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LIGHTBULB MOMENT The electrical contractors turning neat ideas into booming businesses

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WANT TO SEE YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS? Light up your career with the 2019 NICEIC and ELECSA Electrical Apprentice of the Year Competition. The competition is open to all electrical apprentices in the UK.











the power behind your business

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In partnership with

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AUTUMN 2018 | ISSUE 207


CASE STUDY 22 David Adams finds out how the impressive lighting scheme for a new student block was brought to life

INSIGHT 25 Raj Kakar-Clayton shares tips to help companies comply with GDPR

INNOVATION 26 Electrical contractors are using their ingenuity to fill gaps in the market

‘Innovative contractors are thinking outside the fusebox’

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES 30 The crucial factors to consider when choosing a new van

15 19

CONTRACTOR PROFILE 36 Tonbridge’s Gilbert & Stamper


looks back on 100 years of success

TECHNICAL 41 Technical information 42 Ask the experts 44 Low voltage supplies to

8 HELLO 6 Adaptation – the key to success

construction sites


48 Consumer unit blanking plates 51 Verification of Automatic

TRAINING 1 4 NICEIC and ELECSA offer an array of

54 Environmental factors on

training options to help contractors ensure they are up to speed with the 18th Edition

56 Details required for other

Disconnection of Supply construction sites


sources of supply

INDUSTRY UPDATE 8 18th Edition live cinema event; apprentice competition now open

60 Apprentice Corner 64 Snags and Solutions CAUGHT ON CAMERA 1 7 From mystery meters to wasp infestations: your photos of dodgy electrics

9 Aintree to host Live North; Certsure renews Luton sponsorship

ADVICE 1 9 Sub-contractor or worker? Carol Shaw

1 1 Rogue trader found out; new NICEIC safety commercial

explains why it’s important to be clear

1 2 YouTube-famous contractor

OPINION 2 0 It’s time for electricians to join the

founds apprentice fund

digital revolution, advises Jocelyn Golding

PRODUCT FOCUS 67 The latest products on the market OFF THE TOOLS 69 ‘I’m a weather forecaster’ CURRENT AFFAIRS 70 Charity dip goes swimmingly

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Emma Clancy is chief executive officer, Certsure

Move with the times Electricians are constantly adapting their offering – evolving to meet the needs of a new generation of consumers


lectricians are a famously inventive bunch. Finding a solution to a problem is part and parcel of the day job, but the inquisitive, engineering part of their brains also means they are often seeking out alternative resolutions. In this edition, we take a look at some of the inventions and products that electricians have come up with in the past few years. Many have been simple ideas that have helped them in their role while others have come up with products that have changed the way electricians act and think. For some, it has provided a nice little sideline, but for others, such as James Dewane, it has opened up a completely new career. Elsewhere, we have a chat with Tonbridgebased firm Gilbert & Stamper, which is celebrating 100 years of trading this year. It has been a monumental journey for the firm, which started up at a time where there was no national grid and very few homes even had electricity.

It is fascinating to see how the company has grown and adapted over time, switching its focus to meet the demands of each particular era. It is also refreshing to see the emphasis the firm places on bringing through apprentices. In fact, the company is now headed up by a former apprentice, and if an organisation is to grow and develop over time, there has to be a focus on bringing through new talent. It will be the apprentices of today who take our industry into the next 100 years, and we need to recognise the important role they play within our sector. We are doing that with our 2019 Apprentice of the Year competition, which has just opened for entries. The contest is now in its fourth year, and continues to grow. With some great prizes up for grabs, I would encourage you all to get your apprentices signed up – they could be leading your business in years to come.

‘It will be the apprentices of today who take our industry into the next 100 years’

C O N T A C T S / C O N N E C T I O NS

Level 5, 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL EDITORIAL General 020 7880 6200 Editor Nick Martindale Technical editor Timothy Benstead Sub editor Kate Bennett Senior designer Craig Bowyer Technical designer Adrian Taylor Picture researcher Akin Falope Publishing and business development director Aaron Nicholls ADVERTISING/MARKETING Thomas Ainsworth thomas.ainsworth@ 020 7324 2726

PRODUCTION General production enquiries 020 7880 6240 Production manager Jane Easterman Senior production executive Rachel Young SUBSCRIPTIONS Should you require your own copy of Connections or multiple copies for your staff, subscriptions are available by calling 020 8950 9117 CONTRIBUTIONS Connections welcomes ideas for contributions. Please email nick.martindale@

© Redactive Publishing Ltd 2018 Level 5, 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL Registered No. 3156216. All rights reserved. This publication (and any part thereof) may not be reproduced, transmitted or stored in any print or electronic format (including but not limited to any online service, any database or any part of the internet) or in any other format in any media whatsoever, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Redactive Publishing Ltd accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

Printed by Precision Colour Printing Limited

ISSN 2042-5732

Recycle your magazine’s plastic wrap – check your local LDPE facilities to find out how.

WWW.NICEIC.COM WWW.ELECSA.CO.UK ENQUIRIES Certsure 01582 539000 Communications manager Paul Collins 01582 539148 NICEIC Direct Paul Elcock 01582 539709 Twitter @officialNICEIC or @officialELECSA Customer services 0333 015 6625 Sales 0333 015 6626 Training 0333 015 6627 Technical helpline 0333 015 6628 Insurance 0333 015 6629 Legal/tax 24-hour helpline 0117 934 2111 (provided by DAS Business Law)

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04/10/2018 12:26

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05/10/2018 11:03



Contractors make history at worldfirst cinema event

More than 6,000 electricians from across the UK contributed towards Europe’s largest ever electrical conference to mark the arrival of the new 18th Edition wiring regulations in July. NICEIC and ELECSA’s live cinema event was beamed via satellite to 40 cinema screens simultaneously – the first time such an event had taken place in the sector. Several of the 40 cinema screens sold out in advance, with Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Southampton, Bristol and Leicester all recording more than 200 attendees at each location. “The introduction of a new standard within the industry is an important time for every electrician,” said NICEIC and ELECSA’s marketing director Mark Smith. “We wanted to do something unique, affordable and easily accessible to help contractors gain an improved insight into the forthcoming changes.

“We hope they enjoyed the experience of learning and developing their knowledge in this different format.” The 18th Edition seminar was broadcast from the Faraday Theatre in The Royal Institution. Hosted by industry experts Darren Staniforth and Alan Wells, the talk focused on the changes included in the new regulations and what it will mean for electricians in their day-to-day work. It also included a section on the history of electricity, and how Michael Faraday demonstrated his discoveries to the public back in 1824. “Since we were broadcasting from the iconic Faraday centre, there was a natural link to provide viewers with some historical context about electricity,

‘We wanted to try something new and on a grand scale’

Electrical apprentice competition now open NICEIC and ELECSA’s 2019 Electrical Apprentice of the Year Competition is now open for entries. The competition, run in partnership with The Scolmore Group, measures the technical skills of electrical students across the UK. Now in its fourth year, it regularly attracts more than 500 entrants. Darren Staniforth, technical development manager for NICEIC and ELECSA, said: “Over the last three years, we have seen the standard of applicants improve each time, so we are looking

forward again to welcoming a new batch of contestants. “As the most recognised names in the industry, NICEIC and ELECSA have a responsibility to work with, encourage and promote apprenticeships and careers in the electrical industry to the next generation.” The competition is an opportunity for students to prove their knowledge and win some fantastic prizes. Eight finalists will each receive a brand new iPad, with a £2,000 holiday voucher being awarded to the overall winner. There are two runner-up prizes of a £750 holiday voucher and a £250 holiday voucher. Each finalist will also receive a Scolmore

and the job contractors play in carrying on the work he started," said Smith. The seminar was hosted by the BBC’s Ore Oduba and featured insights from experts including Mark Coles, head of technical regulations at the IET, Robin Earl from Dehn, Simon Rawlinson from Siemens and David Garrett from Electrium. It went through all seven sections of the new book, with discussions on major changes. “We wanted to try something new and on a grand scale, but the most important part was that everyone got to see the same seminar and that we were able to communicate a single, consistent message to the industry,” added Smith. “The live cinema event was just another example of NICEIC and ELECSA leading the way in the industry to promote electrical safety.” For more information about the 18th edition, including a technical overview of the changes, visit

van pack, a trophy and a NICEIC and ELECSA goody bag. Marie Parry, marketing director for Scolmore Group, said: “The competition continues to gather momentum and gain recognition. Students, lecturers, trainers and employers all recognise the opportunity and value it brings.” Last year saw 650 candidates whittled down to eight finalists before 21-yearold Zach Swift from North Star Electric, Glasgow was chosen as the winner. Zach said, “The competition is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your ability. It doesn’t cost anything to apply, and I would say to anyone who is thinking about entering to just go for it.” The competition consists of three stages and registration for stage one is open now. Students can enter by visiting www.

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LIVE NORTH RETURNS TO AINTREE RACECOURSE NICEIC ELECSA Live North will return to Aintree Racecourse this year, giving contractors across the north of England the chance to catch up with vital industry information. The event will be held on 22 November, and will feature a packed seminar programme and an exhibition hall where delegates can access the industry’s leading suppliers and great discounts. NICEIC and ELECSA’s Darren Staniforth and Jake Green will provide an overview of what’s new in the 18th Edition, a focus on arc fault detection devices and a look at asbestos awareness for contractors. A host of other informative seminars are also planned.  Mark Smith, marketing and communications director at NICEIC and ELECSA, said: “We are looking forward to going back to Liverpool at this important time for the industry. The 18th Edition regulations will be coming into

operation just over a month after Live North, so for many it will be a last chance to find out all the information they need to know. “It will be a chance for attendees to quiz our experts and discuss some of the changes. We will also have a good mix of other business and technical seminars from some of the industry’s biggest names.” Attendees will also receive complimentary refreshments throughout the day and a breakfast roll on arrival, as well as the chance to win prizes at the end of the day. Tickets cost just £29 plus VAT for NICEIC, ELECSA and ECA contractors, and £49 plus VAT for non-registered contractors. Apprentice passes are available free of charge. For more information visit

Luton Town sponsorship hits 10-year mark Certsure has renewed its deal to sponsor Luton Town FC for the current football season – the 10th year in a row it is supporting the side. Once again, the NICEIC and ELECSA logos appear on the backs of home and away kits for the Hatters, who now compete in League One following promotion from League Two last season. Paul Collins, communications manager, said: “We are delighted to once again support Luton Town FC. We have enjoyed a great partnership over the last 10 years and it was great to see them promoted last year. “We are committed to promoting our contractors and this promotion into League One will ensure even greater coverage for the NICEIC and ELECSA brands. We would like to wish the management and players all the best and we are looking forward to another great season.” Promotion to League One means Luton will be performing in front of larger audiences with greater TV coverage, enhancing the exposure of the NICEIC and ELECSA brands.

ASBESTOS AWARENESS NICEIC and ELECSA have launched a partnership with Central Compliance UK (CCUK) to provide training on the dangers of asbestos. Official figures suggest that 5,000 people will die prematurely this year as a result of being exposed to asbestos – trade workers are particularly at risk because of their high exposure to the substance. Working with CCUK, NICEIC and ELECSA contractors can take online or face-to-face training in asbestos awareness courses, fully certified by the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA). CCUK is offering NICEIC and ELECSA contractors the chance to take the online asbestos awareness course for just £15 as part of a special offer. To book your course

DIARY DATES > October 17 TechTalk AJ Bell Stadium, Manchester 18 TechTalk The Bridge Centre, Stoke-on-Trent

> November 1/2 Elex Trade Show Sandown Park, Surrey 7 TechTalk Kingsgate Conference Centre, Peterborough 8 TechTalk Lincolnshire Showground, Lincoln 9 TechTalk Derby County FC, Derby 14/15 PHEX 2018 Chelsea FC, London 22 NICEIC ELECSA Live North Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool 27 TechTalk Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast

> December 5 TechTalk Newcastle Rugby Club, Newcastle 6 TechTalk Middlesbrough FC, Middlesbrough 12 TechTalk Doncaster Racecourse, Doncaster 13 TechTalk Leeds United FC, Leeds

> January 23 TechTalk Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff 24 TechTalk Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham

> February 6 TechTalk Amex Stadium, Brighton 7 TechTalk Southampton FC, Southampton

visit www.centralcompliance. uk/certsure

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LIVE NORTH Technical Conference and Exhibition

AINTREE Racecourse 22 NOVEMBER, 2018 Be part of big debates, update your knowledge and be inspired by the latest innovations and technology for the electrical industry.


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05/10/2018 16:36




33 The number of months tradespeople spend talking to their clients over their working lives, the Federation of Master Builders claims

77% The proportion of UK businesses which believe at least a quarter of their energy needs will be generated on-site by 2025

88% The proportion of electrical contractors who expect their turnover to grow or remain the same in the third quarter of 2018, ECA research finds

£90 The sum the average household could save each year by moving to LEDs, according to the ECA. This equates to £2.4 billion across the country

£6bn The value of new construction contracts announced in August, according to Barbour ABI – an increase of 28.9 per cent on the previous month

A Lanarkshire man was sentenced to prison after falsely claiming to be NICEIC registered. The man from Belshill was ordered to spend 11 weeks in prison and fined £675 at Hamilton Sheriff Court recently. He pleaded guilty to running a fraudulent scheme by pretending he was an NICEIC Approved Contractor and authorised to issue NICEIC certificates and reports, which resulted in him obtaining money by fraudulent means. He also claimed he was a SELECT Approved Contractor and a Building Standards Approved Certifier. The action was taken by the North Lanarkshire Council Trading Standards team following a joint investigation with NICEIC. NICEIC has urged anyone who is suspicious about using a registered

electrician to check his or her details at the website, It contains a full list of all those contractors who are legitimately registered with NICEIC. “This latest prosecution shows how seriously we take misuse of our logo,” said NICEIC CEO Emma Clancy. “It also sends out the message that anyone thinking about using our logo fraudulently will be caught and dealt with appropriately by the courts. “The NICEIC name is associated with quality and we will work with the appropriate authorities to protect those contractors who are legitimately registered with us and have the quality of their work assessed on a regular basis.” Contractors caught falsely claiming to be registered will also be named and shamed on NICEIC’s Wall of Shame and their details passed to Trading Standards.

NICEIC heads back to school in safety message NICEIC has launched a second TV commercial promoting the use of registered electricians. Kids Questions features NICEIC’s senior technical presenter Darren Staniforth giving a talk about electricity to a group of schoolchildren. The children ask a series of questions about electricity, before the tagline ‘With electrics we are all children – always use a registered electrician’ appears. “When it comes to dealing with electrics, some people might think they know a little bit – but in reality they don’t have all the answers,” said Staniforth. “That is why it is always best left to the professionals.” The 30-second advert is featuring on a number of online sites throughout

September and October, including ITV’s Video on Demand, Sky Go and YouTube Pre-roll. With more people now choosing to watch TV online, the clip is expected to be seen by more than 10 million viewers. You can view the commercial at youtube. com/watch?v=tw31haNcmWo

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Van giveaway to help apprentices An NICEIC registered contractor is giving away his van to set up a fund for apprentice electricians. Thomas Nagy, who runs a YouTube channel showcasing his electrical work in and around London, came up with the idea after deciding to get a new van for his business. “With new laws surrounding emission levels in central London I have had to look at getting a new, more eco-friendly van,” he said. “Normally, I would just look to trade in the old van, but I have had it since new and it has served me well so I thought I would try and do something different. “A new van can be a major cost for someone just trying to make a start in the sector and so hopefully it will be put to good use.” He estimates the old van, which is fully racked out, is worth around £4,000. It will also come complete with a brand new toolkit, courtesy of ITS Tools, which is worth £400 alone. Visitors to his site must answer a question and pay £5 to be in with a chance of winning the van. The competition has already raised more than £5,000 and will run until November 4. Nagy will donate the proceeds from the competition to a bursary fund for young apprentices who need a hand to make a start


in the sector. He has asked NICEIC to help facilitate the fund. Paul Collins, communications manager at NICEIC, said: “Thomas got in touch and told us about the idea, and we were only too happy to try and help. It is a very generous gesture that will give something back to the industry – particularly apprentices, who often find the cost of getting started prohibitive.” NICEIC already runs its own Jobs for the Girls bursary, which aims to give young women, who are under-represented in the electrical industry, a helping hand. The Thomas Nagy apprentice fund will be run in a similar format, with young apprentices able to apply for a certain amount of funding to help them with tools, training or other costs. More details will be available in January 2019 when the bursary fund opens.

