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How apprenticeships allow you to shape your own workforce

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SPRING 2018 | ISSUE 205


CASE STUDY 2 4 David Adams discovers that behind the veneer of a restored Cotswolds railway station lies a thoroughly modern installation

APPRENTICES 2 6 Many electrical contractors tors are turning to apprenticeship ship schemes, which allow them to develop their own talent

‘Apprenticeships are one way to ensure we’re not left vulnerable by having an ageing workforce’ 32

SOCIAL MEDIA 30 Sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook offer new channels for contractors, but using them is not always straightforward

20 15 5

CONTRACTOR PROFILE 32 Being based in a remote location on the coast of west Wales presents challenges, but family firm Lewlec has come up with creative solutions which have helped them prosper

11 HELLO 6 The importance of speaking out

24 1 4 JTL link allows training closer to home 1 6 NICEIC makes history with 18th edition broadcast

INDUSTRY UPDATE 8 Contractors get set for a busy Live South at Epsom Downs

CAUGHT ON CAMERA 1 9 Dodgy installations and DIY botch jobs

9 TV role for electrician; FMB warns COVER: ISTOCK/GETTY

TECHNICAL 37 Technical information 38 Ask the experts 40 Locations with risk of fire 42 Periodic inspection and testing 46 Extra-Low Voltage Systems 51 Residual Current Device testing 54 Requirements to minimise EMI 59 Apprentice Corner 64 Snags and Solutions

of need for post-Brexit skills plan

OPINION 2 0 Martyn Walley urges installers to ensure

1 1 Grab an 18th edition bargain; new student membership scheme

their smoke alarm knowledge is up to date

1 2 Certsure makes it into top 50

INSIGHT 2 3 Carillion’s collapse shows construction

best companies to work for

sector reform is vital, argues Paul Reeve

PRODUCT FOCUS 67 The latest products on the market OFF THE TOOLS 69 ‘I dig for buried treasure’ CURRENT AFFAIRS 70 From generator to glamping pod

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Emma Clancy is chief executive officer, Certsure

Leading by example It’s not easy to speak out on some of the big issues facing society. But doing so can have tangible results, as NICEIC has found out


peaking up has become a bit of a theme in recent months, not just in the politically charged arenas of Hollywood and the media but also closer to home, in relation to the views and experiences of tenants. It is hard to vocalise concerns, particularly when there may be a negative impact on yourself or things that you hold dear. You can end up in the double bind of being annoying if you do and not heard if you don’t. But as the leader of an organisation, I believe that we have a duty to lead the way. That is why we are looking at ways to help you speak up – particularly on serious malpractice – and we will be talking to you about this more later this year. Leadership also means we have a duty to help the industry. Sometimes this is through open and honest communications with stakeholders.

Other times it is about putting our money where our mouth is, as with the issue of a more diverse workforce. Recently we have introduced a bursary scheme for women who are looking to break into the sector. Through our Jobs for the Girls campaign, we have been at the forefront of promoting opportunities for women. We have helped bring the issue to national attention, and are now seeing more women look to take up a career as an electrician. Through this bursary scheme, we want to take the next step and help those directly involved. These are just some of the steps we have taken. With your support, we will continue to be brave and lead the way: working with, encouraging and promoting those who will be working in the sector now and for years to come.

‘Through our Jobs for the Girls campaign, we have been at the forefront of promoting opportunities for women’

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 James Hundleby 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 6209 Production director 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

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)

ISSN 2042-5732

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Contractors prepare for annual Live South event Electrical contractors are getting set to hit Epsom Downs Racecourse once again, for this year’s Live South event, to be held on 17 May. The event is widely regarded as one of the highlights of the year, and will see a packed programme of seminars, demonstrations and exclusive discounts and deals from leading suppliers. Former Olympian Kriss Akabusi will be the keynote speaker, talking about his career in athletics and the lessons he learned about leadership, teamwork and dedication. Other notable sessions include coping with change, construction sector forecasts and how to attract more customers. More technical sessions will discuss arc fault detection devices, thermal imaging and upcoming changes to the 18th edition. The exhibition hall will see a wide range of suppliers on hand to demonstrate their products and services, including headline sponsors Bosch Power Tools, Elite Security Products, Scolmore and Tradepoint. “With the 18th edition just around the corner in July, we expect this Live South conference to be one of the

Kriss Akabusi enthralls the crowd at last year’s Live North event

busiest we’ve ever hosted,” said Mark Smith, marketing director at NICEIC and ELECSA. “There will be a broad selection of business and technical seminars on offer, but the most popular topic will undoubtedly be the session outlining the anticipated changes in the 18th edition,” he added. Tickets for the event cost just £29 plus VAT for NICEIC, ELECSA and ECA registered contractors and £49 plus VAT for non-registered. Apprentice passes are available free of charge. For more information, visit

‘With the 18th edition just around the corner, we expect this Live South conference to be one of the busiest we’ve ever hosted’ 8 S P RI NG 2 018

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ELECTRICIAN TO THE RESCUE An NICEIC contractor was delighted to help out with a late request from a TV company recently. Gavin Jones of Gavin Jones Electrical in Northampton answered the call after NICEIC was contacted by producers of the BBC TV show Garden Rescue. They needed a registered electrician to help wire up a water feature they were installing on a garden makeover. “It was a little out of the ordinary to get a call on a Tuesday morning asking to be part of a television programme for the BBC, but after giving it some thought, it didn’t take long to see what it could do for me and my business,” he said. “The job was simple – to run a steel wire cable from the customer’s garage, underground, to a water feature in the garden. It was like any other job, apart from having to repeat a few parts so the

A little out of the ordinary: Gavin Jones with the production team

cameraman could get the shot he was after. “It was refreshing to see someone who’s not in the industry show real interest in the work that every electrician would see as best practice and industry standard. “The producer was interested to see the process of digging out a trench for the cable, securing the cable with electrical warning tape, backfilling the trench halfway, placing another piece of warning tape as a precautionary measure, and filling the trench.” NICEIC and ELECSA’s Darren Staniforth was also asked to appear as a technical expert on the show, which will be aired on BBC later this year.


> April 19-20 Elex, Exeter Westpoint

> May 17 NICEIC/ELECSA Live South Epsom Downs

> June 13-14 Elex, Harrogate Yorkshire Event Centre 20-21 PHEX, London Alexandra Palace

Brexit skills threat: Building workers from the EU make up 8 per cent of the UK total, rising to 33 per cent in London

Partnership with JTL set to boost training NICEIC, ELECSA and JTL have formed a partnership to ensure electrical contractors have the widest choice of training courses in the country for the upcoming 18th edition changes. JTL is the UK’s leading training and electrical apprenticeship provider, and supports more than 3,000 companies and 6,000 apprentices every year. It operates nine of its own centres, and has access to more than 100 training locations throughout England and Wales. NICEIC and ELECSA have access to 80 per cent of the country’s electricians, and presently manage two dedicated electrical training centres in the UK, with access to another 10 centres. “Helping more customers to gain confidence and understanding of the changes is the reason we have entered into this training


partnership,” said Certsure’s CEO Emma Clancy. The collaboration between the organisations means they will be able to provide the highest quality 18th edition training at more locations and to more contractors than ever before. Jon Graham, CEO of JTL, said: “Together we bring a wealth of technical expertise, along with experience in delivering high-quality and innovative training solutions to our customers.” NICEIC, ELECSA and JTL are developing programmes that will ensure electricians can benefit from the latest training delivery methods, including classroom and online courses. See our training column on page 14 for more on this topic. For more information, visit

FMB WARNS OF NEED FOR CONSTRUCTION SKILLS PLAN The UK needs a serious plan in place to cope with skills and immigration after Brexit, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has warned. Responding to an update by the Migration Advisory Committee, FMB chief executive Brian Berry warned of the danger for the construction sector if it is unable to recruit the skills it requires. “Currently over 8 per cent of construction workers are from the EU, and in London this rises to a third,” he said. “Recent FMB research shows that skills shortages across construction are already at a record high, and this will only worsen if poorly thought-through policies lead us off a cliff-edge in terms of our access to skilled EU workers. “Any future migration visa system should be based on key occupations that are in short supply,” he added. “What’s more, the government should take into account that the vast majority of the construction workforce are employed by small and micro firms. Asking these firms to sponsor foreign workers is not realistic and will simply not work for this industry.”

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30% The proportion of home owners who would rather hire a female tradesperson, research by the Federation of Master Builders suggests

The level of engineering services firms that saw turnover remain steady or increase in the final quarter of 2017, according to the Building Engineering Business Survey

92% The proportion of contractors who have faced construction retentions in the past three years, according to an ECA/Building Engineering Services Association survey

The amount of commercial and industrial firms that welcome the 18th edition, according to a survey by Bureau Veritas. Around 68 per cent believe UK wiring regulations should be aligned with European Standards (CENELEC)

£5.4bn The value of construction contracts awarded in January – around 10.6 per cent lower than the previous year, Barbour ABI’s

Economic and Construction Market Review finds

Electrical contractors looking to stay ahead of the competition can now preorder their copy of the upcoming 18th edition from NICEIC and ELECSA. The 18th edition will be available on July 2. Contractors who pre-order their copy will ensure they get the book when it first comes out, and also make a saving in the process. The new standard is expected to retail at £95 when it launches. Contractors who pre-order their book early will receive a 10 per cent discount – ensuring they get the book for £85.50 – with even more great savings available if bought as a wider package. “Once it launches, contractors will have a six-month period to get up to speed with the changes,” said NICEIC and ELECSA’s technical development manager Darren Staniforth.

“From 1 January 2019, it will be a requirement that all electrical installations designed after this date comply with BS 7671: 2018, 18th edition (2018). By pre-ordering, they can ensure they have the maximum time to make any necessary changes to the way they work.” In addition to the book itself, there are various bundle packages available, including the 18th edition book and NICEIC and ELECSA Site Guide for £95. Anyone wishing to order should visit or call 0333 015 6626. Find out about NICEIC’s world-first 18th edition campaign on page 16

New membership scheme for students

NICEIC has launched a student membership scheme to offer greater support to the electricians of the future. The scheme is free to all students and apprentices undertaking full or part-time courses within the electrotechnical industry.

Darren Staniforth, senior training development manager at NICEIC, said: “The student membership scheme will ensure access to the most appropriate technical information and advice, which will ultimately help them in their career.” The scheme is open to anyone undertaking relevant technical competency training – full-time, parttime or apprenticeship – in the industry. Those who sign up will receive a welcome pack, membership certificate, access to discounted products, free admission to award-winning NICEIC events, technical advice and support, and a quarterly copy of Connections.

For more information, visit www.niceic. com/join-us/student-membership or email

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Haidee Ryan (centre) and Dan Smith (right) of Certsure receive the award

Certsure named in list of top 100 companies to work for Certsure, which operates the NICEIC and ELECSA brands, ranked 41st in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, 11 places higher than last year’s position of 52. It is the sixth year running the organisation has been named in the top 100. Certsure CEO Emma Clancy commented: “I am delighted to have made it into the top 100 again. Our rise up the rankings reflects the changes we have implemented to better serve our staff and customers. “The Top 100 process is about creating a culture of achievement that makes people want to work for Certsure. This jump into the top 50 proves that we are going in the right direction.” Over the past 12 months, Certsure has launched a range of initiatives to increase employee engagement. These include the launch of an employee engagement hub, the roll-out of a new corporate strategy, successful recruitment campaigns, continued

sponsorship of Luton Town Football Club, raising more than £16,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and £8,00 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, increased customer service training, and a new apprenticeship programme to recruit younger engineers. The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list is based on employee feedback across eight factors of working life, including leadership, wellbeing, personal growth and fair deal. Certsure was praised for its approach to employee wellbeing, ranking 17th overall. It also scored highly in the My Manager and My Company sections. “It’s great that so many employees feel proud to work for Certsure,” added Clancy. “It is only through our staff that we can achieve such great results, and I would like to thank everyone for such a great contribution to making Certsure such a great place to work.”

WARNING ON DIY DANGERS NICEIC and ELECSA ran a Don’t DIY campaign over the Easter period as part of its ongoing drive to promote the use of registered electricians. The Easter bank holiday is traditionally a time when home owners might consider taking on improvement work. NICEIC’s advice was that they should never attempt to mess with electrics.

The campaign, sent to all local and national newspapers, encouraged home owners thinking about meddling with their electrics to call in an NICIEC or ELECSA registered electrician. Research by Which? found that one-fifth of DIY-ers have had to call in a pro when things go awry, while insurance experts say the average botched job costs £3,200 to fix.

Contractors can now access a new insurance service developed specifically for NICEIC and ELECSA. The service is powered by SME Insurance Services (SMEi) – which is part of global insurance broker, Marsh – and designed to provide you with high-quality, affordable and flexible contractors’ insurance. They have drawn on their size, experience and expertise to negotiate with insurers the best possible cover and price they can, for the benefit of NICEIC and ELECSA contractors. This means it has been possible to introduce a number of additional benefits, including higher cover limits, no claims discounts and £100,000 worth of efficacy cover (liability cover for when a product or service you provide fails to perform its intended function). To find out more, visit or call 0333 015 6629 for a no-obligation quote

BURSARY OFFERS TO HELP FEMALE ELECTRICIANS NICEIC is setting up a bursary scheme offering grants to women already working in the industry or looking to get help at the start of their career. The bursary is open to females of all ages and can help cover training or other associated costs, up to a maximum of £500. Emma Clancy, CEO of NICEIC, said: “Through our Jobs for the Girls campaign, NICEIC has been at the forefront of promoting opportunities for women. Through this bursary scheme we want to take the next step and help those directly involved.” Since launching its campaign in 2011, NICEIC has noticed a change in the industry’s attitude towards women. However, it is estimated that women still make ke up only around 2 per cent of all those who workk on the tools. For more d information and how to apply, visit www. / jobsforthegirls/ bursary

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Closer to home Our new partnership with JTL means contractors will be able to undertake face-to-face training in a location that is convenient to where they live and work, says Asad Majid


Asad Majid is head of training at NICEIC

ere at NICEIC and ELECSA, we pride ourselves on being able to offer the best technical support and advice across a range of electrical matters. This is reflected in the spectrum of training courses we offer. From safe isolation to vehicle charging and solar photovoltaic (PV), we are able to offer a variety courses to help build your business. We also have a variety of techniques to delivering this training, from traditional classroom-based learning through to bespoke training at your premises, and online teaching. One area where we have perhaps fallen down in the past, though, is our ability to deliver training at centres close to you. I am sure many of you will have already visited our training centres in Chesterfield or Luton. While it is great for us to meet our customers face to face, we know that coming to these centres often involves travelling long distances for many of you. To solve this problem, we have recently partnered with JTL Training (see page 9 for more details). This will mean more of you can receive firstclass training closer to home, and save on travel and overnight expenses. JTL operates nine of its own centres, and has access to more than 100 training locations throughout England and Wales. With NICEIC also collaborating with more training centres in Scotland, it now means we have a much wider spread across the UK.

