhaps an argument waiting in the wings for the odd unfortunatel domestic installer?

-------------------------
EUR ING Graham Kenyon CEng MIET TechIOSH
G Kenyon Technology Ltd

Web-Site: www.gkenyontech.com
 02 December 2015 02:59 PM
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Angram

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Surely the insurance company looks for a pass or fail.
Could be improved is not a reason a court would accept refusal for.

Thats my take.

a class action by consumers could see manufacturers replacing every board in the uk at their expense.
 02 December 2015 03:10 PM
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normcall

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Exactly!
I have a Wylex 804 with B20 mcbs for my storage heaters. It's been there since the early 1980s. I had the cover off in the summer and as clean etc. as when I installed it, but with a wooden base and cream cover, should I tell myself it's soon about to burst into flames and should be replaced? Fortunately the normal domestic is a metal C50 Crabtree unit of the same vintage, so should I replace that as well as the bus-bar is exposed?

Good job I design and install without concerning myself with the assorted guides to BS7671.

-------------------------
Norman
 02 December 2015 03:57 PM
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ebee

Posts: 6340
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Cage Clamps, Cage Clamps.Cage Clamps.
I`ll say it again Cage Clamps!
Bah Humbug

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 02 December 2015 04:14 PM
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John Peckham

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Norm

I failed an installation recently that I inspected for a contractor that had a CU just like the one you have. I asked him to keep it for me when he did the remedial works. I now have it in my collection. It even has the proper paxolin back that cost an extra few shillings so was not general fitted in a time before the old queen died. It has the cut off tails and T&E attached so looks like a beating heart torn from a body when you hold it up. It was delivered to me in an MK box from the replacement metal CU that replaced it. I am thinking of taking it to my presentations to companies in the MK box and pulling it out like a rabbit from a hat as an example of a non-combustible board. The hard wood frame might burn but not after 7/8 seconds like a modern plastic CU, the ivory plastic cover will not rapidly combust. Perhaps Wylex could discover the answer to plastic AMD3 boards in their own archives. Of course when they look they might find tunnel terminals in brass with 2 screws for conductors.

I am collecting old CUs from my contractor friends for my own tests. I have an old Crabtree CU for my next non laboratory flame test.


I have a photos from an intense fire where the plastic board has disappeared but an adjacent old Wylex metal board is still there with all the paint burned off the metal cover and rusty from water used to extinguish the fire. The plastic CU was the source of ignition from a poorly terminated conductor.

Cabtree C50 boards build like a brick outhouse. Designed by engineers not accountants. Yes exposed bus bar but not accessible without a key or tool and you should isolate before removing the cover so no problem.


Lozmic

Yes meters and supply heads are made of non-combustible plastic. The newer series 7 heads are made from a clay and resin mix. Both meters and heads will char and smolder but will not support a flame. Interestingly meter operators will not buy meters with cage clamps after past problems. So meter manufactures do not make meters now with cage clamps only tunnel terminals as no one will buy the former. If electricians stopped buying CUs with main switches and cage clamps would the manufactures stop making them?


Geov

That is the way to go!"

In Note 2 of regulation 421.1.201 it says. " The implementation date for this regulation is the 1st January 2016, but does not preclude compliance with the regulation prior to that date".

So you electricians out there why are you still fitting plastic boards when there are readily available safer products on the market?

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 04:22 PM
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AJJewsbury

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So you electricians out there why are you still fitting plastic boards when there are readily available safer products on the market?

If I bought a plastic CU at today's end-of-line clearance prices and used the money saved to buy & install a TMV for the hot water system - would the overall safety level be increased or decreased compared with just fitting a new Steel CU?
- Andy.
 02 December 2015 04:30 PM
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John Peckham

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Andy


With the money you saved it may be better to buy a fire extinguisher and turn the stat. down on the water heating system.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 05:30 PM
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frspikeyhead

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And heres me thinking no-one seemed really interested in this topic so I logged out. Wow. And yet no one has actually answered my original question. The nearest to it was JP but I don't understand how you can install a new circuit into an existing plastic CU and call that ammendment 3 compliant?????
 02 December 2015 05:40 PM
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AJJewsbury

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I don't understand how you can install a new circuit into an existing plastic CU and call that ammendment 3 compliant?????

Same way as you can rewire an 18th century house (with part P notification) and claim building regs compliance. New regs don't apply retrospectively to existing, just as long as the existing can support the compliance of the addition, and the addition doesn't endanger the existing, it's acceptable.
- Andy.
 02 December 2015 06:01 PM
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John Peckham

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Spikes

Only your new bit has to comply. If that was not the case most very large buildings would need rewiring just to add an additional socket.

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 06:32 PM
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perspicacious

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I've raised the issue of "sooner or later" many times before and this one remains unanswered:

Sooner or later, amendments to the Regulations make some items that were once acceptable, unacceptable. It is just a matter of time......

Back to today, when do you think "plastic" CUs in "domestics" will be deemed "unsatisfactory"?
Jan 2016
Jan 2021
In the year 2525


Regards

BOD
 02 December 2015 06:42 PM
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John Peckham

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BOD

You need to reword your question as the new regulation requires non combustible CUs not metal ones. I suspect that we will see non-combustible plastic CUs in the near future.

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John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 02 December 2015 06:49 PM
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perspicacious

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I left it vague John as I put "plastic" but the question of when any non compliance becomes unsatisfactory, remains......

