Page 1

New iPad option for safety certificates // page 7


CONTRACTOR PROFILE P30 Investing in a downturn has paid off for Lancashire firm William Dyer Electrical



RENEWABLES P34 Government initiatives mean installing green technologies is still big business



APPRENTICES P38 The electrical sector is already suffering from skills shortages. Are apprentices the answer?


SUZI PERRY Gadget expert and TV presenter opens NICEIC Live South // page 20

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C74=4F F41B8C45>A 0;;H>DA B>;0A=443B More than 350 Solar products and accessories from the leading brands • Competitive pricing • Flexible delivery to suit your needs • Range of ready-made kits available



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Summer 2012 | Issue 182


Contents First phase Changing times




Plugged in News NICEIC Live South draws crowds Safety certificate iPad app launched Training range expanded

6 7 7

Tony Cable fires up apprentices


Renewables news NICEIC’s first Green Deal certificate 10 Local MP visits Derbyshire firm 10 ESC news App offers safe isolation advice Government rejects switch call

Illustration: Cameron Law


12 13

Product news 15 Solar test kits, wireless controls and portable sub-metering devices

Live wire 30 Advice 17 Effective credit management can ease payment issues, says Mark Copping

Contractor profile 30 Among Lancashire’s historic mills lies green-thinking William Dyer Electrical

Opinion 18 The infrastructure for electric vehicles needs a push, argues Yselkla Farmer Events 20 Business openings, new gadgets – and Suzi Perry – all helped to draw the crowds to a packed NICEIC Live South Regions 24 The Olympics is just down the road, but many firms in the south-east and London are too busy with other clients Training 26 Darren Staniforth outlines changes to installation condition reporting Customer care 28 Failing to verify and certify work can land you in court, says Philip Sanders Current affairs Engineers get on their bikes

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Features Burning bright 34 Despite uncertainty over feed-in tariffs, opportunities abound for solar projects

Fully charged

Learning curve 38 The benefits of taking on apprentices can begin as soon as they arrive

Ask the experts 43 Some of the NICEIC technical helpline’s more frequently asked questions answered New iPad option for safety certificates // page 7

Technical Surge protective devices

46 46



CONTRACTOR PROFILE P30 Investing in a downturn has paid off for Lancashire firm William Dyer Electrical

Gangway requirements


Medical locations


Location reference column


Checks before adding to or altering an existing installation


Snags and solutions



RENEWABLES P34 Government initiatives mean installing green technologies is still big business




APPRENTICES P38 The electrical sector is already suffering from skills shortages. Are apprentices the answer?


Gadget expert and TV presenter opens NICEIC Live South


// page 20

»Cover photo: Sam Kesteven NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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First phase Changing times The next few months will see a number of decisions and initiatives that will affect the electrical industry, as well as the potential benefits and distractions of the greatest show on earth


he electrical contracting industry faces some major milestones over the next six months. There will be several pieces of government legislation to contend with, including major announcements on Part P of the building regulations, the introduction of the Green Deal and the future of the feed-in tariffs. All of these will bring unique challenges to many electrical contracting firms across the UK and will need consideration for future planning. The consultation on Part P could have the most significant ramifications. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will publish its recommendations later this summer, with a view to them becoming a legal requirement in 2013. It will be interesting to see what view the DCLG takes. NICEIC believes there is definite scope to improve the regulation and reduce the amount of red tape and costs involved. But we must be careful of cutting corners in the

‘There is scope to improve Part P, but we must be careful of cutting corners. Safety is paramount and any changes should not dilute that’

Emma Clancy is chief executive officer, NICEIC

process. Safety is paramount and any changes should not dilute that aspect. In addition to new legislation, the London Olympics will also bring its challenges. There will be no escaping the razzmatazz it brings and firms will have to acknowledge this fact. It can often be a difficult issue trying to balance work and pleasure but, who knows – 10 minutes watching Mo Farah claim Olympic gold for Team GB might just be the thing to inspire greatness in your workforce.

CONTACTS // CONNECTIONS Redactive Publishing Ltd, 17 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TP EDITORIAL General 020 7880 6200 Fax 020 7324 2791 Email

PRODUCTION Production manager Jane Easterman Deputy production executive Kieran Tobin

Editor Nick Martindale Technical editor Mike Clark Sub editors Clare Cronin, Gareth Mytton Art director Mark Parry Art editor Adrian Taylor Picture researcher Akin Falope Publishing and business development director Aaron Nicholls

General 020 7880 6240 Fax 020 7880 7691 Email

ADVERTISING AND MARKETING Sales manager Jim Folley Senior sales executive Mark Palmer Sales executive Darren Hale Display 020 7882 6206 Fax 020 7880 7553 Email advertising@

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 2012 17 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TP. 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 Wyndeham (Peterborough) Ltd. Paper by Denmaur Papers plc The paper mill that makes the text paper for this magazine states that it uses at least 80 per cent wood pulp from sustainable sources.

WWW.NICEIC.COM NICEIC ENQUIRIES External affairs director Richard Pagett 01582 539020 Communications officer Paul Collins 01582 539148 NICEIC Direct Mike Jackson 01582 539709 Twitter @officialNICEIC Technical helpline 0870 013 0391 Customer services 0870 013 0382 Sales 0870 013 0458 Training 0870 013 0389


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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Certification Software Download, Print, Certify


Download the new NICEIC Certification Software 0843 290 3515 iPad App! The new Certification Software iPad App makes filling out certificates even easier by allowing you to complete them on-site. Certificates already available include: s%LECTRICAL)NSTALLATION#ONDITION2EPORT s%LECTRICAL)NSTALLATION#ERTIlCATE


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7ITHCERTIlCATESBEINGCONTINUALLYADDED THEI0AD!PPISAMUST for contractors looking for ease when completing certificates.

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news


Plugged in Need-to-know industry news for electrical installers NEW APP PROMISES BETTER CUSTOMER RELATIONS

Contractors flock to NICEIC Live South The evolving role of the electrician was the theme of the day as hundreds of contractors packed out Epsom Downs for the second NICEIC Live. Visitors were given a glimpse into the future as they enjoyed presentations on topics such as energy-saving lighting, microgeneration and the Green Deal. Star of the show was television presenter Suzi Perry, who gave a talk on the influence of gadgets. “The rise of gadgets is extraordinary,” she said. “Homes are being designed around technology. This is driving innovation and creating opportunities for electricians.” Other speakers included renewable energy expert Peter Osborne who discussed the growing demand for sustainable technology, Mike Simpson, technical and design director at Philips Lighting, and NICEIC’s Tony Cable and

Darren Staniforth who gave a series of seminars on EICRs, solar photovoltaics (PV) and electrical car charging points. Cable, who celebrates 55 years in the industry this year, also delivered a talk on the changing face of the industry since he started out in the 1950s. In addition to the presentations there was a thriving exhibition hall with electricians picking up information from big names including Milwaukee Tools, Megger, Dehn, Philips Lighting and Clik, and watching a demonstration on installing a solar PV panel. See our review of NICEIC Live South on page 20. For a video of highlights, search for “NICEIC Live 2012” on YouTube. Tickets for NICEIC Live North, taking place at Bolton Arena on 1 November, are on sale now. For more information, visit

PARTNERSHIP BOOSTS QUALIFICATIONS CONSISTENCY NICEIC and EAL – the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications – have formed an alliance to deliver qualifications for the electrotechnical and renewables industries, bringing consistency under the qualifications and credit framework (QCF). Emma Clancy, NICEIC chief executive officer, said: “This alliance ensures we are providing the best training, knowledge and qualifications to all those in the electrotechnical industry. The renewables industry is also set to flourish, and it is important that tradespeople have the skills and qualifications to take advantage of the opportunities.” Ann Watson, managing director of EAL, said: “Taking a collaborative approach to providing electrotechnical qualifications will assure learners and employers that the training they receive is consistent, rigorously assessed and recognised across industry.”


