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Electrical installation standards have been evolving ever since the invention of electricity and in the modern world, these standards have helped not just reduce but, in some cases, also eliminate the risks involved with electrical installations.
Before the 1900s, electrical installations had a lot of discrepancies since everyone would have their own way of laying wires, sourcing materials, and installing fixtures. While this method worked for some, it almost always resulted in more work being required down the road – what is worse is that some of these subpar installations also commonly resulted in short circuits and fires.
This is why the British Standards were introduced in the 1900s and we have been constantly improving and evolving the standards to fit modern electrical equipment and technology.
In this guide, we will learn about the history of the British Standards and understand the latest electrical installation standards and regulations.
The British Standards were heralded as a breakthrough in the electrical servicing industry. These standards not only brought harmony in an otherwise chaotic service industry but also brought down the overall risk associated with faulty installations via short circuits and electrical failures.
The British Standards Institute was created in the 1900s to introduce a standardised system that addressed not just electricians but also the manufacturer of electrical equipment.
Before the standards were introduced, the electrical industry was operating without any cohesive standard. Every electrician had their own method for addressing problems and there was seldom any post-testing or maintenance services. Once the wires had been laid down, it was the responsibility of the property owner to check on the system themselves.
What is worse is that property owners would also go with self-sourcing strategies where they would purchase electrical equipment themselves.
For some people, this meant cost savings since they could purchase equipment at a lower rate – however, this low-cost equipment was also notorious for being subpar. Since there were no set standards at the manufacturer’s end, companies could manufacture low-quality equipment to increase their bottom line.
As you can imagine, this system was not sustainable and often resulted in serious fires, financial losses, and even human lives. Fortunately, the government took notice of this problem and began working on a method to solve this issue once and for all – after all electricity was seen as the future and officials wanted a very strong foundation for the country to build its electrical infrastructure.
The Engineering Standards Committee was established in 1901, led by James Mansergh, a competent civil engineer who helped shape the initial standards that would later become the bible of the modern electrician.
The Engineering Standards Committee’s goal was to set a strong standard for manufacturers to make them more efficient and competitive. Moreover, the committee was also tasked with crafting the initial standards that would provide the blueprints for how electrical work was to be carried out.
The committee later transformed into the British Standards Institute in the 1920s and, by that time, the British Standards already had a strong impact in both residential and commercial properties in the context of safety and efficiency in electrical installations.
Part P regulations are part of the British Standards which were introduced in 2005. These regulations highlight electrical safety rules and are part of the Building Regulations, which are also known as Part P Electrical Regulations.
The primary reason for the introduction of these regulations was to ensure that the electrical work and installation work carried out in properties met the safety standards and was completely safe to use.
Part P is applicable for electrical installations in buildings as well as portions of buildings that include:
As per the law in the UK, the homeowner or landlord of the property is to comply with the Part P regulations. The property owner must provide valid documents that prove that the electrical work performed on the property was done with the highest standards.
Failing to furnish these documents is usually grounds for serious legal actions where the property owner can also risk losing their home insurance. Furthermore, if the work is not done using the standards outlined in Part P regulations, then local authorities have the right to remove these subpar installations.
Certified electricians are trained to perform electrical installation tasks with regulations in mind. This way, you can expect only the highest standards when it comes to installing, repairing, or adding new components to electrical installations.
As per Part P regulations, electricians must also provide an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). Perhaps the most important aspect of this certificate is that it highlights a strict maintenance and inspection schedule.
Inspections, tests, and maintenance visits are mandatory as per Part P regulations since they ensure the integrity and longevity of electrical systems.
Part P regulations cover a range of electrical work. To make these regulations easier to understand, we will break them up according to the type of electrical work.
Here is what is included in Part P regulations:
Electrical work such as installing new wiring, circuits, consumer units, sockets, or other related equipment falls under Part P of the building regulations.
The electrician must furnish a valid Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) at the end of the installation. This certificate will include all the particulars of the job which include the details about the job, the information about the installer and the property owner, the issuance date, maintenance schedules, and more.
Any work done on existing installations, whether it is replacement or additions, comes under Part P of building regulations. In the same manner, as new installations, the electrician is required to provide a valid certificate and highlight all the changes, the electrical tests, and results in the certificate.