NICEIC has been helping more women into the electrical industry through its Jobs for the Girls bursary scheme. The scheme offers grants to women already working in the industry or looking to get a helping hand at the start of their career. It is open to women of all ages and designed to cover training or other associated costs up to a maximum of £500. One of those who benefited from a bursary was 40-year-old Amanda Pugh from Buckinghamshire, who used the funding to set up a website for her business Amanda Electrics; 18-year-old Brittany Douglas, who had just started an apprenticeship, used the money to buy tools and the latest 18th Edition wiring regulations. In the six months since launching the bursary, NICEIC has provided £5,000 of funding to more than 20 women.

To enter the prize skill competition visit

Applications for this year’s Jobs for

Thomas’ fundraising page at www.gofundme.

the Girls bursary have now closed. For


more information and how to apply

To subscribe to his Youtube channel, visit

for next year visit

YouTube and search for ‘Thomas Nagy’


18th EDITION TECHTALKS NOW UNDER WAY NICEIC and ELECSA’s TechTalk series are now under way up and down the country. With more locations than ever before, the award-winning regional shows continue to pull in hundreds of electrical contractors across the UK. The topic dominating the agenda is the release of the 18th Edition of the BS 7671 Wiring Regulations. TechTalk host and industry expert Darren Staniforth will lead the discussion, along with his colleague Jake Green. They will look at the changes in the 18th Edition and host technical Q&A sessions, investigating the reasons behind the changes and how they will affect contractors. Other topics will be the installation requirements of surge protection devices; changes to certificates, reports and forms; and heating installation design considerations.

“Our TechTalks give us the opportunity to go around the country and speak to our contractors, giving them the latest happenings and offering first-class learning and knowledge,” said Staniforth. “Come January, all electrical contractors in the UK will have to work from the 18th Edition of BS 7671. Because of this, we’ve committed to holding more TechTalks than ever before.” Attendees will benefit from more than three hours of technical presentations and seminars, as well as giveaways and special offers. Each event starts at 9am and finishes at 1.30pm. Every delegate gets a breakfast roll and refreshments as part of the package. For a full list of locations, see our diary column. Tickets cost just £25 and can be booked online at or calling 0333 015 6626. Alternatively, you can email

£20,000 AND COUNTING FOR ALZHEIMER’S CHARITY Certsure, which operates the NICEIC and ELECSA brands, has raised £20,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK), smashing its two-year target one year early. There are currently 850,000 people living with the condition in the UK, and this is set to rise to 1 million people by 2025. It is only through ARUK’s vital research that finding a solution to the problem is possible. Certsure employees have taken part in sweepstakes, charity auctions, dress-down collections, charity auctions, bake sales and runs. A charity skydive, which saw 22 staff parachute 10,000 feet from a plane, raised over £10,000. Katy Abraham, regional corporate partnerships officer at ARUK, said: “It’s been fantastic working with Certsure, and I’m so impressed.”

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Get up to speed

The arrival of the 18th Edition means contractors need to think about brushing up on their knowledge of the new regulations. NICEIC and ELECSA, in partnership with JTL, offer a variety of options designed to suit different needs, says Neil Vincent


ore than 1,000 conscientious contractors have now successfully taken and passed their 18th Edition training with NICEIC and ELECSA – quite an achievement, considering it has only been a few months since the new standard was launched. Of course, while some contractors have been keen to get cracking straight away, others have decided to delay their training. We usually find this is the case, especially as there was a sixmonth window until the 18th officially comes into effect in January. This delay can often be down to contractors not getting around to it due to time constraints, or because they prefer to see how everyone else gets on before jumping in. We know everyone will have a different approach. We have actually had more than 3,000 bookings in total so far, with many preferring to take the course over the next few months. It could also be the case that, now the holiday season is over, we will start to see more people taking the course.

Type of course

Neil Vincent is head of training at NICEIC and ELECSA

NICEIC and ELECSA, in partnership with JTL, have been at the forefront of delivering training packages to suit all contractors’ needs. We currently run two different 18th Edition courses. The full course takes three days and is for contractors who feel they need a working knowledge of the latest edition of the Level 3 Award in the Requirements for Electrical Installations BS 7671:2018 qualification. The one-day option is for those who have recently completed its 17th Edition Amendment 3: 2015 qualification. In terms of the full version and the update course, we are seeing a 50/50 split – many contractors chose to update their training requirements at the time of the last amendment in 2015. Both courses can be taken online or in the classroom, and there has been a real split in the type of course and the way contractors are choosing to access training.

The majority of bookings are for classroom-based learning where contractors can discuss and share information with fellow electricians – it would seem the old ‘talk and chalk’ method is still one of the favourite ways to learn. However, there is definitely a growing demand for online training, too, and it is totally down to the individual and what they prefer.

‘An ability to show a level of understanding and awareness of the changes should be a priority for everyone involved in the industry’ Our partnership with JTL means contractors choosing NICEIC and ELECSA have the option to take the course at over 35 locations across the UK. NICEIC and ELECSA can also offer bespoke training for companies looking to train large numbers of employees. More than 150 people have taken training this way already, with organisations such as BT, Mitie and Rexel coming to us to provide their teams with what they need to know.

Get it booked An ability to show a level of understanding and awareness of the changes should be a priority for everyone involved in the electrotechnical industry. We can offer a range of options to all contractors. For any individual or organisation that has not yet booked in their training, we would encourage them to get in touch and speak to our team. For more information visit or call the training team on 0333 015 6626

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CONTACT US ON 0333 015 6629 NICEIC-AND-ELECSA-INSURANCE.COM NICEIC and ELECSA Insurance Services, NICEIC Insurance Services, ELECSA Insurance Services, are trading names of Jelf Insurance Brokers Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Not all products and services offered are regulated by the FCA. Registered in England and Wales number 0837227. Registered Office: Hillside Court, Bowling Hill, Chipping Sodbury, BS37 6JX

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Caught on camera



Trusty NICEIC and ELECSA contractors have been busy uncovering and rectifying dodgy installations and DIY botch jobs. Here are some of the worst offenders from the past quarter



his quarter’s crop of dangerous discoveries includes: a shower isolator producing a ‘burning smell’ (1); an immersion heater installation which a plumber had claimed to be ‘portable’ (2); a switched fuse spur covered in insulation tape at a café (3); a cooker socket feed which had been plastered into a wall (4); and a tenant-altered distribution system in a domestic house (5). It continues with: a poorly sited kitchen switch (6); a wasp-infested consumer unit, which caused a delay in an inspection (7); a dubious washing machine installation (8); a consumer unit installation designed to frustrate meter readers (9); and the result of someone joining a 6mm twin earth to a 10mm twin and earth for a shower (10).

6 5

8 Thanks to... >Ian Webster of AC9 Alarms & Electrical in Warrington >Barry Wetherall of Complete Electrical Services in Reading >Danny Harmsworth of VH Electrical Ltd in Weymouth >Josh Hansford from Meridian Environmental in Hamworthy >David Williams from Nottingham-based DTW Electrical Services >Ross Capper of Alpha Electrical in Chester >Harry Cheshire from C.T. Electrical Engineers in Warwickshire >Mark Blake of Acertec Property Solutions in Lower Kingswood >Martin Smith of Power Grid Electrical in High Wycombe >Mark Carne of M.C. Electrics

7 10

in Redcar

Keep those shots coming in! Email

9 17

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TechTalks are handy, informative seminars aimed at anyone operating within the electrical industry. So if you want to stay ahead of the competition and get up-to-speed with the 18th Edition, book your place now.






OR CALL 0333 015 6626





16/10/2018 – Llandudno

06/12/2018 – Middlesbrough

17/10/2018 – Manchester

12/12/2018 – Doncaster

18/10/2018 – Stoke-on-trent

13/12/2018 – Leeds

07/11/2018 – Peterborough

23/01/2019 – Cardiff

08/11/2018 – Lincoln

24/01/2019 – Cheltenham

09/11/2018 – Derby

06/02/2019 – Brighton

27/11/2018 – Belfast

07/02/2019 – Southampton

05/12/2018 – Newcastle




the power behind your business

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05/10/2018 11:08


Check the label A recent case has highlighted the need for businesses to review the status of sub-contractors to ensure they do not fall foul of employment law, says Carol Shaw


Carol Shaw is a director and employment law solicitor at Spratt Endicott Solicitors

he contract states that they’re engaged as an independent contractor – but this isn’t necessarily the case. It is the circumstances of the engagement that really determine an individual’s status. We are often asked to prepare contracts where an individual is to be taken on as a freelance self-employed contractor, with no worker or employee rights. We always explain that, though the parties may agree with such an arrangement, any agreement reached can be trumped by a court or tribunal finding that their true status is that of a worker or employee. In the case of Pimlico Plumbers Limited and Mullins v Smith [2018] UKSC 29 in June, the Supreme Court found that a plumber engaged by Pimlico Plumbers as an ‘independent contractor’ was in fact a ‘worker’.

The law provides workers with more rights than independent contractors. Although workers do not benefit from the full rights that employees possess, they do benefit from rights such as entitlement to holiday pay. As Mr Smith was deemed to be a worker, his claims for disability discrimination, unlawful deduction from wages and holiday pay were allowed to proceed.

WHAT IS A ‘WORKER’? Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, a worker is anyone who works under either a contract of employment, or any other contract whereby the individual agrees to do work personally for another party, the individual is not acting through their own business, and the other party is not a client or a customer of the individual. All employees will be workers, but not all workers will be employees. Independent contractors fall outside of this definition entirely. In the case, Mr Smith was engaged by Pimlico Plumbers (the ‘company’) for over five years. The contract was terminated after Mr Smith suffered a heart attack, and he brought tribunal proceedings against the company for disability discrimination, unlawful deduction from wages and holiday pay. The issue for the Supreme Court to decide was whether Mr Smith was a ‘worker’ or an independent contractor, as set out in his contract. If a worker, then he would be entitled to bring his claims. If an independent contractor operating his own business for clients, he would have no protection and no ability to bring such claims. It was decided that Mr Smith was required to perform work personally, and that the company exercised significant control over him. As such, he was not a truly independent contractor and was in fact a ‘worker’, irrespective of the contract.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? As mentioned, the Supreme Court addressed two points when reaching its decision: (1) personal performance and (2) whether the company had a high level of control over the contractor. The requirement for a service to be performed personally will assist a tribunal or court in determining whether a person is a worker. Where personal performance of a service is the dominant purpose of the contract, an individual will be deemed a worker. A substitution clause, allowing a substitute to do the work, can be challenged if it does not reflect the true terms of the contract. If a contract requires an individual to accept a minimum amount of work, wear a uniform, carry company ID and use branded equipment, it is likely that a court or tribunal will determine there was sufficient control exercised over that individual for them to be deemed a worker. Companies who engage independent contractors to whom they do not give worker rights should ask themselves – is this person really running their own business, or are they an individual hiring themself out on a self-employed basis? The courts will not allow companies to rely on carefully drafted documentation if it bears no relation to reality. There are no easy answers to be had on these issues – just an assessment of risk in entering into such arrangements.

‘The law gives workers more rights than independent contractors’

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Embracing technology The digital revolution is impacting how we live and work. Contractors can use this to their advantage, says Jocelyn Golding


he digital world is constantly changing and improving the way we work. Whether you’re using smartphones and tablets to update your schedule, staying up to date on social media or searching for a product, digital intervention is required, whether or not we feel ready to embrace it. Digital technology lets you take control of your schedule, helping you stay on top of your working week. There are various apps available to help you get the most out of your day, including ones that help you organise your work schedule, manage new business leads and create certificates for jobs. By simply linking Google Calendar to your Google account, for instance, you can have appointment reminders sent to your device. You can plan out your schedule clearly and efficiently, customising it around your work life. In the electrical sector, plenty of online courses are available – some for free – to enable you to enhance your capabilities and provide a better service, or branch out into new sectors of the industry, such as smart home installations.

The 18th Edition is coming into force, and Schneider Electric can help you to stay up to date with webinars, product information and online training – helping you stay compliant. You can also ask questions via the mySchneider Electrician Community, where Schneider Electric experts and fellow partners can offer advice. Social media and review websites enable you to advertise your business (often for free) in your local area and gain customer reviews and recommendations, encouraging new clients to trust you. With websites such as Which? Trusted Trader, you must be a fully registered electrician to list your business – so no DIY electricians can take work from you, and you can build your reputation based on the strength of your work. In short, embracing digital – even in small quantities – can help you get the most out of your working day, save on costs and free up your time to do more of the things you enjoy.

Jocelyn Golding is electrician channel manager at Schneider Electric

IN F O C US / K E IT H W H IT T AK E R How did you come to work for yourself?

I’ve been self-employed since 1989. I did an apprenticeship with British Rail and worked for it for 24 years. When we became British Rail Engineering Ltd, which meant we had to tender for work with British Rail, I left. Within a few months I was offered a site of new houses and that got me going. What do you do today?

Keith Whittaker, Keith Whittaker Electrical Services

It’s mainly domestic, and I do some commercial maintenance as well. I do complete rewires, additional circuits, consumer unit changes, outbuildings, etc.

Where do you cover?

Do you get much downtime?

I’m based in Crewe and tend not to travel more than 15 miles.

Yes, we go abroad three times a year and I’ll have a day off every couple of weeks. I’m 69 now so I don’t have to do it, but I enjoy it.

Are you still full-time?

Yes, but if I need time off I take it. But whatever comes in, I do. I never advertise; it all comes through recommendations. What are your future plans?

As long as I stay fit I’ll carry on. The industry is getting very technical and you have to keep up, but it’s what I’ve always done. What’s the hardest part of working for yourself?

I’m not a great fan of paperwork.

What do you do outside work?