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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TrustMark has launched a new app to improve communication between consumers and tradespeople, including electrical contractors. It allows customers to download a list of questions they should consider asking tradespeople ahead of their visit. The app, which is seen as an important development ahead of the Green Deal, was launched by Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, in June. “This takes us forward,” said Cable. “It’s good for consumers, it’s good for the trades and it is good for government because we see a problem being solved.” Emma Clancy, chief executive officer of NICEIC, said: “TrustMark’s new ‘talk to your tradesman’ app will help improve communications between the tradesman and the homeowner, ensuring any misunderstandings are avoided from day one.”

Girl power NICEIC is on the lookout for organisations or individuals to get involved with the next stage of its Jobs for the Girls campaign. Jobs for the Girls aims to encourage more women into the electrical contracting industry. Since its launch, it has received the backing of several MPs, including equalities minister Lynne Featherstone. Although women represent at least 50 per cent of the UK workforce, they are under-represented in most trades, many of which are facing skills gap shortages. NICEIC is keen to hear from anyone who thinks they might be able to help, by providing practical work experience to young apprentices – male or female – or by just adding their support. If you think you could help out, then get in touch with NICEIC at

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FREE POCKET GUIDE Inside this issue of Connections, you will find Pocket Guide 27 – Insulation resistance testing – SELV and PELV circuits. A printable version of each pocket guide is available on the NICEIC website. Additional copies can be obtained by contacting the NICEIC customer service department on 0870 013 0382 or at

Safety certificates now delivered via iPad app Eagle-eyed electricians will have spotted a familiar sign when Sky 1’s latest comedy drama television series Starlings opened in May, in the form of the distinctive NICEIC logo. The show, which was produced by Steve Coogan, features Lesley Sharp and Brendan Coyle, and follows the adventures of the Starling family. Lead character Terry Coyle plays the father of the family, an NICEIC-registered electrician by trade. The producers of the show approached NICEIC last year for approval to use the logo on Terry’s van, and it can be seen in shots throughout the series. Emma Clancy, NICEIC chief executive officer, said: “The programme’s makers wanted a logo that people would recognise, and one that demonstrates Terry’s hard-working, trustworthy nature. “We were happy to co-operate. The show will help more people recognise the NICEIC logo as the leading name in the electrical contracting industry.”

NICEIC has teamed up with software developer Clik to create the first app that allows electrical safety certificates to be issued on an iPad. The existing NICEIC certification software developed by Clik is the official electronic certification (e-cert) for NICEIC-registered contractors, and the new iPad app is an extension of this. The new app means contractors can create new, or import existing, blank or part-completed certificates to their iPad for completion on-site. They can then save and upload the certificate to the Clik cloud server when they are in range of an internet connection. Certificates can then be downloaded into NICEIC certification software for printing, verifying or completing. The app comes with the most popular certificates, including: • Domestic electrical condition report (domestic and approved) • Domestic electrical installation (domestic and approved) • Electrical condition report (domestic and approved)


Expansion for training range

The Health and Safety Executive has revised its guidance on maintaining portable electrical equipment in lowrisk environments, advocating the proportionate use of PAT as part of a risk-based maintenance regime. The guidance, targeted at shops, offices, tourist accommodation and hotels, says there is no legal requirement to test equipment annually. “Testing appliances to ensure that they are safe to use can contribute to an effective maintenance e regime, but in a low-risk environment most dangerous defects can be found d simply by checking the appliances forr obvious signs of damage such as frayed ed cables,” it said. For more information, visit

NICEIC has launched its latest training catalogue, featuring courses for everyone in the electrical, renewable, gas, water and hea and safety industries. health T 2012/13 training prospectus The co contains details on more than 40 ind industry-specific courses, including a new Green Deal offering. The launch of the Green Deal th this year will create new business o opportunities. In partnership w with Elmhurst, NICEIC Training can now offer an energy assessment course providing the first steps to becoming a Gr Green Deal advisor. Further Green


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• Electrical installation (approved) • Minor electrical works (domestic and approved) More certificates will be introduced as updates. Clik plans to add functions for zooming in and out of certificates, and for emailing them to customers as a PDF. The app is free to download and try out, but to complete official certificates you need NICEIC certification software and a valid update subscription. The software costs £255.32 (plus VAT), including a year’s technical support and updates. After the first year, subscriptions are £80 (plus VAT) a year. For more information, go to or email

Deal training courses will be launched later this year. NICEIC has also expanded its online course portfolio. More than 3,000 people have used this facility to gain qualifications at a time and pace that suits them. In addition, NICEIC can offer more practical learning including accessory replacement, test and measurement, and safe isolation for non-electrician workshops. For details, email or log on to and click on “training”. There is a 10 per cent discount for anyone booking a first course. See renewables feature, page 34.

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news


Plugged in Cable talk fires up Paisley apprentices Apprentice electricians at Reid Kerr College in Paisley were given a surprise recently when industry legend Tony Cable (pictured, centre) dropped in to visit them while in Scotland for the NICEIC TechTalk. Cable, NICEIC’s senior marketing and events engineer, chatted to the apprentices about his time in the industry and his route from trainee spark to television expert. He then hosted a question-and-answer session with first and second-stage electrical apprentices, offering tips and anecdotes from a career spanning around five decades. He also spent time with pre-apprenticeship students, providing advice on how to get into, and stay in, the electrical industry. “It is always an honour to have Tony at the college,” said David Walker, senior

INDUSTRY // DIARY September 13 Renewables Roadshow* Ricoh Arena, Coventry 14-16 NICEIC Golf Classic final* Archerfields Links, Scotland 18 Renewables Roadshow* Westpoint Arena, Exeter

lecturer in electrical at Reid Kerr. “It was especially nice this time as we are now in a state-of-the-art building, and he was impressed with the renewable technologies offsetting the building’s energy usage.” Cable recently celebrated his 70th birthday. To find out how NICEIC marked the occasion, and how the first batch of NICEIC’s own apprentices have fared, turn to page 22.

NICEIC HITS THE ROAD NICEIC is once again touring the country for a new series of TechTalks. The 2012-13 sessions take in a host of new locations and venues, giving contractors across the UK the chance to get face-to-face advice and information on a range of subjects. The first TechTalk kicks off at the Amex Stadium in Brighton on 4 October, and further events are planned for Newmarket, Leeds, Belfast, Plymouth, Swansea, Stoke, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Tickets are £20 per person. For more information on dates and venues, email or call 0843 290 3453, and keep an eye on for more information.

20 Renewables Roadshow* International Centre, Harrogate 20-21 ELEX* Ricoh Arena, Coventry 26 Renewables Roadshow* SECC, Glasgow 28 Renewables Roadshow* Event City, Manchester October 3 Renewables Roadshow* Wembley Stadium, London 10-11 Microgen* Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire * Denotes NICEIC presence

NICEIC // PROMOTIONS NICEIC is constantly working to raise public awareness of the need to use registered electricians and to promote its Domestic Installers and Approved Contractors. Recent campaigns include: SUMMER 2012 Consumer and specifier ads Advertising campaign promoting NICEIC-registered contractors to more than 15 million specifiers and consumers /// Bank holiday tips Consumer campaign urging householders to think twice about carrying out electrical work around the home over the extra bank holidays this year /// Landlord’s Expo Exhibition attendance to promote the use of NICEIC-registered contractors to landlords and letting agents /// BBC Radio 4 Tony Cable appears as a guest on the You and Yours programme to offer advice and guidance on electrical safety /// Cowboy Builders Darren Staniforth appears on the Channel 5 television programme as technical expert on electrics in the home SPRING 2012 Twitter @officialNICEIC Twitter feed exceeds the 2,000-follower mark, offering advice and guidance to consumers and electricians /// Consumer advertising campaign National newspaper adverts in seven papers, reaching more than six million people /// Consumer press articles Tony Cable features in articles in Your Home magazine and on to promote the use of NICEIC-registered electricians ///


