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Anyone recognize this old consumer unit ?

Postby Grimesy » Wed Oct 06, 2021 12:06 am

Just been to see my daughters' new "doer-upper" house. Was surprised to see this consumer unit from pre-history. Are there any old electricians out there who recognize it ? The breakers are about 25mm wide (that's one inch for Brexiteers). Does it need replacing ? The electrics in the house seem to work OK.
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Postby Mr White » Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:14 pm

You should have an EICR carried out, this will check all circuits and tell of any defects, but as the house is a "doer-upper" then now would be an ideal time to completely re-wire the house and have a new up-to-date consumers unit with RCBO's.
A good EICR can be expensive, so save money, and have it re wired. It could even be re wired to accommodate smart switches.
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Postby ericmark » Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:05 pm

Dorman Smith Loadmaster, as to requirement to upgrade, each edition of wiring regulations says some thing like "Existing installations that have been installed in accordance with earlier editions of the Regulations may not comply with this edition in every respect. This does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe for continued use or require upgrading." Note the "not necessarily" this is because although BS 7671 is not retrospective, some laws are, in the main the regulations are updated to comply with CENELEC and HSE and London Fire brigade. This may with some properties mean it does need upgrading, although in the main it is commercial properties not domestic.

The problem is anything new needs RCD protection, so you can't add anything without renewing the distribution unit (Not consumer unit as they did not exist when LoadMaster was used.).

So if your not doing anything to the home then no need to up grade, but most of us do want to do things in the home.

Personally I want to reduce the risk of fire, which is often caused by water damage, and the like, so I want all circuits RCD protected, I also want the freezer not to fail, and lights not to fail specially if some thing plugged in goes wrong. So really want sockets and lights in each room not to be on the same RCD, I also don't want LED bulbs to fail, so having a surge protection device seems a good idea.

So I had a new consumer unit all RCBO (that's a RCD and MCB combined) with a SPD in a metal box fitted soon after moving in, the parts cost around £300 I could have likely saved £200 by having just 2 RCD's instead of 14 RCBO's, but loose one freezer full of food and it costs more than £200, so I decided to go for all RCBO's.

Also to reset any breaker I have to go outside and down a flight of steps and into the old garage under the main house, not some thing I want to do at night in the snow, so to my mind extra money well worth it.

The make of consumer unit can mean the price is three times higher, the cheaper makes like "Fusebox" don't make double pole RCBO's so with some properties with TT earthing one is forced to use the more expensive makes.

I have only had one LED lamp fail in this house, and even that one I opened to see how they worked, found the fault and corrected, but I read others having problems with LED lamp failures, I can't be sure the SPD is stopping my lamps failing, but it seems likely home where LED's don't seem to last likely would not have problem with a SPD fitted. But cost of a SPD varies a lot make to make, from £30 to £200 so if you can use the cheaper makes it can cut total cost in half.

It took me around 6 months to get around to fitting a new consumer unit, however if you are required to have an EICR (electrical installation condition report) either due to insurance, mortgage, or renting, then lack of RCD can mean some people code the EICR as code C2 which is a fail, I personally feel that is wrong, it should be code C3, but there is no hard and fast rule.
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