Regards

BID (off line for a while whilst I stash in my cellar some port I bought by auction today)
 02 December 2015 07:46 PM
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ebee

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Originally posted by: John Peckham

BOD



You need to reword your question as the new regulation requires non combustible CUs not metal ones. I suspect that we will see non-combustible plastic CUs in the near future.


We thought we already had them a while back John.

-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 02 December 2015 07:10 PM
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davidwalker2

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Let us not forget that the Clandon Park House fire started in a metal distribution board.

David
 02 December 2015 07:33 PM
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frspikeyhead

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Here lies the problem. Imagine I am about to add another ciruit to an existing 'combustible' enclosure (CU). The new circuit will require a new mcb. I can't see how you can possibly certify the new circuit as Amd 3 compliant if it is originating from a 'non compliant' enclosure. What is one meant to do? Well, you can buy a non combustible enclosure (box) to encase the old CU with, but I haven't seen any on the market yet. Secondly you can replace the old CU for an ammendment 3 compliant one. I doubt whether any body is going down that road just for one circuit. Or you can use henleys and spur off a single enclosure with main switch mmmmmm? Or you could fill out an Amd 3 certificate and note on it that the new circuit is both compliant and non compliant at the same time. It all depends upon which end of the egg you start from...... confusing......
 02 December 2015 08:04 PM
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RB1981

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Originally posted by: frspikeyhead

I can't see how you can possibly certify the new circuit as Amd 3 compliant if it is originating from a 'non compliant' enclosure.


I completely agree. I do not believe that the work would then comply. However, until the 1st January such work is compliant as the requirement is not yet in force.

-------------------------
Walsh Electrical Services
http://www.walshelectrical.ie/
RECI REC & NICEIC Approved Contractor
 02 December 2015 09:44 PM
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paulskyrme

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OK,
The metal CU, is the "brain child" of LFB.
Why, because it seems there have been many fires near the intake equipment, where the CU is normally located.
Why, it seems LFB & the "scams" agree it is due to poor workmanship.
However, the poor workmanship results in a massive fire, why.
It seems that this is due to the fuel surrounding the "poor workmanship".
What fuel is this.
1. The consumer unit itself, which is plastic, and not flame retardant, so it provides an ideal fuel source to propagate the fire, which is nucleated by the poor workmanship causing overheating.
2. The fuel surrounding said plastic consumer unit generally placed there by the home owner, general domestic detritus.

Can you blame the home owner.
No.
Can you blame the installer.
Yes.
Can you blame the manufacturer for designing and placing on the market an unsuitable product.
Yes.

So where does the industry go, for the soft target, i.e. the poor installer gets the blame, yes perhaps the root cause, but, there are significant mitigating circumstances which, should almost remove the blame from the installer.

So what's the solution.
Remove the source of fuel in the shape of the consumer unit.
Thus remove the flammable consumer unit.
What is put in the regulations non-combustible.
Why, because it aligns with the requirements for construction materials.
So, what is non-combustible, with regard to consumer units, no one knows, because such things are not considered construction materials.
So lack of thought there.
So, what happens, BEAMA, the manufacturers association for those who have been using flammable plastic materials for their consumer unit bodies, suggests that only ferrous metal, e.g. steel meets the intent of the regulation.
In the meantime a BEAMA member manufacturer comes out with an Aluminium alloy consumer unit that they claim meets Amd3, & that this is verified by BEAMA.
I do hope that it does not have any magnesium in the alloy, I don't know, but the materials standards related to construction materials, specifically prohibit anything containing magnesium, which is a common alloying element in aluminium casting/die casting alloys.

So if these CU's are as dangerous as JP suggests, then there surely must be a recall of all of these units and they must be replaced at the manufacturers cost, after all it is the manufacturer that has supplied the dangerous unit, else, simply removal of the source of fuel would not be enough.
After all, that is all that we are required to do as installers.
No intumescent sealing, nothing more than that is already required under BS7671 as far as entries to the CU go.

Then there is the definition of an enclosure...
This is a WHOLE NEW tale.

So, these CU's need to be coded on an EICR, so they are dangerous, so they need to be removed, so someone needs to pay, who, and why?

Anyway, next point.
Why has the installer been blamed?
Why has the burden been placed on the homeowner/installer?

One only has now to look at the makeup of ANY standards committee.
It is comprised of representatives of companies that have a vested interest in their own ends.
Standards Committees are no longer comprised of learned specialists who are partisan in their view, they are comprised of the representatives of manufacturers who have a vested interest in promoting their own ends.

One reason, whilst from what I can gather, participation on a standards committee is voluntary, and unpaid, it always has been and used to be an expenses only post. Now, it seems that this is not even true, individuals do not get fully reimbursed for their participation, only in part by BSi, so they need another organisation to make up the difference, or, they pay this from their own personal pocket. Not everyone who genuinely has something to contribute to such committees can afford this.
So, therefore, it is only persons who have a supporting employer, normally multinational, who can sit in these posts, because they are the only ones who have the resources to do so.
This is wrong.

The whole system is skewed.
This is wrong.
The generation of safety standards such as BS7671 should be undertaken by those who work in the industry, who are competent to give the necessary input, and have no defined +commercial interest in the specific outcomes.

Now actually I do count JP in the final category.
He has an interest in the general outcomes, and IMHO that is correct, but not in specific outcomes.

Then it seems our learned societies are looking to become more commercial...
 03 December 2015 09:13 PM
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leckie

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Blimey, what a post! What an assortment of replies to it.