18th edition With the launch of the 18th edition of the IET Wiring Regulations just around the corner, many of you will be considering what training you will need to stay up to date. There are various options available for those wishing to get the 18th edition qualification, ranging from one-day courses and workshops to

full-time three-day courses. Our full course has been designed for people working within the electrotechnical industry and looking to achieve the latest edition of BS 7671, who have not completed their 17th edition Amendment 3: 2015 qualification, or are new to the industry. This course is available online or in a classroom for three days. The full course provides in-depth training on the changes and includes a two-hour examination.

‘JTL operates nine of its own centres, and has access to more than 100 training locations throughout England and Wales’ Our update course has been designed for those people working within the electrotechnical industry who have recently completed their 17th edition Amendment 3: 2015 qualification, i.e. City & Guilds 2382-15 or an equivalent. This course is available online or in a classroom for one day. The update provides an overview of the changes and includes a two-hour examination. Both the full and update courses for the 18th edition are now available to book online. Please visit for a complete list of courses and information about how to book. For more information about how NICEIC Training can meet your training needs or what you might need to know about the 18th edition, call our training team on 0333 015 6627 or email

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LIVE SOUTH Technical Conference and Exhibition

Epsom downs Racecourse

17th May, 2018

With the new BS7671: 18th Edition coming into effect on 2nd July, join us at NICEIC ELECSA Live. Be part of big debates, update your knowledge and be inspired by the latest innovations and technology for the electrical industry.


Networking opportunities with more than 350 peers


expert speakers and industry pioneers

NICEIC, ELECSA and ECA contractors:

£29* Non registered:

£49* Apprentice passes:


Partner sponsors: or call 020 7324 2771

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n July 2018, NICEIC and ELECSA will deliver the biggest and most wide-reaching conference ever staged in the UK construction sector. 18th Edition Live will be screened live in around 40 locations, managed by hundreds of staff and attended by thousands of electricians around the country. This groundbreaking production is scheduled for 9am on Wednesday 4 July to coincide with the publication on 1 July of the first new edition of the Wiring Regulations for a decade. “This will be a year of great change for the electrical industry, and we recognise that many contractors will feel a level of uncertainty and anxiety about the changes and what they mean for them,” says presenter Darren Staniforth. “The changes will affect the working practices of tens of thousands of electricians, so we wanted to provide technical support in a highly accessible and convenient way through the medium of ‘event cinema’.” WHAT IS EVENT CINEMA? Event cinema combines elements of live theatre and cinema. It was originally pioneered by arts organisations such as the Metropolitan Opera House in New

York and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where a live performance is beamed out to cinemas around the world. WHERE WILL IT BE BROADCAST FROM? NICEIC and ELECSA will broadcast live from the Faraday Theatre at the Royal Institution in London on the morning of Wednesday 4 July. It was in this very theatre that Michael Faraday first demonstrated his discoveries to the scientific community in 1824. Faraday’s discoveries laid the foundation for the electrification of the UK and later the world. NICEIC and ELECSA’s Staniforth will be presenting to the electrical community on the very same stage some 194 years later. WHERE WILL IT BE TRANSMITTED TO? NICEIC and ELECSA have partnered with Vue Cinemas in England, Wales and Scotland, and Omniplex Cinemas in Northern Ireland. Around 40 cinema sites have been booked in all four corners of the country, including Belfast, Inverness, Carlisle, Exeter and Cardiff.

‘It will be a genuine world-first for the construction sector’

Out of this world In the first event of its kind, NICEIC and ELECSA will be broadcasting a live seminar via satellite to around 40 cinemas on 4 July, helping contractors get to grips with the new 18th edition

WHO ARE THE PRESENTERS? The seminar will be led by NICEIC and ELECSA’s highly experienced technical presenter Darren Staniforth. One challenge he will confront is presenting to a live audience, while at the same time addressing three different cameras. “It will be a live broadcast and not a recording, so I’ll not only be speaking to 400 delegates in the Faraday Theatre but also to thousands of cinemas attendees across the nation,” he says. “There will be a lot of pressure on me, but at the same time it will be very exciting.” Staniforth will be joined on stage by Alan Wells, technical and standards director, who is recognised as one of the industry’s foremost technical experts. WHAT WILL BE COVERED BY THE SEMINAR? The three-hour broadcast will provide electricians with an

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NICEIC and ELECSA will be providing customer service staff, as well as local area engineers and assessors at every cinema site. “We will be sending over 120 staff out to approximately 40 different locations across the UK,” said Mark Smith, marketing director at NICEIC and ELECSA.

Dynamic: Darren Staniforth rehearses in the Faraday Theatre


HOW MUCH WILL TICKETS COST? NICEIC and ELECSA have priced the tickets at just £5 plus VAT. The price of tickets has been set below the average UK cinema ticket, ensuring that the event is accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. Students and electrical apprentices will be able to attend free of charge.

introduction to the key changes to BS 7671. Everyone from across the construction sector will be invited, from electrical apprentices through to timeserved electricians. The event will also be promoted to specifiers, including architects, facility managers, local authorities and housing associations. This will increase the likelihood of them choosing NICEIC and ELECSA registered contractors, as it will generate greater awareness of the new Wiring Regulations among clients and specifiers.

WHY CINEMAS? The use of cinemas will provide electricians with a more engaging and enjoyable setting in which to learn, rather than sitting in a formal conference room. Another benefit of the cinema format is that it will provide technical consistency and clarity. When the 17th edition was published in 2008, a number of myths emerged in the industry. These myths continued for almost a decade, which regrettably led to some contractors carrying out work that was occasionally incorrect or, more often, unnecessary. Cinemas will make the event


more accessible and convenient than ever before. All sites were selected on the basis of having plenty of parking spaces and are within easy reach of main highways. “We wanted to make the journey times as short as possible for electrical contractors,” said Smith. “Customer feedback from our last 10 years of events shows that mornings are the most popular time among electricians, as it allows them to go onto a job afterwards.” WHAT TECHNOLOGY IS BEING USED? The seminar will be beamed live from London up to a communications satellite situated 22,000 miles above the Earth. The signal will then be transmitted back down to 40 digital cinema locations around the UK. “A few blue-chip businesses have trialled this platform in the last year, including HSBC and Costa Coffee,” says Smith. “However, this hasn’t been attempted in the construction sector in North America, Australia, Asia or Europe, so we are proud to be the first to communicate via this innovative medium. It will be a genuine world-first for the construction sector.” Tickets to the cinema screenings will go on general release in April at

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Having the necessary skills and experience to do the job is not enough. You need to have the right tools in your toolbox – including the appropriate insurance. At NICEIC and ELECSA Insurance Services we provide comprehensive, flexible, and affordable protection that’s tailored for you. This includes your essential contractors insurance, as well as cover for commercial vehicles, shops or offices, and your personal insurances requirements such as private car or home. We’ve a long track record of excellence, built on our commitment to quality customer service and ongoing support. We make buying the right cover you need quick and easy.

CONTACT US ON 0333 015 6629 NICEIC-AND-ELECSA-INSURANCE.COM NICEIC and ELECSA Insurance Services, and, NICEIC Insurance Services, and, ELECSA Insurance Services, are trading names of SME Insurance Services Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh Limited, registered in England & Wales (No: 03798294) at: 1 Tower Place West, Tower Place, London EC3R 5BU. SME Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No: 306057). Certsure LLP is an Introducer Appointed Representative of SME Insurance Services Limited, and does not form part of the same group as SME Insurance Services Limited. Certsure LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with number OC379918 whose registered office and principal place of business is Warwick House, Houghton Hall Park, Houghton Regis, Dunstable, LU5 5ZX. ©2018 NICEIC and ELECSA Insurance Services. All rights reserved.

the power behind your business

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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



6mm cable complete with three choc-boxes buried in a kitchen wall (1); misuse of a consumer unit in a flat (2); an exposed joint on a wall in a workshop (3); and an unusual location for a socket (4). It continues with two hidden junction boxes containing a catalogue of errors (5); a partially unsheathed 1.5mm extension lead on a meter with no RCD protection (6); a poorly sited socket in a shower room (7); a strange place to locate a shower unit (8); an ill-advised light fitting in a loft (9).


8 Thanks to...


>Jonathan Burns from Ravenwood Electrical in Wetherby >Lech Krugielka of Proinstall Electrical Systems in Glasgow >Bob Holler from Barnsley firm RHE Installations >Billy Coleman of B Coleman Electrics in London >Mike Lilley of ML Property Services in Matlock >Marc Watts of Honiton firm Watts Electrical >Ben Yerby of Mysparks Ltd in London >Ian Speakman from Advance Electrical in Newark >Noel Starbuck of NT Home Services in Reading


Keep those shots coming in! Email

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Alarmed and dangerous Rapid change in the domestic smoke alarm industry means installers have to keep their knowledge up to date, says Martyn Walley


ne of the biggest issues in the smoke alarm sector is false alarms. These aren’t just a nuisance, but also have safety implications as people disable the alarm in frustration. False alarms have three main causes: the wrong type of alarm technology, poor installation and poor-quality alarm technology. Two out of three of these causes can be addressed through appropriate training. Aico’s Expert Installer domestic alarm training scheme has trained more than 17,000 people in domestic alarm specification and installation. While some attendees are relative novices, the majority are well versed in smoke alarm installation and are unlikely to use the wrong type of alarm technology or incorrectly install alarms. So why do they attend? The simple answer is that the domestic smoke alarm industry is changing at such a rapid pace that keeping abreast of the latest technology, standards, regulations and best practice is essential. Gone are the days when deciding which alarm

sensor and where in the property to install them was the main task at hand; now there are multisensors to throw into the mix and even combined heat/carbon monoxide alarms. There are also various interconnection techniques to be considered, along with system integrations; did you know that you can now interconnect an entire domestic smoke alarm system to other life-saving systems, such as sprinkler systems and BS 5839 Part 1 panelbased systems? Attending a suitable training course can provide you with information on the latest developments, but look for a modular scheme that allows you to fill gaps in your knowledge, rather than going over old ground. If you are installing life-saving equipment such as smoke alarms, it’s imperative you keep up to date with what has become a fast-changing industry; lives really do depend on you.

Martyn Walley is national technical manager at Aico

IN F O C US / G ARY G O LDS T O NE How did you come to work for yourself?

I was working as an electrician for London Underground. I used to run some quite big jobs but we’d often be stood down, so it was very unreliable. One night I was watching a TV programme which made me realise just how much work there must be out there. That was about nine years ago. What kind of work do you take on?

Gary Goldstone, GG Electrical London Ltd

I do a lot of domestic work, and also maintenance work for a management company on communal areas, emergency lighting and car parks. I do a bit

for hotels as well. One minute, I can be putting in a new light in a house, the next I can be putting in 500 in a hotel, so work is very varied. I don’t do CCTV or fire alarms – I’d rather stick to purely electrical work. Where do you travel?

I’m in Bexleyheath but I’ll go anywhere in Kent, and into London. A lot of my customers are repeat business so I don’t want to let them down. What’s the hardest thing about working for yourself?

Paperwork. But my wife does that for me now.

How would you like things to develop in future?

I’d like to hire more and take more of a supervisory role. What do you do outside work?

I do track days on my motorbike – my ambition is to race at all the British Superbike tracks. Do you get much downtime?

We have a dog, so we like going down to Chichester on a caravan holiday. If you are a small business or sole trader and would like to feature in In Focus, email

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See for yourself at

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Counting the cost Years of poor practice meant the collapse of a major construction firm was sadly predictable. Now is the time for the sector to reform so it cannot happen again, says Paul Reeve


he signs and warnings had been there for many years – then Carillion, a huge construction and services main contractor, collapsed under the weight of its own debt and unsustainable business model. We don’t yet know the extent of the damage to the supply chain, but it’s already bad news for many subcontracting firms and employees. In the aftermath of the Carillion insolvency, ECA has been advising its members and representing the interests of suppliers to government. There seem to be two types of UK construction, operating in some sort of quantum co-existence. One is a best-practice industry: forward-looking, digital and full of productive partnerships with supply chains. It’s marvellous but, too often, disappointingly virtual. Where it exists, it’s in staggering contrast to the prevailing, everyday reality of exposed supply chains, not just in construction but across the service industries, and punctuated by upstream insolvencies. In the case

Responding to Carillion

Paul Reeve is director of business at ECA For more information on Carillion, visit

In the wake of the Carillion collapse, an industry coalition of over 60 construction and maintenance trade bodies now back the ‘Aldous Bill’, which proposes cash retentions owed to the supply chain be held in trust. It is the largest industry coalition formed on the issue of late and unfair payment, amid growing support and appetite for reform, including in Parliament. This support covers a broad cross-section of the supply chain, including electrical, plumbing, heating, interiors, house building, roofing, scaffolding and demolition. Trade bodies backing it include the Federation of Master Builders and the Federation of Small Businesses. Holding retentions in trust would help to protect the supply chain from future upstream insolvency and would reduce the amount held when buyers see that they can’t use suppliers’ cash to support their business.

