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Engineering body comments on potential causes of smart meter fires

04 August 2017


The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), joint publisher of the IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671 which sets the standard for electrical installations in the UK, outlines some of the possible causes of smart meter installation fires.

Mark Coles, Head of Technical Regulations at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said: “When a smart meter is fitted, the existing electricity meter is removed and, when doing this, the cables which need to connect to the smart meter will need to be bent, pulled and possibly cut to length to ensure they connect properly to the new meter. In doing this, the connections at the other end of the cables, i.e. those which connect to the cut-out, which is the property of the electrical distributor, and those which connect to the consumer unit, which is the property of the building owner, can be disturbed at their terminations. This can result in the loosening of the connection which, over time, could lead to overheating and, worryingly, fire.

“It’s also important to remember that electrical installations are not ‘fit and forget’. If you haven’t had a periodic inspection of the electrical installation in your house in the last ten years, the IET recommends you do so as these need to be maintained.

“If you have had a smart meter installed recently, or are about to, use this opportunity to get a periodic inspection or ‘electrical MOT’ carried out on your electrical installation.

“The periodic inspection will not, however, assess the electrical connections at the smart meter nor at the cut-out. If you see any signs of discoloration at the cut-out or at the smart meter, smell burning or can hear crackling sounds or arcing, call your electrical supplier immediately. Similarly, if you see any signs of discoloration at the consumer unit, smell burning or can hear crackling sounds or arcing, call a qualified electrician immediately.  A qualified registered electrician can be found at http://www.competentperson.co.uk/.  

“Modern consumer units also have RCDs which should be tested every three months by homeowners or tenants – these are the devices which have a ‘test’ button on them in our consumer units.”

Notes to editors:

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