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Jargon Buster / Electrical Definitions, Guides and Advice


17TH Edition - The 17th edition wiring regulations (BS7671 2008) were published can came into effect in January 2008 and the previous 16th edition regulations (BS7671 2004) cease to be valid from July 2008. New installations may be installed to either edition between these dates. Any installation completed and compliant with the March 2004 amendment of 16th edition regulations up to and including 30 June 2008 will likely be non-compliant from 1st July 2008 to some degree. This does not necessarily imply that the installation is unsafe and requires improving, although consideration to upgrading should be given.

BS 7671 - The UK national safety standard for electrical installation work.

Certificate / Certification - Any electrician installing a new electrical installation (including a single circuit), altering, extending or adapting an existing circuit should issue the homeowner with electrical installation certificate, or minor electrical installation works certificate, to confirm the work complies with the requirements of BS 7671.

Consumer Unit (Fuseboard) - A consumer unit is the same as a Fuseboard and is used to control and distribute electricity around your home. It usually contains a main switch, fuses or circuit breakers and one or more residual current devices (see RCD).

Electrical Safety Regulations - A new electrical safety law, often referred to as Part P of the Building Regulations, has further enhanced the protection of homeowners and reduced the risk of electric shock when using electricity. The law, which applies to England and Wales aims to improve electrical safety in the home and prevent the number of accidents, which are caused by faulty electrical work. The law requires an electrician registered with a government-approved scheme, such as NICEIC, to carry out most electrical work in the home. After completion of any work your NICEIC registered electrician will issue you with a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate to prove it meets the required standards of Part P. You can only carry out electrical work yourself if you can inspect and test that it is safe for use. To comply with the law you must notify your local building control office before you begin any work and pay the appropriate fee for them to inspect the work.

IEE Regulations - All new electrical work within a domestic setting must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations in England and Wales introduced on 1 January 2005, which are legally enforceable. One way of achieving this is to apply British Standard BS7671 (the "Wiring Regulations"), including carrying out adequate inspection and testing to this standard of the completed works. Although it must be stated that the British Standard BS 7671 (the "Wiring Regulations") are not statutory thus someone doing electrical work is allowed to deviate from the wiring regulations to some degree but it is generally accepted that it is best to follow the wiring regulations to the highest standard possible.

Some of the restrictions introduced with Part P were controversial, especially the rules surrounding work carried out by unregistered people such as DIY-ers. Under the new regulations, commencement of any work other than simple changes becomes notifiable to the local building control authority; "other than simple" in this context means any work in a kitchen or bathroom other than like-for-like replacement, work in other areas more than just adding extra lights or sockets to an existing circuit or meeting certain other criteria, such as outdoor wiring.

Landlord Certificate - As it stands, unlike gas regulations, there is no law that says you must have a landlord electrical safety certificate. However, landlords are obligated to ensure that all electrical appliances and fittings within the property are safe and in good working order. Failure to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is a criminal offence, may invalidate some insurance policies and also puts your tenants life at risk which may also result in manslaughter charges in the event of deaths.

NICEIC - NICEIC has been assessing the technical competence of electricians for over 50 years. Their aim is to protect everyone who uses electricity from unsafe electrical installations anywhere. To achieve this, they maintain a register of qualified, competent electricians. [Find NICEIC Approved Electrician]

Part P - The specific section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which relates to electrical installations in domestic properties.

Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) - A report on the condition of your electrical wiring, containing an overall assessment of the safety of the wiring, observations on its condition, and a number of recommendations (in order of priority) for action (if any is required) to restore the wiring to a satisfactory condition for continued safe use.

RCD - Residual Current Device. This is a sensitive switching device that trips a circuit when an earth fault is detected. RCD protection is particularly important for socket circuits that may be used to supply portable equipment for use outdoors.


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Registered Office: 16 Wadsworth Drive, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S12 2DF - Company No.: 07245652

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