‘There seem to be two types of UK construction, operating in some sort of quantum co-existence’ of Carillion, the insolvency is truly massive. This crisis is one that we must not waste, even if past experience suggests there are too many who are prepared to do just that. There are a good many ways to improve construction, but the industry needs to get the basics right first if it is to survive, grow and deliver clients with the value they seek. This means subcontractors – those who will provide the skills, growth and innovation we are all looking for – need statutory payment protection, not just for occasional protection from upstream insolvency, as with Carillion, but to support everyday operational efficiency and growth. This means it’s time to introduce legal limits on payment terms, for retentions to be ring-fenced in trust (on the way to speedy abolition) and for the public sector to not procure any more from management contractors who don’t pay promptly, or who don’t use project bank accounts. The industry could use all these tools as the firm foundation for change and success, and – along with the measures advocated in the Farmer review of construction Modernise or Die – they should be a key part of the new industry/government ‘sector deal’. At an emergency meeting on 15 January, the business secretary hinted that the deal could well be the vehicle for reform. The alternative is not just what we see now, but more of the same. Right now, the important task is to help those who are impacted by the collapse of Carillion, but going forward we need sensible, pragmatic legislation that will protect the supply chain and allow it, and our industry, to deliver what clients and the UK economy really need.

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Return ticket The restored Broadway Station in the Cotswold Hills has been recreated to look as it did in its heyday 100 years ago. But behind the veneer is a thoroughly modern installation


ritain can sometimes look like a divided nation, but there are a few things that can unite us. One of them, it seems, is our collective love of preserved steam railways, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, of all ages, every year. There are now more than 100 preserved heritage railways in the UK, running trains over 500 miles of track and through more than 400 stations.

One of the most recently opened of those stations is in the pictureperfect village of Broadway, in the Cotswold Hills. Broadway’s station first opened in 1903 and was demolished 60 years later, after passenger services were withdrawn. The railway line later closed completely and the track was lifted. But, over the past 35 years, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) has been

slowly rebuilding the line. This year, its latest extension has brought the railway back to Broadway. On Good Friday (30 March) 2018, steam locomotives started carrying passengers to and from the new Broadway Station. Since 2009, some of the railway’s 950 volunteers and a number of professional service providers have been painstakingly recreating the station. It now stands at the northern end of a 14-mile railway that runs through glorious countryside and four other stations to its southern terminus at Cheltenham Racecourse. BROADWAY BUZZ Evesham-based contractor Buzz Electrical has played a critical role in the rebirth of station. Since mid-2017, its team have been designing and building electrical solutions to serve the station’s ticket office, booking hall, waiting room, stores, café, kitchen, toilets and covered footbridge. Prior to this, the company also completed all necessary electrical work for the station’s new signal box. Buzz Electrical Ltd was established in 1999 by managing director Steve Owens. It employs 26 people and serves domestic, commercial and industrial clients across the Midlands and the Cotswolds. The GWSR has been a client for several years: previous work has included a complete rewiring of the railway’s main engine shed and locomotive workshops near its station at Toddington, including installation of LED lighting and refurbishment of external power supplies. The GWSR can only allow work to progress when it has the funds available to pay for it, a factor that might deter some contractors. This

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Signs of the time: the ‘new’ Edwardian signal box at Broadway Station

meant that when, at the start of 2016, the railway issued invitations to tender for three phases of electrical work at Broadway, it was looking for a contractor that would be able to complete the work on a flexible basis, over a longer period than for a similar commercial project. THREE-PHASE PROJECT The first phase of the work was the installation of electrical equipment for the new signal box. Unlike the other buildings at the station, the signal box is not a straightforward replacement for one of the buildings demolished in the 1960s. Instead, a replica of a Great Western Railway signal box from the Edwardian era, based on the original architect’s


drawings, has been built on one of the platforms. “It’s a beautiful building,” says Steve. “The electrical work inside was all enclosed galvanised steel conduit work, but it had to look good within the building.” Work on the signal box, including installation of fire alarms and emergency lighting, was completed in February last year. Phase two has been the work on the main buildings, due to be completed this April. The third phase will connect further buildings on the site, including an additional waiting room, to the new electrical infrastructure. It will be completed at a later stage, once funding is in place. Work for the second phase within the main booking office and kitchen area has involved installation of a Dado three-compartment PVC trunking system; 6491X and 6242Y cabling within steel conduits and cable trays in roof spaces; Pirelli FP200 red cabling for a two-wire fire alarm system; Pirelli white FP200 gold for new column lights on the platform; and Proteus mains distribution boards (single and three phase) with individual RCBOs. Hager Sollysta white faceplates were used throughout (with bronze in the booking hall), in keeping with the appearance of the building. Lighting equipment installed included Excite LED downlights and surface-mounted Barclay antique bronze LED bulkheads controlled by passive infrared motion sensors. In addition, Cat 6 RJ45 data points have been installed in the booking office and café. Buzz was also responsible for cabling from the external supply to sub mains and all distribution systems. HIDDEN MODERNITY The key challenge has been installing modern equipment that meets all regulatory and safety standards

‘We had to do a fair bit of design work... We got a brief from the railway, but when we found a problem we had to work out how to overcome it’

‘The electrical work inside was all enclosed galvanised steel conduit work, but it had to look good within the building’ without any negative visual impact on the carefully recreated vintage station buildings. This has included careful installation of steel conduits within the canopies overhanging the platforms; and concealing modern emergency lighting on light-fittings that have been designed to look historically authentic. “It really does look like a 100-year old building,” says Steve. “They have done some lovely brickwork, including using specially moulded bricks that match the originals. All the work we have done has had to conform to all the necessary regulations, yet still leave the building looking the way it is supposed to look. We’ve used a mixture of installation methods. We also had to do a fair bit of design work as we went along. We got a brief from the railway, but when we found a problem we had to work out how to overcome it.” Steve wanted to be directly involved with the project himself, as did many members of staff. “Because it’s a steam railway everybody’s interested in working on it,” he says. But the pleasure of working on this project has derived not just from the connection with steam locomotives, but also from helping to build something that will serve as an asset for the local community and will bring more visitors to the area to boost the local economy. “We were very proud to be awarded the contract,” he says. “We’ve put a lot into it, but hopefully we’re all going to get a lot of pleasure out of it too.”

David Adams is a freelance business journalist

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By Jo Faragher


Apprentices oer electrical contractors the opportunity to develop their own talent and mould young learners in their own image

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he government has made a lot of noise about its flagship skills policy for young people, with an ambitious target of 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020. But there has also been controversy around its new funding mechanism, the apprenticeship levy, which requires employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million to pay 0.5 per cent of that bill towards a training fund. Some have viewed it as no more than a tax, while others are now working out the best way to get a return on their investment. For electrical contractors, using apprentices is nothing new. “The electrical industry as a whole values training,” says Bernard Collins, curriculum and quality director at DCET Training in the south-west. “There’s a certain degree of employers saying ‘I was an apprentice so I’d like to take one on’, but also a recognition in the industry that a well trained workforce is productive and profitable.” The industry also faces threats to its skills base on several fronts: Brexit could reduce access to skills from the EU for contracting companies; the workforce is heavily weighted towards older workers who may retire in years to come; and big infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and HS2 also need electrical skills, potentially taking them away from local employers. Whether you’re a levy-paying company or not, it’s worth knowing how access to funding has changed. In England, non-levy companies pay 10 per cent of the cost of training and the rest is covered by the government via a chosen training provider, in a ‘co-investment’ arrangement. Companies with fewer than 50 employees that take on a school-leaver between the ages of 16 to 18 will not pay towards training and will receive a £1,000 incentive, so it can be a cost-effective option if you’re looking to add headcount. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the systems are slightly

Leading by example


In its role supporting contractors, it makes sense for NICEIC to showcase the advantages of recruiting apprentices. The organisation is also one of an estimated 19,500 employers that must pay 0.5 per cent of its wage bill towards the apprenticeship levy – a new requirement that came in last April. Levy-payers access a ‘pot’ of funding from a digital account that can then be spent on approved apprenticeship standards. In order to gauge how its own funding would be spent, Frances Barnes, head of HR at Certsure, produced a Q&A for managers and attached a link to the apprenticeship standards available. Managers could then fill in a proposal document to put forward a formal request. “They needed to show whether they’ve identified a provider, and what the benefits will be for their team,” she says. “Once the proposals have come back we discuss how the funding will be used; we have until April next year to spend the current round.” NICEIC has already taken on two apprentices using the levy money: an existing employee who’s following a customer service apprenticeship and a new recruit who is on a business administration course. It has also recruited two trainee area engineers – a side of the business where there is a need to build a pipeline of new talent. “On the engineer side there is a shortage of people coming into the industry and it’s difficult to recruit at the level our engineers are at,” adds Barnes. “By getting in younger people, we can develop them and align them with the behaviours we’d like in our organisation.” She believes that the bulk of the funding will go into developing existing employees. NICEIC is also looking at the possibility of gifting some of its funding to another company in its network, which is an option for levy-payers. However, she says her team has found the new funding regime a “complete minefield”. “I can completely understand why some organisations treat it like a tax, paying it and not using it,” she says. “But we want to bolster personal development for our employees, increase diversity and set an example for our industry.”

‘An employer has to be prepared to spend the time with them to ensure they get a good range of work and look after their welfare’ different. In Scotland, employers can access public funding to deliver their own ‘modern apprenticeships’, in partnership with training providers, as long as they meet the appropriate framework, and those taking on an unemployed young person can get up to £4,000. In Wales, the government funds all apprenticeships, using the same delivery mechanism as in Scotland,

through training providers and frameworks. In Northern Ireland, too, the Apprenticeships NI programme is fully funded by central government. DEVELOPING TALENT One benefit of recruiting apprentices is the opportunity to develop them in your way of doing things and in the particular skills

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mapped to the new electrotechnical apprenticeship standard and approved by the Electrical Contractors’ Association, they can then go on to seek a reduced-term apprenticeship with an employer. Salim Visram, lead industry manager at City & Guilds, says: “The employer gets a rounded individual who can adapt to their organisation, and they understand how organisations work because the soft skills are in place. Also, they still take the industry-recognised AM2, the core end-point assessment and electrician’s qualification at the end of the apprenticeship, so they know that it’s robust.” FILLING A GAP For energy company SSE, apprentices are key to future workforce planning. “We understand where colleagues are looking to retire, so we look for where skills gaps are likely to be and lay down roots for apprentices,” says Judy Preece, apprenticeship and technical specialist trainee programme manager. “We have an ageing workforce like many other organisations, so apprenticeships are one way we can make sure we’re in a good place and not left vulnerable.” While SSE delivers some of its apprentice training as an

employer-provider, its electrical apprentices study towards their qualifications with third-party training provider Focus Training Group. “Our apprentices use SSE tools so they’re trained on the equipment they would use in a work environment, and undergo the same risk assessments and safety briefings as in a work situation,” she adds. More employers could look to take on apprentices, rather than relying on agencies or self-employed contractors to fill skills gaps, suggests Andrew Eldred, director of employment and skills at the ECA. “In the past, bigger employers would insist their sub-contractors took on apprentices. Some still do, but they are the exception,” he says. From a policy perspective, the government is clearly keen to build vocational skills, as part of its emphasis on apprenticeships and ultimately T-Levels, which will offer another route for a technical education from 2020. For electrical employers prepared to navigate the funding system and find the right partner to ‘grow their own’ talent, apprenticeships are a vital way to bring new blood into the sector. Jo Faragher is a freelance business journalist

‘Recruiting apprentices is different from interviewing an experienced person – you need to find out about them as a person’


you require. MRM Solutions, which provides specialist electrical services such as security and emergency systems, now has five apprentices. “Our apprentices work alongside senior engineers on our bigger jobs,” says Nick Wright, a director. MRM’s longest-serving apprentice is now in his final year of a level 3 qualification in electronic emergency and security systems; MRM also recently acquired a fire alarm company that employed an apprentice, so the company is looking to build his skills in other areas. “There are lots of older employees in these areas so the benefit for us is we get the skills we need for our business,” he says. When recruiting younger apprentices straight from school, Wright found it useful to see a spectrum of candidates. “We can usually tell at interview stage if there will be any problems; if someone is enthusiastic and asking questions about your business you get the feeling they’ll be OK,” he says. “It’s different from interviewing an experienced person – you need to find out about them as a person rather than what they have done in their career.” DCET’s Collins adds that extra nurturing of younger apprentices can be needed. “They’ve got to want to be an apprentice and know what the job is about, and an employer has to be prepared to spend the time with them to ensure they get a good range of work and look after their welfare,” he says. As well as the traditional model of combining work with study, another option for school-leavers is to gain the core qualifications in college before securing a role with an employer. City & Guilds runs a scheme called TechBac, for example, where learners can study towards a level 2 or level 3 technical qualification within electrical installations, which also encapsulates some of the soft skills and behaviours learners will need when gaining employment. Having done the technical side through the TechBac, which is

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By Penelope Rance

new world

Social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook provide new channels for contractors to raise their profile and find customers. But they require investment in time and money, and are not always straightforward


utting yourself out there on social media seems a savvy move for any electrical contractor looking to grow their business. But it can also be intimidating, expose you to negative feedback and become all-consuming as you endeavour to keep posts relevant and follow every lead. So how can electricians take advantage of social media to win work while avoiding the trolls? Social networks come and go like alternating current, so it’s best to focus on the big five. Pick the platforms that suit the way you do business and don’t take on too many accounts, or you won’t be able to service all of them effectively. “Contractors should consider their target audience when choosing platforms to promote their services; if you do a lot of commercial work

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LinkedIn may work really well, but if your target audience is domestic, it’s less important,” says Charlotte Sheridan, of marketing company The Small Biz Expert. “Visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest can be a great way to show off unusual lighting installations or work on a stunning building.” “For electrical contractors I advise

‘Mastering the art of hashtags can take a while – but it is free publicity’

Thomas Nagy has a strong following on YouTube while Mains Electricians is making good use of Instagram

two social media platforms to start with,” says Carrie-ann Sudlow, an online marketing consultant. “Facebook, because it gives you such affordable and highly targeted adverts; and Twitter, because of the local support you can attract from fellow businesses.” Twitter appeals to Kelly Vincent of Kelly Electrics (@Kelly_Electrics) because it’s fast-moving and relevant. “I use Twitter to keep up to date with current issues,” she says. “It’s a good platform to share information on fire safety and electrical issues.” She also uses Facebook and LinkedIn for business. To showcase his work, Mohamad Elmakdah of Mains Electricians (@mainselectrics) favours Instagram. “It’s It s a good way of having g

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Five top platforms for contractors Facebook It’s a big market, used by 44 per cent of the UK population every day. Advertising can target a local area, homeowners, people that have recently moved or income brackets. Pros: Great for local businesses, can push traffic easily back to your website Cons: Facebook limits business posts in people’s feeds, so you may need to invest in ads Twitter A great tool for business-to-business contractors and locally operating businesses. There are Twitter Hours, live chats with locations or themes, which are a great way of making connections within a community. Pros: Easy to use and increase followers, good for local connections Cons: You need to post regularly, which can be time-consuming LinkedIn If you do a lot of commercial work, or have employees, a LinkedIn company page can show off your credentials and help to build trust with corporate clients. Pros: Great for B2B contacts Cons: Can be tricky to use if you’re not familiar with the business platform Instagram A great site to show off your skills: if you’re working on a beautiful building, or a neat bit of complex wiring, share an image. Pros: A picture tells 1,000 words; it’s a visual endorsement of your work Cons: It generally attracts younger users; viewers need to know what they’re looking at YouTube Set up your own YouTube channel, posting videos of your workdays and you could become a viral sensation. Pros: Customers can see your skills in action; it can increase your following Cons: It’s time-consuming and expensive to produce quality footage

my work online for prospective clients to look at and be able to gauge the standard,” he says. “Twitter is better for creating and maintaining industry contacts, interacting with electrical suppliers and keeping on top of developments within the industry.” Thomas Nagy (@Tomthespark) started using YouTube to publicise Thomas Nagy Electrical Contractors at the beginning of 2017, He now has more than 31,000 YouTube followers. “YouTube is a platform known by almost everyone, so it made sense to promote myself in a way that keeps up with this,” he says.