I’m a keep-fit fan and train every day. I have a gym in my workshop that makes it easier to do something. I also have seven grandchildren, so they keep me busy, too. If you are a small business or sole trader and would like to feature in In Focus, email

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05/10/2018 11:13



Luxury learning Today’s student halls are now more likely to resemble hotels than the ‘digs’ of yesteryear, as illustrated by the new Beckley Point accommodation block in Plymouth


ome aspects of student life have definitely got worse in recent years – the amount of debt most students now accumulate during their studies being the most obvious and serious problem – but in one important respect, student life has got much better, for some at least: they can enjoy truly excellent accommodation, rather than having to live like The Young Ones. Higher education students in Plymouth now have the chance to live in Beckley Point, a state-of-theart student accommodation block that opened in September 2017. The building has also become one of the most distinctive features of the city’s skyline. The £30.79 million, 165,000-square foot, 78-metre-high building has 507 bedrooms in shared and studio flats, distributed across its 24 floors. It is the tallest building in southwest England, so many rooms have panoramic views across the city or out to sea. Students can also use shared facilities, including cinema and gaming rooms and The Sky Lounge, a space at the top of the building with spectacular 360° views. The Sky Lounge is also available for hire by the public, while the city’s general population benefits from reduced demand for student housing elsewhere in Plymouth. The building was designed by Boyes Rees Architects and the lead

contractor was Kier Construction, but all on-site electrical work was completed by TClarke, a nationwide company that offers mechanical, electrical and ICT services. Founded in the 1880s, the company’s employees have worked on electrical projects in some of the most famous buildings in the UK, including royal palaces, the Shard, the London Eye, the Olympic Stadium and Tate Modern. Today TClarke has more than 1,300 employees and 17 offices, including three in south-west England (in Portishead, Plymouth and St Austell). The south-west and central England team was responsible for delivering the Beckley Point project over the course of 18 months during 2016 and 2017. This was the biggest project that this part of the company had worked on, says project manager Mike O’Donovan, and it was not without unexpected complications. Ownership of the building changed hands during the course of the build: it is now run by the Student Housing Company, part of Global Student Accommodation (GSA).


‘The strips switch on automatically at dusk, giving it a very distinctive appearance’

PHASED APPROACH TClarke won the contract in February 2016 and started work on-site in May 2016. The manner in which the work proceeded, determined by the size of the building, was unfamiliar to team members: some were working on first fix on the lower floors of the building while the upper floors were under construction; later, different teams were working on second fix and then final fix on lower floors while colleagues completed the first fix for the top floors of the building. At one stage, there were 70 TClarke operatives working on the site. “Working to such a tight programme was a challenge, but using innovations such as modular engineering enabled us to achieve the client’s requirements,” says O’Donovan. Statistics reveal the scale of this project. TClarke installed 3,079 luminaires, 2,604 twin sockets, 124,000 metres of low voltage cabling, 78,000 metres of Cat 5E cabling, 10,000 metres of fire protection cabling, 19,000 cable clips and 611 electronic access control locks. The team worked from 150 separate drawings and used a fourtonne, 400kVA generator on-site that could back up life safety systems in the event of a power failure. The project was completed on time, but only just: the timetable was altered following the Grenfell Tower fire in London, in June 2017, when Kier decided to undertake a full review of all the safety systems and procedures in the building. All the work that TClarke had completed by that stage met or exceeded necessary standards, but Kier decided to replace all the cladding on the building’s exterior, although it was classified as ‘satisfactory’ from a fire safety perspective.

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‘It is the tallest building in southwest England, so many rooms have panoramic views across the city’


The TClarke team fitted 750 metres of LED strips into gaps between the cladding

These operations had some knockon effects on the other contractors working on the building. There were direct implications for the TClarke team, because it was also responsible for implementing what is the most distinctive feature of the building’s exterior by night: 750 metres of LED strips, in various lengths, fitted in gaps between the cladding. The strips switch on automatically at dusk, giving the tower a very distinctive appearance during the hours of darkness. The scheme was designed by Hydrock and TClarke and supplied by Design Lighting Solutions. “That’s been one of the highlights for us; when the

building was finished it looked very impressive!” says O’Donovan. “It has redefined the city’s skyline.” £30M: THE TOTAL COST OF THE PROJECT TO BUILD BECKLEY POINT

CLOSE TO THE WIRE The company finally finished its work on the site on 14 September 2017, “at about midnight”, O’Donovan recalls. “Then we walked into the lobby at 8am the following morning to find students moving in. That showed us how close it had been.” TClarke has been delivering maintenance services since the building opened, and O’Donovan says that seeing the building fully occupied has helped team members to appreciate the true

scale of the project and of their own achievement. “You know there are more than 500 bedrooms, but when you’re downstairs in the lobby and you can see just how many people are going into the building, it really is amazing,” he says. Other current TClarke projects include The Box, set to become another iconic feature of Plymouth. It is a cultural hub that will incorporate a new home for the city’s museum, an art gallery, exhibition and study spaces, entertainment venues and other public spaces. It is due to open in 2020. The company is also working with Kier again to help build a new 500-acre research and development centre in Wiltshire for the engineering and consumer goods manufacturer Dyson. It is another demanding project, but, following the successful completion of its work at Beckley Point, O’Donovan and his team believe they are more than capable of rising to the challenge. “Managing the Beckley Point project at such an early point in my career is something I will never forget,” he says. “The scale of the project, the challenges overcome and the relationships we have built are all things we are very proud of.”

David Adams is a freelance business journalist

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02/10/2018 05/10/2018 11:47 11:14



Raj Kakar-Clayton is managing director of Trusted Traders, an endorsement scheme from Which?

Data review GDPR came into effect in May, imposing strict conditions on companies’ use of data. If you haven’t taken action yet, now is the time to review your data policies, says Raj Kakar-Clayton


he new Europe-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25 May 2018 and requires businesses to carefully consider how they handle personal data. Ignoring the new ruling isn’t an option, as any business that deals with personal data can be heavily fined if it’s not compliant. ‘Personal data’ means identifiable information about an individual, such as their name, address, bank or card details and IP address (a computer’s identifying number). A business that complies with GDPR will be mindful of how this information is used, and the parties it’s shared with. Here are some simple measures to take that can guarantee GDPR compliance. CREATE A DATA RECORD If you’re holding personal information within your business, it’s important to keep a record of why it is being stored and how long it will be kept for. Don’t collect more data than you have to. There’s no need to ask for a customer’s date of birth for marketing purposes, for example. Worrying about where to store sensitive information that you don’t actually need is a hassle and can be avoided with effective planning. Whether or not you can delete data stored by your company also needs to be considered. Sometimes it makes sense to hold on to personal data (for example, when dealing with certain legal contracts), but that’s not always the case. STORE DATA SECURELY The device you’re storing personal data on should have a secure password that’s not shared widely around the company. If possible, use a program that encrypts data. If the password needs to be used by more than one member of staff, keep a record of who those people are. Changing the password when a member of staff leaves the company is also highly recommended.

‘The new ruling cracks down on preticked opt-in boxes, so remove these from your website if they’re still enabled’

It’s just as important to secure the building your devices are stored in. Install burglar alarms if needed, lock laptops away when they’re not in use and keep a record of guests to the premises. SHARE WITH CAUTION When it comes to sharing sensitive data via email, ensure that the files you’re attaching are passwordprotected. Be wary of accidentally sending files to more people than you meant to – take care when hovering over the ‘reply all’ button. If your company is dealing with a third party, you cannot share personal information with that third party without first obtaining explicit permission from the individuals it concerns. Asking people to manually tick a box to agree to email communication is good practice. Be warned – the new ruling cracks down on pre-ticked opt-in boxes, so remove these from your website if they’re still enabled. PLAN FOR DATA REQUESTS Remember, anybody can ask to see the data your company has about them, and you’ll need to have a process in place to deal with these requests. Under GDPR, you must give people access to all the information you have about them within 30 days of receiving a written request. This could be via email or written letter. PREPARE FOR DATA BREACHES You are responsible for protecting the data that you hold or process. In many cases, data breaches will come about through employees sending information to the wrong place. Such issues can affect companies of all sizes. Imagine a situation in which a data breach would occur, and consider how well placed your company is to deal with it. When thinking about these issues, consider what data you hold and on which systems. Would you require IT support in an emergency, and who would be notified if a data breach occurred? an emergency, and who would be notified if a data breach occurred?

To find out more on how to join and the partnership between NICEIC/ELECSA and Which? Trusted Traders, visit or call 0117 981 2929, quoting PA-LEAF

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Electrical contractors are often all-too-aware of when things don’t work and how processes could be improved. Some have even developed spin-off businesses to tackle specific issues in the sector BY PENELOPE RANCE

BACK IN 2007, Peter Moule, electrician, entrepreneur and inventor, won fame on investment TV show Dragons’ Den when his Chocbox connector cover secured funding from James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne. “I was selling in excess of 1.3 million per year,” he says. “I went on Dragons’ Den because I wanted their expertise in TV advertising and exporting.” The device, for protecting and insulating electrical connectors, appealed for its simplicity and obvious practicality. “They were in my business for four years and doubled their investment,” he adds. Years of experience enabled Moule to spot a gap in the market when new health and safety regulations affected the exhibitions industry. He has since entered the electrical contracting market, and is looking to bring Chocbox to domestic clients. “It’s now the generic name of a connector cover – like asking for a Hoover,” he says. “The brand is really strong. It’s Screwfix’s biggest selling product by number, at 250,000 units per year.”

77,000 businesses, academics and experts make up the Knowledge Transfer Network, which provides innovation networking to help drive UK growth

With Chocbox Mark II launching soon, Moule believes he will revolutionise the market once again. He isn’t the only electrician designing products and systems to make electrical contractors’ working lives easier, though. Here we profile five more innovative NICEIC registrants who are thinking outside the fusebox. DUNCAN SUMMERS AND STEVE NOYES, SYNCBOX Running an AV installation company, Duncan Summers and Steve Noyes found that flatscreen technology made it impossible to mount televisions flush to a wall. “With no recessed sockets available, the only answer was to bulk the bracket away from the wall,” says Summers. “We decided to solve the problem and designed our own recessed socket: Syncbox was born! “It ensures that TVs sit flush against the wall, hiding bulky plugs behind close mounted equipment, and connecting Sky, Virgin, TV and data in one unit, hidden and safely covered,” he explains. Compared to a traditional media plate, Syncbox is neater, sleeker, fully recessed and adaptable. “Having sketched our ideas on the back of an envelope, we found a patent attorney, who conducted the required searches to ensure we were developing a unique product,” says Summers. “We sourced a product design agency who brought our invention to life. Tooling and manufacturing was initially carried out in China, but we have since moved it back to the UK.” In 2014, the Maidstone-based company raised £50,000 through bank loans, personal loans and credit cards, and after a year of trading, it won £55,000 in investment from

Deborah Meaden on Dragons’ Den. She invested another £50,000 in 2016. It also received approximately £15,000 via R&D tax credits. Marketing through trade publication editorials and adverts, social media and email campaigns has resulted in excellent uptake, with developers including hotel chains, housing developers and commercial developers specifying Syncbox. It distributes through more than 30 companies in the UK, plus 20 countries worldwide. With revenues increasing at 120 per cent month-on-month on average, Syncbox is becoming the industry standard. “The majority of contractors

‘Years of experience enabled Peter Moule to spot a gap in the market’ have embraced Syncbox and love having a new product which offers a better finish,” says Summers. “Some contractors don’t like the change, but we are winning them around. And with many developers now including Syncbox in the plans, contractors are having to get used to installing them!” JASON BISHOP, MAGRAK Having been a builder before studying to become an electrician, Jason Bishop had all the skills needed to create Magrak. A system to fix raised storage bins to van, workshop, container or machine sides, Magrak’s magnetic chocks attach to steel without damaging the substrate. The idea grew out of disaster. “A ply rack I made detached itself from the side of the van as I went round a roundabout,” he says. “It can take the best part of a day to build a rack, and I

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feeling is when customers say how feel pleased they are – it makes the plea sleepless nights worthwhile!” slee

hadn’t got the time. But leaving stock on the floor of the van was naive. When I came to use it, the boxes were trashed and the contents dirty.” Bishop looked at ways to attach storage bins to the side of the van, leaving the floor for heavy items, but couldn’t find a system to suit all his vehicles. Then inspiration struck. “I was using rods to fish cables from under floorboards, and one came with a magnet that caught the top of the van. I gave it a tug and realised it was not your average magnet.” Bishop knew that while he needed enough magnets to hold a full storage bin on the side of a van, too much force would damage the bin on removal. The solution came from an unlikely source. “I was collecting caterpillars with my children and realised they were easier to remove by peeling them off at one end, rather than grabbing them in the middle!” Accordingly, he designed a ‘Toblerone-shaped’ strip of magnetic chocks. “They lock into the storage bin to act as one pull-force, but remove the bin and they can be peeled off. I got a CAD designer to make drawings, sent them on to a toolmaker, then went into production.” Made of tough HDPE, the bins can be installed in minutes and moved from van to van, and will hold up to 7kg in transit. The process, including patenting, cost Bishop thousands, which he raised from savings, property deals and mortgaging, but the Worcesterbased company is gaining traction. “Thanks to social media, word is spreading,” he says. “I have an ecommerce website and eBay outlets, and orders are rolling out. The best

JOHN ALDRIDGE, INTELISOFT JO John Joh Aldridge has been designing software and hardware for 25 years, soft and launched Bromsgrove-based Intelisoft to supply innovations to Inte domestic, industrial and commercial dom markets. Seeing the rising numbers mar of tool to and vehicle thefts, he realised that, that other than siren alarms and hardware locks, there were no h effective devices available to protect contractors’ property. “It became apparent that we could modify an existing product, Phone-A-Switch – a GSM-based remote mains switch – into a detection system,” he says. VanGuard is fitted into the rear of a vehicle and monitors the interior for unusual activity. Linked to a ‘master user’ via smartphone, VanGuard sends call and text notifications of any activity within seconds. “It will also alert you to the registration plate of the targeted vehicle, which is useful if there are many vehicles within a company.” VanGuard can be tailored to individual needs, additional users can be added and other devices, such as alarms, can be attached – and it is not impaired by obstructions inside the vehicle. “Contractors who work in high ambient noise levels, who

are not near their vehicles or who work away from home and can’t store their tools would benefit from VanGuard,” says Aldridge. He also sees potential for VanGuard use in industrial units, farming and agricultural vehicles and site plant, among others. “Having self-funded VanGuard and other products with profits from our electrical contracting business, this has not been an easy task, but it has been worth it.” Though it is still in the early stages of development, there have already been pre-orders for VanGuard from wholesalers and contractors. “There is obviously a need: feedback has been extremely positive,” he says. JAMES DEWANE, MY ELECTRICIANS TOOLBOX An experienced London-based electrician employing nine people, James Dewane ran into trouble in 2006 when two developers he sub-contracted to failed, owing him money. “I could never recover the cashflow, and had to close,” he says. Determined to rebuild, he focused on the domestic market. “I had an empty diary and no idea how to fill it,” he recalls. “Plus, with no money for ads, everything had to be low-cost or no-cost. Some of my ideas bombed – like the time I was thrown out of B&Q for slipping business cards into the boxes of light fittings! But I was determined to succeed this time. I kept going, tracking results and finetuning strategies that worked. “Over time my empty diary pages started to fill with good-quality local

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leads and high-paying domestic jobs, and, being local, I spent less time on the road and more time at home.” In 2013 he launched My Electricians ToolBox to help other electricians find the type of work they want to undertake. “It’s an online resource offering all the training you need to market yourself locally, along with editable templates and software to make your life easier,” he says. “There’s also a community of fellow ToolBox members to offer help and advice. It’s the only resource of its kind in the UK and I am very proud of the results local domestic sparks achieve.” SIMON BARKER, ELECTRICIAN’S BUSINESS MACHINE Leeds-based Simon Barker created a business ‘production line’ for electricians, drawing on his experience as an industrial electrician and technician in car manufacturing, and the lessons he learned running his own business. A self-confessed geek, he worked in IT before starting his electrical contracting business. Running a company wasn’t as straightforward as the systems he designed and installed, though. “I was a technician trying to run a business but only knowing how to do the job,” he says. Barker set out to fix the problem, investing in his business education and connecting with mentors – including James Dewane of My Electricians ToolBox. “I was getting home and then doing invoices, quotes, follow-ups from emails and phone calls. I came up with something to fix my business so I could get my evenings and weekends back.” Electrician’s Business Machine was born. Barker uses free and low-cost software and apps to handle calls, automate invoicing and collate receipts. “Electrician’s Business Machine is seven steps to systemise your business – everything from doing jobs quicker to admin tasks.”