The OP is asking can a new circuit be connected to an existing plastic consumer unit after 2016? Well of course it can provided the unit is not showing signs of thermal damage, etc. But you wouldn't connect a circuit to a metal consumer unit either if the main switch was showing signs of thermal damage would you?

The insinuation that anyone fitting a plastic consumer unit prior to the cut off date is carrying out dangerous work is actually not correct at all.

Let's think about it; what are the manufacturers and the fire service saying? They are saying that the reason for the outbreak of fires from plastic CU's is due to bad installation techniques, not because the CU is plastic. If manufacturers stated that the actual plastic consumer units were inherently dangerous and a fire hazard, there would be a recall. But they don't, and there isn't.

It is totally compliant to install plastic CU's until 2016 so they cannot be dangerous. Unless you carry out a poor installation.

And that is the point. If you correctly tighten the terminal, adequately secure the cables, etc, there is no problem. If you carry out a poor installation then there is a a potential fire hazard.

So do you feel that you are competent enough to install a consumer unit? If not then you would still be incompetent even if you fit an AMD3 board. But it might not catch fire.
 03 December 2015 10:06 PM
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paulskyrme

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Originally posted by: leckie

Blimey, what a post! What an assortment of replies to it.



The OP is asking can a new circuit be connected to an existing plastic consumer unit after 2016? Well of course it can provided the unit is not showing signs of thermal damage, etc. But you wouldn't connect a circuit to a metal consumer unit either if the main switch was showing signs of thermal damage would you?



The insinuation that anyone fitting a plastic consumer unit prior to the cut off date is carrying out dangerous work is actually not correct at all.



Let's think about it; what are the manufacturers and the fire service saying? They are saying that the reason for the outbreak of fires from plastic CU's is due to bad installation techniques, not because the CU is plastic. If manufacturers stated that the actual plastic consumer units were inherently dangerous and a fire hazard, there would be a recall. But they don't, and there isn't.



It is totally compliant to install plastic CU's until 2016 so they cannot be dangerous. Unless you carry out a poor installation.



And that is the point. If you correctly tighten the terminal, adequately secure the cables, etc, there is no problem. If you carry out a poor installation then there is a a potential fire hazard.



So do you feel that you are competent enough to install a consumer unit? If not then you would still be incompetent even if you fit an AMD3 board. But it might not catch fire.


Leckie,
I have sat not 10 feet away from a manufacturers representative (JP was closer), and several other members here were sat with me, when the manufacturers representative stated that the reason for the "metal" cu was to remove the source of fuel, i.e. the CU itself, as admitted by them.
There will never be a recall, whether there should be or not, I am not in a position to comment, however, from what was said @ ELEX, then it seems that the CU was the initial source of fuel, whilst the poor terminations were the cause of the excessive heat/initial fire, which then spread to the CU body which was the initial source of fuel as it was flammable, which then set fire to the surroundings.
 04 December 2015 04:31 PM
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leckie

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Originally posted by: paulskyrme

Originally posted by: leckie



Blimey, what a post! What an assortment of replies to it.







The OP is asking can a new circuit be connected to an existing plastic consumer unit after 2016? Well of course it can provided the unit is not showing signs of thermal damage, etc. But you wouldn't connect a circuit to a metal consumer unit either if the main switch was showing signs of thermal damage would you?







The insinuation that anyone fitting a plastic consumer unit prior to the cut off date is carrying out dangerous work is actually not correct at all.







Let's think about it; what are the manufacturers and the fire service saying? They are saying that the reason for the outbreak of fires from plastic CU's is due to bad installation techniques, not because the CU is plastic. If manufacturers stated that the actual plastic consumer units were inherently dangerous and a fire hazard, there would be a recall. But they don't, and there isn't.







It is totally compliant to install plastic CU's until 2016 so they cannot be dangerous. Unless you carry out a poor installation.







And that is the point. If you correctly tighten the terminal, adequately secure the cables, etc, there is no problem. If you carry out a poor installation then there is a a potential fire hazard.







So do you feel that you are competent enough to install a consumer unit? If not then you would still be incompetent even if you fit an AMD3 board. But it might not catch fire.




Leckie,

I have sat not 10 feet away from a manufacturers representative (JP was closer), and several other members here were sat with me, when the manufacturers representative stated that the reason for the "metal" cu was to remove the source of fuel, i.e. the CU itself, as admitted by them.

There will never be a recall, whether there should be or not, I am not in a position to comment, however, from what was said @ ELEX, then it seems that the CU was the initial source of fuel, whilst the poor terminations were the cause of the excessive heat/initial fire, which then spread to the CU body which was the initial source of fuel as it was flammable, which then set fire to the surroundings.


Quite so Paul. The claim is that bad workmanship causes thermal damage and the CU is the fuel. So if the workmanship that you carry out is, good then there is no problem fitting plastic CU's right up to the cut off point. So everything tightened correctly and cables, including meter tails, secure when entering the CU.

If installing a new circuit to a plastic CU after Jan 2016 then that is OK provided your inspection reveals no signs of thermal damage and everything is tight and secure. In my opinion, that includes tails, etc entering the CU. So if the CU is under the stairs and the tails go unfixed to the meter (very common), then I would not connect to the board unless I secured the tails also.