BUSINESS CASE But all of this takes time and often money. As with any business venture, only invest what you can afford and predetermine what you want to achieve. “The biggest investment of time is setting up accounts,” believes Elmakdah. “Then it is straightforward to update with examples of work or problems encountered. Mastering the art of hashtags can take a while, but it is free publicity.” If you don’t have the time, there’s always the professional route. “The level of investment needed will depend on your goals,” says Sheridan. “For many channels,

initially, advertising is a necessity, so you need to ensure that you have the budget – you can start from about £20 a week.” Sudlow also believes that you have to pay for results: “A budget of around £500 per month for three months will allow you to test your activity on two social media channels to see if you can establish a good cost-per-lead.” Producing content can also be pricey. Nagy says: “I have spent around £10,000. Between getting the footage, editing and channel maintenance, YouTube consumes 20 hours of manpower a week.” Plotting the efficacy of a social media strategy is important in understanding its value, and it’s relatively simple to do. “Most platforms offer basic tracking on-page, so you can see your reach (how many people see your posts), and engagement (how many people like, share, click),” says Sheridan. “If you use an agency, they are more likely to have professional tools which track the harder-to-quantify measures, such as where your content is shared, the ROI, and brand mentions.” COPING WITH CRITICISM Not all feedback is positive, however, so determine a policy for handling negative posts. “Negative comments on social media should always be followed up with a professional and factual response,” says Sudlow. “It’s important to respond rather than react. Negative comments will do you no harm, providing you shine in your response.” “I will go through regulations and standards to highlight how my work stands up to industrial codes. That helps refresh my knowledge and keep good practice in mind,” Elmakdah says. “I turn these comments into positives through instigating discussions.”

Penelope Rance is a freelance business journalist

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ocated in the very west of Wales, on the Irish Sea, Lewlec, an electrical business run by Gary and Lisa Lewis, has one immediate challenge to overcome: “It’s very rural round here, and we have the sea on one side, so we only have a 180-degree working area rather than 360,” says Gary. It means the remote business – the nearest town is Cardigan, a few miles away – covers a wide area, taking on projects across the rest of Ceredigion, plus neighbouring Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The business has just celebrated its 11th anniversary and is in rude health. Gary started the firm in 2007, having initially done an apprenticeship specialising in pumps, motors

and controls and worked with a friend for a few years, while his wife Lisa had spent seven years working in a local bank. “We started just a few weeks before our first baby was born, which was probably bad timing,” says Lisa. “We always intended that it would be just Gary as a one-manband, but within a year we’d taken on our first member of staff and put a second van on the road. “We were running the business from our home, but we realised that to take on more business and put more vans on the road we would have to either rent or buy premises, and in 2011 that’s what we did,” she adds. “We bought a three-acre smallholding and we basically built our business premises and we live here now, on-site. That was a


Being based on the remote coast of west Wales presents a number of challenges, and has required family firm Lewlec to come up with some innovative solutions

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Gary and Lisa Lewis of Lewlec work on farming projects and supply generators all over Wales

jobs. Our customers trust us and we have sensible relationships; they just phone and say ‘come and do it’.” Recently the business has benefited from a move into installing robotic milking parlours, working in conjunction with the local Fullwood dealer, which supplies the equipment. “This is a massive thing in farming because it means you haven’t got to go and milk your cows twice a day,” Lisa explains. “One robot will milk about 60 or 70 cows, and we’ve fitted about 12 so far. A lot of the time they put up new sheds to put these robots in, and that involves lighting, pumps, washdown systems and controls.” These jobs can be worth up to £30,000, says Gary.

‘It is frustrating because we have now got to the stage where we’re having to turn some work away’ The business also takes on domestic and commercial work. “The farms aren’t the cleanest of environments, so I keep one van dedicated to that, and then we have a couple of domestic and the others do commercial,” says Gary, who floats between all jobs. One recent project has been a refurbishment of the Cliff Hotel, near Cardigan. “We tend to build little teams because obviously you can’t send someone who has been in a cowshed in the morning to a nice posh hotel in the afternoon,” says Lisa. big turning point.” By 2016, Lewlec had a team of seven, including the two founders, and maintains that number today. FARM FOCUS The business started off taking on a mixture of domestic and industrial work, but on the back of its rural location it has also developed a specialism working for farmers; both Gary and Lisa come from farming families. Often this involves installing wiring for milking parlours, which can lead into bigger projects such as wiring sheds and working on barn conversions for holiday accommodation, as well as 5am callouts when equipment has broken down or power gone out. “Milking cows just can’t wait,” says Gary. “We find that once we have worked for them they will always phone us,” says Lisa. “For the services we offer, they don’t phone anyone else. We’re very lucky; we very rarely have to price up

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Company Lewlec Established 2007 Major projects Robotic milking parlours with Fullwood; Cliff Hotel, Cardigan; supplying temporary generators in Wales

12 The number of robotic milking machines Lewlec has fitted

GENERATING EXTRA Around three years ago the farming sector was facing a downturn and Gary and Lisa felt there was a risk that they were too exposed to the sector. They took the decision to branch out, supplying temporary power generators to customers all over Wales. “We started off with two generators in 2016, and we’re up to 11 now,” says Lisa, who runs this side of the business, as well as managing electrical side. “We do a lot of weddings; we did 74 last season. It’s mainly for events, and for farms that suffer power cuts, or if people’s generators break down – so we do a lot of sales as well. I’d say generators are probably 30 or 40 per cent of what we do now.” One of the main challenges Lewlec faces is finding staff, says Lisa. “We love to take apprentices on and I do think that’s the best way but as the years go on there’s less funding available. We’re advertising for staff all the time

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Van guard: the Lewlec team ready for action. Below: Children Griff (left) and Wil (right) are part of the team

and we interview lots of people, but Gary’s standards are so high that if we can’t do the job to the standard he wants, then we just won’t do it. But it is frustrating because we have now got to the stage where we’re having to turn some work away.” FAMILY FIRM With both husband and wife involved in the business full-time and the family living at the firm’s base, there’s little in the way of work/life balance. The couple’s two children – Wil, 10, and Griff, 8 – are already a part of the team, says Lisa. “On Sunday mornings we have to get up at 6am and start collecting generators and the kids are with us for all of it. Last Christmas Day we had two callouts for generators because the weather


‘One robot will milk about 60 or 70 cows, and we’ve fitted about 12 so far. This is a massive thing in farming’

was so bad and we just had to tell them they were going to work. But they don’t mind; they don’t know any different.” There’s little in the way of downtime as the business is the main focus of attention seven days a week. “If there are no callouts, we’re doing work, and if callouts come in then we drop things and go,” says Gary. “We quite enjoy it; it would be nice to have a day out occasionally, but we’re lucky because Lisa and I want the same thing.” In time, it’s possible the generator side of the business could grow, but the priority is that the company remains profitable, and continues to work for the family and its customers. “I’m not the kind of person who will push on for the sake of it and get it wrong. But it would be nice to see the generator side grow. I wouldn’t rule out having 20 sets in our hire fleet in the next few years because there seems to be a demand for it,” says Gary. But if there’s one thing that the last 12 years have taught them, it’s that it’s hard to predict what’s round the corner. “It’s good now because we have eggs in different baskets, so if things do change a bit it wouldn’t matter so much,” says Lisa. “It’s grown so much more than we ever thought it would. Gary would have been happy as a one-man band, but when the work is there you’ve got to go for it. Failure is not an option for us.” Further down the line, there’s no doubt both Gary and Lisa would like to see the boys join the business. “If they don’t, it’s not the end of the world; I’m happy whatever they want to do, but the idea now is that we’re doing this for the kids,” says Lisa. “They have a real interest in farming and they’re definitely interested in the generators. That would be the icing on the cake for us.” 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 38

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


Locations with risks of fire due to the nature of stored materials Factories, workshops and similar premises can be subject to an increased risk of fire due to the nature of work being undertaken. We remind contractors of the requirements of Regulation Group 422.3 and Section 421 when carrying out work at such locations


Frequency of periodic inspection and testing The factors that influence when an initial and subsequent periodic inspection of an electrical installation should be carried out


Requirements for Separated Extra-Low Voltage Systems SELV systems are used where there is an increased risk of electric shock. We look at the specific requirements that need to be satisfied under BS 7671 when these systems are installed


Residual Current Device testing Guidance for BS 7671 on the installation of RCDs and their first and further inspections regime


Electromagnetic interference (EMI) Requirements under Regulation 444.1 of BS 7671 to minimise electromagnetic disturbances in commercial systems


Apprentice Corner Installing a hot tub: the supply and control issues


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


Is it a requirement to fit ‘earth links’ when installing metallic trunking? ANS WE R

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

The use of modular prefabricated ‘room pods’ is increasingly common in modern construction projects. What testing should be carried out on such room pods at the factory before they are delivered to site and once permanently installed? A N SW E R

Only continuity, insulation resistance and polarity testing should be carried out on the electrical installation of the pods on their completion at the factory. Results obtained from live testing will only give an accurate representation of ‘as installed’ conditions when the pod is permanently connected to the supply from which it will be fed when in use. The electrical installation of the pod should be subjected to full inspection and testing after its final connection to the electrical installation of the building. Prefabricated pods may be transported for long distances by road and/or rail to their place of installation and may be subjected to significant jolting and vibration during the journey. As a result it is essential that the ‘dead’ tests carried out at the factory are repeated to reconfirm continuity, insulation resistance and polarity prior to progressing to the live testing. The results of this repeated ‘dead’ testing can be compared to the values recorded when testing was carried out at the factory prior to transportation to verify that no damage or deterioration has occurred in transit. All relevant live testing should then be performed.

Following on from the question to the left, what certification should be issued?


On completion of the testing carried out at the factory, an Electrical Installation Certificate should be issued giving details of the installation. A statement should also be made in the Extent of installation covered by this Certificate data entry box on the Certificate that verification has been limited to visual inspection, and those tests that can be performed without the electrical installation energised. On satisfactory completion of the full testing of the finished installation, a second Electrical Installation Certificate should be issued giving details of all the tests performed. Both certificates should be handed over to, and be retained by, the client for future reference. Where the manufacturer of the pod also carries out the final installation work and subsequent testing, it would be possible to issue a single certificate. However, in such cases, it would be essential that a record was made available to the client giving details of the results obtained when the pod was tested on its completion at the factory to confirm its soundness prior to transportation.

Do you have a technical query? Call our helpline on 0333 015 6628

There is no specific requirement in BS 7671 that ‘earth links’ or continuity straps should be fitted at joints in cable trunking systems during erection. However, where metallic cable trunking is used as a protective conductor it must meet the requirements for cross-sectional area of Regulation 543.1.1 or, if common to two or more circuits, Regulation 543.1.2. Regulation 543.2.5 states that metallic trunking may be used as a protective conductor if the requirements of items (i) and (ii) of Regulation 543.2.2 are met; that is: • Electrical continuity is assured by construction or suitable connection, and • Its cross-sectional area meets the minimum sizing requirements of Regulation 543.1. Therefore, it may be necessary to fit continuity straps at joints between sections of cable trunking and where fittings such as bends and tees are installed in order to achieve the electrical continuity requirements of item (i) of Regulation 543.2.2. Where metal trunking is not used as a protective conductor the metal trunking would normally be considered an exposedconductive-part and therefore would need to comply with the requirements for protective earthing of Regulation 411.3.1.1. It is recommended that, in the interests of avoiding conflict at a later date, agreement is reached between the person ordering the work and the contractor as to whether or not continuity straps are fitted when installing metallic trunking, taking into consideration manufacturers’ recommendations prior to work starting. Ask the experts continues on page 48

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Locations with risks of fire due to the nature of processed or stored materials O B JE C TIVE

Certain locations within factories, workshops and similar premises can, due to the nature of the work being carried out, be subject to an increased risk of fire. The aim of this article is to remind contractors that when electrical work is undertaken in such locations, the relevant requirements of Regulation Group 422.3 should be satisfied in addition to those of Section 421. Work activities carried out within premises such as wood machine shops, paper mills, barns and the like can present an increased risk of fire. For example, in a location used for drilling, cutting, sawing and/or storage of combustible or flammable materials, such as wood, paper or textiles there is an increased risk of fire being initiated by a fault, spark or excessive temperature. A location that exhibits such fire risks is classified as BE2 in BS 76711 and electrical installation work undertaken in a location where BE2 conditions exist must satisfy the relevant requirements of Regulation Group 422.3. It should be noted that the requirements of Regulation Group 422.3 do not apply to locations designated as hazardous areas (explosive risks).