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WINTER 2011 Wall of Shame Ruthless rogue trader bricked into a “wall of shame” at London’s Euston Station to encourage householders to shop cowboy traders fraudulently misusing a trade logo /// A.S.K campaign Consumer awareness campaign encouraging householders to check the ID of tradespeople /// Online specifier campaign Banner advertising on to encourage homeowners and landlords to always use NICEIC-registered contractors /// DIY SOS Cambridgeshire-based Approved Contractors filmed for future episode of this popular BBC show /// AUTUMN 2011 Consumer advertising campaign National newspaper adverts in eight newspapers, reaching more than 20 million people /// Google advertising campaign Promoting NICEIC contractors on “electrician” searches, with around 2,000 searches per week /// Landlord information leaflet Leaflets given to landlords encouraging them to use an NICEIC contractor when upgrading properties SUMMER 2011 Don’t play games with safety Editorial campaign urging homeowners to call in a professional if they are thinking about tackling risky DIY electrical jobs in their home

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Plugged in



NICEIC certifies first Green Deal firm Forrest has become the first company to achieve Green Deal certification from NICEIC. The specialist social housing regeneration firm has become one of just a few businesses in the country to be certified against the Green Deal standard PAS2030: the requirement that firms need to install Green Deal measures. The register for Green Deal opens in August, and only those firms with the appropriate approval will be able to carry out work when the initiative launches next year. Forrest’s chief executive Lee McCarren said: “The Green Deal is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for UK homeowners, affordable housing providers and the construction industry.” In May this year, NICEIC was one of a few organisations selected by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to provide

Green Deal certification. It can now offer certification to any business wishing to become a Green Deal installer. Forrest was invited by NICEIC to take part in a pilot programme to test the certification process and standards that Green Deal certification bodies use to assure quality for businesses undertaking installation work for consumers. Green Deal approval involves checks of all quality procedures within an organisation, and of its ability to carry out the work. The Green Deal is the government’s flagship initiative to reduce energy emissions from homes and buildings across the UK. Set to launch in January 2013, it aims to make up to 14 million homes more efficient through a range of energy-saving measures, including solar photovoltaics and wind turbines. See renewables feature on page 34.

SOLAR TARIFFS SET TO FALL AGAIN The feed-in tariff (FiT) available to domestic solar photovoltaics (PV) customers is set to change from 1 August, in line with the government’s consultation review back in May. The tariff will reduce from the current level of 21p per kilowatt-hour to 16p, while the lifetime this amount is paid back over will fall from the current 25 years to 20. Emma Clancy, NICEIC chief executive officer, said: “The generous returns offered when the tariffs were launched were never going to be for the long term. “But rising energy bills and cheaper installation costs still make solar PV an attractive offer for consumers. “Installing renewable technologies such as solar PV will give people the opportunity to take some control of their energy consumption, and offset the costs at the same time.” Following the cut in August, the FiT rate will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, depending on the levels of installations carried out in that period.


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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NICEIC is in the process of formulating its response to the current consultation on the microgeneration certification scheme (MCS). The consultation aims to gather views from the industry about competence requirements for companies wanting to become accredited. In the past year, a growing number of electrical, gas, heating and plumbing contractors have joined the NICEIC’s MCS and enrolled on related courses. The MCS assures consumers that the work they have carried out on their home is undertaken only by firms with the correct standards of quality in place. The consultation can be found at and is open for submissions until 5pm on Monday 9 July.

Whipping up green interest NICEIC-registered firm The Renewable Shop recently played host to Derbyshire Dales MP and government chief whip Patrick McLoughlin (pictured, second from right), showing him how it helps homeowners, businesses and the public sector to reduce their carbon footprints and benefit from sustainable energy. The meeting followed discussions between the MP and the Matlock-based company over the government’s decisions to reduce the feed-in tariff for solar power. “We explained that our local business had just expanded, and that we had moved into a new warehouse to cope with growing demand,” said The Renewable Shop director Tom Mastin. “Since then, Patrick has shown a real interest. He arranged this visit to show his support for green energy and local business.” The Renewable Shop was set up by Mastin and Wayne Bradshaw in January this year, and installs environmentally friendly products including solar panels, air and ground source heat pumps, underfloor heating and biomass boilers.

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news


Plugged in Safe isolation broken down into easy steps The ESC has launched a free app on safe isolation procedure, aimed at anyone carrying out electrical work that requires a circuit or circuits to be isolated in order for the work to be carried out safely. Designed to be easy to use, the app takes a step-by-step approach to achieving safe isolation by following a series of illustrations and simple instructions. The app is based on the charity’s Best Practice Guide No 2 Guidance on the management of electrical safety and safe isolation procedures for low-voltage installations, but is in a more concise format. It includes a link to the guide for those seeking further information. “By routinely following a simple, step-bystep approach to safe isolation, electricalrelated injuries and fatalities resulting from live working can be easily prevented,”

says Martyn Allen, the ESC’s head of technical development. “The ESC’s safe isolation app has been developed to remind everyone working on or near electrical equipment how to work safely.” The app can be found by accessing the App Store via an iPhone or iPad, and is also available on iTunes and in the industry guidance section of the ESC website. It can also be found by scanning the QR code below. This latest app follows hot on the heels of the charity’s first app, designed to assist those carrying out visual checks in their home.

Tackling plug overload The ESC has successfully argued for the inclusion of overload test requirements in the 2012 revision of BS1363-1: Specification for rewireable and nonrewireable 13A plugs. The requirements resulted from the ESC’s investigation in 2010 into the overloading of extension leads, which found that it is possible and, arguably, foreseeable to overload leads, and that the fitted 13A plug appears to be the weakest component part. In all but one case, the plug on each sample tested under overload conditions showed varying states of overheating damage and enclosure deformation. The accessible surface temperature of two samples reached 153°C and 200°C – high


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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enough to damage the supply plug body. The ESC also believes that multi-way plug-in adaptors could suffer the same fate under foreseeable overload conditions. In support of this, an independent test laboratory was commissioned to undertake overload tests on a random selection of adaptors. The results of the temperature rise tests gave the most concern, with some temperatures recorded of more than 100°C. Although none of the samples presented an immediate shock risk, there was evidence in some cases of significant damage due to overheating (see picture). A copy of findings is available in the “industry” section of the ESC’s website.

ADDITIONS TO ONLINE ANSWERS TO 17TH EDITION The agreed answers to several new common questions have been added to the “industry guidance on the wiring regulations” section of the ESC website. These include what action, if any, should be taken if it is discovered that the seal on the DNO cut-out fuse has been removed, and whether it is acceptable to issue a minor electrical installation works certificate for the replacement of a single protective device where an electrical installation condition report has identified certain departures. For the industry-agreed answers to these and other questions relating to the application of the 17th edition as amended, visit The ESC recommends that those following the guidance visit the site at least every couple of months to see what other amendments have been made.

Fire tests on plastic units The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is investigating fires involving consumer units with moulded thermoplastic enclosures, following increasing awareness of this problem. Its initial findings have been shared with BEAMA (British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association) to explore changes in the manufacturing process that could be introduced to make plastic consumer unit enclosures more resistant to ignition from a poor internal electrical connection. The ESC has provided part-funding and technical support to the LFB’s investigations into the materials used for such enclosures. Plastic consumer unit enclosures in the UK are required to be constructed to BS60439. Among other things, such enclosures are required to have a resistance to abnormal heat and fire from internal components.

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The Electrical Safety Council: raising electrical safety awareness, made possible by funding from NICEIC. To view the ESC’s Switched On magazine, visit

Isolating switch case rejected

Safety pack in compact format The ESC has relaunched its electrician’s pack, a key part of its Plug into Safety campaign, making it more compact and easier for electricians to carry. More than 30,000 packs have been distributed since the campaign started in May 2010. Following feedback from the electricians who have used them to communicate the benefits of RCDs to customers, the ESC has reduced the size and removed the pop-out business card. The free packs are available in-store from CEF, Denmans, Leekes, Newey & Eyre, Screwfix and TLC. They are also being distributed via the Part P scheme operators. NICEIC will display them in its training centres and distribute them via its area engineers and TechTalk events. For further information, visit:

TOP TIPS FOR LANDLORDS The ESC has produced a series of recommendations for landlords, to help them meet their legal obligations for electrical installations. These include: • Make sure the installations in a property are safe; • Have a regular periodic inspection and test carried out on the property; • Make sure that the property has adequate RCD protection; • Use a registered electrician; • Carry out portable appliance testing on appliances provided; • Download the ESC’s home electrical safety check smartphone app. Research by the ESC showed that more than a fifth of all private tenants have concerns about the electrical safety in their homes, and about three in 10 landlords and two-fifths of tenants do not know where the responsibility lies.