Regarding the certificate, what's the problem? Fill in the extent of works box, comment as you feel fit on the existing installation, and only tick the boxes that are applicable to the work you have done. The others are NA.
 03 December 2015 09:28 PM
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Lozmic

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Agree - And according to Elecsa the period from January 2016 to end of June 2016 domestic installers are given this time to get up to speed and can choose fit amendment 3 CUs or the previous standard. So it is another 6 months before it becomes mandatory.
 03 December 2015 10:13 PM
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paulskyrme

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Originally posted by: Lozmic

Agree - And according to Elecsa the period from January 2016 to end of June 2016 domestic installers are given this time to get up to speed and can choose fit amendment 3 CUs or the previous standard. So it is another 6 months before it becomes mandatory.


So if ELECSA are saying this then as all "scams" are equal, then all the "scams" MUST therefore be saying the same, thus all the so called competent persons schemes are saying that their members can ignore BS7671 requirements until June 2016, so this must be published in writing to show that ELECSA are stating that the requirements of BS7671 can be ignored until June 2016.

If this is, the case, then we can all forget about metal CU's until then, because if one "body" can state this, then it MUST apply to all, else there is a legal issue I suspect.
So can someone please post the link to where ELECSA are saying this?
 03 December 2015 10:36 PM
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Lozmic

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Just go to the Elecsa web site - there is a link on the home page to Ammendment 3 with the stages of implementation from January to July.
 03 December 2015 11:35 PM
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paulskyrme

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Originally posted by: Lozmic

Just go to the Elecsa web site - there is a link on the home page to Ammendment 3 with the stages of implementation from January to July.


You mean here?
http://www.elecsa.co.uk/Contractors/Amendment-3.aspx

Which gives from January to July 2015 for the main implementation for BS7671 Amd3, then until January 2016 for 421.1.201?
I can't find anything linked from the ELECSA home page indicating that the implementation of 421.1.201 can be legitimately ignored until July 2016.
Can you please provide a more accurate link, because there is LOT hanging on this, and some if it could get seriously legal if your posts are totally accurate.
I can't tell yet, because I can't find your reference source stating that 421.1.201 does not have to be implemented by ELECSA contractors until July 2016.

Please post the exact link because I am too stupid to find it, sorry.
 04 December 2015 09:21 PM
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Zoro

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Originally posted by: paulskyrme

Originally posted by: Lozmic

Agree - And according to Elecsa the period from January 2016 to end of June 2016 domestic installers are given this time to get up to speed and can choose fit amendment 3 CUs or the previous standard. So it is another 6 months before it becomes mandatory.


So if ELECSA are saying this then as all "scams" are equal, then all the "scams" MUST therefore be saying the same, thus all the so called competent persons schemes are saying that their members can ignore BS7671 requirements until June 2016, so this must be published in writing to show that ELECSA are stating that the requirements of BS7671 can be ignored until June 2016.

If this is, the case, then we can all forget about metal CU's until then, because if one "body" can state this, then it MUST apply to all, else there is a legal issue I suspect.

So can someone please post the link to where ELECSA are saying this?



At ELEX Sandown November 2014, the panel made up of Schemes stated that registered installers could continue to fit plastic CU's, STROMA did not support this fully.
 04 December 2015 09:46 PM
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Zs

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Zoro,

thank you for taking the time to post those.

My bad for saying BG, yes, it was CED ( Prof told me that and I got it wrong). Shame, because I don't rate their RCBOs but I'd buy an empty DB case on the basis of no black smoke.

You don't think that the fire retardant was removed so as to show the black smoke in the videos and make us all buy more DBs do you? And to make JP tell my customers that my work is a hazard?

Cynical, but this isn't another one of those industry club intrigues is it Zoro?

I don't want to compromise you though. 1 tap for yes it is and 2 taps for no of course it isn't Zs, It is quite genuine and we must all put our trust in it and rush round changing DBs.

Zs
 05 December 2015 07:51 AM
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Lozmic

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Apologies - I miss read the ELECSA home page, their implementation programme is historic; it actually says Jan 2015 to Jun 2015 not 2016. So Jan 2016 is the mandatory date. Not sure why the historic dates are still shown.
 04 December 2015 07:05 AM
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normcall

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Am I right in saying that the current standard for consumer boxes/distribution boards requires them to be non-flammable and the new standard is that they are non-combustible?
Neither of which are exactly defined in bs7671.
Non-flammable suggests to me that flames are not supported beyond a short period of time and non-combustible means that flames are not supported beyond a shorter time than non-combustible. That leaves brick and concrete judging by the remains left standing after a serious fire!

-------------------------
Norman
 04 December 2015 08:40 AM
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AJJewsbury

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Originally posted by: normcall

Am I right in saying that the current standard for consumer boxes/distribution boards requires them to be non-flammable and the new standard is that they are non-combustible?

Neither of which are exactly defined in bs7671.

Non-flammable suggests to me that flames are not supported beyond a short period of time and non-combustible means that flames are not supported beyond a shorter time than non-combustible. That leaves brick and concrete judging by the remains left standing after a serious fire!

It would be good if someone who has access to the standards could confirm the actual wording, but my understanding is that both the old and new standards for CUs (BS EN 60439 and BS EN 61439) called for the enclosure to be at least "fire resistant" (as did the DPC for AMD 3), but the final version of AMD 3 of BS 7671 demands "non-combustible".

It does seem to be that a number of well known makes of plastic CUs, in laboratory tests, seemed to fail to be even "fire resistant" even though some less well known makes of plastic enclosures performed very well in the same tests. Subsequently something of a smoke screen seems to have gone up implying that no plastic can be fire resistant and so steel has to be used.