If there is a risk of flammable materials being ejected from the luminaire, such as in the case of failure or damage to the lamps, the lamps should be constructed with a safety protective shield in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions (Regulation 422.3.1 refers). To minimise the risk of ignition, electrical equipment should be located and positioned at an adequate distance from combustible materials. Except where otherwise recommended by the manufacturer, small spotlights and projectors should be installed at distances no less than that specified in Table 1 of this article (Regulation 422.4.2 refers).

Switchgear and controlgear Where practicable, switchgear and controlgear should be sited outside the location where BE2 conditions exist. Where it is installed within the location such equipment should be a suitable type or installed in an enclosure that provides the appropriate degree of ingress protection (Regulation 422.3.3).

Cables Cables can contribute to the generation and spread of fire and smoke within the room of origin or in a given area. Therefore, unless completely covered by non-combustible material, such as plaster or concrete, or otherwise adequately

Luminaires Where a luminaire is installed in a location where BE2 conditions exist, Regulation 422.3.8 requires that as well as being of a suitable type for the location the luminaire should: • have a limited surface temperature in accordance with BS EN 60598-2-24, (luminaires marked with the appropriate ‘D’ symbol are designed to provide limited surface temperatures), and • have an enclosure that provides a minimum degree of protection, and • IP4X generally, or • IP5X where dust is present, or • IP6X where electrically conductive dust is present • be a type that prevents lamp components falling from the luminaire.

Fig 1 A location where there is a risk of fire due to processed or stored materials

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Table 1: Minimum distances for small spotlights or projector lamps from combustible materials Power rating of the spotlight or projector

Minimum distance from combustible materials

Not more than 100 W

0.5 m

Over 100 W but not more than 300 W

0.8 m

Over 300 W but not more than 500 W

1.0 m

Current-using equipment A heating appliance installed within the location must be fixed (Regulation 422.3.202) and be a type designed to prevent ignition of combustible dusts or fibres (Regulation 422.3.203). As for other enclosures, this is achieved by selecting a device that has a suitable IP rating (restricting the ingress of dust and fibres into the unit) and prevents the maximum surface temperature exceeding 90 °C under normal conditions and 115 °C under fault conditions. Where electric motors within the location are controlled remotely or operated unsupervised, they should be provided with over-temperature protection for all operational modes and with a means of excess temperature protection which after operation must be manually reset (Regulation 422.3.7).

protected against fire, cables installed in locations classed as BE2 should satisfy the minimum fire performance requirements of BS EN 60332-1-22 (Regulation 422.3.4). Where the impact of flame propagation is increased, such as where cables are installed in vertical runs, cables should be selected to meet the requirements of the appropriate part of BS EN 60332-3 series. Flexible cables should be of a heavy duty type having a voltage rating of not less than 450/750 V, or be suitably protected against mechanical damage (Regulation 422.3.201 refers).

Wiring systems As shown in Table 2, wiring systems in such locations should satisfy the fire test requirements of Regulation 422.3.4. Except for mineral insulated cables, busbar trunking systems and powertrack systems, wiring systems of TN and TT systems should be protected against insulation faults to earth by an RCD having a rated residual operating current (I∆n) not exceeding 300 mA. However, where there is a risk that a resistive fault may cause a fire; the rated residual operating current should not exceed 30 mA (Regulation 422.3.9). In addition to complying with the minimum fire performance requirements of Regulation 422.3.4, a wiring system that passes through a location with a risk of fire due to processed or stored materials but does not supply electrical equipment within the location, should have: • no joint or connection within the location, unless the connection or joint is placed in an enclosure that does not adversely affect the

flame propagation characteristics of the wiring system, and • be protected against overcurrent by protective devices located outside and on the supply side of the location (Regulation 422.3.10 refers), and • not employ bare live conductors.

Final circuits

1 BE2 characteristics are detailed in Appendix 5 BS 7671. 2 BS EN 60332-1-2: 2004+A1: 2015 Tests on electric and optical fibre cables under fire conditions.

Table 2: Fire test requirements for wiring systems installed in locations where BE2 conditions exist Type

Fire test requirements to be satisfied

Conduit system

Fire conditions specified in BS EN 61386-1.

Cable trunking or ducting system

Fire conditions specified in BS EN 50085 series.

Tray or ladder system

Fire conditions specified in BS EN 61537.

Powertrack system

Resistance to flame propagation specified in the appropriate part of the BS EN 61534 series.

As generally required by BS 7671, each circuit of the location should be provided with a means of isolation (Regulation 422.3.13), and protection against overload and fault currents. Wherever practicable the circuit protective devices should be outside the location. Circuits that are supplied from within the location should be protected by a device at their origin (Regulation 422.3.10). Where a circuit is supplied at extra-low voltage, Regulation 422.3.11 requires the following requirements to be applied in addition to Section 414: • enclosures containing live parts should provide a minimum degree of protection of IPXXB or IP2X, or • live parts should have insulation capable of withstanding a test voltage of 500 V DC for 1 minute. Additionally, it should be noted that the draft document of the 18th Edition of BS 7671, contained recommendations in Regulation 421.1.7 for the use of arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to protect against the effects of arc faults in final circuits. The use of such devices may provide additional protection against arc faults in locations where BE2 conditions exist.

Conclusion Whilst the general requirements of BS 7671 apply to all installations, particular consideration should be given to the requirements of Regulation Group 422.3 where there is a risk of fire due to the nature of processed or stored material.

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Frequency of periodic inspection and testing O B JE C TIVE

Approved Contractors, Domestic Installers and members of the public sometimes ask how often an electrical installation should be subjected to periodic inspection and testing. This article considers the factors that influence when the first and subsequent periodic inspections of an electrical installation should be carried out. First periodic inspection Regulation 134.2.2 of BS 7671 requires the electrical installation designer to recommend the interval to the first periodic inspection, as further detailed in Part 6, and this recommendation should be stated on the Electrical Installation Certificate. Any electrical installation will deteriorate to some extent throughout its life. The speed of deterioration will depend on factors such as the: a) severity of the external influences that will affect the installation, b) nature of the activities to be performed in the areas served by the installation, and c) degree of wear, tear and damage likely to occur in normal use. In making the recommendation, the designer should take into account the following, which he or she should already have assessed for the purposes of designing the installation: • the factors affecting the speed of deterioration, such as a), b) and c) above, and • the frequency and quality of maintenance the installation can reasonably be expected to receive during its intended life (Regulation 341.1 refers).

Consideration should also be given to any statutory requirements and licensing conditions regarding frequency of inspections that may be applicable to some types of installation (examples are given later in this article). There are some cases, such as speculatively built projects, where information such as the exact usage of the premises and the arrangements for future maintenance of the installation will not be clear. Nevertheless, the installation designer must still make a recommendation for the interval to the first periodic inspection, based on the best information available and the nature of the installation as installed. The Certsure publication Inspection, testing and certification provides guidance on the initial frequency of periodic inspections for installations in a wide range of typical premises (domestic, commercial, educational and so on). The periods given are maximums and are based variously on statutory requirements, licensing conditions, recommendations given in British Standards and Codes of Practices, and longstanding industry custom and practice. Whilst the periods given provide a useful starting point, they should not be seen as a substitute for a proper assessment of the interval required between periodic inspections, particularly where the installation or premises are not typical. It should be noted that those recommendations appearing in guidance taken from statutory instruments, British Standards or Codes of Practices could be subject to change as and when those documents are revised. It is the responsibility of the designer of the installation to be aware of, and to act on, the most up to date information and requirements at all times.

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to the first periodic inspection. This highlights the importance of retaining previous certificates and/or reports and making it/them accessible for reference purposes when further periodic inspections are carried out. As indicated by Regulation 622.1, matters such as those listed above, as well as the findings and recommendations of the previous periodic inspection, if any, should be taken into account when deciding on the period to the next inspection. Where a reduced interval to the next inspection is recommended, it might also be appropriate to make comments regarding:

Fig 1 Example of ‘next inspection’ label

• the need for effective maintenance to be performed between inspections and, • in some cases, the suitability of the installed equipment and the way it is being used.

Statutory requirements Subsequent periodic inspections

Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EWR) places an obligation on duty holders to maintain electrical systems (as defined in those regulations), so far as is reasonably practicable, in order to prevent danger. This maintenance requirement applies to all places of work. Maintenance requirements relating to installations ‘for the supply of water, gas and electricity’ in short lease accommodation can be found in Section 11, sub-section (1)(b) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (England and Wales) and in Section 13 (1) (c) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. Whilst the requirement in the above legislation is to maintain, a case can be made that by performing regular inspection and testing of the electrical installation an assessment can be made as to where maintenance can be most efficiently and effectively applied. For rented accommodation, the case for a range of types of regular inspection is made in Section 8 (1) – Implied terms as to fitness for human habitation in the Landlord and Tenant Act and Section 14 – Landlord’s duty to repair and maintain of the Housing (Scotland) Act. In both cases, the suitability of the condition of the electrical installation should be assured at the start of and throughout the period of any tenancy.

The interval that was recommended to the first periodic inspection might not be appropriate for subsequent inspections. One reason for this is that, in making the recommendation for the interval to the first inspection, the designer may have made assumptions that have turned out to be inaccurate, or are no longer valid, about matters such as: • the nature of the users or occupiers of the premises (such as their capability) • the intended usage of the installation (such as loading, and frequency of use of equipment) • the levels of use and misuse in service • the effects of external influences (such as temperature, moisture/water ingress, humidity, dust or other foreign bodies, corrosive substances, impact or vibration) • the suitability of selected equipment for both the environment and the work activities taking place in the installation (such as locations, amounts and types of outlets, luminaires and controls), and • the extent and effectiveness of on-going maintenance.


A periodic inspection, where compared to previous results, might reveal trends in the deterioration of the installation that indicate the need for either a shorter or longer interval to the next inspection than the one recommended

Since 1st December 2015, landlords in Scotland have been required under sections 13(4A) and 19B(4) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 to: 43 S P RI NG 2 018

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Table 1 Type of installation

Recommended frequency for inspection and testing

BS 7671 reference

Temporary installations of exhibitions, shows and stands

After each assembly on site


Within a caravan (as defined) - In general - Frequently used (high mileage)

Not exceeding 3 years Every year

721.514.1 (Fig 721 ) 721.514.1 (Fig 721 )

Temporary installations forming part of fairgrounds, amusment parks and circuses

After each assembly on site

• ensure that regular electrical safety inspections are carried out by a competent person, and

authority within 7 days of receiving a request for such in writing from that authority.

Other situations where inspection and testing may be required

• have regard to the guidance issued by Scottish Ministers on electrical safety standards and competent persons. The electrical safety inspection includes a periodic inspection of the electrical installation, fixtures and fittings, and portable appliance testing (which is not considered in this article). For rented accommodation, the maximum permitted period between the initial inspection and the first periodic inspection is five years. Subsequently, the installation should be inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years from the date of the first inspection. However, as is the case generally, the person compiling the Electrical Installation Condition Report may recommend a shorter interval before the next inspection based upon the findings of the inspection and testing that has been carried out. When a change of tenancy occurs, the landlord or their representative should always carry out a visual check to confirm that a property is safe to re-let.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – England Very specific requirements are laid down in The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 with respect to properties falling within their scope. Regulation 6 (3) states that: The manager of an HMO must – (a) ensure that every fixed electrical installation is inspected and tested at intervals not exceeding five years by a person qualified to undertake such inspection and testing; (b) obtain a certificate1 from the person conducting that test, specifying the results of the test; and (c) supply that certificate to the local housing


1 In practice this means an Electrical Installation Condition Report in accordance with Regulation 631.2 of BS 7671.

Regular inspections of a particular frequency might be a requirement of a British Standard or a Code of Practice, such as is the case with some aspects of fire detection and fire alarms systems and emergency lighting installations. In the case of a number of types of special installation or location, BS 7671 specifies the frequencies in Table 1. Electrical installations of caravan parks are an example of where the frequency of inspection and testing is subject to a licensing condition, locally set, which must be met. Typically this condition will call for an annual inspection. Other examples of types of installation which are subject to similar licensing requirements are cinemas, where an interval of between one and three years would be typical, petrol filling stations, which are generally required to be subjected to inspection and testing annually, churches and schools which are subject to 5-yearly assessments. Other premises open to the public may also be subject to similar licensing conditions. A mortgage provider may require the electrical installation of premises to be subjected to some scrutiny as a precondition of the mortgage offer. In such cases, it would be wise to determine the degree of inspection and testing that the mortgage provider requires to be carried out. It might be necessary for inspection and testing to be carried out on an electrical installation after the occurrence of significant events such as fires, flooding or structural damage as a pre-requisite of obtaining compensation. On occasion, a property may be placed under the control of a housing association, letting agent or similar for a period of time with the proviso that the property is returned at the end of that period in at least as good a condition. In such cases a thorough inspection, including testing should be carried out prior to the handover to provide a reference point.

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Requirements for Separated Extra-Low Voltage systems O B JE C TIVE

Separated Extra-Low Voltage (SELV) systems are commonly used in situations where there is an increased risk of electric shock. This article looks at the specific requirements of BS 7671 that must be satisfied when these systems are installed.