Helping hand Part of UK Research and Innovation, Innovate UK offers funding and support to enable businesses to innovate. Funding opportunities include: • Grants through regular competitions; from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; or from other government departments • A pilot programme of innovation loans, providing capital to SMEs in the later stages of research and development • Targeted grants to address the underrepresentation of women and young people in innovation, such as the Women in Innovation and Ideas Mean Business campaigns Innovate UK also connects businesses to partners, customers and investors through: • A network of 10 Catapult centres with facilities and expertise to help businesses commercialise innovative ideas • The Knowledge Transfer Network, which includes 77,000 businesses, academics and experts • The Enterprise Europe Network, which helps internationally; p businesses grow g y

A website with a free 10-page guide and four explanatory videos links to a paid-for 55-page guide and private Facebook group. So far, feedback has been positive: “People love the concepts and appreciate the way I describe them – I use metaphors such as Henry Ford and his production lines. That comes from my car industry background!” Currently in production is a membership site offering in-depth advice. “The missing link is the howto videos, how you actually do it, step-by-step. The site will have over 200 videos. Once you’ve read the

it reaches out to more than 60 countries, and has 3,000 experts in 600 partner organisations • The Knowledge Transfer Partnership, supporting the development of specific projects by partnering businesses with universities, so that they can work with academics, research organisations or graduates For entrepreneurs with groundbreaking ideas, there are private and charitable initiatives offering funding, including: • Nesta, the Innovation Foundation: a charitable fund backing projects aimed at solving societal challenges • Grant Tree: helps businesses access grants, R&D tax credits and EU funding • Innovation Support Services ( licensing and intellectual property support • UK university innovation centres: many have specific innovation funds. Approaching an academic with an interest in electrical innovation could lead to collaboration without consulting fees. Try the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds University

concepts, it unlocks resource videos, covering everything from software options to how to convert customers.” Barker plans to expand into training events, create an audio book and offer bespoke services. “I’m using those evenings and weekends I’ve freed up to get this done! I’ll then get someone involved in my electrical business to give me more time to transition into this.” Initial figures are promising, with 500 people signed up for the free guide, around 300 members on the Facebook group and 50 subscribers to the paid-for guide. “I keep visualising this massive community, with people coming to events and learning,” he says. “I’m loving it.”

Penelope Rance is a freelance business journalist

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lthough we might not always recognise it, commercial vehicles play an essential role in all our daily lives, driving the economy and keeping the UK running. For an electrical contractor, a commercial vehicle is as vital to their livelihood as their tools – often playing a key role in creating a good first impression for potential customers – as well as being a major business expense, so making sure that the right set of wheels is chosen is vital. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) there have been more than 200,000 light commercial vehicle – those less than 3.5T – registrations so far in 2018. While there has been a year-on-year reduction in new vehicle sales overall, the passenger car sector declined by 4.61 per cent more than the commercial vehicle sector to the end of June 2018. It’s no surprise, therefore, that some of the leading commercial vehicle manufacturers are in buoyant mood. Steve Wilson, range manager for Renault Pro+ commercial vehicles, says: “Despite some uncertainty, the market is not as far back as many might have expected. At half-year it was only five per cent behind 2016, the biggest ever year for light commercial vehicle sales.” With a vast array of top quality commercial vehicles available, each with impressive specifications, being able to differentiate features and benefits can prove a challenge. So how can an electrical contractor select the van that is most suitable for their needs? David Crouch, senior press officer at Toyota, says it is important for business owners to understand their

‘A major downside to van ownership is having the responsibility for every element of its upkeep’

For many electrical contractors, company vehicles are much more than a way of getting from A to B – but with different purchase models, features and fuel types, picking the right commercial vehicle for your needs is no easy matter BY ROB SHEPHERD

Upwardly mobile specific needs very carefully. “Size, powertrain, fuel economy, availability and fitting of accessories such as roof racks, ply lining and internal racking need to be assessed,” he says. “Ease of servicing and the size of the retailer network are also issues to consider.” While safety standards have improved immeasurably, there are differences between manufacturer specifications and a range of issues to consider, says Matthew Weston, product manager at PSA Group UK. “Is the seating position comfortable, does the vehicle have air conditioning, does the cab provide a mobile office environment offering work surfaces and does it have enough storage so the cab can be organised while reducing the risk of objects moving if sudden avoidance manoeuvres are required?” he asks. “Does the vehicle offer autoemergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring, which can all help keep the driver and cargo safe but also reduce the total cost of ownership by reducing

the risk of damage? These are all important questions that go beyond aesthetics alone.” MONEY MATTERS The outright purchase of a new commercial vehicle is beyond the means of many electrical contractors, so leasing or contract hire can be a more suitable option. Fixed monthly payments make budgeting far simpler, and the inclusion of maintenance and repairs in the lease contract alleviates many headaches. “The trend appears to be moving away from vehicle ownership,” says Andrea Davies, media relations and communications manager at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA). “A major downside to van ownership is having the responsibility for every element of its upkeep, not to mention the fact that the asset starts losing value the moment it is driven away from the dealer’s forecourt. For highmileage van users, the cost of maintenance and repairs may also

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prove too high to make ownership a worthwhile option.” Weston, though, is more circumspect. “There are benefits and limitations to either method,” he says. “With regard to leasing, although the rental payments could be lower, a fixed-term contract with a mileage limitation might not be suitable. “Cancellation fees or earlytermination fees also need to be checked in case a change in circumstances occurs. Once these factors have been considered, any possible tax benefits to the purchaser of ownership or leasing need to be assessed by a qualified accountant.” SAFE AND SOUND Often left unattended for long periods of the day or night and usually containing expensive tools and equipment, commercial vehicles can make easy targets for thieves. Here, it’s a case of prevention being better than cure, says Trevor HodgsonPhillips, head of service and parts at Volkswagen. “Most vans on the market are now fitted with an alarm or electronic vehicle immobiliser,” he says. “However, there is also a host of aftersales products on the market, designed to provide extra protection for a van and its contents. Start by preventing thieves seeing what’s inside by fitting items such as window guards or a full internal bulkhead – these also add protection to items in the load area.” Fitting additional lock systems to the rear doors or sliding doors can also act as a visual, as well as a physical, deterrent. “Aftermarket devices can be fitted to the door skin of the vehicle and owners simply use a key to undo the mechanism,” adds Hodgson-Phillips. “Just remember there is a balance to be struck between convenience and absolute security; undoing multiple locks each time you want to get something out of the back of the van might not be practical. “It’s also worth remembering what you write on your van – while bright

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livery telling potential customers what you do might be great advertising, it can also be a way of telling thieves what might be inside.” ELECTRIC INJECTION The cost of fuel is something of a national preoccupation; at time of writing, the average litre of petrol standing at 131p, while a litre of diesel is 134p. Choosing a fuelefficient vehicle is therefore one of the best ways to save money and can also reduce the amount of road tax an owner has to pay. However, for those wishing to lower fuel expenditure and highlight their environmental credentials, electric commercial vehicles are an increasingly attractive proposition. Data from the SMMT shows that sales of alternative powered cars increased in 2017 by nearly 35 per cent, although the overall market share of these vehicles is still less than five per cent. The situation in the van market is different, with diesel still dominating around 98 per cent of sales – and there are far fewer electric commercial vehicles available. There have been a number of incentives to encourage commercial vehicle drivers to make the switch to electric. The Plug-In Van Grant enables purchasers to save 20 per cent off the cost of a van, up to a maximum of £8,000, while sales have also been boosted by their exemptions to vehicle excise duty, the London Congestion Charge and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which is due to come into force in London from 2019. Yet despite the excitement and high hopes for the electric commercial vehicles sector, the

‘I can buy a top-ofthe-range petrol van for half the price of a basic electric equivalent’



high initial purchase price is proving a major deterrent. London-based NICEIC Approved Contractor and popular YouTube vlogger Thomas Nagy, of Thomas Nagy Electrical Services, has been exploring the possibility of using an electric commercial vehicle. “ULEZ will be a major expense for me,” he says. “I currently drive a dieselpowered vehicle, so switching to electric, on the face of it, makes a great deal of sense. “But as long as it comes down to a choice of being able to buy a top-of-the-range petrol van for half the price of a basic electric equivalent, cost will remain an issue. I remain positive, though,

and look forward to electric commercial vehicles being a viable option in the not-too-distant future.” There are many factors to consider to ensure a commercial vehicle is fit for purpose and, as a major investment, electrical contractors need to thoroughly investigate what’s on offer to find the best solution to their needs. Making a sound decision, based on what will be right for the jobs it needs to perform both now and in the future, is key – as the wrong decision could prove extremely costly. Rob Shepherd is a freelance business journalist who specialises in the building services industry

Leasing lessons Tips to remember when considering leasing a commercial vehicle: • Check out the credentials of the leasing or contracting firm. Ask for testimonials from customers and act on their feedback • Don’t be tempted by low monthly payments. These may include hidden charges at the end for the slightest dink or scrape, or penalties for mileage over and above a very basic minimum • Make sure there are flexible financial arrangements with

reputable underwriting partners to ensure that you get a package that suits you • Look for deals that give you easy and quick ways of upgrading or changing your vehicle if your business requirements change mid-contract • Check there is an option to keep the vehicle at the end of the contract, including using it in part-exchange on another vehicle

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100 NOT OUT Tonbridge firm Gilbert & Stamper is celebrating its centenary this year, having been set up way back in 1918. Now the current owners are putting in place measures to ensure it can face the future BY NICK MARTINDALE


ot many electrical contractors can trace their history back 100 years, but Tonbridge firm Gilbert & Stamper has this year joined the elite group of those that can. “William Gilbert and Robert Stamper were brothers-in-law and, as far as we can tell, started the company in 1918,” says Adrian Cross, the firm’s current managing director. “I have found a mention earlier than that but that was just Gilbert.” As part of its centenary preparations, Adrian has delved into the company’s past, trying to uncover more about its history. “In the early days there wasn’t even the National Grid and there weren’t many houses with electricity, so it tended

to be the bigger houses we’d work in,” says Adrian. “One of the things they were heavily into in the early days was charging batteries, or accumulators as they used to be called, so people could power crystal radio sets. Mr Gilbert’s grandson said his mother recalled being out in the back of the offices charging up accumulators and being overcome by fumes from them. “Gilbert and Stamper traded together until the 1930s but, from what we managed to glean from the grandson of Mr Gilbert, there was a bit of an acrimonious time around 1935, so they dissolved the partnership and Mr Stamper became the sole proprietor.”

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Current managing director Adrian Cross and his team

local police stations – including at Tonbridge in its largest project to date – as well as call centres and even police houses. “We probably do 95 per cent of the works they have; we do pretty much all of their reactive maintenance and we have diversified into access controls, data installations and, more recently, fire installations, to help provide a more holistic service.” Other recent projects involve Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where the business was heavily involved in the decommissioning of the former Pembury


‘We have a couple of £1 million projects on the go at the moment, but we’ll still go and install a socket down the road for £100’ site; office projects for Tesco Mobile and Telefonica; Avenue Tennis Centre in Gillingham; and helping to create an exhibition area in the crypt at Rochester Cathedral. It’s also about to start working on Canterbury Cathedral. “We used to say a typical project would be around £30,000-£100,000, but it’s now around £300,000-400,000,” says Adrian. “We also have

a couple on the go at the moment which will be around £1 million contracts, at Tonbridge School Science Centre and Gomez Produce and Distribution Centre in Canterbury, but equally we’ll still go and install a socket down the road for £100.” Today, the business employs 50 people, with 11 based in the office and 10 on either apprenticeships – it generally takes on two apprentices a year – or an adult trainee scheme. “When I joined the company there were eight electricians and three in the office,” recalls Adrian. “We got up to about 50 around 15 years ago and then we dropped back to about 30. Now we’re back at 50 and it doesn’t look as if we’ll go any smaller. Part of that recent growth was because one of our major competitors ceased trading and we were able to accommodate a lot of its engineers and office staff. We grew very quickly then as we had all its contacts, who we started working for.” Turnover has also increased, from around £3 million six years ago to £5.5 million. “We’re not on big profits; we find that companies of our size generally aren’t,” he says. The business covers the whole of Kent, but also ventures into London, Sussex and Surrey, and further afield for one client, Wessex Medical, which can see it fitting specialist equipment to help disabled people in homes as far away as Norfolk.

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Much of the work in this period would have been around installing electric lighting in domestic houses, but the business also undertook a project to fit lighting in the nave of St John’s Church in Hildenborough in 1948. By the 1950s, it had branched into public sector work, taking on projects for Kent County Council, including fire and police stations and local schools and hospitals. Stamper continued to run the business until his death in 1967, and shortly afterwards it was bought by a Walter F Pocock, who brought in Graham Crompton as managing director. Graham eventually purchased it from Walter, becoming a major shareholder in 1995, and ran the business with fellow director Mervyn Stolton, assisted by Adrian, who had joined the firm as an apprentice in 1975. Gilbert & Stamper marked its centenary by kitting out a vintage van in the company's original green and gold

‘Electricity has only been around for about 140 years. Being part of the industry for the majority of its existence is quite an achievement’


“I bought my way up in a small way; the company has had its ups and downs, so it wasn’t a large amount of money,” says Adrian. “Both Mervyn and I bought a 33 per cent share, so it was the three of us with Graham for many years, and when he died I bought all his shares and redistributed them to other people as well.” The current management team consists of Adrian and Clive Oliver, after Mervyn, who still comes in two days a week, chose to relinquish his shareholding in 2016. PUBLIC HISTORY Since Adrian has been on board, the focus for the business has been largely public sector and commercial work. “County councils used to deal with the police, the fire and education and we used to work in all of those areas,” he says. “We’ve seen it change over time, but we have managed to keep a presence in all of them, although we don’t do as much maintenance in the education sector as we used to. These days it tends to be school extensions or newbuilds, done through builders rather than through the council.” One regular client is The Tonbridge School, a large private school for which the firm has undertaken a number of good-sized contracts. Kent Police is also an important client. The firm has worked on the headquarters in Maidstone and

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The number of years the current managing director has been with the firm

An old newspaper advert for Gilbert & Stamper from 1925

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CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS Not surprisingly, Gilbert & Stamper is keen to celebrate its centenary. “You hear of builders that are several hundred years old but electricity has only been around for about 140 years,” says Adrian. “Being part of the industry for the majority of its existence is quite an achievement.” The company held a celebratory event over the summer, inviting former staff and even the local MP; Adrian has also purchased an old van, which he thinks dates from around 1950, and kitted it out in the company’s original green and gold colour scheme. Adrian is also proud of how his own career has developed since joining the business as an apprentice. “I’ve been here for 43 years, so it’s very satisfying to be part of it,” he says. “When I first started I never thought I would be in this position, and even up to 15 years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would end up in the hot seat.” Yet there are already plans in place to ensure the business can move on into another era. Contracts managers Russell Ward and David Connelly were both awarded a share of the business and became directors when Mervyn opted to sell his stake, with