- Andy.
 04 December 2015 08:53 AM
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frspikeyhead

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Just to clarify the OP was to understand how you can certify, ie fill in a Amd 3 cert when fitting a new circuit to a existing placky, fire inducing, smoke producing melting inferno board. Incidently just spoke to the tecky guys and they said, as someone has just mentioned, that provided there are no signs of thermal damge then you can fill in an Amd 3 cert when adding a new circuit to a old board. However to make things more interesting, everybody seems to be talking about the material of the boards, whether they are combustible or not or why Amd 3 was brought out in the first place. What about all the mcb's, theyre plastic and they are the first things to ignite?
 04 December 2015 08:56 AM
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mapj1

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There is a British standard for defining things like the brick and cement as non combustible, that is
BS 476: Part 4: 1970 ( as updated in 1984)
Basically the specimen is put into an instrumented fire box, and the fire is run for a certain time, defined in part 11, during which

The material does not flame or cause any rise in temperature on either the centre (specimen) or furnace thermocouples.
Short term flaring of paint coatings etc may or may not be permissible - if the burning paint is more than just a quick flicker, so it adds detectable extra heat, it's a fail. Actually many painted metal structures fail this test.
Its a far stricter test than waving a hot wire near it.
But containing a wire heated such that the plastic drips off the wire is not the only problem.
In very many of the photos of fire disasters we are shown where the seat of the fire is electrical, there is a wire end that has melted and balled up, and looks a bit like the end of a welding rod if you set the current too high - suggesting the harder problem is not simple resistance heating on its own, but an open circuit and the drawing of an arc of some mm in length -presumably at 100A or so, implying the spot temperature reached is at least that of molten copper, - a touch over 1000C. (compare that to salt, sodium chloride, which melts between 800 and 900.., or steel and sand which both go liquid at about 1500-1600. I've never seen it written down but I don't expect cement to last above the melting point of the sand within in it, even assuming it survives the outgassing of the carbon dioxide in the chalk component without exploding.)

However, it also opens the way to more sophisticated protection methods, as arc current is very different to current through a well behaved load.

-------------------------
regards Mike
 04 December 2015 02:24 PM
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craigmckee

Posts: 80
Joined: 16 September 2009

The standard for consumer units is BSEN 61439-3, the clause for this is
10.2.3.2 Verification of resistance of insulating materials to abnormal heat and fire due to internal electric effects

The glow-wire test principles of IEC 60695-2-10 and the details given in IEC 60695-2-11 shall
be used to verify the suitability of materials used:
a) on parts of ASSEMBLIES, or
b) on parts taken from these parts.
The test shall be carried out on material with the minimum thickness used for the parts in a)
or b).
If an identical material having representative cross-sections as the parts has already satisfied
the requirements of 8.1.3.2.3 then the test need not be repeated. It is the same for all parts
which have been previously tested according to their own specifications.
For a description of the test, see Clause 4 of IEC 60695-2-11:2000. The apparatus to be used
shall be as described in Clause 5 of IEC 60695-2-11:2000.
The temperature of the tip of the glow-wire shall be as follows:
- 960 °C for parts necessary to retain current-carrying parts in position;
- 850 °C for enclosures intended for mounting in hollow walls;
- 650 °C for all other parts, including parts necessary to retain the protective conductor.

-----------------------------
The down side is that many plastics can meet the glow wire test, but don't pass a flame test. It's not directly the manufacturers fault as they technically don't need to.

ANyone who is interested can see a glow wire test here from our lab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ6ZbdIf2cc this is on a busbar support made from UL94 V0 material

-------------------------
Regards
Craig

http://www.3phasedesign.com
 04 December 2015 09:10 PM
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Zoro

Posts: 300
Joined: 31 July 2011

To add a few facts and omissions to the thread.

In the original INDEPENDENT tests of plastic CU's conducted at Bureau Veritas.

The manufacturers were asked, whether they had flame retardant materials in the Plastic CU's three stated that they had removed the flame retardant materials. One stated that they had reduced the amount of flame retardant materials, the 5th had taken steps to include flame retardant materials.

The MK and the Hager CU did burst into flames, as shown in pictures and video to the manufacturers, Schemes et al in January 2012. The plastic CU that did not combust and burst into flames was a CED, this is manufactured by Havells.

JP has asked why they have not put their boards forward to JPEL/64, their CU's have already been tested Independently by Bureau Veritas , they have nothing to prove, unlike those manufacturers that failed the tests.

JPEL/64 should not only be independent, but be seen as an independent body, which is certainly not evident at the moment.

When you look at the pictures of the Bureau Veritas tests of the Havells board being subjected to a flame test and surviving. Then see the Hager CU bursting into flames with masses of toxic black smoke, so much so it overwhelmed the labs extraction system and had to be extinguished. It calls into question the whole basis of the regulation.

When the second set of tests were conducted at the Building Regulation Establishment, why were combustible plastic CU's, that were known Not to contain full flame retardant properties, used against metalclad CU's. When public money was used for these tests, why have the Full reports not been published ?

Questions:
When three of the largest manufacturers stopped putting flame retardant materials into their plastic CU's and one reduced those materials, were they independently retested to BS/EN standards after?

What were the consequences of removing those flame retardant materials, on public safety ?

Why were those flame retardant materials placed in plastic CU's originally ?