Separated Extra-Low Voltage (SELV) SELV is defined by BS 7671 as ‘an extra-low voltage (ELV) system which is electrically separate from Earth and from other systems in such a way that a single fault cannot give rise to the risk of electric shock’. Protection by SELV can provide an appropriate protective measure in all situations and is commonly used in areas of increased risk of shock such as: rooms containing a bath or shower, swimming pools and many of the other special locations or installations detailed in Part 7 of BS 7671. Basic protection and fault protection are provided for a SELV system where the requirements of Regulation 414.2 in relation to the following are met: • The nominal voltage • The source • The circuits (Regulation Group 414.4)

or damp environments. Therefore, where the nominal voltage for a SELV circuit exceeds 25 V AC (or 60 V DC) in normal dry conditions or the equipment is immersed, basic protection should be provided by insulation of live parts, barriers or enclosures (Regulation 414.4.5 refers). Where the nominal voltage of the SELV circuit does not exceed 25 V AC in normal dry conditions, or for other environmental conditions does not exceed 12 V AC (or 30 V DC), basic protection is not required as contact with live parts is not deemed to pose a risk of electric shock. For these reasons, SELV is an appropriate protective measure for areas of increased risk of shock such as: rooms containing a bath or shower or swimming pools and many of the

Fig 1 Extra-low voltage provided by SELV

SELV system

230 V AC


The nominal voltage Where SELV is to be used as the protective measure, the nominal voltage must not exceed the upper limit of Band I, 50 V AC rms or 120 V ripple-free DC. Nevertheless, a voltage of this magnitude can still present a risk of electric shock in certain conditions, especially in wet 46 S P RI NG 2 018

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other special locations or installations detailed in Part 7 of BS 7671. However, the specific requirements of Part 7 must also be applied, as appropriate. For example, where a SELV circuit is installed in a location containing a swimming pool or basin, basic protection is required irrespective of the nominal voltage (Regulation 702.414.4.5 refers).

The SELV source The source for a SELV system must be of a type listed in Regulation 414.3. A safety isolating transformer complying with BS EN 61558-2-6 or BS EN 61558-2-8 is commonly used. These types of transformer are designed to provide protective separation (equivalent to double or reinforced insulation) between the primary and secondary windings, and have no provision for an earth connection on the secondary ELV side. As shown in Fig 1, SELV is an ELV system that is electrically separate from Earth and from other circuits, such as the low voltage primary circuit, and because of this separation there is no path for an earth fault current to flow. However, to confirm that protection against shock is provided by SELV the relevant requirements of Regulation Group 414 must be satisfied.

Requirements for SELV circuits (Regulation Group 414.4 ) To prevent this unearthed system from being compromised by earth faults from other circuits, Regulation 414.4.4 prohibits any Table 1: Insulation resistance testing for SELV Tests required to be conducted

Insulation resistance test voltage

Minimum acceptable value (from Table 61)

Test between all live conductors of the SELV* circuit, and Earth (Fig 2 (a)), and, where present, between the live conductors of each SELV circuit and the conductors of any other SELV (or PELV) circuit.

250 V DC

0.5 MΩ

Test between all live conductors of the SELV* circuit, and any live parts of a low voltage (or FELV) circuit (Fig 2 (b)). If the nominal circuit voltage is greater than 500 V the insulation resistance test should be carried out at 1000 V DC (Regulation 612.4 refers).

500 V DC or 1000 V DC

exposed-conductive-part of a SELV system to be connected to Earth or to an exposed-conductivepart, or protective conductor, of another system. Similarly, a socket-outlet or luminaire supporting coupler (LSC) that is connected to a SELV system should not have a protective conductor contact and must be designed so that it is not compatible (dimensionally) with a plug that is used for other systems, such as low voltage, at the same premises (Regulation 414.4.3 refers). Furthermore, to minimise the risk of SELV circuits being exposed to (higher) voltages from other circuits, especially as a result of faults occurring on those circuits, they should be separated from the insulated conductors of other circuits by one of the five arrangements listed in Regulation 414.4.2. These five arrangements are: • using physical separation, • insulating SELV conductors for the highest voltage present, • enclosing insulated SELV circuit conductors in a non-metallic sheath or non metallic enclosure, • confirming that other circuits (and wiring systems) comply with Regulation 412.2.4.1, and • SELV/PELV conductors installed in multi-core cables with circuit conductors at voltages higher than Band I are insulated for the highest voltage present. Irrespective of the arrangements employed for separation, it must be confirmed that the live parts of the SELV circuit satisfies the requirements of Regulation 414.4.1 for the provision of: • basic insulation between live parts and other SELV (or PELV circuits), • basic insulation between live parts and Earth, and • protective separation from live parts of any other systems by means of double or reinforced insulation, or basic insulation and protective screening for the highest voltage present.

Testing 1 MΩ

*Where appropriate the live conductors may be connected together for the purpose of the test.

As required by Regulation 612.4.1, where the protective measure of extra-low voltage is provided by SELV, separation should be verified by insulation resistance testing. The requirements for the insulation resistance testing of SELV circuits is summarised in Table 1 and the tests illustrated in Fig 2. For the purposes of insulation resistance testing, functional extra-low voltage circuits (FELV) should satisfy the requirements for low voltage circuits (Regulation 612.3.4 refers). It should be noted that the minimum insulation resistance test values prescribed by Table 61

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Ask the experts Fig 2 Insulation resistance tests to verify separation


Fig 2a Test for separation between the live conductors of the SELV circuit and the primary supply conductors and Test also between the SELV circuit and Earth.

Temporary link

Temporary link

Fig 2b Test between all live conductors of the SELV circuit and any live parts of a low voltage (or FELV) circuit in close proximity.

Low voltage circuit conductor

Temporary link ELV

I am carrying out significant alterations on an existing lighting circuit in a domestic dwelling, which is not currently provided with additional protection by an RCD. The work involves the installation of some new wiring to supply and control additional wall-mounted lights. Twin and earth pvc-insulated and sheathed cable is buried into the building fabric at a depth of less than 50 mm below the surface of the wall and is without additional mechanical protection. Will it be necessary to install an RCD to provide additional protection? ANS WE R

Yes. Whilst there is no requirement for an existing installation to be fully compliant with the current edition of BS 7671, any alteration or addition must be. As a result, as a minimum, additional protection by an RCD having a rated residual operating current (I∆n) not exceeding 30 mA must be provided for all new wiring installed in the walls in order to comply with Regulation 522.6.202. Probably the most practical way for this to be achieved is to install the RCD at the origin of the modified circuit. This will also have the added benefit of providing an improvement in safety for the rest of the wiring of the circuit. QU E S T I ON

The existing TN-S earthing system at a property is to be converted to TN-C-S (PME). As a result of this change it has been necessary to install new main protective bonding conductors having a larger crosssectional area. Which of the model forms in Appendix 6 of BS 7671 should be used to document this upgrade to the main bonding?

are considered satisfactory where the main switchboard and each distribution circuit is tested separately with all the final circuits connected but the loads disconnected (Regulation 612.3.2 refers). Where testing is carried out on an individual circuit the insulation resistance values obtained should be considerably higher than the minimum values from Table 61.

Summary ANS WE R

SELV is considered a protective measure in all situations, where the relevant requirements of Regulation Group 414 of BS 7671 are satisfied (Regulation 414.1.2 refers). However, it should be noted that where SELV is used as part of a special installation or location the specific requirements of Part 7 of BS 7671 must also be satisfied.

A Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate may be used to document the replacement of the existing main protective bonding conductors as the work has not involved the provision of a new circuit (Regulation 631.3 refers).

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Residual Current Device testing O B JE C TIVE

Unlike fuses or circuit-breakers, BS 7671 requires Residual Current Devices (RCDs) to be tested as part of both the initial and periodic verification process. The aim of this article is to give guidance to contractors on such testing in order to demonstrate that the requirements of BS 7671 are met.

BS 7671 requirements for RCD testing Chapter 61 of the 17th Edition (BS 7671: 2008) states that the following should be carried out during initial verification or periodic testing: 1. Where the protective measure automatic disconnection of supply is employed in installations forming part of a TN or TT system and an RCD provides automatic disconnection in the event of a fault, the effectiveness of the RCD must be verified by visual inspection and testing, taking into account the operating characteristic of the RCD employed (612.8.1). 2. Similarly, the effectiveness of an RCD providing additional protection should be verified by visual inspection and testing (612.10). 3. The effectiveness of the integral test button of an RCD should also be verified (612.13.1). The effectiveness of an RCD providing protection against fire is verified through compliance with the measures of Regulation 612.8.1 relating to automatic disconnection of supply (612.8). Where an RCD is tested, the results obtained should be compared with the appropriate disconnection time given in Chapter 41, whether or not the RCD has a time-delay. These times are summarised in Table 1.

Current guidance Current guidance suggests that an RCCB to BS EN 61008-1 or an RCBO to BS EN 61009-1 meets the requirements of BS 7671 if:

1 This routine testing procedure is also described in Annex D of BS EN 61009-1: 2012 (2016) Residual current operated circuit-breakers with integral overcurrent protection for household and similar uses (RCBOs) – Part 1: General rules.

• it does not operate when tested at half its rated residual operating current (½I∆n), and • it operates within 300 ms when tested at its rated residual operating current (I∆n). However, these are production test criteria taken from RCD product standards such as Paragraph D1 of Annex D1 to BS EN 61008-1: 2012 (2017) Residual current operated circuit-breakers without integral overcurrent protection for household and similar uses (RCCBs) – Part 1: General rules1. This test and other test procedures described in that Annex ‘are intended to reveal, as far as safety is concerned, unacceptable variations in material or manufacture’ and it should be noted that these criteria were not intended for in-service testing or to determine compliance with the requirements of BS 7671. In most cases, testing RCDs in the manner described above could demonstrate compliance with BS 7671 requirements. However, the following should be noted: • With reference to Table 1 of this article, it can be seen that a disconnection time of 0.2 s (200 ms) is required where an RCD is installed to provide automatic disconnection in the event of a fault for a final circuit of rating not exceeding 32 A in an installation forming part of a TT system. • Following current guidance, if an RCD protecting

Table 1: Disconnection times of Chapter 41 of BS 7671 for AC circuits (where 120 V < U0 ≤ 230 V) Circuit type/application

Earthing system

Disconnection BS 7671 time (seconds) reference

Final circuits with a rated current not exceeding 32 A






Table 41.1

Distribution circuit or circuit not covered by Regulation 411.3.2.2/Table 41.1







Part of a reduced low voltage system

TN or TT



Provision of additional protection

TN or TT



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such a circuit is tested at its rated residual operating current (I∆n), it might not operate within the required 200 ms. However if it operates within the ‘recommended’ time of 300 ms, the person carrying out the testing/compiling the results might record the outcome of the testing as: • Satisfactory, based on the disconnection time stated in the guidance, or • Unsatisfactory, based on the disconnection time required by BS 7671. Either of the above outcomes is incorrect, as the testing is incomplete; if the RCD was retested using a higher value of current, its operation time will be significantly faster and should provide the requisite disconnection time. There is an inverse relationship between the disconnection time provided by an RCD and the fault (or test) current causing the operation of the device; that is, the larger the fault/test current, the faster the disconnection time will be. This inverse relationship can be seen in Table 3A2 in Appendix 3 of BS 7671. Table 2 illustrates this using data from Table 3A for a general purpose, non-delayed type RCD: BS 7671 acknowledges that, in practice, fault currents are significantly in excess of the rating of the RCD (411.3.2.2).

Table 2: Time/current performance for general, non-delayed RCDs Test/fault current (mA) Maximum operating time (ms)

2 x IΔn

5 x IΔn




Where an RCD provides additional protection The RCD should be visually inspected to confirm that it has a rated residual operating current (I∆n) not exceeding 30 mA as required by Regulation 415.1.1. The RCD should then be tested at any current greater than or equal to five times the rated residual operating current (I∆n) of the RCD and preferably the highest test current that can be delivered by the instrument. Regardless of whether an RCD provides fault, fire or additional protection, testing should be carried out in both the positive and negative halfcycles and the longer of the two results obtained should be compared to the relevant disconnection time required by BS 7671 to determine whether compliance has been achieved. The operating time to be recorded on the Schedule of Test Results forming part of an Electrical Installation Certificate, Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate or Electrical Installation Condition Report is the longer of the two values obtained.

Testing at ½IΔn BS 7671 does not require an RCD to be tested at half its rated residual operating current (½I∆n) and so such testing during initial verification or a periodic inspection is unnecessary although, arguably, testing at ½I∆n may help to determine whether an RCD is operating unnecessarily during fault finding and maintenance activities.

Functional testing The effectiveness of the integral test button should be verified during initial verification or periodic testing (612.13.1). Whilst this test appears later in the sequence given in Chapter 61, it should logically be carried out whilst other testing is performed on the RCDs.

How should RCDs be tested? Where an RCD provides automatic disconnection in the event of a fault or protection against fire Initially, the RCD should be visually inspected to confirm that it is of an appropriate type, rated current or current setting, and sensitivity in terms of its rated residual operating current for its intended purpose. Testing should then be carried out using suitable test equipment to confirm that the device will operate within the relevant disconnection time given in Chapter 41 of BS 7671 when tested at any current greater than or equal to the rated residual operating current (I∆n) of the RCD and preferably the highest test current that can be delivered safely by the instrument.

1 x IΔn


2 Table 3A of BS 7671 is based on data taken from Table 1 Limit values of break time and non-actuating time for alternating residual currents (r.m.s. values) for type AC and A RCCB given in BS EN 61008-1: 2012 (2017).

Some contractors may be carrying out unnecessary testing on RCDs during both initial verification and periodic testing to confirm compliance or otherwise with the relevant requirements of BS 7671. In some cases, contractors may not be properly verifying that an RCD can provide the required disconnection time although such compliance could have been demonstrated if the testing had been carried out at a higher current. The test methodology described in this article can be used to confirm whether an RCD can provide the applicable disconnection time of Chapter 41 of BS 7671, as required by Chapter 61 of that standard.

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Electromagnetic interference (EMI) should be maintained between IT cables and discharge lamps1 (Regulation 444.6.2 refers). Note: Fibre optic cables do not suffer from the effects of EMI. In circumstances where no specification is available for IT cables, the recommendations contained in Annex A444 should be considered. Clause A444.4 recommends a minimum separation distance of 200 mm is maintained between power cables and IT cables in free air, but the distance may be reduced if the power cable is screened or the cables are separated by a barrier. Table A444.1 provides a summary of the minimum separation distances applicable for circumstances where the intended application is not known or where no specification is available.


