GB Electrical

Fuse Box Replacement

Are you concerned that the fuse box in your house is too old and doesn’t meet UK electrical regulations anymore?

Is it time to switch it for a newer consumer unit? How much time will it take, and what’s the cost?

Keep reading, and you’ll get all the answers to these questions, including details about the replacement process. This way, you can make the best choice for your home.

What is the difference between an electrical consumer unit and a fuse box?

consumer unit upgrade

A fuse box and a consumer unit do the same job.

They send electricity around your house through different circuits and turn off the power instantly if there’s too much electricity in one circuit, which is called “tripping.”

When “tripping” happens, a consumer unit switches off the power using the circuit breaker connected to the overloaded circuit.

It goes to the OFF position, showing where the problem is. Once the circuit is fixed, you can switch the breaker back on and restore the power.

A fuse box uses fuses instead of circuit breakers. Each fuse has a wire that melts if there’s too much electricity, causing the circuit to trip and turn off the power.

Identifying a problem with a fuse box isn’t as easy, and you need to replace the melted fuse before restoring power.

Consumer units are the modern and safer version of fuse boxes, which may not meet current electrical rules. If your house has an old fuse box, it might be time to replace it.

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How to tell if I have an old-style fuse box?

old style fuseboxIt’s pretty simple to figure out if you have an old-style fuse box or a newer consumer unit.

An old-style fuse box has several fuses inside carriers. You can take them out and put in new ones if one of them goes off due to too much electricity.

The picture to the left shows a regular old-style fuse box.

fusebox inspectionOn the other hand, a consumer unit is made up of a row of things called MCBs (Mini Circuit Breakers).

Each MCB has a switch that can turn off in the instance of a power surge.

The picture on the left shows a standard consumer unit.

should I get my old fuse box replaced?

comparison between old and new fuseboxOld fuse boxes come with several risks.

They don’t have the safety features modern units do. If you get a shock, the electricity might not turn off, which can be very dangerous.

New rules aim to make consumer units safer, especially regarding fire safety. Old consumer units in homes aren’t checked regularly. Because we often hide them away in boxes or under stairs, they may get overloaded.

If they lack ventilation, this can be a fire risk. So, it’s recommended to enclose all consumer units in non-flammable materials.

For your peace of mind and your family’s safety, consider getting a quote to replace your old fuse box.

Can I replace my fuse box by myself?

unsafe old fuseboxOnly a trained person with special knowledge should replace a fuse box. It might seem like an easy job, but it’s crucial to remember that dealing with electricity can be dangerous.

Even if you think you know enough, one mistake could be really risky. That’s why it’s better to let one of our best electrician carrickfergus handle it.

Apart from not having the right knowledge, you might not have the proper tools and testing equipment. Even if you manage to put in a new consumer unit, you won’t be able to check if everything is working correctly.

Just because the lights are on and sockets work doesn’t mean everything is fine. Some parts of the system might not be properly connected, and mistakes could lead to fire.

If there’s an issue with the installation, troubleshooting can be a problem. If you make a mistake, the power might not come back, and circuits might not work.

You could end up in the dark until an electrician can come to fix it, which might take time and extra money for an emergency service call.

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Where is the best place to install a consumer unit?

Gareth rewiring a fusebox

There’s no exact spot where you must put a Consumer Unit, but it has to meet some requirements.

Firstly, it should be easy to get to, without needing a ladder. It needs enough space, and it should be in a place you or an electrician can easily reach. An electrician might need to replace it or check it from time to time.

It’s important to put consumer units where they’re easily reachable when needed, following Part M of the building rules.

They should be installed with the switches at a height between 0.45m and 1.2m above the floor.

Should you replace your fuse box with a circuit breaker?

consumer unit wired up

It’s important to replace the old fuse box with a consumer unit, not a circuit breaker. It can be confusing, but a circuit breaker is basically a fuse.

The difference is that you can restart a circuit breaker, but a fuse has to be changed if it trips.

It’s necessary to upgrade old fuse boxes to modern consumer units. They look and work almost the same, but consumer units have extra safety features like RCDs and RCBOs.

RCDs come as a package and are devices that automatically turn off power if someone touches live wires, preventing electric shock and possible death.

RCBOs can be bought separately and do two jobs in one device, combining the functions of RCDs and MCBs. This saves space in the consumer unit and gives protection to each circuit separately.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you connect a new consumer unit to old wiring?

Sure, you can put a new consumer unit with the old wiring, but sometimes it might not work, and there’s only one way to find out.

You need to do an electrical inspection to see if the new consumer unit can be connected to the old wiring. This inspection checks if the cables are in good condition and safe, or if they need to be replaced first.

Can a consumer unit be covered or hidden?

Consumer units hidden in wooden cupboards or under wooden stairs can be dangerous because wood can catch fire easily. Building rules say your consumer unit should be inside a cabinet or box made of non-flammable materials like steel.

Is it risky to put a consumer unit near a gas meter?

Yes, according to regulations, gas pipes and meters in houses must be at least 150mm away from things like electricity meters, switches, cables, sockets, and consumer units. There should also be some space between a supply or distribution cable and domestic pipework.

Are old fuse boxes against the law?

No, old fuse boxes are not illegal. But, for safety reasons, it’s good to check if it meets current regulations. Upgrading to a newer model with the latest safety features, like RCD protection, is a wise idea to protect yourself.

How long does it take to replace a fuse box?

The time to replace a fuse box depends on your home’s size and the condition of the existing wiring. Usually, it takes around half a day for a typical replacement.

Your go-to electrician in Carrickfergus will get the job done as fast as possible.

Can you use a lower amp fuse to replace a higher amp fuse?

It depends as to whether you can replace a fuse with a lower amperage instead of a higher one.

It might not be ideal because the fuse might keep tripping, causing inconvenience. This happens when the electrical load is often higher than the value of the fuse.

It’s better to replace the fuse with one of the same amperage. But in some cases, using a lower amperage fuse might work fine, depending on the amount of workload it needs to handle.

Do circuit breakers have any downsides?

If we think about a circuit breaker compared to a fuse:

The downsides of a circuit breaker is the cost because they are more expensive than fuses. Also, since it’s an automatic device that can be used multiple times, there’s a chance it might break. This means it could trip when it’s not supposed to or, in the worst case, not trip when it should.

From this perspective, a fuse is safer than a circuit breaker because it can’t really fail. It works only once, and after that, it needs to be replaced.

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