new consumer unit essex electrician

Ultimate Guide to Domestic Consumer Units.

What is a Consumer Unit?

In simple terms a Consumer Unit is a device that provides a means of connecting the incoming Electricity Supply to the wiring in your house. Depending on the age of your Consumer Unit, it will also contain various safety/protection devices.  Older equipment typically use fuse wire or cartridge fuses to protect the circuits in the event of a fault. These can be unreliable and are inconvenient to change should the need arise.  Modern equipment uses electronic safety devices (MCBs) which as well as being more reliable, are far more convenient as they can simply be reset with the push of a button (once any fault has been rectified). Also worth mentioning are RCDs which are present in all modern Consumer Units. Again in simple terms, these devices monitor the electrical circuits in your house and if they detect an imbalance caused by a fault, they disconnect the supply almost instantaneously.

Do I need to replace my consumer unit?

For peace of mind it is advisable to seek out a Registered Electrician and discuss your concerns. If you own your own property and have not had an Electrical Installation Condition Report carried out in the last ten years then one should be carried out as soon as possible. Your Electrician will then be able to advise you on the condition of your entire installation and advise you of any remedial work that needs carrying out including improvements to your Consumer Unit. Should you decide you wish to replace your old Consumer Unit, your Electrician will chose which size and type of protection devices to be used based on a number of factors such as cable size, the load which is to be placed on each circuit and the type of circuit. He will make these decisions based on a visual inspection as well as tests made using specialist test equipment. Also worth mentioning, modern Consumer Units offer the ability for your Electrician to update and modify the installation in the future without having to replace it. Therefore when discussing your needs it is always a good idea to specify that you require extra space on the Consumer Unit to accommodate this facility.

Below is a picture of a modern Domestic Consumer Unit:

new consumer unit essex electrician


Below are a couple of pictures of older Consumer Units. Also in particularly old boards it is not uncommon to find they are made at least partially from wood. Of course nowadays this would be considered a fire risk and would not be acceptable in any kind of electrical installation.

replace old consumer unit southend-on-sea

guide to consumer units

How much does a new Consumer Unit cost?

Prices vary depending on many factors, the most obvious being the size of the installation. Due to the large amount of testing that needs to be done on every circuit, the size of the property (and amount of circuits) plays a large part in this. Other factors which can affect price include night storage heaters, solar panel (PV) installations and the supply of power to outbuildings. Also other upgrades may be required such as improvements to your bonding or earthing conductors.

We have found that 90% of installations can be carried out for between £400.00 and £800.00 inclusive of parts and labour. Very small installations may come in less and of course the opposite is true of larger installations. A reputable electrician should be happy to offer you a free consultation to discuss your needs.


The law and you.

It is a legal requirement under “Part P of the Building Regulations” that any electrician who installs a new Consumer Unit is registered with a Part P compliant scheme operator such as ELECSA, NAPIT or NICEIC which have strict membership requirements.

It is possible to carry out Notifiable works without the services of a registered electrician but you will need to consult Building Control throughout the process and they will charge you to have the installation tested by one of their Electricians which can cost a considerable amount. If the installation fails for any reason Building Control will insist it is brought up to standard and may charge for an additional visit to verify this has been done.

Damage caused by the incorrect selection of cables and MCBs can result in fire and an increased risk of electric shock. Therefore it is imperative that you employ the services of a highly trained and qualified Electrician to install or carry out maintenance on your Consumer Unit.

Your chosen Electrician will be obliged by law to notify building control on your behalf of the work that they have carried out. Your Electrician should NOT attempt to make any significant additional charges for doing this as it is a legal requirement of carrying out this work.

The selection of protective devices (MCBs/RCDs and RCBOs) and cables are dependent on the earthing arrangement in your property.  There is no one size fits all solution when choosing a Consumer Unit which is why it is so important that you select a tradesman with the correct training and equipment to make these decisions. It cannot be stressed enough that regardless of law this is not a DIY job. The implications of making the wrong choices when installing a new Consumer Unit or circuit can be catastrophic.



About us:

This article was written by SG Electrics of Leigh On Sea, Essex in the UK and makes reference to British legislation specifically BS7671.

We are trusted Electricians who specialize in domestic installations. We are happy to give free advice and no obligation quotes anywhere in Southeast Essex. We carry out all works including new Consumer Units, rewires, fault finding, Electrical Installation Condition Reports and Landlord Services. SG Electrics are members of ELECSA (part of the ECA group) and as such are able to notify all work to building control on your behalf at no extra cost.

© Samuel Green and SG Electrics, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Samuel Green and SG Electrics with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Electrical safety test essex

Electrical Installation Condition Report        

What is an Electrical Installation Condition Report?

An Electrical Installation Condition Report (from here on forward referred to as an EICR) is a Report that runs over 5 pages that covers the entire electrical installation unless exemptions are specifically noted. The aim of this report is to establish compliance with BS7671 which is the current standard for electrical installations in the United Kingdom.

An EICR should be carried out by a highly trained, qualified and insured Electrician who has relevant testing and inspection qualifications and experience.