To answer the OP question, we should be able to identify which plastic CU's are combustible and those that are not, unfortunately those facts are being withheld.
 04 December 2015 09:45 PM
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paulskyrme

Posts: 1285
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Zoro,
I realise this, but, I can't find any reference to this going on until June2016, which is what Lozmic has suggested.

I "need" to see the evidence, as I suspect would you, that says ELECSA are saying that 421.1.201 can be ignored until June 2016, because that would have massive ramifications would it not?...

However Lozmic has not come back with a link to where this is stated.
Which is a shame, because it would certainly begin to sort things out on a legal stand point!
 05 December 2015 03:25 PM
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Zoro

Posts: 300
Joined: 31 July 2011

Originally posted by: paulskyrme

Zoro,

I realise this, but, I can't find any reference to this going on until June2016, which is what Lozmic has suggested.

I "need" to see the evidence, as I suspect would you, that says ELECSA are saying that 421.1.201 can be ignored until June 2016, because that would have massive ramifications would it not?...

However Lozmic has not come back with a link to where this is stated.

Which is a shame, because it would certainly begin to sort things out on a legal stand point!


It is the legal standpoint that is the concern, giving over a year to allow the manufacturers to off load plastic CU's that don't contain flame retardant materials, is a real and continuing concern.

Under Trading Standards legislation it is an offence to withhold information, that would affect the decision of the householder to accept the contract to carry out the work.
 05 December 2015 12:12 AM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
Joined: 22 July 2004

No tap like a money tap I suggest. Actually any results of anything tested with govt. money should be able to be forced available under a freedom of information request, and one could back this up with a public interest safety argument. The exception would be if it might be argued that information affected national security. Personally I think that would be pushing it when you look at what has been asked and answered under FOI over the years by organisations with far more reason to be coy than BRE in that regard.
Certainly protection of the incompetent is not an acceptable reason to withold information from an FOI enquiry as many have found to their cost over the years (the old DTI among others).

see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
for some fascinating examples. (yes, I've used it successfully)

-------------------------
regards Mike
 05 December 2015 03:00 PM
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Zoro

Posts: 300
Joined: 31 July 2011

Originally posted by: mapj1

No tap like a money tap I suggest. Actually any results of anything tested with govt. money should be able to be forced available under a freedom of information request, and one could back this up with a public interest safety argument. The exception would be if it might be argued that information affected national security. Personally I think that would be pushing it when you look at what has been asked and answered under FOI over the years by organisations with far more reason to be coy than BRE in that regard.

Certainly protection of the incompetent is not an acceptable reason to withold information from an FOI enquiry as many have found to their cost over the years (the old DTI among others).



see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

for some fascinating examples. (yes, I've used it successfully)


The first independent tests in 2011 by London Fire Brigade at Bureau Veritas are the most interesting, as they did not involve the manufacturers.


The second set of tests was at the BRE commissioned by DCLG, (Source: BRE report BD2890) Electrium, (Siemens) were also involved. The BRE is an Agency of DCLG, it is not BRE's decision, I have spoken to them....
 05 December 2015 06:41 PM
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paulskyrme

Posts: 1285
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Originally posted by: Zoro

Originally posted by: mapj1



No tap like a money tap I suggest. Actually any results of anything tested with govt. money should be able to be forced available under a freedom of information request, and one could back this up with a public interest safety argument. The exception would be if it might be argued that information affected national security. Personally I think that would be pushing it when you look at what has been asked and answered under FOI over the years by organisations with far more reason to be coy than BRE in that regard.



Certainly protection of the incompetent is not an acceptable reason to withold information from an FOI enquiry as many have found to their cost over the years (the old DTI among others).







see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/



for some fascinating examples. (yes, I've used it successfully)




The first independent tests in 2011 by London Fire Brigade at Bureau Veritas are the most interesting, as they did not involve the manufacturers.





The second set of tests was at the BRE commissioned by DCLG, (Source: BRE report BD2890) Electrium, (Siemens) were also involved. The BRE is an Agency of DCLG, it is not BRE's decision, I have spoken to them....


So,...
These reports were paid for with public money?
Therefore they are obtainable under an FOI request?

Mike, perhaps you could oblige?
You seem to be the expert on that?
 05 December 2015 07:04 PM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
Joined: 22 July 2004

Ah well - now you have furnished the report number, and the name of the central govt department upon which to serve it, raising the request is fairly trivial. If they respond as they should, it will appear here in 3 to 4 weeks time

If nothing else then seeing if they try a fob off with a few convincing excuses first will be entertaining

Some times they do need a gentle nudge to remind them of the legal position - as this lady found, on an unrelated matter,
perseverence pays off eventually..

-------------------------
regards Mike


Edited: 05 December 2015 at 09:51 PM by mapj1
 08 December 2015 08:12 AM
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AJJewsbury

Posts: 15838
Joined: 13 August 2003

Originally posted by: mapj1

Ah well - now you have furnished the report number, and the name of the central govt department upon which to serve it, raising the request is fairly trivial. If they respond as they should, it will appear here in 3 to 4 weeks time



If nothing else then seeing if they try a fob off with a few convincing excuses first will be entertaining



Some times they do need a gentle nudge to remind them of the legal position - as this lady found, on an unrelated matter,

perseverence pays off eventually..