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The government has rejected the electrical installation industry’s business case for the inclusion of an integral isolating switch in smart meters, which would allow electricians to work safely between the meter and the consumer unit without requiring the main supply fuse (cut-out fuse) to be removed. The decision, made in April, was taken despite the fact that none of the cost or benefit information on which the detailed case was based was challenged, and despite support from the Association of Meter Operators and the Energy Networks Association. In its executive summary, the government said: “A majority of respondents opposed the requirement on grounds including cost and the delay this would cause to the rollout. The government has concluded there is no material evidence to support regulatory

intervention on the grounds of safety or market failure as part of the smart metering implementation programme, but will work with the relevant regulatory authorities to develop a process to help stakeholders find an alternative solution.” The ESC is disappointed with this outcome, which it believes fails to take into proper account not only the safety, technical and financial merits of the business case, but also wider national interest issues including the government’s aim to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens on small businesses. The charity has updated the original business case to take into account subsequent developments and to form the basis of ongoing discussions with government. The updated case can be viewed at in the “smart metering” section.

Campaign tours malls The ESC has been visiting shopping centres across the UK as part of its Plug into Safety campaign, talking to people about the basic electrical hazards they need to be aware of in their homes. The centres have included Birmingham’s Bullring, Manchester’s Trafford Centre, the Crossgates Centre in Leeds and The Galleries in Bristol. People were attracted to the ESC’s stand by a giant “buzz wire” game, with a prize of £250 in shopping vouchers offered to whoever managed to complete a circuit in the quickest time. The game presented an opportunity to discuss electrical safety issues, pointing out common hazards on a display stand that depicted risk areas in a typical house. Shoppers were also encouraged to make sure their homes had RCD protection, to download the free home electrical safety check smartphone app, and to visit the ESC

website for more information on staying safe in the home. At each location, the ESC team was joined by local councillors, MPs and representatives from Fire & Rescue Services.

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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Plugged in Remote control >



WIRELESS WONDERS Schneider Electric has developed a new wireless control system, designed to allow homeowners to operate devices around the home from a single point. The CONNECT system can be used to control televisions, audio devices, lighting, blinds, security systems and other applications, and also includes presence detection to turn lights down or off when rooms are empty. The system uses intelligent Z-Wave re-routing technology and also features a “Move� button to enable users to adjust light settings in a particular room. It can also be set up for remote access for when people are not at home, enabling them to turn lights on and off as a security measure.

As the trend for solar installations continues, Megger has introduced the new PVM210 solar irradiance meter. The pocket-sized device has the solar sensor mounted on the top, making it suited to taking readings on sloping roofs or from ladders. Megger has packaged this with its AVO410 true rms multimeter to provide an all-in-one kit for domestic and small commercial installations (pictured), and the DCM340 ac/dc clampmeter for larger projects. Seaward has unveiled its new MCS Solarlink test kit, designed to provide all necessary test equipment and datalogging capabilities to perform preinstallation site surveys and measure the performance and safety of PV systems. The kit includes the new PV150 solar installation handheld tester and the Solar Survey 200R multifunction PV survey meter, which interact wirelessly with each other. www.seaward


< Resistance tester


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< Sub-metering devices


Martindale Electric has released its new Metrohm E1612 handheld and portable earth resistance tester. The device features a large integral LCD screen that shows both test options and results, and weighs less than 1.5kg, including batteries. The product is included in a kit that also contains four spikes and connecting cables and a carry case. The instruction manual shows how to carry out earth testing with two and three spikes, and measure soil resistivity with four. The E1612 is powered by eight 1.5V LR6/AA batteries, which are also included, and comes with a two-year guarantee.

HellermannTyton has released a supersize version of its HelaCon range of push-in wire connectors for cables and conductors. The bumper pack features 740 pieces in a range of insertion ports, including 200 HECP 2 pieces, 200 HECP 3s, 150 of the HECP 4, 100 of the HECP 5, 50 HECP 6s and 40 HECP 8s. The connectors include double-spring technology to help contractors plug in cables in tricky situations, such as when working overhead. The company says it has developed the supersize pack in response to customer feedback.

Marshall-Tufflex has launched a new range of portable sub-metering devices to analyse and record power consumption in commercial and industrial locations. The Sinergy e-Tracker and k-Wattch (pictured) are handheld devices that use non-invasive CT clamps. The e-Tracker is a portable power analyser which enables users to monitor incoming power supply over an hour, day, week or month, and can measure current from 10A to 2,500A. k-Wattch is designed to measure currents of up to 1,000A on single or three-phase supplies, and is intended for short-term measurements or where instant readings are required.

< Supersize pack

Unistrut has < Trunking developed a range of galvanised cable trunking to accompany its cable tray, ladder and basket offerings. The new range extends from 50 x 50mm to 300 x 300mm in 17 sizes, and includes options of one, two or three segregated compartments. There are also more than 2,000 associated fittings available, including angles, bends, cable retainers, socket plates and girder clamps. It also boasts a lid-fixing device, enabling installers to verify the trunking is locked into position with an audible click. A complementary range of lighting trunking is also available, with a choice of lids.

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:12

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Live wire Cash conversion In the current climate virtually every electrical business has encountered problems getting paid. An effective credit management system is essential, says Mark Copping


ignificant numbers of electrical businesses fail to take basic steps to protect their cash flow and struggle to track down bad debts. Following the suggestions below may significantly help improve your cash position, allowing your business to survive while others fail.

Run credit checks

For credit and legal reasons, it is vital to understand if your customer is a limited company or an individual. An understanding of where they are based and how big they are is also useful, as well as online credit checks.

Specify payment terms Your terms and conditions should always include a time for payment, ideally on presentation of an invoice, but more usually 30 days. Be flexible in the current economic climate, but beware of agreeing too long a credit period as this could result in a cash flow backlog. You should be cautious when agreeing an extension, and find out why it has been requested. This might be a warning sign of something more serious. Make it clear that interest is charged for late payment. You can refer to the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act, which entitles you to claim interest and costs for late payment.

Invoice efficiently Invoices should be detailed enough to prevent the customer from raising queries. Make it easy to pay by setting out bank details, or acceptable credit cards if appropriate. Remind the customer of your right to charge interest for late payment. Chase the invoice the day after the time for payment has expired. Phoning is vital in credit control, as it tells you why the bill might not have been paid or when payment will be made. It will help you assess whether enforcement action might be needed. It could also be an opportunity to resolve genuine problems, although debtors are becoming more adept at inventing excuses not to pay.

Illustration: Cameron Law

Tackle late-payers Some requests may be genuine. If your customer wants an extension but is going to pay, listen carefully to the reason given and make a note of it. Set a short timeframe for payment and confirm it by email. Any sign that the client has gone quiet is likely to lead to you not getting paid, so the quicker you deal with the situation, the better. Always keep a copy of the relevant terms of business, invoice, emails, notes or letters. In the digital age, email trails ensure you have a “paper”

17_busadvice.CC2.indd Sec2:17

trail to support any claim to recover your money. In recovering a debt, any adviser will first ask for a copy of your file. Don’t lose money because you failed to keep a copy of documents or because of further delays while you assemble your file.