Alteration work can include changes to circuits, adjustments to wirings, rerouting wiring, changes to sockets, etc.
Finally, any repair work done on an existing electrical installation falls under Part P regulations as well. Repairing work includes repairing or replacing existing electrical installations, replacing consumer units, repairing faulty wiring or sockets, and even rewiring parts of the electrical installation.
The 18th edition of the IET wiring regulations (BS 7671) is a set of rules that highlight the best practices for performing electrical work at any property. These standards expand on the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems in the United Kingdom.
Here are some of the things covered in these regulations:
Furthermore, these regulations also cover strategies to reduce the risk of accidental shocks and safeguards to protect against electric shocks. Electric shocks not only pose a danger to life, but they can also cause a catastrophic failure in the installation.
Fortunately, these guidelines are at the forefront of every certified electrician’s mind which is why one of the first tasks electricians work on is to secure themselves and the system to reduce the risk of shocks.
It is important to keep in mind that using subpar wiring or faulty installations can cause an excessive buildup of heat within the system. This type of overheating is one of the leading causes of fires caused by compromised electrical systems.
Similarly, electrical components like faulty breakers or fuses with loose connections can also cause a buildup of thermal energy in the installation. A great example of reducing the thermal effects and the risk of fires in new installations is the use of flame-retardant materials for high-risk components that are prone to high loads.
For example, breakers and fuses must be adequately sized and have the correct amperage to handle the incoming load. Failure to install these devices properly can cause a cascading effect that can compromise the entire installation.
These regulations are an excellent example of how new guidelines can be issued to existing standards. The Electrical Safety Standards for Private and Rented Sector came into effect in 2020 and require landlords to have existing or new electrical installations tested and inspected by a certified electrician at least every 5 years.
As per law, certified electricians are required to share an Electrical Installation Certificate that highlights the details of the installation, which includes an in-depth maintenance schedule. This schedule is required to be followed by the property owner in order to comply with the Part P regulations.
Failing to follow the schedule can not only result in penalties but can also jeopardise the electrical system. For example, since wiring and electrical equipment are prone to deterioration due to heat or exposure to the environment, over time these systems can accumulate damage that can potentially result in fires or catastrophic damage.
This is why a certified electrician is required to inspect the system in order to highlight issues and address them before they become a problem.
We have already discussed the importance of Part P of the Buildings Regulations. These regulations are essential to ensure the safety of electrical installation in England and Wales. Complying with these regulations is not optional.
Part P regulations are mandatory and an integral part of maintaining the integrity of an electrical installation. Thanks to these building regulations, damage caused by electrical-induced fires and incidents has gone down significantly over the years.
It is estimated that the risk of electrical failures will go down even further over the years as these regulations keep getting updated as technology progresses.
Just like in England and Wales, the Scottish Building Standards are set by the Scottish government. These regulations ensure the safety of electrical installation in both commercial and residential spaces. Unsurprisingly, these regulations have a lot more common with Part P regulations since both of these guidelines are built to ensure maximum safety with regard to electrical installations.
Similarly, the Northern Ireland Building Regulations follow the same guidelines for electrical installations. Please keep in mind that while all these building regulations may share a similar foundation, they can have minute differences in their policies.
This is why we recommend that you always go with a certified electrician, like the ones provided by Calder Electrical, to cover all bases.
A certified electrician not only understands how to attempt highly complex installations, but they also perform the work in compliance with building regulations.
While it may be possible to get work done by individual contractors and uncertified electricians, it is always better to follow protocol and go with a reasonable certified electrician for minor and major electrical work!
We have been providing electrical services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties for over 40 years and are specialists in all aspects of electrical installations, maintenance, and testing.
All our work is fully insured, and we work to meet the standards set by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.
If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call-out service to rectify and solve any problems such as circuit tripping, loss of power, broken items that need repairing, or to check if you feel something is unsafe or a potential hazard.
Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.
We can also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.
Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 3001 to get in touch with our professional electricians for more information on the latest electrical installation standards and regulations.
Or would like us to provide a survey and quote then please contact us and we will be happy to help.Call us on 0800 612 3001