Simon Sear also earmarked to move further up the management structure. “We want to make sure that the people who work for the company can in some way purchase it. No one who works here is looking to make millions; we’re more interested in keeping it going,” says Adrian. The firm is currently in year two of a fiveyear plan that could transition Adrian out of the business. “Whether I will actually go at that point I don’t know, but maybe I’ll start handing over more control to others so when I do decide to disappear they’re fully aware of what’s going on,” he says. “We spoke with our accountant a few years ago about structuring the firm so that the shares go to those who are working in the company, rather than being sold outside. “That’s how we plan to move forward, to make sure that the company is here for those who will need it for another 30 or 40 years.” Managing director Adrian Cross in Gilbert & Stamper's vintage van

Nick Martindale is editor of Connections. Could your business feature in our contractor profile slot? Email

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Your industry-leading reference guide to technical information 42

Ask the experts Answers to some of the more frequently asked questions put to our Technical Helpline


Low voltage supplies to construction sites Construction sites pose a number of challenges with respect to the supply of electrical installations. The options available for a low voltage supply to these types of installations are considered


Consumer unit blanking plates Advice for ensuring that Regulation Group 416.2 - Barriers of enclosures is complied with when selecting blanking plates for domestic consumer units


Verification of Automatic Disconnection of Supply The significance of the change introduced by the 18th Edition of BS 7671 to the verification required for automatic disconnection of supply (ADS)


Environmental factors on construction sites The environmental factors that should be taken into account when selecting, installing and using electrical supplies and equipment on a construction site are discussed


Details required for other sources of supply Clarifying the details needed where an addition or alteration is made to an existing installation supplied from an additional supply source


Apprentice Corner Overload current, and how BS 7671 is applied to it


Snags & Solutions A practical guide to everyday electrical problems

THE NICEIC AND ELECSA PUBLISHING TEAM Tim Benstead principal technical author Jonathan Elliott senior technical author Terry Bratley technical author Derek Cooney technical author Chris Long technical engineer Alex Whitworth technical illustrator

HELPLINE John O’Neill technical engineering manager Sam Donaghy technical helpline engineer Stuart McHugh technical helpline engineer Duncan McFarlane technical helpline engineer Norman Bradshaw technical helpline engineer Mark Cooper technical helpline engineer Richard Atkins technical standards engineer Mark Barnes-Rider technical helpline engineer Craig Kemp technical helpline engineer Craig Cunningham technical helpline engineer

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Ask the experts


We continue with our series of answers to some of the more frequently asked questions put to our Technical Helpline

I have recently carried out an EICR on a property. There were a number of observations that resulted in the overall outcome of the report being unsatisfactory. I will not be performing the required remedial works, but the customer is adamant that once these are done I should provide a condition report stating that the installation in the property is now satisfactory. Is this necessary? ANS WE R


I have been asked to carry out a periodic inspection on a domestic property. During my pre-inspection checks I noticed that in some of the older parts of the installation, vulcanised rubber insulation (VRI) with tough rubber sheathed (TRS) cables are still in use. What action should I take? A N SW E R

Where a periodic inspection has been carried out on an installation containing VRI/ TRS cables, what should be recorded on the Electrical Installation Condition Report?


Any Classification code given should be based on the observed condition of the cables and the results of the insulation resistance and other testing carried out. If, in the opinion of the person carrying out the inspection and testing, the cables are in an unsatisfactory condition for continued service, this should be stated and the observation should be classified as C2. If the cables remain suitable for continued use, the presence of this type of cable should be stated but no Classification code need be issued. However, because this type of cable is well beyond its expected safe working life, a recommendation should be made that the VRI/TRS cable is replaced, and that if this is not done, the installation should be inspected and tested more frequently to monitor its continued suitability for use as the insulation on the cables continues to deteriorate.


Before the use of PVC insulated cables became common in the 1960s, most cables installed in domestic premises were of the rubber insulated, toughrubber sheathed (TRS) type. These may be identified by their black exterior. As with lead sheathed cables having VRI insulation, VRI/TRS cables are beyond their normally expected service life and are likely to have degraded to some extent. Typically, the rubber insulation hardens and loses its flexibility and, if the cables are handled or moved in any way, the insulation may crumble away from the conductor. The extent to which the insulation and sheath deteriorate in service depends on whether the cable has been subjected to significant overloading and/or excessive temperature. Deterioration may also occur as a result of exposure to direct sunlight. Any such deterioration will result in a loss of insulating properties. It is strongly recommended that you inform the person who requested the inspection and testing of the presence of these cables and the related problems discussed above at the earliest opportunity, to determine how they wish to proceed. They may still want further inspection and testing carried out, or they may choose to have the obsolete cabling replaced. It should be noted that any physical disturbance of such cables may lead to damage of the vulcanised rubber insulation. Do you have a technical query? Call our helpline on 0333 015 6628

No. The purpose of the Electrical Installation Condition Report is to summarise the findings of the inspection and testing of an existing installation at the time of the inspection and testing. An overall outcome, in terms of whether or not the installation is safe for continued use, is stated based on the findings of this inspection and testing. Unless you have agreed otherwise with your customer contractually, you do not have to carry out the required remedial works and the customer will need to appoint a suitably competent person to carry these out. That person would be responsible for any work they undertake and would have to carry out any necessary inspection and testing of their work and provide appropriate electrical certification for it. There is no requirement to re-test the whole installation. It is acceptable to have an 'unsatisfactory' Electrical Installation Condition Report accompanied by documented evidence such as electrical installation certification which verifies that any observation on the report deemed unsatisfactory has been corrected. It is not necessary to provide a ‘clean’ Electrical Installation Condition Report on completion of any necessary remedial works.

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Area Engineer / John Rothwell Q UE STIO N

Which value of maximum earth fault loop impedance (Zs) should be used where a circuit is protected by a circuit-breaker?

When did you first become an area engineer for NICEIC? I started work for ECA on 1 April 1999. No joke! How has the job changed in that time? Not a lot, other than reporting methods, which have got better. INKWRX is great!


Where a circuit-breaker to BS EN 60898 or the overcurrent element of an RCBO to BS EN 61009-1 is used to provide automatic disconnection in the event of a fault, the maximum acceptable value of earth fault loop impedance (Zs) should be determined using the following formula: Zs ≤

U0 × Cmin Ia

Where: U0 is the nominal AC rms line voltage to Earth Cmin is the minimum voltage factor to take account of voltage variations depending on time and place, changing of transformer taps and other considerations, conventionally taken as 0.95 Ia is the current in amperes (A) causing operation of the protective device within the specified time. (411.4.4 and 411.5.4)

John Rothwell North Wales/ North West NICEIC and ELECSA employ 80 field team staff to assess contractors’ work and provide up-to-date technical advice. To many of you they will be the face of NICEIC and ELECSA that you see regularly. Here we turn the tables and put them in the spotlight

What are some of the biggest changes within the industry that you have come across in that time? The advent of Part P and the rise and fall of giants such as Carillion. What’s the strangest thing you have come across on a NICEIC assessment? How some contractors can repackage their copy of BS 7671 to look as though it is brand new! What’s the strangest situation you’ve been in? A Cumbrian farmer who was the father of the contractor I was assessing said, “I suppose thy’ll want payin’!” I replied that nothing is free but that I don’t collect the money. His son was very amused. What interesting jobs have some of your contractors been involved with? I did an assessment a good few years ago at ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed’s gym in Sheffield.

Wherever possible, designers should use the data provided by the device manufacturer. Alternatively, the impedance values given in Table 41.3 may be used for low voltage circuits and Table 41.6 for circuits forming part of a reduced low voltage system. These values tend to be more onerous than those issued by a particular manufacturer and, in some cases, may be difficult to achieve without an increase in circuit protective conductor size. It should be noted that the maximum acceptable values of earth fault loop impedance to achieve the requisite disconnection time of Chapter 41 vary for the different types of circuitbreaker, and also between circuit-breakers of the same type produced by different manufacturers. It is important that the source of the data used is stated clearly in the design documentation for the electrical installation, and on the schedule of circuit details and test results that accompanies the Electrical Installation Certificate. This information will be invaluable to those carrying out later additions or alterations to the installation and performing periodic inspection and testing in subsequent years.

What are your interests outside work? Music of all types, mainly blues, jazz and classical. I also enjoy walking, keeping fit and social drinking! What superpower would you have? To give everyone a fair start in life, and to ensure the weather was more clement in my abode. If you had a day off tomorrow, what would you do? I’d go walking, weather permitting. Favourite book, film and TV programme? Books: Biographies about people such as Nelson Mandela, Eric Clapton and Alex Ferguson. Film: I laughed a lot recently at Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Michael Caine and Steve Martin. TV: Documentaries such as the recent series on train journeys with Michael Portillo. What’s the best bit of advice you would give to electrical contractors? Don’t bite off more than you can chew, stay within your comfort zone and, when in doubt, brew up first and then call the technical helpline!

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Low voltage supplies to construction sites O B JE C TIVE

TN-S Where a site is the only installation supplied from a dedicated secondary substation, a TN-S earthing terminal may be provided from the transformer’s star-point (see Fig 1). Alternatively, where the site is not served by a dedicated transformer, a TN-S supply can be taken from a shared supply by installing a 1:1 delta/star (∆/Y) transformer on-site (see Fig 2). Where this arrangement is used: • The isolating transformer should be to BS EN 61558-2-41. • The transformer’s outer enclosure and core should be connected to the site’s earthing arrangement, typically taken from local electrodes.

This article will consider the options available for the low voltage supply to the electrical installation of a construction site. It will summarise the requirements of applicable British Standards and the guidelines issued by distributors and relevant safety organisations.


Fig 1 Supply from TN-S system via a dedicated transformer









A construction site poses a number of challenges with respect to the supply of electrical installations. The likelihood of damage and deterioration associated with the adverse environmental conditions can pose an increased risk of shock. A separate article elsewhere in this issue of Connections looks at the environmental factors likely to be present on construction sites. You may find it useful to refer to that article when reading this one. Further factors which pose an increased shock risk include: • the use of the installation by electrically unskilled persons, • the temporary and frequently changing nature of the site, and • the difficulties of ensuring the safety of the installation on-site at all material times. A number of supply options are available for a low voltage installation of a construction site. These are summarised below.



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Fig 2 TN-S Supply from shared substation via isolating transformer SITE INTAKE ASSEMBLY (MUST BE OF METALCLAD CONSTRUCTION)
















• A suitably rated RCD should be installed on the consumer’s side of the cut-out to: provide protection in the event of primary winding faults, and ensure the requirement of Regulation 411.5.3 (ii) is met; that is, RA × I∆n ≤ 50 V where: RA is the sum of the resistances of the earth electrode and the protective conductor connecting it to the exposedconductive-parts (in ohms). I∆n is the rated residual operating current of the RCD.

and take precautions to ensure continuity of the supply neutral conductor given in Regulation 7(1), and • consumers comply with the equipotential bonding requirements of BS 7671. However, this guidance also states that, due to the difficulty to make, and maintain, all the necessary equipotential bonding connections, special consideration should be given to the earthing and protection arrangements in installations such as those of construction sites, where reliance on the connection of the consumer’s protective conductor with the distributor’s combined neutral and protective conductor could result in more significant risks. These concerns are reflected in Regulation 704.411.3.1 of BS 7671, which states that a protective multiple earth (PME) earthing facility shall not be used to provide the means of earthing for a construction or demolition site installation unless all extraneousconductive-parts are reliably connected to the main earthing terminal. Where consideration is being given to the use of a TN-C-S system to serve a construction or demolition site, reference should be made to BS 7375 (see Notes in section 704 of BS 7671) and to the relevant electrical distributor. Although neither BS 7671 nor BS 7375 prohibit the use of a TN-C-S supply, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) state, in Section 6.2.2 of Engineering Recommendation G12, Issue 4: Requirements for the Application of Protective Multiple Earthing to Low Voltage Networks that, as it is usually impractical to comply with the bonding requirements of BS 7671, a PME supply should not be offered a construction site, except for the supply to fixed buildings. As a result, provision of a TN-C-S earthing system for a construction site is highly unlikely and so an alternative supply earthing arrangement must be employed.

TN-C-S Whilst the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR) do not prohibit the use of a PME supply for a construction site, longstanding guidance on these regulations originally issued by the Engineering Inspectorate of the Department of Trade and Industry in the publication URN 02/1544 states, in respect of Regulation 9 (Protective multiple earthing), that the small inherent risks of danger to consumers with all PME networks resulting from the possible disconnection of the supply neutral conductor under fault conditions are generally acceptable provided that both of the following conditions are met: • distributors comply with the requirements of Regulation 9(2) of ESQCR for multiple earthing

Conversion from TN-C-S to TT

1 BS EN 61558-2-4: 2009 Safety of transformers, reactors, power supply units and similar products for supply voltages up to 1100 V. Particular requirements and tests for isolating transformers and power supply units incorporating isolating transformers 2 BS 7375: 2010 – Distribution of electricity on construction and demolition sites – Code of practice

The use of a TT earthing system is preferred where a site is supplied from a PME source. Such a system is created by the use of local earthing electrodes installed to provide the means of earthing for the site electrical installation. No connection is made between the supply PME earthing terminal and the site installation (see Fig 3). A suitably rated RCD should be installed at the origin on the consumer’s side of the cut-out to ensure that the requirement of Regulation 411.5.3 is met (531.; that is, (i) the relevant disconnection time given in Chapter 41 is achieved, and (ii) RA × I∆n ≤ 50 V

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Fig 3 Conversion of TN-C-S to TT system

















The maximum value of the earth electrode and the protective conductor for connecting it to the exposed-conductive-parts (RA), taking into account the possible seasonal variations, including soil freezing and drying must be sufficiently low to permit correct operation of an RCD installed within the installation (531. Where a circuit supplies one or more socketoutlets with a rated current exceeding 32 A, an RCD having a rated residual operating current value (I∆n) not exceeding 500 mA must be installed to provide automatic disconnection within the required disconnection time given in Chapter 41 of BS 7671 in event of a fault of negligible impedance between a line conductor and an exposed-conductive-part or a protective conductor in the circuit or equipment supplied (704.411.3.2). This requirement means, therefore, that the maximum permitted value of RA for the earth electrode arrangement for an installation of a construction site forming part of a TT system is 100 Ω (Table 53.1 of BS 7671). BS 7671 permits the use of an enclosure of Class I construction to house an RCD at the origin of an installation forming part of a TT system subject to the use of live conductors having double or reinforced insulation on the supply side of the incoming device (531.

Similarly, Clause of BS 7375 states that: • wherever practicable, an insulating enclosure should be used to avoid the risk of earth faults between incoming cables and metalwork on the supply side of the principal protective device(s), or • a metallic enclosure may be used if insulating glands, gland plates or other measures providing the equivalence of Class II insulation between the incoming supply conductors and equipment metalwork are taken to reduce the possibility of earth faults. It is important however to comply with any specific requirements that may have been imposed by a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) as conditional to the provision of a supply. For example, Clause of ENA G12-4 does not permit any exposed-conductive-parts before, or enclosing, an RCD. As a result, an RCD at the origin would have to be housed in an enclosure of Class II or equivalent allinsulated construction. The requirements of Section 704 are not applicable to installations in those parts of a construction site that have been provided for administrative, welfare or sanitary purposes. This would include offices, canteens, drying rooms, first aid rooms and toilet facilities such as portable cabins situated in a fixed position, or a specific part of a building set aside for a particular purpose. The reason is that the environment in such areas is likely to be significantly more benign than that on the construction/demolition site proper. Nevertheless, the installations in such locations must meet the relevant general requirements of BS 7671 (704.1.1). Where some parts of a site, such as site offices and toilet blocks, make use of the TN-C-S earthing terminal and the rest of the site relies upon a different earthing system, the requirements of Regulation 542.1.3.3 must be met. Typically, this will be achieved by having the protective conductors of the installations earthed to their respective earthing terminals only, and insulated from the earthing arrangements of any other installation present on the site. Particular care should be taken, therefore, when scaffolding is used around or about the site during construction, to ensure that this separation between earthing arrangements is not compromised.