Legal recourse If payment has still not been received after agreed credit periods have expired, the next step is for a solicitor to send a “letter before action” which demands payment within a short period, usually a few days. Litigation is expensive, and costs need to be controlled to ensure that they’re not disproportionate to the claim. However, unless there’s a genuine dispute – which is unlikely if it hasn’t already been raised – then the ultimate outcome is not in doubt. A judgment in court is just the first step, and you might still struggle to recover payment. Details of insolvency are always filed at Companies House, so before you spend further money on recovery, check the Companies House website and that of the company concerned, and make a call to its offices to make sure it’s still trading. If the company is in administration, you will need to pursue your claim with the administrator and will only receive a proportion of the debt, if anything. Claims against the directors personally are a long shot, and only the liquidator can take this action on behalf of all creditors. This approach is uncertain and unlikely to be worth pursuing unless your claim is significant and you have come to an agreement with the company’s other major creditors. Mark Copping is a partner at Hamlins LLP

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:13

Advice/Opinion/Regions/Insight/Events/Case study/Customer care/Training


YSELKLA FARMER If you have an opinion about an issue concerning the electrical industry, let us know. Email editor@niceic

Live wire Electric dreams Progress has

been made in developing an electric vehicle infrastructure but more needs to be done to ensure consumer buy-in, says Yselkla Farmer


he electric vehicle industry has made good progress in developing a quality infrastructure. Installers now have clear guidance on the installation of domestic, public and commercial charging points. Training courses and certification schemes that are being developed will ensure the widespread expertise required in this area, which should also help speed up the process of rolling out the infrastructure and encourage the take-up of public and domestic charging. Despite this activity, there is still some fragmentation in the market and a need for greater co-ordination in the industry to help improve the interoperability of a public charging infrastructure. The industry is moving fast, so we need to ensure that what is installed today provides a commercially viable business model for the long term. Encouraging service providers to include electric vehicle charging in a range of packages could help to provide the critical mass of consumers needed for an effective

Yselkla Farmer is co-ordinator of the BEAMA electric vehicle infrastructure project. Download BEAMA’s free guide to electric vehicle infrastructure at publications/

infrastructure, and therefore its long-term maintenance and availability for use. To make this happen, short-term priorities need to focus on creating a strong consumer offer, improving consumer awareness of progress that has been made and the technology that is available. This process would encourage the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Industry and government also need to ensure the interoperability of an electric vehicle infrastructure with other mandated “smart” technologies. The forthcoming smart meter rollout, and advances in the development of a smarter electricity grid, present opportunities. However, the decisions made on the specifications for these systems will influence the ability of the network to interoperate. The British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) is heavily involved in smart metering and smart grid development for UK manufacturers, and will work to ensure these systems can work together effectively, for the benefit of both the smart grid and consumer energy consumption.


» Ian Sedgewick is owner of Sedg-Elec, based in Walsall, and co-director of Sutton Solar and Renewables in Sutton Coldfield

How did you end up working for yourself? I used to work in a foundry, but I knew I had to retrain. I started doing office refurbishments for a company in Birmingham, and started working for myself in 2003.

hard getting paid on the newbuilds. One developer owed me £40,000 and went into administration. That was a massive blow to me as a sole trader. A lot of people wouldn’t have come back from that, but I’ve tried to trade my way out of it.

What type of work do you specialise in? Mainly domestic, but also commercial if that comes up. We also do a lot of newbuild work.

Have you looked into renewables at all? When the work dried up, I did a solar photovoltaics (PV) course and set up a company with a codirector, specialising in domestic solar PV and a few commercial installations. But people perceive solar as just a gimmick.

How has the market been over the past few years? Tough. A lot of people aren’t spending money, and it’s


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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How has that changed since the tariffs were cut? The market went quiet, but there is still a demand. The challenge is getting people to change their opinion of it. Do you employ anyone? It’s not viable for me to employ people directly, because we don’t know when we’re going to get the next job. I mainly use qualified sub-contractors. How do you see the business developing? The ongoing electrical work is the bread and butter business, but I’d like the solar work to pick up, too.

Illustration: Cameron Law

If you are a small business or sole trader and would like to feature in In Focus, email editor@

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27/6/12 13:02:39

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Live wire

Live and kicking NICEIC Live South saw hundreds of contractors flock to Epsom Downs Racecourse to hear about new business opportunities and get up to speed on the latest kit on the market


ay saw the second NICEIC Live event – and the first of two being held this year – take place, bringing together electrical contractors, manufacturers and suppliers from across the industry. Drawing on the experience of the inaugural, and award-winning, event in 2011, NICEIC Live South – held at Epsom Downs Racecourse – featured even more technical content and a bigger exhibition, giving contractors the chance to learn about the latest industry trends as well as equipment on the market. After enjoying a complimentary bacon roll, contractors heard from Emma Clancy, chief executive officer of NICEIC. She acknowledged that 2012 was shaping up to be another challenging year for the industry – with cuts to the feed-in tariff, the review of Part P and a double-dip recession – but said the event was about celebrating what is positive in the industry and identifying new opportunities through which electrical contractors can not only survive but thrive. The headline speaker was Suzi Perry, former host of Channel 5’s Gadget Show and now lead presenter for BBC coverage of Moto GP and the British Superbike Championship. A former stage electrician at Wolverhampton theatre, she spoke about the evolution of the industry and the opportunities for electrical contractors in home automation


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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‘You are becoming the most important people on the globe. People now think they cannot cope without gadgets’ and wireless technologies. “You are becoming the most important people on the globe,” she told a packed audience. “People now think they cannot cope without gadgets.” As well as installing devices themselves, contractors will find this trend is also likely to mean more traditional work installing sockets and consumer units, and rewiring properties. Picking up on the changing face of the industry, NICEIC’s own Tony Cable then took delegates on a tour through time, starting in the 1950s when he began his career as an apprentice. At that time, the industry was on the 13th edition of the Wiring Regulations, and most rooms had only one light and one socket, except the kitchen. The advent of electric fires following the Clean Air Act led to increased demand for sockets, and this trend was further accelerated by the arrival

26/06/2012 14:15

Photography: Sam Kesteven

> Delegates at NICEIC Live South, held at Epsom Downs Racecourse, heard from a wide range of speakers about the opportunities and challenges facing the industry, and browsed the packed exhibition outside the seminar rooms

of household appliances and electric ovens in the 1970s. Today, the average house has some 25 electric appliances, he said, and spends around £500 a year acquiring new ones. The future looks just as exciting, with electric vehicles creating a further demand for installation work on domestic and commercial premises, while contractors will have to diversify into new areas such as home automation and microgeneration, advising and guiding customers as well as undertaking installations. “Smart homes are already here,” he said. “Local authorities are installing homes with smart installations, so they can be occupied by anyone in the future.” The session finished with a look at the new electrical condition inspection reports, explaining classification code changes and giving examples of where they should be used.

20_23_niceiclive.gm4.indd 21

Later, Cable and NICEIC’s Darren Staniforth looked at the business opportunities from solar PV and used a case study of a householder who installed panels on his house last year. On the old 43p tariff, this generated a tax-free return each year of over £1,200 from the tariff and energy savings from a £10,000 investment. Even on the new tariffs, this would yield an impressive return of £750 a year. The challenge for contractors is to explain the benefits of such an investment to consumers against the backdrop of rising energy costs, which are expected to increase by 33 per cent by 2020. Other sessions also focused on the emerging renewables sector. NICEIC’s Steve Davies outlined how the Green Deal would work in practice and where electrical contractors could fit into the programme, and microgeneration NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:15

Advice/Opinion/Events/Regions/Training/Customer care



Live wire

Still going strong at 70 Scores of electricians took time out at NICEIC Live to wish industry legend Tony Cable (pictured, left) all the best as he prepared to celebrate his 70th birthday. Cable, who has clocked up an amazing 55 years in the trade, was presented with a surprise birthday card as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” in honour of his remarkable achievement. The touching gesture left him almost speechless, but he did manage to thank everyone for their kind words and help throughout his career. “It’s completely different now from when I started in 1957, but this industry has been very good to me,” said Cable, who is now senior marketing and events engineer at NICEIC. “I can honestly say I have had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it. I have learnt something new every day and continue to do so. “When I started, there were 20 sparks on every job and each one had an apprentice. There were jobs in factories, building sites and offices. Times have changed a bit since then. But I have never had a day out of work, and I am grateful for that.” Tony, who was 70 in June, started as an apprentice before moving on to run his own contracting business. He then moved into teaching before joining NICEIC in 1988, working on the technical helpline. In 2005, he joined the marketing team, and has since presented a series of award-winning technical DVDs. He has also starred as technical expert on television series including Rogue Traders, Cowboy Builders and Help! My House is Falling Down. In 2009 he was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Electrical Times Awards.


