When should installers start to use non-combustible consumer units?

The IET recently published an article in the press that explains when installers should begin to use non-combustible consumer units. Put simply, the conclusion was that electricians should start as soon as stocks of compliant consumer units are available.

Amendment 3 to BS7671:2011 (IET Wiring Regulations Seventeenth Edition) comes into effect on 1st July 2015. It includes a new regulation requiring consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies that are installed into domestic household premises to have a non-combustible enclosure.

This new regulation (421.1.201) states: –

‘Within domestic (household) premises, consumer units and similar switchgear assemblies shall comply with BS EN61439-3 and shall either have their enclosure manufactured from non-combustible material, or be enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material.’

Two footnotes are attached to this regulation:-

Note 1: Ferrous metal, eg. steel, is deemed to be an example of a non-combustible material.

Note 2: The implementation date for this regulation is the 1st January 2016, but does not preclude compliance with the regulation prior to that date.

Note 2 is further explained by the IET article as follows:-

‘The purpose of the delay in implementation is to allow a period of coexistence 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 1st January 2016.’

The new regulation is intended as far as is reasonably practicable to contain any fire within the enclosure or cabinet and to minimise the escape of flames. Installers therefore can comply as soon as the stocks are within the supply chain. The latest range of Starbreaker AM3 all-metal circuit protection systems are in stock throughout the UK, coupling high levels of safety and ease of installation with proven Crabtree quality and design. Crabtree have published a concise Starbreaker consumer unit catalogue detailing the whole of the new range, so together we are ready!

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