Well done that man!
- Andy.
 08 December 2015 05:52 PM
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lyledunn

Posts: 1107
Joined: 13 August 2003

So what are we saying to the occupants of dwellings that have plastic consumer units? The LFB say they are dangerous, the national standard for electrical installations in the UK have effectively banned their use with a new regulation and the IET have put out a video that speculated that many lives would be saved by the new requirement.
The Schemes seem to proffer the advice that providing there are no signs of thermal damage within the consumer unit then no concern need be expressed by the inspector. But what about the huge number of domestic properties that have not been inspected or won't be inspected for many years? If there is an elevated risk at the level that the various parties suggest, then surely a programme of inspection should be commenced immediately!



-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 08 December 2015 08:00 PM
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rocknroll

Posts: 9541
Joined: 03 October 2005

It is quite obvious you are all looking for some form of 'smoking gun' when one does not exist.

The original question that started the ball rolling was, "why do the statistics show there is an increase in fires at the cutout / consumer unit area ?", whilst the answer to this was already known other issues were identified that warranted further analysis and investigation, one being that SOME of the components and assemblies examined did not meet the required standards and Building Regulation standards for flame and flame propogation and quite rightly the various industry groups were instructed to get there act together, albeit it went badly wrong along the way.

a. There is NO evidence to suggest that installers or their competence was the probable cause of the number of fires increasing in number.
b. There is NO evidence to suggest that the components and assemblies in themselves were the probable cause of the number of fires increasing in number.
c. There is NO evidence that the components and assemblies already fitted that may not meet the standards criteria if installed and used correctly are likely to have an effect on public safety, therefore to enter into a campaign of identifying and recalling the units that do not meet the standards would not be cost effective.

There are anomolies that have been identified that were the probable cause of the number of fires increasing and this is now something that is being discussed between the regulators and the various electricity authorities, standards do slip and often have to be brought back into line so AMD3 is no different, it is highly unlikely that fitting more robust components will make any difference to the number of fires that occur at the area of the service position at the moment, but there is one advantage and that is it should slow down the process further ensuring people get to a place of safety which is the main priority.

Regards

-------------------------
"Take nothing but a picture,
leave nothing but footprints!"
-------------------------
"Oh! The drama of it all."
-------------------------
"You can throw all the philosophy you like at the problem, but at the end of the day it's just basic electrical theory!"
-------------------------
 10 December 2015 11:46 PM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
Joined: 22 July 2004

Well the Freedom of info request worked, after a fashion.

It appears that the DCLG never knew the makes of consumer unit in that report, but the report itself is now officially 'out there'


The BRE response is downloadable from here

Given the utterly unsearchable title of this thread, I will post this again with a meaningful title too.

edited to make link work properly..

-------------------------
regards Mike


Edited: 11 December 2015 at 11:33 AM by mapj1
 08 December 2015 07:18 AM
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poo

Posts: 246
Joined: 07 May 2008

I live mostly in Australia now and I have never seen a consumer unit installed inside a house here. The consumer unit(s) and meter(s) are usually installed inside a hinged galvanised box. The hinged galvanised box is mounted on an outside wall. This lowers the fire risk IMHO. Perhaps the colonials can teach the mother country a thing or two?
 08 December 2015 08:33 PM
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paulskyrme

Posts: 1285
Joined: 12 February 2003

rock,
I realise that you have access, and rightly so, to information that is not in the public domain, yet, which will be soon I hope!
However, the anecdotal and unofficial evidence that I have seen, and I don't know how to get real access to it, suggests that the CU's did not comply with the essential requirements of 89/106/EEC.
So is that right?...
 09 December 2015 12:30 AM
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whjohnson

Posts: 934
Joined: 24 January 2009

a. There is NO evidence to suggest that installers or their competence was the probable cause of the number of fires increasing in number. b. There is NO evidence to suggest that the components and assemblies in themselves were the probable cause of the number of fires increasing in number. c. There is NO evidence that the components and assemblies already fitted that may not meet the standards criteria if installed and used correctly are likely to have an effect on public safety, therefore to enter into a campaign of identifying and recalling the units that do not meet the standards would not be cost effective.


Well SOMETHING is causing the problem!

Talking of smoke screens!

-------------------------
Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
 09 December 2015 09:22 AM
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lyledunn

Posts: 1107
Joined: 13 August 2003

Very good point WHJ. RandR would make a good politician methinks.
What can be said clearly is that the use of plastic consumer units increases the risk of a fire propagating when the ignition source is within the consumer unit itself. Our national wiring regulations see the concern as serious enough to effectively ban the use of plastic consumer units. Now had it been allowed to make consumer unit enclosures from cardboard and there was a reported increase in fires or the severity of the fires because the material could not adequately contain a bit of internal heating without bursting in to flames, we might have been quicker to acknowledge the error.
So would it have been in any way appropriate to ban the cardboard and allow the enclosure to be made of plastic?
Despite Rand Rs attempt to douse the flames, so to speak, public perception is a potent opinion-maker. I hear the discussions at wholesalers counters and I have no doubt that both sound advice and scaremongering will disseminate down to the British public from the trade.
Whatever, I am of the view that since the LFB and the IET promulgated the notion of the increased fire risk posed by plastic consumer units, it is they that should be offering clear advice to both the trade and the general public.

-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 09 December 2015 09:40 AM
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AJJewsbury

Posts: 15838
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What can be said clearly is that the use of plastic consumer units increases the risk of a fire propagating when the ignition source is within the consumer unit itself.