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Consumer unit blanking plates Regulation 416.2.1 states that, where the lid of a consumer unit or other such enclosure can be opened without the use of a tool or key, there shall be a secure barrier preventing persons coming unintentionally into contact with live conductive parts. The degree of protection for the insulating barrier shall be to IPXXB or IP2X, and shall be sufficiently secured as to need a tool or key to remove it. Manufacturers of consumer units produce a range of different styles of blanking plates, which can be of metal or plastic construction. There is not a regulatory requirement for the blanking plates to be of metal construction, since they are intended to be mounted inside a consumer unit which should comply with Regulation 421.1.201. The illustrations in Fig 2 show some of the more common types of blanking plates in use today. Blanking methods of the type shown by a) and b) cannot be removed without first removing the cover plate of the consumer unit. This would require the use of a tool, invariably a screwdriver. The blanks shown should satisfy the requirements of Regulations 412.2.2.3 and 416.2.1 and provide unskilled persons with adequate protection against the risk of electric shock, when lifting the lid to re-set circuit-breakers or replace fuses. However, while the clip-in blanking plate of Fig 2 c) does not require the use of a tool to place


The aim of this article is to guide the contractor in making informed choices in the selection of blanking plates to be used in domestic consumer units, where necessary, so that Regulation Group 416.2 – Barriers or enclosures is complied with. This article will also briefly mention the recording details to be used where non-compliance with Regulation 416.2.1 is detected when carrying out a visual inspection as part of a periodic report.

Introduction Consumer units that comply with BS EN 61439-3: 2012 Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies are intended to be operated by ordinary persons. As such, they typically are not fitted with any type of fixing mechanism for the front lid, as shown in Fig 1. To gain access to the fuses or circuit-breakers, the lid is easily lifted without requiring the use of a tool or key.

Protection against electric shock Typically, for new installations, a consumer unit is provided with a full complement of circuitbreakers. Any that are unused are normally marked as spare ways to accommodate any future new work. Where extra circuit-breakers are not fitted, leaving gaps in the opening, and live parts contained within are accessible and uninsulated, a blanking plate as shown in Fig 1 must be fitted. However, where the internal bus-bar is insulated and there are no exposed hazardous live parts accessible to the touch, a blanking plate is not strictly necessary. The insulation on the bus-bar provides the provision for basic protection under normal conditions and, as such, acts as a barrier (461.1).

Fig 1 Typical metal-clad consumer unit used in domestic premises

Cover plate

Front lid having no means of being securely fixed

Blanking plate

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it into position, it does require a certain degree of force to ensure both top and bottom clips are securely located, and an almost equal amount of force is required to remove the clip. Where the clips of the barrier plate shown in Fig 2 c) are worn or damaged and no longer provide a secure fit, they should be replaced to maintain the required degree of protection against unintentional contact with hazardous live parts.

Fig 2 Typical examples of blanking plates in common usage

a) This dummy circuitbreaker clips onto the DIN rail of the consumer

International Protection (IP) code Regulation 416.2.1 requires the insulating barrier to have a degree of protection to IPXXB or IP2X. IP2X – this defines the degree of protection required to prevent access to hazardous live parts with fingers and to protect the equipment inside the enclosure against the ingress of solid foreign objects. Protection against the ingress of water is not required. Full details of the testing criteria can be found in BS EN 60529: 1992+A2: 2013 Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP code). Basically, to verify there can be no contact with hazardous parts, there should be clearance when a test finger of 12 mm diameter has penetrated 80 mm deep into the enclosure. A second check is made to verify that it should not be possible for solid foreign objects, spherical in shape and larger than 12.5 mm in diameter, to fully penetrate the enclosure at any point. IPXXB – This means protection against ingress of solid foreign objects and water is not required, and access to hazardous live parts is protected for incidental contact with fingers. The test for compliance is made with the standard test finger as for IP2X.

unit b) This metal barrier is fixed onto the front cover by twisting into

position c) This barrier clips into the consumer unit cover plate

Fig 3 Comment given for a non-compliance detected

and, possibly, issue of a danger notice. Such a potential risk of electrical shock would need to be rectified and made safe upon discovery. Where a blank is missing or appears inadequate and there is a potential risk of coming into contact with live parts then a Classification code C2 should be issued. However, where a blank is missing or appears inadequate, but it is not possible for persons to come into contact with live parts, then no code need be issued. A comment will need to be provided to clarify the Classification code given. Such a comment with details may be something similar to that shown in Fig 3.

Summary The fitting of appropriate blanking plates in consumer units is usually necessary in order to comply with Regulation 416.2.1. Preferably, the blanking plates should be of the type requiring a tool or key to remove them. However, this doesn’t preclude the use of clip-in types often provided with new consumer units, providing they have been fitted in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and provide a secure barrier to the live parts inside the enclosure. The blanking plates need not necessarily be manufactured out of steel; they can be of plastic construction. It must be borne in mind that protection against fire propagation is provided by the non-combustible enclosure of the consumer unit in accordance with Regulation 421.1.201. Where non-compliance is detected during a visual inspection as part of an Electrical Installation Condition Report, an appropriate Classification code pertaining to the level of risk is entered and details provided for actions to be taken.

Periodic inspection Where a non-compliance with Regulation 416.2.1 is detected during a periodic inspection, and it is the considered judgement of the inspector that the use of simple blanking plates is inadequate, the inspector must clearly state the Regulation pertaining to the non-conformance. The inspector should describe the risk presented to the user of the installation within the Observations and Recommendations for actions to be taken of the Report (for example Part 6 of DPN18). On the Schedule of Items Inspected, a suitable code would be entered under the heading: 4: Consumer unit(s) / Distribution board(s); 4.3 Condition of enclosure(s) in terms of IP rating. The actual code entered would be based upon the risk presented to the users of the installation. Where it is found that there are lids and/or blanks missing and direct contact with live parts is possible, the risk of direct contact may require a Classification code C1 49 AU T U MN 2 018

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Verification of Automatic Disconnection of Supply O B JE C TIVE

This article discusses the significance of the change introduced by the 18th Edition of BS 7671 to the verification required for the protective measure automatic disconnection of supply (ADS).

ADS is the most common protective measure used to provide protection against electric shock for low voltage installations. For the purposes of verifying ADS, the earth fault loop impedance (Zs) of each circuit that relies on ADS is normally determined by testing. However, as discussed in this article, for some installations – particularly those of domestic premises where most, if not all, final circuits are provided with RCD protection – Zs does not need to be determined in order to verify ADS. The purpose of ADS is to ensure that, in the event of a fault of negligible impedance between a line conductor and an exposed-conductive-part or protective conductor, the protective device will automatically disconnect the circuit within the appropriate disconnection times of Chapter 41 of BS 7671. Table 41.1 gives the maximum disconnection times for final circuits having a current rating not exceeding: • 63 A containing socket-outlets, and • 32 A for those supplying only fixed connected current-using equipment (411.3.2.2). Disconnection times relevant to a single-phase installation are shown in Table 1.

Regulation 643.7.1 At first glance, the requirements detailed for verifying ADS for both TN and TT systems in Regulation 643.7.1 may appear to be no different than those previously detailed in Regulation 612.8.1 of the 17th Edition of BS 7671. However, Regulation 643.7.1 includes the following statement which is applicable for both TN and TT systems: ‘Where the effectiveness of the protective measure has been confirmed at a point located downstream of an RCD, the protection of the

Earth fault loop impedance testing Earth fault loop impedance (Zs) testing is the most common method used to verify ADS for overcurrent protective devices. The purpose of this ‘live’ test is to confirm that, under earth fault conditions, the magnitude of fault current (earth fault loop current) as illustrated in Fig 1 will be sufficient to disconnect the protective device within the appropriate disconnection time – see Table 1.

For these purposes, the measured value of Zs should not exceed the maximum value permitted by the manufacturer of the protective device, taking into account any adjustment for difference in temperature between design and test values. Where required, verification of ADS may be confirmed by comparing the (corrected) measured impedance values against those given in the relevant tables contained in Chapter 41. For example, from Table 41.3 the maximum permitted value of Zs for the 6 A type B (BS EN 60898) circuit-breaker shown in Fig 1 is 7.28 Ω. Therefore, to verify that under earth fault conditions the device will disconnect the circuit within the required time (0.4 s given a TN system), the measured value of earth fault loop impedance should not exceed: 7.28 Ω x 0.8 = 5.82 Ω (Appendix 3 of BS 7671 refers) While the verification methods described should continue to be used appropriately where fault protection is provided by an overcurrent device, where an RCD is installed upstream of the protective device, Regulation 643.7.1 permits a different approach to be used to verify ADS.

Table 1 Maximum disconnection times applicable to a singlephase installation System Final circuit covered Final circuit not covered by Table type by Table 41.1 41.1 and distribution circuits TN

0.4 s




0.2 s



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Fig 1 Earth fault loop current (TN-S earthing arrangement shown)

Fig 2 Verifying ADS for typical domestic installation

Circuit protective device


R1 6A Type B (BS EN 60898)

Final circuits protected by RCD


Metal case

Meter tails


RCD Neutral

L2 L3

32 A

20 A

16 A

30 mA

R2 Fault current

Main switch

installation downstream from this point may be proved by confirmation of the continuity of the protective conductors.’ Considering the requirements of BS 7671 for additional protection, especially those relating to cables concealed in walls, generally all final circuits installed in domestic premises will be protected by RCDs having a residual current rating not exceeding 30 mA. Typically, this is achieved by a consumer unit having a dual RCD configuration and, increasingly, by the use of RCBOs protecting individual circuits. Therefore, where continuity of protective conductors is verified as required by Regulation 643.2.1, ADS for the final circuits connected downstream of an RCD can be confirmed by verifying the effectiveness of the RCD. For a typical domestic installation as shown in Fig 2, a 30 mA RCD will provide additional protection for a number of final circuits. Where continuity has been confirmed as part of the dead testing completed for initial verification and the installation is energised, an external earth fault loop impedance test (Ze) should be carried out, normally at the consumer unit intake, to verify the protective measure upstream of that point. That is to confirm that the installation is connected to Earth and the impedance is suitable for the Earthing arrangement (TN-S in the case of Fig 1). However, conducting earth fault loop impedance tests downstream of this point is unnecessary, because ADS for the final circuits shown in Fig 2 is achieved by verifying the effectiveness of the RCD. Whether an RCD is installed to provide fault or additional protection, it must be tested to verify its effectiveness, and where an RCD satisfies the disconnection requirements for additional protection, it will also satisfy the requirements for fault protection. In either case, it is recommended that the test is conducted using the highest test current the instrument can deliver and the results

verified according to the function of the RCD. An RCD installed to provide additional protection must disconnect within 40 ms (see note to 643.8), whereas an RCD installed to provide fault protection must disconnect within the relevant time stated in Chapter 41 of BS 7671 (see Table 1 of this article). Where a circuit, such as a distribution circuit, is provided with fault protection by an overcurrent device only, the verification for ADS requires the earth fault loop impedance to be determined at the furthest point of the circuit. However, where an RCD is connected upstream of an overcurrent device, as shown in Fig 2, the verification for ADS should be provided by testing the effectiveness of the RCD. As such, there is no reason to determine the earth fault loop impedance of the circuits, Zs. The purpose of the RCD test is to verify that the RCD will disconnect within the required time. The test performed on each RCD should be conducted at the most convenient place downstream of the device, such as at a socket-outlet. The measured reading for each RCD tested should be recorded in the appropriate column on the ‘Schedule of circuit details and test results’, which forms part of NICEIC and ELECSA certificates. For the column entitled ‘Maximum measured earth fault loop impedance’ not applicable ‘N/A’ should be recorded.

Summary As discussed in this article, where an RCD is connected upstream of an overcurrent device, we can rely on the RCD, subject to the verification described, to provide ADS. Where this is the case, performing earth fault loop impedance tests on the circuits connected to this RCD would be unnecessary and should be avoided, particularly considering the requirements of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EWR) regarding unnecessary live testing. 52 AU T U MN 2 018

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Environmental factors on construction sites O B JE C TIVE

Most construction sites require electrical supplies to provide power for tools, equipment, lighting and the like. The aim of this article is to consider the environmental factors that should be taken into account when selecting, installing and using electrical supplies and equipment on a construction site.

Introduction The adverse environmental conditions typically found on constructions sites and the inherent increased risk of damage occurring to wiring systems and electrical equipment, increase the shock risk. This increased risk needs to be managed in order to comply with legislative requirements for construction site safety and for the use of electricity.

Environmental factors The degree of risk and likelihood of damage to installed equipment and hence the persons using it vary across a typical construction site. Accordingly, the requirements for the supply to electrical equipment must be appropriate for the environment in which they are to operate, taking into account that electrical equipment will be operated by ordinary persons (as defined in Part 2 of BS 7671). With the exception of the installations in administrative locations such as offices, meeting rooms and site welfare areas, where the general requirements of Parts 1 to 6 apply (704.1.1) electrical equipment used on a construction site must be suitable for the harsh conditions and rough usage typical for the environment (704.512.2).