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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Apprentices take centre stage

NICEIC Live saw a presentation in the final session to recognise the achievements of the first round of recruits from NICEIC’s Apprentice Academy. The eight boys have just completed two years on the course with our co-partner Bedford College, gaining the equivalent of a level 3 NVQ. However, this is not the end of the training for the group. Starting in September, the boys will continue to receive stewardship and teaching from NICEIC, when they come into the headquarters at Warwick House for a series of lessons with our highly skilled staff. The boys were invited on to the stage and commended for their efforts by NICEIC chief executive officer Emma Clancy. » See our apprentices feature on page 38

‘NICEIC Live is about giving electricians knowledge and expertise that they can take back to their day-to-day role’

26/06/2012 14:16

> Visitors not only benefited from the informative side of NICEIC Live South but enjoyed break-time activities accompanied by complimentary beverages and ice cream, with a few lucky contractors receiving awards in a prize draw

View from the crowd “It’s a very useful event. I came last year and was keen to come back because you get a lot of information in one day. The solar photovoltaics (PV) seminar was very good. There has been a lot of negativity in this area, but I now feel a lot more positive and confident about what I can say to customers in terms of payback” Ivan Vladmirov, Elsys, Watford “It’s been a great day. There were lots of informative seminars, and it was a good chance to have a chat with some of the manufacturers about all the latest tools” Paul Maile, PM Electrical Services, Enfield “There is a lot of information to take in, but it’s all useful. The talk on the new electrical installation condition reports was good. I came last year but I think it’s even better this time around” Helder Fernandes, SWPS, London technologies expert Peter Osbourne explained the opportunities in this sector as the UK seeks to ensure 15 per cent of energy comes from such sources by 2020. Further highlights included Mike Simpson, technical and design director at Philips, outlining the future of lighting and the role for contractors in advising consumers in this area, and Chris Ashworth, who produced the recent 2021 Vision document for NICEIC and the ECA, speaking on the expected changes, opportunities and threats to the industry from new legislation and emerging trends over the coming decade. The final sessions of the day saw NICEIC’s technical team answer the top 10 questions put to them on the day, before director of certification Alan Wells rounded up the day by updating contractors on the current situation with Part P and hosting a prize draw for a few lucky contractors. Outside the seminar rooms was a vibrant exhibition, with companies from all over the industry available to offer guidance and advice, including partner sponsors for the event Milwaukee and Philips. Contractors were also able to see a solar PV rig demonstration during scheduled breaks, while enjoying complimentary tea, coffee and ice cream. Mark Smith, head of group marketing at NICEIC, said: “It was delightful to see so many contractors celebrating all that is good about the industry. NICEIC Live is about putting on something different. It’s about giving electricians knowledge and expertise that they can take back to their day-to-day role.” NICEIC Live North will take place at Bolton Arena on 1 November. Tickets are already selling fast for what promises to be a must-attend event for electrical contractors and businesses based in the north.

20_23_niceiclive.gm4.indd 23

“It’s my first time here, and I really enjoyed it. It’s nice to get away and find out a few things about the industry. The EICR talk was very useful” Darren Semmens, Electrical Power Specialists, Reading “We have never been to anything like this before, and it’s great to see. It seems to be very busy, and there are a lot of stands to get around. The Philips lighting stand was good and I learned a lot about LED lamps, which are becoming very popular” Jack Howes, Instalec, Luton

Delegates will be able to hear from TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Willson, who will talk about the opportunities from electric vehicles, and Alan Blake, chief executive of JCB, who will outline what the future holds for the construction industry and how companies attached to the sector can cope in the current climate. In addition, visitors will be able to attend technical sessions and find out about business opportunities from renewables, as well as meeting NICEIC staff and a wide range of exhibitors. » Tickets cost just £36 (excluding VAT) for NICEIC-registered contractors and £56 (excluding VAT) for all other attendees. For more information or to book your ticket, visit » Nick Martindale is editor of Connections NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:16

Advice/Opinion/Regions/Insight/Events/Case study/Customer care/Training



Live wire

Capital appreciation The impact of the Olympics has not filtered down to the average contractor in London and the south-east, but there’s been plenty of work to keep firms busy By Adrian Holliday


f all the UK economic regions, London and the south-east remains – by some margin – the most resilient. The capital continues to benefit from its “safe haven” status with investors, both domestic and overseas. The London Olympics has also given a select few contractors a much needed boost, either directly or by ensuring larger competitors stay away from traditional hunting grounds. For Paul Arkle of Ilford-based Arkle Brothers, the main Olympics site is just down the road. But he has been too busy keeping existing contracts going to even consider the potential benefits from the greatest show on earth. A contract installing hand dryers in restaurant washrooms and a chain of health clubs consumed much staff energy – there are five employees in total – as did a large commercial refit in Hanger Lane, West London. “We’ve also had a lot of work rewiring churches,” he says. “Most is word of mouth: lighting, callouts, rewiring. It started with St Margaret’s Church in Abbey, Barking, and has built from there.” What of the next 12 months, after the Olympics? Arkle’s not hugely optimistic. “I think it’s going to be quiet,” he says. “People are holding on to their money.” To cut costs, Arkle and his staff are increasingly using public transport to get about the capital and further afield. “There’s no point in trying to park in London once you’ve done a tool drop,” he says. “When we did the Hanger Lane job, we bought TravelCards. It took an hour by train. It would have taken two hours by van.”


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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Green pressure East London-based contractor Newtech has also been pioneering its own path, including achieving ISO9001 to demonstrate its commitment to quality management systems. But operations manager Ron Long says larger clients increasingly ask about environmental credentials. Last year, a major client announced it was to champion an environmental initiative called EcoStep to encourage its many small and medium-sized suppliers to behave more sustainably, and Newtech has just qualified for the bronze EcoStep award. “You have to consider a greener approach to the purchasing of the materials and resources you consume,” says Long. Newtech now recycles a wide range of materials, and recently switched electricity supplier to one that gets its energy from sustainable sources. The business, which employs 20 staff, hopes to win new work on account of its greener credentials, and Long says the original client accounts for around 10-15 per cent of turnover. “It also means we don’t get ruled out of future business opportunities with them,” he says. On the marketing front, Newtech recently invested in its website, including developing a content management system, which has doubled the number of hits it attracts.

‘A few years ago, there were only a few of us. Now there are 20 to 30 contractors competing’

26/06/2012 14:18

>Top: Construction for the Olympic Games has transformed the physical fabric of parts of East London Bottom: Rob Prior (right) and his former apprentice Steve Grant are planning to extend the RCP Installations team

£24 billion: The amount of public money the Olympic Games could ultimately cost, according to Sky Sports

Economic outlook London and the south-east On paper, the Olympics suggest a contracts boom. The Games have already gobbled down £12 billion of public money – some estimates suggest this could increase to £24 billion – and the efforts of almost 50,000 construction workers. The physical fabric of several parts of East London has been transformed, but increasingly there is concern about the disruption – to south-east productivity – that the Olympics will cause. Plus, as other former Olympic cities know to their cost, there is considerable concern about the longer-term legacy. Will it all be worth it? Has the scale of the costs really benefited the UK economy in the longer term? Outside the tourist sector, there is no clear answer yet.

for the past seven years.” But a local home survey report arrangement helps with bread-and-butter work, and Symes keeps up the advertising with Google and “I’ve got great feedback from that,” he says.