Commercial and industrial premises typically contain a range of systems, such as power, communications, signalling and data, operating at different voltages and frequencies. Therefore, as required by Regulation 444.1 of BS 7671, those designing, installing and maintaining systems in such installations need to avoid or minimise electromagnetic disturbances. Sources of EMI As identified by Regulation 444.1 and illustrated in Fig 1, stray magnetic fields generated from the switching and operation of certain inductive loads, such as variable speed drives, transformers and fluorescent luminaires, can cause disturbance to nearby cables and equipment. Induced voltages (overvoltages), on the conductors of circuits operating at extralow voltages such as data, control or signalling circuits, can affect the signals being transmitted and in some cases could cause the loss of the signal or significant damage. For these reasons, Regulation 444.4.1 requires consideration to be given to the positioning of equipment that is likely to be a source of EMI. For control, signalling and communication circuits within buildings the requirements and recommendations of the standards listed in Regulation 444.4.10 must be applied.

Fig 1 Induced current resulting from an electromagnetic field radiating from a nearby inductive switching device

Inductive switching device

Segregation of power and information technology (IT) cables Where circuits of different voltage bands or, where necessary, the same voltage band are installed in the same wiring system or follow the same route, the segregation requirements of Regulations 528.1 and 528.2 should be applied (Regulation 444.6.1 refers). Data wiring racks should be separated from electrical equipment, and a minimum separation distance of 130 mm 54 S P RI NG 2 018

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practicable route, It may be necessary to extend the MET by installing earthing busbars (Regulation 444.5.7.1 refers).

Fig 2 Circulating loop currents

EM Field

IT Device

Equipotential bonding networks

IT Device

Circulating current


Cable loops As the value of induced voltage is dependent upon the rate of change of current and the size of the conductive loop, the circuit conductors of power cables (line, neutral and earth) should be installed close to each other (Regulation 444.4.2.1 (iii) refers). Where, in a single building, screened cables are used for communications and data systems, the screens should be connected to the Main Earthing Terminal MET2 along with all other functional and earthing conductors of the installation (Regulation 444.5.1.1 refers). A consequence of interconnections between communication equipment as shown in Fig 2, combined with the common earthing and bonding carried out within buildings, is that it can create many large conductive loops, which can behave as antennae for EMI. To limit the magnitude of circulating current (loop currents) that may flow in these loops to a level that will not cause disturbance to data and communication signals or damage sensitive equipment, it may be necessary to install an equipotential bonding network (Regulation 444.4.2.1 (v)). To ensure the connection of IT installations to the MET is achieved by the shortest

1 This includes neon and mercury vapour and other high voltage discharge lamps but not low energy lamps (cfls). 2 Unless due to the nature of the installation this is prohibited, such as for certain special installations, Regulation 444.5.1.1 refers. 3 BS EN 50310: 2016 Telecommunications bonding networks for buildings and other structures.

A common bonding network (CBN) is defined as an equipotential network that provides both protective equipotential bonding and functional equipotential bonding. For a bonding network to be equipotential it must maintain a low impedance connection to earth over a range of frequencies depending on the installed equipment (from DC to high frequencies). Unlike resistance, the reactive component of impedance is frequency dependent; inductive reactance (XL) increases proportionally as the frequency increases. For this reason, Regulation 444.5.2 (iii) requires bonding connections intended to carry functional earth currents having high frequency components to be made using several separated bonds that are kept as short as possible. The reactance of bonds up to 1 m in length can be reduced significantly by using a conductive braid or a bonding strap or strip of having a width-tothickness ratio of 5:1 and a length-to-width ratio not exceeding 5:1. Along with functional earthing conductors and protective conductors the following parts should be connected to the equipotential bonding network: • metallic containment, conductive screens, conductive sheaths or armouring of data transmission cables or of IT equipment. • functional earthing conductors of antenna systems. • conductors of the earthed pole of a DC supply for IT equipment. The risk of disturbance caused by currents flowing through earthed screens and earthed cable cores under fault conditions (or lightning strike) should be considered. To limit such currents a bypass conductor may need to be connected in parallel with the screen (Regulation 444.4.2.1 (i) refers). Annex A444 provides examples of different networks that may be employed, based on the vulnerability of the equipment and the frequency range. As stated in the Note to A444.1 the methodology contained in BS EN 50310: 20163 is generally applicable to bonding networks.

Meshed bonded networks The meshed bonded network shown in Fig 3 can provide immunity to EMI over a wide frequency spectrum. The mesh size is the dimensions of the square spaces enclosed by the conductors forming the mesh and should be sized in accordance with BS EN 50310. In areas having sensitive equipment that is vulnerable to EMI (such as a computer

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room) a smaller mesh size (not exceeding 2 m x 2 m) is recommended (Informative annex A444.1.3 refers). The common metallic paths provided by the bonding of girders, ducting, trunking and other equipment within the location can enhance the protection. A common meshed bonding star network is recommended for severe electromagnetic environments. Table 1 shows the bonding requirements specified by Clause 11.4 of BS EN 50310 for areas served by the mesh. The bonding conductors should be installed using the shortest practicable route possible. As shown in Fig 3, in buildings comprised of more than one floor an appropriate network is recommended for each floor. The networks of different floors should be interconnected at more than one point (not shown in Fig 3 for clarity) by conductors selected in accordance with Chapter 54 of BS 7671 (A444.2 refers). Where the MET is extended to support an equipotential bonding network for a high density of IT equipment, a bonding ring conductor or common mesh bonding network is recommended (Regulation 444.5.7.1 refers).

Table 1: Minimum csa of mesh bonding conductors in areas served Metallic items that require bonding

Minimum csa of bonding conductor mm2

Primary busbar Secondary busbar


Structural metal columns


Heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment


Cable tray/runways Conduit, pipes and ducts



Separate bonds for each


These may be bonded in series

The connection of a lightning protection system should conform to BS EN 62305.

Summary As discussed in this article, EMI can cause significant disturbance to the control, signalling and communication systems operating within commercial and industrial premises. The measures identified in Section 444 of BS 7671 are intended to be appropriately applied to minimise such interference.

Fig 3 Bonding networks within a building

Mesh network IT Equipment

Structural metalwork

Lightning protection conductor

IT Equipment

Star network MET

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It is beyond the scope of this article to recommend any particular model or detail the merits on the different methods in which the water within the hot tub is heated.

Apprentice Corner

Heating hot tubs

The focus of Apprentice Corner in this issue of Connections is the electrical installation for a hot tub. A hot tub is a fixed item of electrical equipment which may be designed for installation indoors or outdoors. This article will consider the requirements of BS 7671 for the electrical supply and control for a hot tub in a garden or outside space. This will be complemented using a scenario followed by some multiple-choice questions.

Introduction As with any electrical installation the general rules of BS 7671 must be applied to the installation of hot tubs. However, where such hot tubs are installed in a special location, the particular requirements of Part 7 must also be satisfied.

1 1 hp is equivalent to 746 watts.

Fig 1 Typical hot tub erected and wired for outdoor use

The four methods for heating the water in a hot tub are: i. Electric heating elements ii. Air source heat pump iii. Gas iv. Wood burner Only the first method will be considered as that is deemed to have the larger current demand. Electrically heated hot tubs, depending upon the manufacturer, are typically rated at 2 kW or 3 kW. Appendix 14 of BS 7671 recommends that where the connected load has a power rating likely to exceed 2 kW, a dedicated circuit might be preferable (see also Regulation 433.1.204). For fixed hot tubs, a dedicated circuit is recommended as these are often fitted with 2/3 kW heating elements and at least two pumps; a circulation pump rated at 0.35 hp1 and a whirlpool pump having a typical rating of 2 hp. Where a socket-outlet is selected for use as a point of supply for some lower rated hot tubs, it would need to be mounted within a suitable distance to the hot tub to allow for the final connection to be made with the cable provided by the manufacturer. Such socket-outlets and their enclosures must be suitably rated for the ambient environmental conditions; many manufacturers recommend a rating of IP66, a typical example is shown in Fig 2. The requirements of Regulation 411.3.3 must also be met with the RCD complying with Regulation 415.1.1. Local control is recommended by using a suitable isolation switch such as the example shown in Fig 3, and ideally is situated out of arms reach from the hot tub to prevent inadvertent contact, unless it has an appropriate IP rating.

Fig 2 Typical socket-outlet for use in external locations

Fig 3 Typical rotary switch isolator





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Wiring methods

Fig 4 Cable fixed to a timber fence that has experienced some damage

There are typically four installation methods that could be used for running a supply to the hot hub, and these are: • underground • surface-mounted (clipped direct) • housed within surface-mounted containment systems (such as conduit) • overhead One option is to run SWA cables surfacemounted and terminating them into an enclosure having a suitable IP rating using appropriate glands and shrouds. Unless surface-mounted cables are constructed for such use, they should not be installed where there is a risk of contact with corrosive or polluting substances, where they may be affected by flora or fauna, or where they will be frequently splashed, immersed or submersed in waste. Wiring systems that are surface-mounted should be of suitable construction for their installed position and securely fixed to rigid structures, such as walls constructed from bricks or blocks. Fixing to non-rigid items, such as timber fences, should be avoided, since cables fixed to such structures may by exposed to vibration and mechanical stress caused by wind loading to the fence; meaning cables could be pulled from their fixings/enclosure (see Fig 4).

Scenario Your company has been asked to install a 230 V circuit in a garden in readiness for a hot tub being delivered. The earthing system is TN-C-S and the consumer unit is a split-load unit complying with BS EN 61439-3 and housing a main switch, two RCDs and circuit-breakers to BS EN 60898. The hot tub will be positioned on a paved area adjacent to the house. The client has provided part of the specification to enable the design of the circuit to proceed.

Complying with Building Regulations In England and Wales, work carried out on domestic properties comes under the scope of Part P of the Building Regulations, where work is classified as being either notifiable or non-notifiable with the local authority building control body (LABC). A garden, or similar location, is not recognised as a special location and therefore, any electrical work is non-notifiable. However, should a new circuit be required to supply the hot tub, then under Part P the work becomes ‘notifiable’ and the LABC body must be informed. Upon completion of the installation a certificate of compliance with Building Regulations should be issued. This is normally carried out by the competent person’s scheme notification system such as that operated by NICEIC or ELECSA. For compliance with the Scottish Building Regulations, a building warrant may need to be applied for, where necessary, from the local authority building standards service. It is a legal requirement for a building warrant to be in place before any work commences that is not exempt. Northern Ireland does not currently have any statutory Building Regulations governing the installation of electricity.

Contractor’s considerations 1. Is the adequacy of the existing equipment at the intake position, including that of the distributor, sufficient to satisfy Regulation 132.16 for the client’s choice of hot tub? 2. Manufacturer’s guidance. 3. Is the existing earthing and bonding arrangement adequate (PME supply)? 4. What inrush current will appear when the pumps are switched on, and what impact will that have on the type of circuit-breaker fitted? 5. How accessible is the consumer unit in relation to the siting of the hot tub, and is there a spare way available? 6. What length of run of cable will be required and its csa to satisfy Table 4Ab of Appendix 4. 7. Regarding the installation of the hot tub: a. Will it fit the chosen location and can the base support the load when it is full of water (1 litre of water=1 kg)? b. Can the electrical controls be mounted securely and in such a position where they will not be affected by the normal usage of the hot tub? 61 S P RI NG 2 018

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Multiple-choice questions

Area Engineer / David Webb

1. Which of the following is not a protective measure? a) Automatic disconnection of supply b) SELV c) Electrical separation d) Placing out of reach 2. Which of the following RCDs could be used to provide additional protection? a) Rated residual current of 30 mA and operates within 200 ms when tested with 150 mA b) Rated residual current of 300 mA and operates within 40 ms when tested with 150 mA c) Rated residual current of 30 mA and operates within 40 ms when tested with 150 mA d) Rated residual current of 30 mA and operates within 200 ms when tested with 30 mA 3. The maximum earth fault loop impedance for a 0.4 s or 5 s disconnection time with U0 of 230 V for a BS EN 60898 Type B 32 A circuit-breaker is which of the following? a) 0.68 Ω b) 1.37 Ω c) 0.34 Ω d) 1.75 Ω

When did you become an area engineer? Six years ago. This is my 42nd year in the electrical contracting sector. I started as an apprentice in the long, hot summer of 1976. How has the job changed in that time? Broadband has changed the way we think and work. Rural broadband distribution is a major problem. It is the one major factor that stops small companies from growing. David Webb, Norfolk and Suffolk NICEIC and ELECSA employ 80 field team staff across the country to assess contractors’ work and provide up-to-date technical advice. Here we turn the tables and put them in the spotlight

What are some of the biggest changes within the industry? The internet is playing more of a part with smart building technology, cascade systems, dynamic building control and intelligent connectivity in commercial buildings. What’s the strangest thing you have come across on an assessment? When I returned from a site visit to find my car surrounded by adders sunning themselves in the spring sunshine. What’s the most unusual situation you’ve been in on an assessment? The van I was travelling in ran out of fuel, and I had to push it to a petrol station with the contractor remaining in the driving seat!

4. Which one of the following options is not a function of the IP code? a) Ingress of thermal effects b) Access to hazardous parts c) Ingress of foreign solid bodies d) Ingress of water

What interesting jobs have some of your contractors been involved with? Many of the large estates in the east have National Trust protected status, which causes many challenges.

5. The rating factor for the depth of a cable (Cd) buried directly into the ground at a depth of 1 m is: a) 1.5 b) 1.18 c) 0.98 d) 0.97

What are your interests outside of work? Anything involving sport. If you had a day off tomorrow, what would you do? I wouldn’t know what to do with it. My 400-plus contractors are my priority.

6. Which of the following types of electrical installation work would not be suitable for the issue of a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate? a) A socket-outlet added to an existing ring final circuit b) An external luminaire added to the internal lighting circuit c) Installing a new circuit from a spare way in the consumer unit d) Replacing a single socket-outlet for a double socket-outlet

Favourite book, film and TV programme? My favourite book is about Luton Town FC: Completely Top Hatters! Favourite film: Captain Underpants (can’t wait for the sequel), and I like to watch Sky Sports News in my man cave. What’s the best bit of advice you would give to electrical contractors? Don’t worry about old age, it doesn’t last that long. Be lucky.