I beg to differ - from what I've seen only the use of plastic CUs from certain manufacturers who seem to have elected to remove flame retardants from their formulations (and allegedly fail to comply with the product standard in the process) seem to carry such a risk. It doesn't seem to be a risk inherent in the use of plastic as such - as the CED example showed.
- Andy.
 09 December 2015 10:29 AM
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Jaymack

Posts: 5357
Joined: 07 April 2004

Originally posted by: frspikeyhead
Someone has probably already asked this question

Topic titles should be searchable to forum rules, this one is a time waster when viewed, as in - "What was this one about again"?, (the polite version).

I'm surprised that nobody has already pointed this out.

Regards
 09 December 2015 07:16 PM
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lyledunn

Posts: 1107
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Andy, tests may have been carried out on certain plastic consumer units and it may have been confirmed that the required ignitability characteristics have been met with some, perhaps including CED. The problem is that LFB did not record data on the manufacturers of the consumer units at fires they attended. I don't think that it is reasonable to extrapolate that consumer units that meet the required ignition standard have not been involved in these fires.
In any event joe public won't give a flying stuff about the minutiae of technical standards, plastic is likely to be plastic and plastic burns!

-------------------------
Regards,

Lyle Dunn
 10 December 2015 06:44 PM
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frspikeyhead

Posts: 830
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Ooooppps looks like ive upset the forum policemen and broken the rules. Oh dear, a slap on the back of the wrist then. I wonder if these vigilant observers of forum rules drive 30mph in a 30mph zone.........mmmmmmmm???
 10 December 2015 08:55 PM
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Zs

Posts: 3814
Joined: 20 July 2006

One of our own is planning some independent testing. I expect a touch more scientific than my own when I took a blow-torch to a fire hood in order to see what it does.

I hope the results are going to be made available in the public domain?

Poo, that's a very good point about Australian DBs. They are all outside. I remember noticing that and indeed that some weren't even DBs but a group of fuses mounted quite randomly on a Copex board or the like.

Zs
 13 December 2015 11:29 AM
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paulskyrme

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Well done & thank you Mike, some reading with a beer or two later I suspect.
 13 December 2015 04:52 PM
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michaelward

Posts: 62
Joined: 25 July 2008

A consumer unit does not cost much, it is the labour and possible moving to conform with regulation heights (in many cases) which is the biggest cost.

The legislation states that if a consumer unit is changed, then anything attached to that unit must conform to the latest regulations, however I have not seen anything to say the inverse is true ?

Therefore, when extending or altering an electrical installation , only the new work must meet current standards. There is no obligation to upgrade the existing installation unless either of the following applies. a. The new work adversely affects the safety of the existing installation. b. The state of the existing installation is such that the new work cannot be operated safely.


Edited: 13 December 2015 at 06:40 PM by michaelward
 14 December 2015 09:41 AM
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AJJewsbury

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The legislation states that if a consumer unit is changed, then anything attached to that unit must conform to the latest regulations

Which legislation allegedly says that?
- Andy.
 14 December 2015 10:40 AM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
Joined: 22 July 2004

I think we can be extremely sure that that is not true. It may be desirable, recommended etc etc, but not a legal requirement.


In a domestic setting its the building acts we need to look to, (nod to the occupier's liability act as well) in industrial settings its the Health and and safety at work, factories acts, and electricity at work act.

Broadly these all agree, that things should not be unreasonably dangerous, and when anything is done in the sense of repaired/changed it should be be no more dangerous than before.
However, you do not have to work to BS7671 - though you need to be sure what you are working to if you don't, and able to back it up. (I have some wiring I did to the German regs in my own house for example, that building control signed off after a brief discussion - the point being they were not sure what to do, not that there was any legal uncertainty. )

So, if you take out a wooden box of BS3036 fuses and fit a unit with MCBs, it behoves you to check that the installation is not utterly unfit for purpose (live wires hanging out of the bathroom wall might be unfit..).
You should also check that the MCBs are not more dangerous than the hot wire fuses they replace (less contentious, although with all these fire statistics and pics of modern DIN rail boards all melted I'm less sure than I was a few years ago) really this is a few PFC and loop impedance checks.

But you certainly can leave it non compliant with modern regs - for a common example, consider the millions with a pre 1970s non-earthed lighting circuit, so long as you take all reasonable steps to make it as safe as you can - ensuring no metal light switch bodies, and RCD protection.
And a big 'this is not earthed' warning .


Maybe not ideal, but certainly not illegal.

-------------------------
regards Mike
 12 January 2016 11:43 AM
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michaelward

Posts: 62
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Like many things within the regulations, they are of course subject to the safety standards at the time of testing. As work has to be tested for part P, then it is completely dependent upon the person testing and how they feel the work has been carried out.

In other words if they find that wiring into a consumer unit is old or unsafe, then it matters little how safe the unit is itself.

I have already come across a building inspector who has said that the change of just the consumer unit in a property is unacceptable, because in his opinion the wiring is old. Apparently no other reason has to be given and certainly no electrical breakdown test was performed.
 12 January 2016 02:51 PM
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mapj1

Posts: 9366
Joined: 22 July 2004

Then he needs to be challenged, as does anyone who asserts things they cannot explain. Behind the building inspector is his supervisor, and behind them the former ODPM, now the DCLG, and then of doubtful value, whoever the current minister is.
Now it may not be worth it, or he may be right, but he should be able to give a sound technical reason..

-------------------------
regards Mike


Edited: 12 January 2016 at 02:59 PM by mapj1
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