“This enables us to update our site as often as we like, and get higher up the rankings,” says Long. Social media is another part of the strategy, and the business has developed a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Growing competition Across the Thames in Earlsfield, Stephen Symes of Bright Sparx London is in cautious mode. Symes has four staff plus an apprentice, and he and his team have been kept going in the last year with a mixture of domestic and commercial work. On the domestic side, homeowners are opting to dig out basements or invest in loft extensions. A council contract for housing association work ran out last year. “But we’ve kept busy with call-outs, rewirings and remedial work,” he says. He has, though, noticed a lot more competition recently. “I only work in the Wandsworth area,” he says. “A few years ago, there were only a few of us. Now there are 20 to 30 contractors competing, so our rates have been held down

24_25_regionalfocus.CC.4.indd 25

Word of mouth Business has been steady for Rob Prior of RCP Installations in Woodford Green, on the edge of Epping Forest. His business model hums along on recommendations from clients and “sensible” pricing. But he and his 23-year-old ex-apprentice Steve Grant have also been lifted by the Trading Standardsbacked scheme “Buy With Confidence”, partnered with the Neighbourhood Watch organisation. “I had to get vetted by Trading Standards,” he says. “But it didn’t cost much to join.” Most of his work is now commercial rather than residential – a 180-degree turn compared with three years ago. “I haven’t got any interest in the PV (photovoltaics) market,” he says. “I’m far too busy to start looking at new areas. I’m doing a lot more refurbishments, and testing and safety check work for letting agents and prospective buyers.” A longer-term concern is the lack of job opportunities for younger people. “Nearly every day I get an enquiry,” he says. “I don’t have the resources to take them on, and there are a lot of fully qualified electricians out there.” The end of the Olympics contracts will add to the pressure, he says, although he does intend to take on an apprentice in the autumn. For many contractors, it seems the Olympics has rather passed them by. But the work is still there, even if it is a more competitive environment. With sensible business models, the capital and its surrounding areas still give as much grounds for optimism as they do cause for concern. » Adrian Holliday is a freelance business journalist NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:18

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Live wire One becomes two NICEIC recently ran its first 2395 course covering electrical installation condition reporting, following the move away from the old 2391 option. Darren Staniforth outlines the major changes


ecently I delivered NICEIC’s first City & Guilds 2395 course, which has been introduced to replace the old 2391 inspection, testing and certification course. The old course covered all inspection, testing and certification of electrical installations, including minor work certificates, electrical installation certificates and periodic inspection reports, but the new one focuses on electrical installation condition reporting (EICR). The change has seen the old course split into two. The initial inspection – minor work and electrical installation certificates – has been removed from the new course and given its own one, the 2394. This new level-3 course covers the knowledge required to complete initial inspection and testing of new electrical installations before they are put into service. NICEIC Training has received lots of enquiries from contractors asking if they need to complete the new level-3 initial course before progressing to the new level-3 EICR course. The answer is no: those who hold a level-3 qualification in electrical installation, or have completed an electrical apprenticeship, would have been taught initial inspection as part of their training, and should be able to approach the new EICR course with ease. Those who hold a level-2 qualification would benefit from the new level-3 initial inspection and testing course. This will give the individual the basic skills and knowledge to allow them to progress to the EICR course. If you feel you have the ability and knowledge to complete the level-3 EICR qualification, you can enrol, but you run the risk of the course assuming prior knowledge of initial inspection and testing. The new EICR course spends lots of time looking over the new condition report from BS7671. Candidates are required to refer to this and guidance note 3 throughout the course, so it is essential you take these with you or the training centre makes them available. Other documents are also referenced, such as HSE guidance note GS38 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, but it is not essential to have copies of these. The course covers legislation, and identifies the legal requirements placed on the inspector at the time the inspection takes place. The training moves into


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‘Those that hold a level-2 qualification would benefit from the new level-3 initial inspection and testing course’

Darren Staniforth is technical development manager at NICEIC

» Further information on NICEIC’s training courses can be found at training, by emailing or calling 0870 013 0389

understanding the difference between inspection and testing, and looks at the possible inspection techniques to be employed and what human senses we should use when completing an inspection. When I delivered the course, I had to constantly remind the candidates they were not ensuring that the existing electrical installation complied with the current edition of BS7671, but were there to complete an inspection and test to ensure the installation was safe for continued use or to be in continued service. This reminder resulted in some items the students had coded not requiring a code. The course also looks at what tests are required for a periodic inspection, which are different from those completed for an initial inspection. This will also mean the order of tests is different from that we normally carry out. One area in which we found the candidates were weak was understanding the calculations behind the test results. I spent a large amount of time covering the calculations for Zs, R1&R2, Max Zs correction factor, threephase fault current values and volt drop. It is important that candidates understand these calculations and their results when used on an existing installation. The assessment has changed slightly from the old 2391. There are now three parts to the new 2395 assessment: an online multi-choice exam, a practical assessment completing an EICR on a rig with several possible faults added, and a written paper set periodically across the year.

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27/6/12 13:01:27

Advice/Opinion/Regions/Insight/Events/Case study/Customer care/Training



Live wire Under scrutiny Electrical contractors who fail to pay sufficient attention to correctly verifying and certifying work risk damaging their reputation and possible prosecution, warns Philip Sanders


nyone may occasionally be tempted to cut corners to save time and money. But the personal, legal and financial consequences of taking such risks can be severe, especially when it comes to carrying out the necessary inspections and tests to verify that an electrical installation is safe before being put into service. The results of inspection and testing must be accurately recorded on the appropriate certificate or report, and provided to the person who ordered the work. Electrical contractors have previously faced successful claims for damages in the civil courts by persons who have relied upon the content of an electrical installation certificate or report which was subsequently found to be inaccurate, for example, in relation to a house purchase. Failing to issue the correct form of certification or report, or issuing ones that are inaccurate or misleading, is a common cause of consumer complaints. Often, good working practice and customer care during electrical installation work can be overshadowed by the lack of attention taken to verify and certify the work. This can result in a breakdown of goodwill and trust which cannot be recovered easily. Remember, certification is the only documentary evidence an electrician has that will help demonstrate that work is to the required standard of safety in the event of any injury or fire alleged to have been caused by the electrical installation. It is important to bear in mind that domestic electrical installation work in England and Wales, including rewires, new circuits and certain minor work, carries an additional notification requirement. These works must be notified, and a Building Regulation compliance certificate issued to the person ordering the work, within 30 days. The only exception is minor work that is not in a kitchen, a special installation or in a “special location” such as a bathroom. The role of a qualifying supervisor is crucial in this process, as they have a personal responsibility for the completeness and accuracy of the results of inspection and testing recorded in certificates and reports issued on behalf of their NICEIC-registered company. They must ensure that results of inspection and testing are properly recorded on the appropriate prescribed forms, and undertake a review to confirm that the results are accurate and, in the case of certification, acceptable. This review process provides the qualified supervisor with the opportunity to challenge any missing or seemingly incorrect information for investigation and correction.


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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‘Electrical contractors have previously faced successful claims for damages in the civil courts by persons who have relied upon the content of an electrical installation certificate’

The following are five top certification and reporting misconceptions: “The job is complete but I don’t have to issue a certificate until I’m paid in full” The certification requirements of BS7671 (chapter 63 refers) apply irrespective of any contractual matters. Certification must never be withheld for contractual reasons where the electrical installation has been energised and is available for use.

Philip Sanders is NICEIC’s customer relations engineer

“It is my responsibility as the inspector to record any observation that I consider to be relevant on an EICR” Only an observation relating to a specific defect or omission that can be supported by one or more regulations in BS7671 should be recorded on an EICR. Each observation must be given an appropriate classification code (see footnote, left). While observations such as absence of a fire detection are worthy of an appropriate note, they should not be given a classification code.

» The Electrical Safety Council Best Practice Guide No. 4 provides further guidance on EICR classification codes. This can be viewed or downloaded at

“I don’t need to issue an installation certificate after I have done the remedial works. I can just change the EICR outcome to ‘satisfactory’” While a customer may request that a “satisfactory” EICR is issued on completion of remedial works, the appropriate certification must be issued for work that constitutes a change to the electrical installation (BS7671 chapter 63 refers).

“I can’t issue a certificate because the job isn’t complete and the customer no longer wants me to finish the work because of a disagreement” Certification must be provided for any electrical installation work that has been energised and is available for use. Certification is not intended to be issued to confirm the completion of a contract, but to verify that the electrical installation work undertaken is safe to be put into service. “It is the inspector who sets the extent and limitations for a periodic inspection” It is essential to explain and agree with the customer the exact extent of the installation to be inspected and tested, together with any limitations, before commencing an inspection. These should be clearly recorded on the electrical installation condition report (EICR), together with the details of the person who agreed the limitations.

27/6/12 12:18:50


24,000 electricians are assessed annually by NICEIC. Is yours?


Appearing in The Daily Mail, The Times, Daily Express & Homebuilding & Renovating.