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Metrel â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Innovative instruments that have your future covered today NEW â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Metrel MI 3152 XC GVMMDPMPVS UPVDITDSFFO multifunction installation testerSBOHF A tester that safeguards your investment by providing a clearly defined upgrade path whenever greater performance is required, from UIF cost effective '3 NPEFM to the BMMJODMVTJWF Euro  The '3NPEFM enables you to perform your core electrical test requirementsXJUIUIFMBUFTUUFDIOPMPHZBUNJOJNVNJOJUJBMJOWFTUNFOUJEFBMGPSMBUFSVQHSBEF.  The Standard PQUJPO is an upgraded version FOBCMJOH access to some of the NPSFadvanceE features PG the tester. It JODMVEFTBEEJUJPOBM1$TPGUXBSFBOEenhances the capability of the instrument to communicate with a computer application for post processing of the UFTUstructures and results.  TheUPQFOEEuro is the fully MPBEFE, all embracing solution that provides XBZDPNNVOJDBUJPOXJUIUIF1$GPScomplete processing and analysis of results, creation of test structuresand certified reports. All the features to make your work FBTJFS and NPSFefficient in thJTmodern digital world.

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04/04/2018 12:39


Snags & Solutions A practical guide to everyday electrical problems Now updated to Amendment No 3 of BS 7671 ‘Snags & Solutions’, NICEIC’s problem-solving books, are now available in five parts, and cover many commonly encountered electrical installation problems. All parts have been updated, where appropriate, to take account of the requirements of Amendment No 3 to BS 7671: 2008 (17th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations), which was published on 1st January 2015. Part 1 of Snags & Solutions addresses 53 problems relating to earthing and bonding. Part 2 covers 55 problems relating to wiring systems. Part 3 covers 52 problems relating to inspection and testing. Parts 4 and 5, which have recently been introduced, cover 50 problems relating to emergency lighting and 48 problems relating to fire detection and alarm systems, respectively. The books are available from NICEIC Direct. 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 two-way switching using the cpc conductor.

snags and solutions

snags and solutions

snags and solutions




Two-way switching using the cpc Circuit protective conductors of flat twin and earth cables should not be used for any other purposes.


Part 1

earthing and bonding 5th Edition

Amd 3: 2015


Part 2

wiring systems

3rd Edition

3rd Edition

4th Edition

Amd 3: 2015

Emergency Lighting

Amd 3: 2015

to BS 5266 series BS 5266-1: 3rd Edition 2016

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Amd 3: 2015

Updated to BS 5839-1 2017 3rd Edition

64 S P RI NG 2 018

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Snag 9 A potentially dangerous situation is the use of the circuit protective conductor of a flat twin and earth cable as a live conductor in a two-way switching circuit. Danger may arise because an electrician working on the installation at a future date may, reasonably, make the assumption that the centre conductor is at Earth potential. Basic protection must be provided by one or more of the basic protective measures such as insulation of live parts or protection by a barrier or an enclosure. Regulations 416.1 and 416.2 refer. In the case of a cable, a live conductor must be completely covered by insulation. The centre conductor of a twin and earth flat sheathed cable is not covered in insulation, it is merely sheathed. Furthermore, if the centre conductor of a flat twin and earth cable is used as a live conductor, then, probably, no circuit protective conductor will have been run to and terminated at each point in wiring and at each accessory (Regulation 411.3.1.1 refers).

Apprentice Corner answers 1.

Correct option is (d) Placing out of reach would provide for basic protection only, and is limited to installations that are controlled by supervised or skilled persons (Regulations 410.3.5 and 417.1 refer).

2. Correct option is (c) See Regulation 415.1.1

3. Correct option is (b) See Table 41.3(a) of BS 7671

4. Correct option is (a) 5. Correct option is (d) Refer to Table 4B4 of Appendix 4 in BS 7671

6. Correct option is (c) Regulation 631.1 refers. A MEIWC should not be used to certify the installation of a new circuit. Upon completion of the new circuit for the hot tub, the client should be presented with the following certificates and schedules: i) Electrical Installation Certificate ii) Schedule of Inspections iii) Schedule of Test Results iv)Certificate of compliance with the Building Regulations (this is usually provided at a later date)

Solution Cable incorporating three cores, colour coded brown, black and grey, plus a circuit protective conductor, represents one available option for such circuits. It must not be forgotten that, in this particular configuration, the black and grey cores are being used as line conductors and should be suitably marked by means such as brown sleeving.

Note: The insulation is intended to prevent contact with live parts. Paint, varnish, lacquer or similar products are generally not considered to provide adequate insulation for basic protection in normal service.

Regulation 461.11 Live parts shall be completely covered with insulation which can only be removed by destruction. For equipment, the insulation shall comply with the relevant standard for such electrical equipment.

Regulation 416.2 Note: Barriers or enclosures are intended to prevent contact with live parts. 65 S P RI NG 2 018

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THERE’S ONE TOOL YOU SHOULDN’T BE WITHOUT. Take control of your NICEIC or ELECSA account anywhere, anytime.

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Technical Support Access pocket guides, technical articles, scheme standards, scheme guidance, Wiring Regulations FAQ’s and more…

Marketing Kit Access logos, brand guidelines, consumer fact sheets and the Platinum Promise leaflet to help you promote your business

Registered members can access the customer portal from the secure login area on or If you are not registered with us, please call 0333 015 6626 to join us and take advantage of our new portal.

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04/04/2018 12:40


Aico Aico has launched the 3000 Series alarms for fire and carbon monoxide (CO) detection, providing whole-property coverage from one series. The Ei3028 multi-sensor heat and CO alarm is a convenient, cost-effective, efficient solution to protecting residents from both fire and CO. The series also includes a mains-powered, multi-sensor fire alarm and a single-sensor optical, heat and CO alarm. All alarms use the same easi-fit base and feature intelligent sensors, AudioLINK data extraction and SmartLINK wireless interconnection and whole system data monitoring capability. / 01691 664100

Loxone Loxone is a flexible, convenient, 360° smart home solution for lighting, heating, security, AV, blinds and intelligent energy management. We offer a dedicated installer program with training courses, free technical support, a dedicated project consulting and demonstration service, free software and apps, and much more. As a Loxone installation partner you’ll be able to offer your customers a complete home automation solution that is feature-rich and future-proof. Loxone also runs regular free information sessions for companies interested in joining the Loxone Partner Program. / 01183 130140

Wiska Wiska’s new WinsertKIT is your go-to solution for cable management. These clever little inserts help create a tight, flush, IP66/68 protected installation. Simply select the insert suitable for your cable type, pop it into our SPRINT 20 or 20+ Cable Gland, tighten and go. WinsertKIT contains 10 FFD inserts (flatcable inserts), suitable for twin and earth cables; five GFD inserts (split-cable inserts), suitable for CAT 5 and 6 cables; 10 RDE inserts (reduction inserts), Suitable for 318Y cable and LED installation; five MFD inserts (multi-hole inserts), suitable for shotgun coaxial cable. The kit also includes three free ESKV cable glands (colours chosen at random). / 01208 816062

Cable Drum Jacks Cable Drum Jacks offer 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 availablity on a next-day service (UK mainland only) and you can ask technical questions via phone or email. / 0800 988 0112

67 SSUPMME RI NGR 22018 017

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DL9118 17th Edition Multifunction Tester Launch offer price


£449.00 + VAT

Non-Trip Loop Test

List price £1,149.00 +VAT

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0800 018 9112

04/04/2018 12:41


Hoard games: farmers’ fields make fertile hunting ground for Patrick Corbett

a hoard and you must report it. The deal I have with the landowners is that any coin worth £50 or above, I’d give them half the value. But they have always told me to keep it, which is unusual. I’d never sell them anyway; I like to keep them for my own collection.

What’s the most valuable thing that you’ve found?


In the week, Patrick Corbett runs his own electrical contracting firm PM Corbett Ltd in Derbyshire. At the weekend, he’s often found in farmers’ fields seeking buried treasure How did you start metal detecting? When I started my apprenticeship, I considered making a metal detector, but I never did. About six years ago I bought one and went out one Sunday and found a gold quarter noble coin in Derbyshire from Edward III's reign in the 1300s.

What does a trip involve? I research an area before I go, using Google Earth and maps, looking for telltale signs such as crop marks of deserted medieval villages. I’m a member of the National Council for Metal Detecting, which has a strict code of conduct, so you can’t go on

land without permission, and you have to report to the landowner anything you find.

How deep do you dig? The deepest find I’ve made is 14 inches, but most are in the top five or six inches, where the plough has turned the land over. Roman coins tend to be a bit deeper and can travel up and down.

Whereabouts do you go? Mainly Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire. I’m going to a rally in Norfolk in September, which will have about 500 detectorists attending.

How much time does it take? It’s a full day, but it’s very dependent on weather and crops because the farmers won’t let you on if the crops are showing, so it tends to be early or late in the year. In summer, the ground is too hard anyway.

It’s a coin from William the Conqueror’s time [1066 to 1087, following the Norman Conquest]. His coins were very flimsy and thin, so it’s very rare for them to survive. I have a couple of nice Roman coins too. My favourite is from Constantine II [316340AD], who was the first Roman Christian. It’s in really good condition, although it’s not particularly valuable. I’ve also found a Roman knife handle, which would have been worth a lot to the owner at that time; it’s the equivalent of an electrician mislaying his favourite tester!

Does an electrical background help? Yes. When I turn up at a farmer’s, I always have my van and NICEIC overalls because they receive you better; and there’s also the potential for them to become a client. It has led to work for me, and my electrical work has also led to me gaining permission to dig from clients. I’ve also helped clients when they have lost items in the garden. I’ve recovered a couple of wedding rings and one gold watch.

What would be your ultimate detecting achievement? The Holy Grail for a lot of detectorists would be to find a Saxon gold coin. They do come up from time to time, but that would be the ultimate for me.

What if you find something valuable? The Treasure Act [1996] is quite important; two coins or more are deemed

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

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05/04/2018 15:20



Good idea generated A contractor from Pembrokeshire recently featured on the Channel 4 programme George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces after transforming a former generator building into a glamping pod. Martin Johnson’s unusual project began last year when he noticed the dome-shaped, it into a space that people could stay fibreglass structure for sale on eBay. in,” he says. It cost around £7,000 and The Spod, as it was originally Pitch perfect: took six months to refurbish. called, was a temporary building In addition to adding a power supply, used for the 2012 London Olympics. (from left) George, Martin had to create a hydraulic There were eight in all, but Martin Carol Anne operated door from a former disabled does not know what happened to and Martin access wheelchair lift. the others. “It is classed as a moveable building so “My wife Carol Anne and I run a small it has its own internal fuse board with a glamping business on some land at the 16 amp wandering lead,” he says. back of our home, and the plan was to turn

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 Matt Searle (MattStuartSearle). All hands on deck to pull in cable from Age Electrical, Northern Ireland (via Instagram)

Glowing fingers by MattStuartSearle (via Instagram)


CAN YOU JUST… We’re all used to customers dropping in extra requests when undertaking a job, but it seems that some customers have taken this general truth to extremes. According to a survey by MyJobQuote., almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of tradespeople have been asked to undertake duties that go way beyond any job description. Some 61 per cent say they have been asked to answer the door, 26 per cent to do the washing up, and 22 per cent asked to take the bins out. Astonishingly, 10 per cent have been

Ian Cooper, an NICEIC Approved Contractor, has raised more than £12,000 after climbing a mountain in the Himalayas. Ian (on the right of the picture), who owns Sheffield firm Coops Electrical, undertook the challenge to scale the 6,500m high Mera Peak with his friend Martin Clawson (left), a lighting supplier. The money raised was split between Children with Cancer UK and Sheffield Children’s Hospital – which is caring for Ian’s son Jack, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016 at the age of 11.

Lighting the way from Luke Cooper (via Facebook)

Catching a lift in an old van from KB Electrical (via Facebook)

asked to babysit children and 9 per cent to go shopping. Still, electricians are always eager to please: 81 per cent said they had done what was asked of them.

When every tool in the van is needed: South_west_Electrician (via Instagram)

Tell us about any hidden talents or charity initiatives. Email


Tag us at...

S P RI NG 2 018

70 current affairs.indd 70

05/04/2018 13:00

Loop test with confidence

The all-in-one installation tester with confidence built-in

MFT1741 With the newest, patented pending algorithm for earth loop impedance testing, Megger introduce the MFT1741. „ Fast, repeatable 3-wire no–trip loop test results on normal circuits „ 3-wire loop test results from noisy circuits that are repeatable and in which you can have confidence. „ Built–in confidence meter that indicates the reliance you can place on your loop measurement „ Results unaffected by RCD or RCBO impedance These new features combined with those of the well liked MFT1701 series of toughness, ease-of–use and reliability make the MFT1741 a very attractive package.

To find out more scan the QR code or call 01304 502 102 Megger Ltd, Archcliffe Road, Dover, CT17 9EN, T. 01304 502101

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04/04/2018 12:42

A new dimension of power. It’s in your hands. Bosch Professional.

87% more power* and at least 28% more compact vs. competitors**. A new cell generation meets Bosch battery expertise. Redefine your limits.




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The ProCORE18 V series

* Bosch ProCORE18 V 7.0 Ah vs. Bosch GBA 18 V 6.0Ah (continuous current; ProCORE18 V 7.0 Ah: 90A vs. GBA 18 V 6.0 Ah: 48A) •• vs. competitors in the high-power battery class (ProCORE18 V 7.0 Ah: 555cm3; Metabo LiHD 6.2 Ah: 772 cm3; DeWalt FlexVolt 18V 6.0 Ah / 54 V 2.0Ah: 883 cm3; Milwaukee M18 Redlithium High Demand 9.0 Ah: 942 cm3)

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04/04/2018 12:43

Connections - Spring 2018  
Connections - Spring 2018