An EICR could be compared to an MOT that you have done on your car. Your local Electrician will carry out a full visual inspection of the installation, checking behind sockets, switches and light fittings. He will take into account the condition, age, routing and suitability of the wiring itself and carry out in depth testing on every circuit of your property to ensure your fuses/MCBs and RCD (where present) will disconnect the supply of electricity to the affected area of your home in the event of a fault.

Just like your Mechanic will pass or fail your car on specific points, your Electrician will pass or fail your installation based on his/her findings.

Each inspected element of  your installation will be eligible to receive a tick (pass) or a grade ranging from C1 (most serious) to C3, which means the installation needs improvement but does not pose an immediate risk to life or property.

A common mistake people make is thinking that by commissioning an EICR they are receiving a certificate to say that the property is from an electrical perspective safe. Whilst a “PASS” will confirm the installation is safe and meeting current British Standards, any C marks will need attention to bring the installation up to standard.

SG Electrics of Leigh-On-Sea, Essex, are fully qualified and insured to carry out these condition reports so please use the “contact us” tab above to arrange a free quote or continue reading to see why you may need a report carried out.


Why would I need an EICR?


There are many reasons you may need a condition report including but not limited to:

  • Good Practice It is good practice to have your property inspected at least every 10 years. It may also be a condition on your buildings and contents insurance that you ensure the electrics in your home are safe and meet current standards. If you have not had the property inspected it may be hard to convince insurers everything was in good order.
  • Equity Release If you are considering equity release, it will almost certainly be a condition that you have an EIRC carried out by an ECA registered Electrician such as SG Electrics. They will usually specify a time frame in which all recommendations must be acted upon.
  • Renting out a property Whilst as a landlord you are not obligated to have a condition report carried out at any point (except HMOs, see below) it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the electrics in the property are safe. Failure to do so would render the property owner liable in the event of an accident or injury and could invalidate any and all insurance policies. Therefore we would recommend rented properties are inspected every 5 years.
  • HMOs If you own/operate a HMO you have a legal obligation to have an EICR carried out every 5 years and to act upon its recommendations. HMO stands for House of Multiple Occupation and pertains to the rental of individual rooms within a property to different tenants.
  • Moving Home The vast majority of EIRCs we carry out are on behalf of customers who have recently moved home and are seeking reassurance that the property they have moved into is safe for them and their families. Not only will a report give you peace of mind but it will point out any areas that need improvement. An advantage of having a report carried out when you move into your new home is any improvements that need making can be completed before you decorate, minimising any disruption.


Why else may I need a report done?

If looking around your house you spot any of the following it may be a good time to commission an EICR:

  • Thick black rubber cables. These were fitted in properties up to the mid 1950s and were originally intended to have a life of 25 years. Whilst not necessarily dangerous these cables are now often brittle and can break apart when disturbed, which can pose a risk to life and property. Where these cables are still present we would recommend annual checks until they are replaced.
  • Fish Odours. No, we’re not joking! If you can smell a fishy odour (and it’s not actually fish) this can be associated with the breaking down and burning of insulation of wires in the walls and behind switches and sockets. If you cannot rule out other causes it is critical you consult a competent Electrician for further investigation.
  • Rewirable Fuses. As with rubber cables, old does not always mean dangerous, however if your fuses have wire in them they are old and it can be a good indication that other areas of the installation (such as earthing) may not have been updated.  If you have not recently consulted an Electrician now may be a good time to do so!
  • Any bare copper wire. Broadly speaking if you can see bare copper wire anywhere in your property and you don’t know why, you should seek the services of an Electrician.
  • Crackling or humming noises from sockets or switches. These noises can indicate arcing between contacts in the accessory and should be inspected as soon as possible as they pose a risk of fire.
  • Any signs of burning or fire. If you have any signs of burning, blackened areas around sockets or switches, they should be inspected as a matter of urgency and not used until repaired.



How long will an EICR take?

The length of time an EICR condition report takes varies depending on the property being tested. A general guide would be from between half a day to a full day and that would cover most properties from a one bedroom flat up to a an average four bedroom house. There are companies out there who will issue a certificate for as little as £60 and take less than an hour to do it. It is IMPOSSIBLE to carry out the full range of tests and visual inspections in this time. Approach tradesmen like this with extreme caution as their greed could put you, your family and your property at risk.


Who should carry out an EICR

If you live in Essex (United Kingdom) then please contact SG Electrics using the contact form at the top of the page or via to arrange a free, no obligation quote where we will be happy to discuss your individual needs.

Based in Leigh-On-Sea, we cover not only Leigh but the surrounding areas, including but not limited to Southend-On-Sea, Westcliff-On-Sea, Chelmsford, Basildon, Canvey Island and Castle Point.

If you are not in Essex, you need to find a trusted Electrician who should be registered under a Part P approved scheme operator such as ELECSA, NICEIC or NAPIT. If your Electrician is a member of one of these bodies then you can appeal to them for help if he fails to live up to your expectations.

Being an Electrician is a privilege and all Electricians should conduct themselves in a professional manor at all times. A good tradesman will always be happy to give you a free quote and advice, if not find someone who does.

Online reviews can be extremely helpful also.  SG Electrics is active on and we have a testimonials page. When requested we are always happy to provide references from some of our many satisfied customers.


Any questions?

If you have any questions regarding Electrical Installation Condition Reports or our services, please feel free to contact us using the methods outlined in the above article.


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