Typical environmental factors that should be taken into consideration include: • contact with corrosive substances • ingress of liquids or dust and other solids, • wear and tear caused in use by impact, abrasion, tension and flexing • extreme temperature fluctuations • damage by vehicular movement

Measures to minimise likely detrimental effects Wherever possible, electrical equipment and wiring should be located in a manner that minimises the chance of exposure to corrosive substances such as cement and plaster. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by avoiding installing cables and/or equipment in locations where such exposure is likely. Where this is not possible, parts of the wiring system likely to be exposed to corrosive substances should be constructed of corrosion-resistant materials or suitable additional protection or screening should be provided (522.5.1). Work continues on construction sites in all weathers, with much of it taking place outdoors. Section 704 of BS 7671 does not state a minimum acceptable degree of ingress protection against either water (or indeed other liquids) or foreign solid bodies, therefore the general rules given in Section 522 of BS 7671 relating to this will apply. For example, where water may build up inside a wiring system, provision such as holes drilled at low points within the system should be made to allow the water to drain out (522.3.2). Section 704 does, however, specify that: All assemblies for the distribution of electricity on site shall be in compliance with the requirements of BS EN 61439-4 (704.511.1). Clause 8.2.2 of this standard requires a minimum degree of ingress protection of: IP44 when all doors are closed and all cover plates and removable panels are in place IP21 provided that the door can be closed

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Fig 2 Examples of cable protection suitable for external use

External (traffic & pedestrian) – heavy duty rubber cable & hose protector

External (traffic & pedestrian) – heavy duty modular plastic/rubber external cable protector

under all conditions of use, or IP44 at the operating face where the door cannot be closed. Any plug or socket-outlet of rated current greater than or equal to 16 A should comply with the requirements of BS EN 60309-2. Clause 14 of this standard states that accessories having a rated current of 63/60 A should offer protection to either IP44, IP66/IP67 or IP67 and that accessories having a rated current of 125/100 A should offer protection to either IP66/IP67 or IP67. It also states that when 125/100 A socket-outlets are mounted on or integrated with enclosures, the whole unit can offer protection to IP44. RCDs should be installed in enclosures which provide protection from moisture, solid particles, mechanical damage and vibration. Easy access must be possible to facilitate regular inspection and operation of the integral test facility to confirm their continued functionality. Surface-run and overhead cables should be protected against mechanical damage, taking into account the environment and activities of a construction site (704.522.8.101). As with any other type of installation, the general rules of Chapters 51 and 52 of BS 7671 relating to effective selection and erection of equipment apply. Where the protective measure of electrical separation is used, the particular requirement of Regulation 413.3.4 that any flexible cables should remain visible throughout any part of their length liable to mechanical damage, must be met (704.410.3.10). Only low temperature 3182/3/4/5A thermoplastic cable complying with BS 6004 or other equivalent flexible cable may be used for a reduced low voltage system (704.522.8.11). Any installed electrical equipment must be suitable for any temperatures that it is reasonable to expect on a construction site. Temperatures can fluctuate widely, particularly when the

structure being worked on is only partially constructed and equipment is more exposed to the elements over a range of seasons. As required by Regulation 522.1.2, cables and associated wiring accessories should not be installed or manipulated outside of the boundary temperatures specified in the relevant product standard or in manufacturers’ data. Table C.2 in Annex C to BS 6004 states that type 3182/3/4/5A round flexible cables are suitable for intermittent and temporary periods of short duration outdoor use, are resistant to frequent flexing and torsion, and may be both installed and handled at temperatures as low as -25 °C. However Table C.3 of that standard clarifies that type 3182/3/4/5A cables are not suitable for outdoor use at voltages greater than 110 V. For applications exceeding reduced low voltage (RLV), flexible cable complying with H07RN-F (BS EN 50525-2-21) type or equivalent heavy duty flexible cable should be used (704.522.8.11). Cables meeting H07RN-F are generally manufactured with a polychloroprene sheath, giving them the capacity to resist water, oil and grease. They have an operating temperature in the region of -15 °C to 60 °C when used in applications such as construction sites, where frequent mounting and flexing is likely. Cables should not be installed across site roads or walkways unless adequate protection against mechanical damage is provided (704.522.8.10). Where it is necessary to route cables across roadways and access ways for transport and mobile plant on a, relatively speaking, long-term basis, they should be laid in ducts at a depth of at least 0.6 m below finished ground levels and a cable marker should be installed at each end of each road crossing (Clause 7.1.5 of BS 7375). Where cables must pass over a roadway on a shorter term basis, suitable protection should be 55 AU T U MN 2 018

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Fig 1 Example of standby power supply

Interlocks/changeover switch




PME normal supply

Protective device



PEN Conductor

MET Independent means of earthing (Earth electrode)


connected to a standby generator supply, it must not compromise the operation of the generator or the safety of the circuits supplied. In view of this, the requirements of Regulation 132.16 of BS 7671 should be satisfied prior to undertaking the work. In particular, it should be confirmed that: • the rating of the standby generator, including any associated switchgear, is adequate for the load that it may be required to supply, and • the relevant disconnection requirements of Chapter 41 of BS 7671 will be met when the installed circuits are supplied by the generator. Where the protective measure is ADS, the details of the generator, the additional circuits supplied, and means by which ADS is achieved when the installed circuits are supplied by the generator should be appended to the certificate. As a standby generator operates as a switched alternative to the public supply, it should be confirmed that a means of earthing independent of the public supply earthing arrangement is provided (Regulation 551. For the example shown in Fig 1, the earth electrode provides an independent means of earthing for the generator in the event of loss of the PME earthing arrangement. Depending on the earthing arrangements, the impedance of the earth fault loop, and consequently the magnitude of current delivered under fault conditions, could change significantly when the installation is supplied by the generator. For these reasons, Regulation 551.2.2 of BS 7671 requires that the prospective short-circuit current and prospective earth fault current is assessed for each source of supply or combination of

sources which can operate independently of other sources or combinations. The higher or highest value of prospective fault current Ipf and external impedance Ze of any of the sources must be recorded in the relevant part of the certificate. It should be noted, however, that the purpose of assessing each supply source is not just to verify that the breaking capacity of any installed protective devices and switchgear will not be exceeded under fault conditions, but also to confirm that the level of current produced by the generator under fault conditions will be sufficient to disconnect the circuits within the relevant times required by Chapter 41 of BS 7671. Information relating to the generator should be readily available from the existing installation records, such as the original certification provided when the generator was installed, and the subsequent records of maintenance. Where there are no records available, it may be necessary to access manufacturer’s data to ensure that appropriate actions are taken. Furthermore, the person ordering the work should be advised to have appropriate inspection and testing undertaken on the standby power supply system. Indeed, in such instances where such data is missing, it may be necessary to recommission the generator. The absence of records for the generator should be identified on the certificate, under ‘Comments on the existing installation’ (Regulation 641.5).

Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) UPS systems are used to maintain power supplies for a range of systems, in particular computer and communication systems and equipment. Certain installations may contain a number of UPS systems, installed to provide supplies for a range of purposes. When a fixed UPS system is installed, it is generally commissioned by the manufacturer and, in accordance with the warranty agreement, serviced regularly. For the Static UPS shown in Fig 2, the normal AC power supply is conditioned and monitored before being delivered to the loads. If the voltage drops below a specified level or if the power fails, the UPS battery supply is switched in to maintain power to the loads for a short period of time, generally not more than 10 to 20 mins, so that systems such as IT systems can shutdown properly. Where power needs to be maintained for longer periods, an alternative supply, such as a standby generator, should be connected to supply the UPS. Any connection to an existing UPS must be carried out in accordance with the particular 57 AU T U MN 2 018

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provided in order to minimise the likelihood of damage or potentially dangerous deterioration caused by vehicles and the movement of building materials on barrows, pallet trucks and the like. Fig 1 shows examples of such cable protectors. Protection against mechanical damage must also be provided for overhead cables (704.522.8.101). The flexible leads supplying power tools and other portable equipment on-site are particularly vulnerable to damage because they are not permanently fixed and secured away from sources of potential damage. For this reason, they should be checked before each use to confirm their adequacy. As with other cables likely to pass across routes where personnel or vehicular movement is likely, additional protection should be provided.

Details required for other sources of supply

Inspection and testing Regular and frequent inspection and testing is essential to confirm the continued suitability of the temporary electrical installation and the tools and equipment connected to it. Clause 9 of BS 7375 recommends that: Fixed installations, whether operating at 400/230 V or 110 V RLV, should be inspected and tested at least every three months, but more frequently where necessary. Records should be kept of any test results obtained for future reference when determining whether deterioration has taken place. Movable installations should be inspected and tested more frequently, typically weekly, although again more often where conditions require it. RCDs should be subjected to testing using an RCD test instrument every three months and it should be confirmed that pressing the integral test button causes the RCD to operate prior to operation of the equipment it protects.


NICEIC and ELECSA certificates require the details of ‘Other sources of supply’ to be appended. This article aims to clarify the type of details required where an addition or alteration is made to an existing installation supplied from an additional supply source.

Where an addition or alteration is made to an electrical installation or part of an installation which may be supplied from an additional supply source, relevant details of the additional supply system should be provided as part of the certification. The information required will vary according to the particular type of additional power supply system, and so this article considers three commonly encountered low voltage additional supplies within the scope of Regulation 551.1 of BS 7671, and discusses the details that should be provided.

Summary A construction site can be a harsh environment for an electrical installation. So that the installation may be used safely by electrically unskilled persons, care must be taken when selecting equipment for use in this environment. Such equipment must be suitably resilient to the potential sources of damages likely to be present either of itself or through the application of additional protective measures. Future articles will look at the requirements for low voltage and reduced extra low voltage installations for construction sites.

Standby generator (switched alternative to the low voltage public supply Standby generators are used in a range of installations to maintain a supply to all or part of an installation in the event of failure of the normal mains supply. Where an addition or alteration is made to an installation that is 56 AU T U MN 2 018

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UPS manufacturer’s instructions. Where additional loads are intended, it should be confirmed that: • the maximum power rating of the UPS will not be exceeded, and • fault protection of the UPS conforms to Regulation 551.4.3.3. Due to the operational nature of these systems, measurement of prospective fault current and earth fault loop impedance are not relevant. The details of the UPS and the company responsible for maintaining it should be appended to the electrical certificate. Note: Connection to the UPS should only be undertaken by those competent in such work, following all the necessary safety procedures.

Fig 2 A basic static UPS system connected to a standby generator

AC supply


Static switch





G (Standby)


addition or alteration such as the replacement of a consumer unit is proposed for a domestic installation that is connected to a PV microgenerator, the certification for the PV supply system should be made available by the person ordering the work. Access to this documentation will enable the contractor to confirm that the PV supply system has been installed and certificated by persons registered to undertake such work, using suitable types of equipment. Details of the PV certificate should be appended to the electrical certificate issued for the addition or alteration.

Photovoltaic (PV) micro-generator system In contrast to standby power supplies, the PV power supply system commonly installed to provide small-scale energy generation for domestic installations are designed to operate in parallel with the public supply. As a result, these systems are required to provide automatic disconnection on loss of the public supply, or deviation of the voltage or frequency from the declared values (Regulation 551.7.4). Otherwise persons undertaking maintenance or repairs on isolated parts of the distribution network may be exposed to the risk of electric shock. Furthermore, as this type of supply is not connected to Earth and the fault currents cannot exceed much more than the maximum rated output (16 A) of the power converter, an assessment of the prospective fault current and external impedance is not relevant for this type of PV power supply. However, for the purposes of satisfying the requirements of Regulation 132.16, where an

Summary Where additions or alterations are undertaken to installations or parts of installations that are supplied from more than one supply source, the details of the additional supply should be appended to the electrical certificate. While the information may vary depending on the type of additional supply it should be made available by the person ordering the work, and as a minimum, it should be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of Regulation 132.16 of BS 7671.

Guidance on electrical installation and inspection & testing is provided in the range NICEIC and ELECSA publications, which have been recently updated to BS 7671 2018

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considered as being a special case, and Regulation 433.1.204 details the following conditions: • socket-outlets are manufactured to BS 1363 and supplied through a ring final circuit with or without unfused spurs, protected by a 30 A or 32 A protective device • the circuit must be wired with copper conductors having line and neutral conductors with a minimum cross-sectional area (csa) of 2.5 mm2 (where 2-core mineral insulated cables complying with BS EN 60702-1 are used, a csa of 1.5 mm2 is permitted) and • the current-carrying capacity (Iz) of the cable is not less than 20 A and • the load current in any part of the circuit is unlikely to exceed the current-carrying capacity of the cable for long periods.

Apprentice Corner The focus of the apprentice corner in this issue of Connections is to give an introduction into overload current, and how the requirements of BS 7671 are applied to it. This will enable informed decisions to be made by contractors during the design stage of an installation. This will be complemented using a scenario followed by some multiple-choice questions.

Co-ordination between conductor and overload protective device Fig 2 shows a block diagram of a circuit, showing the overload protective device (normally a fuse or circuit-breaker), the circuit conductors (cable) and the load. Should an overload occur, the protective device is designed to automatically disconnect the circuit (by the fuse rupturing or the circuit-breaker tripping). Should an overload occur in a circuit where there is no overload protection, the temperature of the circuit conductors could increase excessively over time, possibly damaging the insulation, joints and terminations of the conductors and/or their surroundings. To protect against such damage, the design of the circuit has to properly co-ordinate the current-carrying capacity of the conductors

Introduction In Part 2 of BS 7671, an overload is described as being an overcurrent occurring in a circuit which is electrically sound. The cause of such an overcurrent may be the result of a user either deliberately or unintentionally connecting more current-using devices than that which the circuit was designed to carry, or from ‘overworking’ electrical or electro-mechanical equipment. A subsequent article will consider diversity. The block diagram of Fig 1 shows the relationship between the different conditions that make up an overcurrent. This article will only be considering overload.

Fig 1 Terms from Part 2 of BS 7671 relating to overcurrents

Types of loads Not all connected loads on final circuits are liable to overload as they will not draw more current than they are rated for. Such loads, typically, are resistive in nature, and include electric showers, immersion heater elements, instantaneous water heaters, convector heaters and the like. For loads such as these, a device for protection against overload need not be provided (433.3.1 (ii)). However, where individual loads that are not liable to overload are connected to a circuit, such as a ring final circuit, that circuit can overload. However, all circuits, whether they are liable to overload or not, must be protected against fault current, with a few exceptions (434.3).

AN OVERCURRENT A current exceeding the rated value of a conductor. An overcurrent can be either: AN OVERLOAD An overcurrent in a circuit that is electronically sound. (Overloads are normally of moderate magnitude but last for a comparatively long time.)

A FAULT CURRENT A current resulting from a fault. (Fault currents are high magnitude (kA) but hopefully only last a short time.) A fault current can be either:

AN EARTH FAULT CURRENT An overcurrent resulting from a fault of negligible impedance between a live conductor and an exposed conductive part or a protective conductor.

Ring final circuits To minimise the risk of overload on a ring final circuit, particular requirements need to be

A SHORT-CIRCUIT CURRENT An overcurrent resulting from a fault of negligible impedance between live conductors.

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and the anticipated load current with the characteristics of the overload protective device (Table 1). Where the operating characteristics of a protective device other than a rewireable fuse to BS 3036 meet expressions (i) and (ii) below, protection against overload will be provided (433.1.1): Expression (i): Ib ≤ In ≤ Iz The design current of the circuit (Ib) must be equal to or less than the current rating or current setting of the protective device (In), which must be equal to or less than (Iz), the lowest current-carrying capacity of the conductors forming the circuit. Expression (ii): I2 ≤ 1.45 Iz The current causing effective operation of the protective device (I2) must not exceed 1.45 times the lowest of the current-carrying capacity (Iz) of any of the conductors of the circuit. Expression (i) requires no further explanation but it is worthwhile considering what expression (ii) means for the designer. As an example, consider a 16 A fuse to BS 88-3; this standard states that the non-fusing current I1 is 1.25 In (16 x 1.25 = 20 A) for 1 hour and the fusing current I2 is 1.6 In (1.6 x 16 = 25.6 A). Cable manufacturers conclude from extensive testing that PVC or XLPE insulated cables can safely withstand overload currents up to 1.45 times their continuous current rating without showing any indication of deterioration. Therefore, expression (ii) is satisfied if for a 16 A fuse when 1.6 In ≤ 1.45 Iz. Using the same 16 A fuse, a short-term overload of 20 A (1.25 In x 16 A) could be sustained for 1 hour, after which the fuse element will weaken and break. If during this process the overload was to increase to 25.6 A

Fig 2 Block diagram showing the relationships of currents for overload protection Ib



1.45 Iz Circuit cable

Source of supply: I(A)

Ib ≤ In

I2 ≤ 1.45 Iz



I2 OCPD - Overcurrent protective device

(1.6 In x 16 A), the fuse would rupture within the hour without causing any undue stress on the cable or associated equipment.

