New Consumer Units and BS7671:2008 Amendment 3

17th-amd3-coverI was in a well know electrical wholesalers today and overheard the lad behind the counter say to a customer “No mate, plastic boards are illegal. Everything has to be metal”.

Had to bite my tongue a bit as this is not true and looking around some of the electrical forums it seems as though a lot of electricians are under this impression as well.

Amendment 3 came into affect 1st July 2015 but implementation is not until 1st January 2016. Basically this means if you have stock or wholesalers have stock then it can still be used up until this time. It would be prudent though to start using metal as soon as you can but don’t go throwing out your old stock, just use it up before 1st January 2016.

Here’s the exact wording from the IET web page that specifically deals with the new amendment concerning consumer units:

Implementation date

As stated in Note 2 to the new regulation, the implementation date for the regulation is 1 January 2016.  This is six months later than the effective date of Amendment 3 as a whole.

The purpose of the delay in implementation is to allow a period of co-existence of both metal- and plastic-enclosed consumer units and to allow time for manufacturers to work existing and new products through their supply chains.  Nevertheless, as is also indicated in Note 2, the delayed implementation does not preclude compliance with the regulation prior to 1 January 2016.

Why Metal or Non-combustible Consumer Units?

This new amendment is supposed to stop the spread of fire if something is not terminated correctly in a consumer unit. Personally I think this is not adressing the root cause of the problem and that is poor workmanship.

I think the rise in fires caused by loose terminations and sloppy work has been a direct result of too many people going on a 6 week course to become ‘Part P’ and then claiming they are an electrician. Very few of these ‘6 week wonders’ have site experience or the knowledge on exactly how a consumer unit should be terminated.

Whilst the governing bodies allow this to continue we will just see more sloppy work, more fires and potentially more deaths. Changing consumer units to metal is not going to solve the problem. What’s next, mandatory metal switches & socket? Self extinguishing junction boxes? Tackle the root problem and get these cowboys off site!