Location of overload protective devices In general, a device for overload protection is required at the point where a reduction occurs in the current-carrying capacity of the conductors of the installation (433.2.1). If there are no outlets or spurs after the reduction in crosssectional area, the protective device may be installed along the conductor provided that: • Protection against fault current is provided, or • The length of run before the overload protection device does not exceed 3 m, and the circuit is installed in a manner that reduces to a minimum the risk of: a fault, and fire or danger to persons (433.2.2).

Omission of overload protective devices Except where a location presents a risk of fire or explosion, overload protection need not be provided: • For a conductor, on the load side of a point where a reduction in the value of current-carrying capacity occurs if the conductor is effectively protected against

Table 1: Sample of conventional times and currents for a range of overcurrent protective devices Device type

Rated current In (A)

Non-fusing current I1 or Inf (A)

BS 88-2 fuse

16 ≤ In ≤ 63

1.25 In for 1 hour

1.6 In


BS 88-3 fuse

16 ≤ In ≤ 63

1.25 In for 1 hour

1.6 In


BS 3036

30 (for e.g.)

1.8 In

2.0 In


BS EN 60898

In ≤ 63

1.13 In

1.45 In


BS EN 60898

In > 63

1.13 In

1.45 In


Fusing current I2 or If (A)

Conventional fusing time (hours)

Where: In – value of current that the fuse-link can carry continuously without deterioration under specified conditions I1 – value of current specified as that which the fuse-link is capable of carrying for a specified time (conventional time) without melting I2 – value of current specified as that which causes operation of the fuse-link within a specified time (conventional time) 61 AU T U MN 2 018

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Multiple-choice questions

overload by a protective device installed on the supply side of that point, or which, because of the characteristics of the load or the supply, is not likely to carry overload current. • Where the DNO agrees that their cut-out provide(s) overload protection between the origin and the main distribution point of the installation (provided that overload protection is provided at that point) (433.3.1). Overload protection can also be omitted for safety reasons, where unexpected disconnection of supply could cause danger or damage (433.3.3).

1. An overload current is: a) A current arising from an earth fault b) A current occurring in a faulty installation c) Due to an open circuit in the live conductor d) An overcurrent occurring in a circuit which is electrically sound 2. In BS 7671, the phrase ‘A current exceeding the rated value. For conductors the rated value is the current-carrying capacity’ describes which of the following? a) A short-circuit current b) An earth-fault current c) An overcurrent d) An overload current

Scenario Your company has asked you to investigate a suspected lighting fault in a domestic dwelling. It is reported that a 6 A type B RCBO to BS EN 61009 trips when all the lights are switched on. The dwelling is a two-bedroomed bungalow that has recently had a conservatory fitted, and the occupier has changed pendant drops for multi-point light fittings in many of the rooms.

3. The requirements for protection against overload current are met when a) lb = 20 A, ln = 25 A, lz = 23 A b) lb = 17 A, ln = 20 A, lz = 20 A c) lb = 28 A, ln = 25 A, lz = 26 A d) lb = 12 A, ln = 15 A, lz = 14 A 4. Omission of devices for protection against overload is not permitted for a) Secondary circuits of current transformers b) Circuits for fire extinguishing devices c) Excitation circuits of rotating machines d) Emergency lighting circuits

Contractor’s considerations and recommendations to the occupier 1. Is the issue just the ‘blowing’ of a GLS lamp or the like? 2. Carry out a visual inspection to assess the general condition of the electrical installation and to determine whether it is safe for inspection and testing to be performed. 3. Is the RCBO tripping due to an overload or a fault current (short circuit or earth fault)? 4. What is the total power if all the lights are switched on? 5. If incandescent lamps are in use, consider discussing with the occupier the benefits of energy efficiency, and state how the circuit loading can be reduced by fitting alternative lamps or luminaires, such as LEDs. 6. If a single lighting circuit, discuss with the occupier the benefits of multiple lighting circuits.

5. A load of 5.6 A is drawn from a circuit protected by a fuse to BS 88-3. Overload protection is satisfied if the currentcarrying capacity of the circuit cable (Iz) is at least: a) 6.6 A b) 5.6 A c) 8.7 A d) 5.4 A 6. Where protection for overload is being provided by a BS 3036 fuse, the correction factor to be applied when calculating the required current-carrying capacity of a conductor is which of the following? a) 0.3036 b) 0.755 c) 0.725 d) 1.45

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Snags & Solutions A practical guide to everyday electrical problems Now updated to Amendment No 3 of BS 7671

NICEIC’s ‘Snags & Solutions’ problem-solving books are now available in five parts, and cover many commonly encountered electrical installation problems. Part 1 – Earthing and Bonding. Part 2 – Wiring Systems. Part 3 – Inspection and Testing. Part 4 – Emergency Lighting. Part 5 – Fire Detection and Alarm Systems. The publications are reviewed and amended as appropriate, to reflect any changes made to BS 7671 and other relevant standards. To give an indication of the value of these books, a snag and solution is being covered in each issue of Connections. This issue addresses a snag from Part 2 – Wiring Systems, relating to problems associated with cutting conductor strands to facilitate termination. The books are available from

Cutting out of cable strands Cable strands should not be cut out in order to engage the conductor in a terminal.

Snag 26 It is poor practice to cut strands as shown when connecting a stranded cable to a terminal, as this can lead to an intermittent connection with a risk of fire. 64 AU T U MN 2 018

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The cable in question may be intended to supply a distant load, and since the voltage drop is the dominant factor in determining the cable csa, a larger csa than that required from current considerations alone may have been selected. A problem can arise with switchgear where the terminals may be sized on the basis of current-carrying requirements only.

Apprentice Corner answers 1.

Correct option is (d)

2. Correct option is (c) See definitions in Part 2 of BS 7671

Solution Where the csa of the conductors of the cable needs to be reduced, this must not be achieved by cutting out strands which could cause hot spots leading to premature failure of the cable. Cutting out of strands would be considered contrary to Regulation 526.1 relating to durable electrical continuity and adequate mechanical strength, and would also contravene Regulation 526.2 relating to the selection of the means of connection. One method to reduce the csa of conductors, so as not to cause damage, would be either to: • terminate the cable in an appropriate accessory and connect to the switchgear using smaller cables, sized on current-carrying capacity requirements, or • use some form of reducing ‘pin lug’ crimped or soldered on to the conductor, or • solder or braze the strands together.

3. Correct option is (b) See Regulation 433.1.1 and expression (i) Ib ≤ In ≤ Iz

4. Correct option is (d) See Regulation 433.3.3

5. Correct option is (a) For a load current of 5.6 A, the nearest fuse rating will be 6 A. Using expression (ii) 1.6 In ≤ 1.45 Iz, therefore 1.6 x 6 = 1.45 Iz, giving a value of Iz ≈ 6.6 A

6. Correct option is (c) See Regulations 433.1.202 and Table 1. Although Table 1 only shows a value of I2 for a 30 A fuse to BS 3036, the value of current specified as that which causes operation of the fuse-link within a specified time (conventional time) is 2.0 In across the range of semienclose fuses. Using expression (ii) I2 ≤ 1.45 Iz, therefore 2.0 In = 1.45 Iz, which gives In = 0.725 Iz

Regulation 526.1 Every connection between conductors or between a conductor and other equipment shall provide durable electrical continuity and adequate mechanical strength and protection. NOTE: See Regulation Group 522.8 – Other mechanical stresses.

Regulation 526.2 The selection of the means of connection shall take account, as appropriate, of: (i) the material of the conductor and its insulation (ii) the number and shape of the wires forming the conductor (iii) the cross-sectional area of the conductor (iv) the number of conductors to be connected together (v) the temperature attained at the terminals in normal service such that the effectiveness of the insulation of the conductors connected to them is not impaired (vi) the provision of adequate locking arrangements in situations subject to vibration or thermal cycling. 65 AU T U MN 2 018

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Marshall-Tufflex 65mm Fast-Coupling Wire Basket was installed at the Edinburgh House project in south London. Installer Andrew Aird of Sapphire Mechanical & Electrical Services said: “We had a challenge with minimal floor void space but were able to use angled plates and shallower underfloor boxes. I was also really pleased with the Wire Basket’s connection system.”

Danlers’ range of hardwired ROUND PIR Occupancy switches offers a choice of different switching and switch/dim options. They come with a snap-fit mounting plate and can be mounted directly on a ceiling or a range of different mounting boxes. Features include adjustable time-lag settings and inactive mode. Products come with a five-year warranty and are made in the UK.

Rolec EV Rolec EV, one of Europe’s leading EV charge point manufacturers and installers, has recently added DC rapid chargers to its range, having signed a partnership agreement with Delta Electronics for the UK market. Rolec already boasts the UK’s largest and most comprehensive AC EV charging range – and this latest announcement places Rolec at the forefront of the DC rapid charger industry in this country. Rolec EV’s charge point options can now offer further impressive charging speeds, from 25kW all the way through to the 150kW Ultra-Fast Charger (UFC) – with the majority of the units featuring up to six charging outlets and the ability to charge up to four electric vehicles simultaneously. 01205 724754 / /

Wiska The COMBI 206 is the smallest member of the COMBI junction box range, measuring 85 x 49mm – around half the size of the COMBI 308 model. It offers Wiska’s usual high Ingress Protection rating (IP66/67) as well as the user-friendly threaded membrane entry system (six M20 threaded entries and two rear membrane entries). The COMBI 206 comes complete with three 221 3-conductor lever connectors. Available in black, light grey and white, it is perfect for outside applications including CCTV and LED lighting, offering all the benefits of its COMBI 308 brother in a smaller solution. The small design creates a much more discreet finish while offering the same exacting standards that are synonymous with Wiska products. / 01208 816062

Cable Drum Jacks Cable Drum Jacks offers a range of products, including: manual screw-type cable drum jacks from 3t to 8t, coming on their own as a pair or with spindle bar; hydraulic range from 3t up to 30t; small cable dispensers and cable drum stands; SWA cable rollers, narrow, heavy-duty, triple-corner, manhole and lead rollers; Cobra and Duct rods from 4mm up to 11mm, offered in lengths from 100m to 500m; electric cable pullers; and cable trailers. We offer 95 per cent ex stock availability on a next-day service (UK mainland only) and you can ask technical questions via phone or email. / 0800 988 0112

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Whatever the weather

Do your skills as an electrician help? Yes, particularly with diagnosing faults. I have had cases of dogs chewing the rain gauge cable to the computer. I was an electronics engineer for BT before I took early retirement and retrained as an electrician. I’m 71 now so I don’t work every day today because I don’t need to, and the weather forecasting comes first.

A childhood experience in one of the coldest winters on record sparked a life-long interest in the weather for Alan Paul of Alan Paul Electrics in Upminster How did you get into weather forecasting? In the winter of 1963 my dad was headmaster of one of the biggest schools in the borough and it had all the instruments in a Stevenson screen, and the head boy would read them and ring them in. There was one day when my thermometer at home said it was 0ºF, so -18ºC. I got the head boy to verify that, and from that day on I was interested in the weather. We haven’t beaten that temperature since; it was the second hardest winter in the 20th century. Today I run Upminster Weather, and it’s extremely serious because people rely on it. Builders phone me up to know if they can

lay cement, and people on the railways and the airports look at it too. They know that it’s often more reliable than the Met Office.

What kind of set-up do you have? I have a complete full-blown weather station. I’m one of about 10 people in the UK with a lightning detector, which I keep in my loft, so I can see flashes of lightning anywhere within about 350 miles of my house. I also pay for digital rain radar so I know the density of the rain and how many millimetres have fallen. I write the forecast every morning and evening and my data goes to the Met Office every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. I don’t get paid for it but sometimes I get a donation and that goes to a cancer charity.

‘I have two aerials on the side of the house, one of which is 16 feet high, and a rain gauge on the lawn’

How much time does it take up? It’s half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening, but if the weather starts turning bad then I’ll update all the people who want to know. I can usually predict the rain down to within 20 minutes. I also have UPS systems running 24 hours a day which back it all up for half a day, and they can be a hassle too, and I have to check the calibration of my instruments. Sometimes it can take all afternoon.

Your car is pretty well known, too. Yes, I have three aerials. One will go up and down as I change frequency. One receives weather data, one is my short-wave radio, and I have speed camera detection. I also have two aerials on the side of the house, one of which is 16 feet high, and a rain gauge on the lawn. I’m a high-tech man!

Do you have any other hobbies? I go ice-skating every week and do my jumps and flicks, just to keep fit. I also help teach amateur radio. You have to keep busy!

What do you get up to in your spare time? Email

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Banding together A kind-hearted group of tradespeople have helped an electrician suffering from motor neurone disease (MND) by renovating his home and garden so he can spend precious time with his family. Electrician Jamie Thompson was diagnosed in October 2014, and given just three years to live. The 49-year-old from Cradley in Herefordshire has surpassed medics’ expectations but is confined to his motorised wheelchair. After hearing about Jamie’s situation, two organisations who help members of the UK construction industry joined forces to help, supported by builders’ merchant Jewson. Band of Builders, a charitable organisation that carries out projects and adaptations to help tradespeople and their

#SPARKSLIFE We’ve been asking you to send in pictures of the jobs you are working on via social media – and you haven’t disappointed. Keep sending them in via Twitter @officialNICEIC or @officialELECSA, or via Instagram using the hashtag #sparkslife. This issue’s prize for the best shot, a £25 voucher, goes to SLJ Electrical families, teamed up with the construction industry charity Lighthouse Club, which offers financial and mental wellbeing assistance to construction workers. Together, they overhauled Jamie’s garden and renovated his kitchen. “It has opened up what has become an increasingly small world as an MND sufferer,” says Jamie. “I feel we have made new friends for life. A huge thanks to all family, friends and the community who supported the builders.”

Some prehistoric work from Derek Burnside Electrical

Chasing on a sunny day by SLJ Electrical (via Instagram)


TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO An NICEIC contractor from the north-east has completed the 20 Bridges swim around Manhattan Island in the US, raising almost £3,000 for cancer charity Bright Red. Graham Walton, who runs G.A. Walton & Son Electrical Services in Consett, County Durham, featured in Connections in 2016 when he swam the Channel, and took on his latest challenge over the summer, after swimming 100km a month for the last year. He completed it in nine hours 23 minutes.

Electricians are always a lively bunch, so it should come as no surprise to hear that the sector is one of the most social careers going. A survey by experiences company Boundless ranked electricians as one of the most likely groups to meet up with workmates outside of the job, behind only farmers and estate agents. The research suggests those in the sector get together 9.6 times a month. There were no details on the choice of venue, but we’re pretty sure the pub might be a likely location.

Must be the ZZZZ readings from area engineer Dan Smith (via Instagram)

Precise drilling by Adam Duff (via Instagram)

The two swims are part of the famous triple crown of open water swimming, with the Catalina Channel in the US now the only one remaining for Graham. Graham is now planning to take some time off from swimming in 2019, before gearing up for the final challenge in 2020.

Some divine work from My Chrome Home

Tell us about any hidden talents or charity initiatives. Email


Tag us at...

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Some things don’t age, they just get


The New AVO800 AVO830 and AVO835 The new AVO800 series multimeter is as reliable and accurate as the historical AVO units, but now comes with a new range of features to meet today’s standards of electrical testing. Designed to exceed CAT III and CAT IV safety requirements, you can test three-phase systems and motors efficiently… and with peace of mind.

New, with a bit of the old… helping you to Power on.

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05/10/2018 11:30

AUTUMN 2018 | ISSUE 207


Connections Autumn 2018  
Connections Autumn 2018