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27/6/12 14:46:45

CONTRACTOR PROFILE // WILLIAM DYER ELECTRICAL COMPANY: William Dyer Electrical BASED: Rossendale, Lancashire FOUNDED: 1992 MAJOR PROJECTS: Lancashire Constabulary, Manchester College STAFF NUMBERS: 38 TURNOVER: £3 million

Facing the future In the shadows of Lancashire’s industrial past lies a very modern electrical contracting business, intent on building its future around energy efficiency and renewables

By Nick Martindale


estling between Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Blackburn and Rochdale lies the Lancashire town of Rossendale. It would, perhaps, be an unremarkable north-west town, were it not for the former cotton mills that stand as a reminder of the area’s industrial heritage. The mills are now mostly converted into luxury flats or museums or, sadly, lying derelict. Out of this historic setting, however, has emerged an electrical contracting business that is fully embracing one of the UK’s latest industries, in the shape of energy-saving installations and renewable technologies. By offering potential customers free energy surveys and giving them tangible projections around returns on investment, William Dyer Electrical has developed a compelling proposition that has helped to steer the business through the current tough economic climate. “We’ve set ourselves up to go and speak to clients and advise them on how to save money on energy, whether that’s through smart metering, energy-efficient lighting, water controls or solar PV,” says Paul Coffey, a director at the company. “That’s where we see ourselves going forward, as well as carrying on with the contracting. We’re not going to move away from what we are but we need to move into new areas.” 30

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The business has already completed several energy-saving projects where it has been able to demonstrate a return on investment in a short timeframe, including at Bury-based plastics manufacturer Thumbs Up and air-filtration company Camfil Farr. Both these revolved heavily around energyefficient lighting, but the company has also completed several commercial and domestic installations of solar photovoltaics (PV) up to 50 kilowatts, including Carleton Clinic in Carlisle, and still sees a strong future for this technology despite the changes to the feed-in tariffs. “It has tailed off on the domestic side but there are still things out there on the commercial side,” says William Dyer, the company’s founder and managing director. “The people who got in prior to the reduction have done well, and they will see a good return over the next 25 years. But that’s not to say that people going in now won’t – it’s just not as good.” Back to basics William Dyer Electrical has been trading for 20 years, and is firmly rooted in electrical contracting. “Like most electrical companies I started off as a sole trader and moved on from there,” says William. “I used to work for a large company but

‘You have to try and run your business as efficiently as possible, so you can go in at a reasonable rate and still make a profit’

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‘I realised fairly early on that it was time to build up an installation team. If you’re involved on the tools, your business stutters rather than grows’

William Dyer

Photography: Richard Hanson

Paul Coffey

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NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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10-15: The number of extra engineers William Dyer Electrical is currently hiring

> The company has invested in equipment despite the downturn

I was working away from home a lot. I thought that, with the experience I’d gained and a great apprenticeship, I had something to offer.” Despite being trained in industrial and commercial installations, William found the only work he could get initially was on the domestic side. The business, though, soon grew. “We’d start off doing one property, get in with local builders who were doing 10, and before we knew it we’d be in with another that was building 50,” he recalls. “That’s how I progressed into a bigger contractor, and then I started to employ people. The first one was an apprentice. With him at my side, I built the business up and took on further apprentices each year. “It’s been a story of slow growth, but I’ve been off the installation side for about 10 years because if you’re involved on the tools, your business stutters rather than grows,” he adds. “I realised early on that as soon as I started building up more electrical engineers, it was time to build up an installation team.” Paul, meanwhile, initially came onboard in 2004 as a fully qualified electrician, before becoming contracts director and buying into the business as a director in 2011. Historically, much of the company’s work has come from the public sector, with Lancashire Constabulary being a major client. “We tend to do the major fitout works for them, so new projects or major refurbishments,” says William. “We’re talking £500,000-plus projects. That lifts our profile as a contractor. Because we’re registered with them, we don’t just do the electrics; we do the CCTV, the intruder alarms, the data installations and the door access systems. We’re probably their main contractor now – we’ve been working for them for about 10 years.” Another major project was the recent conversion of Harpurhey Baths, a derelict Victorian swimming baths in Manchester housed in a grade-two listed building, into an arts and media centre for Manchester College, which was completed in 2011. “The old swimming bath was filled in and turned into a big theatre hall,” recalls Paul. “It was difficult because of the type of building it was. It had old glazed tiles which couldn’t be moved. so we had to go in behind the walls.” “That’s probably the installation of which I’m most proud,” adds William. “Because it was a listed building, they had money to spend to make sure it looked a showpiece job, and to be involved was great. It wasn’t the cheapest equipment used but the best, because they wanted longevity out of the installation and not for things to go wrong two years down the line.” 32

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Much of the company’s work comes from Manchester, says William, although it is also well placed for Liverpool and Leeds, as well as the surrounding towns. It will, however, take on work all over the UK, and a few years ago helped Camfil Farr relocate its Birmingham plant up to its main headquarters in Rossendale itself. “We’re certainly in the top 10 electrical contractors in the north-west,” says William. “There are contracts of a certain size that we tend to take on, and £500,000 to £2 million tends to be our marketplace. But that’s not to say we don’t take on the smaller jobs, because in my opinion there’s no job too small.” Competitive pricing Recently, the business has won several major contracts worth a combined amount of around £3 million, including a £1.5 million job with Manchester College on its Shena Simon campus for a complete rewire and boiler-replacement project. Significantly, this project will see William Dyer Electrical take on the role of principal contractor – something that the business is keen to continue, using trusted sub-contractors for specialist work where required. “If electrical contractors can become principal contractors, then we’re in the driving seat,” says William. “The reason a lot of electrical companies haven’t grown is that they’re always waiting for money. If we change the ethos so electrical contractors become the principal contractors, suddenly we have a chance.” In addition to Shena Simon, William Dyer Electrical has also won work on an 18-bedroom extension and

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a more professional image. “We’ve invested heavily in the recession, and that can give people confidence,” he says. “If you turn up in vehicles or with staff that aren’t well presented, it can make certain clients nervous.”

‘In the future, I believe we’ll become much bigger and employ more than 100 people. Over the next five years, we’ll be a very large contractor’ fitness facility at Stanley House Hotel – owned by Blackburn’s Walker family – and installation projects for World Red Hot Buffet restaurants in Manchester and Nottingham, as well as a £700,000 contract to install data networks, fire alarms, CCTV, intruder alarms and overhaul the electrics at Lancashire Constabulary’s headquarters in Hutton, near Preston. “When the tenders come, you price to win every job,” says William. “Normally, if you price 10 jobs you might expect to win two. But our strike rate has been a little bit better than that, and that’s just how it’s fallen. But it also depends on how slickly your business runs. You have to try and run your business as efficiently as possible, so you can go in at a reasonable rate and still make a profit.” William also believes the business is benefiting from making several investments over the past few years, despite the economic downturn. The company decided to replace its fleet of vans with 14 new fuel-efficient models capable of taking three people rather than two, which William says has reduced the firm’s diesel outlay by 15 per cent, as well as projecting

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Fighting recession The business has continued to expand during the downturn, and turnover has increased steadily. “Last year we turned over £3 million, and we expect to turn over around £3.6 million this year,” says William. “The year previous to the £3 million, we turned over about £2.2 million, so each year our turnover has gone up – although that doesn’t mean that our profit margin has. We’re working a lot harder for less money.” The company also took a large hit from a main building contractor early on in the downturn, he adds, which prompted a closer review of outgoings, including a stronger focus on negotiating better prices with wholesalers, and standardising products so any items brought back from jobs can be used on future projects. Investing in quality management systems such as ISO9001, 14001 and 18001 has also paid off, adds Paul, by helping improve standards internally and ensuring the business is as competitive as possible. Last year, the company also decided to take on a new unit, next door but one to its existing premises, to give it extra storage, and to refit its main premises. “As a company, we own all our own equipment, including five access lifts and scaffolding, and we have trailers that we need to deliver these pieces to site,” says William. “We also have a training bay in there. It might not seem like the wisest thing to do in a recession, but we did it and now we’re well set up for when things improve.” William Dyer Electrical employs 38 people, of which around 30 are on the tools, and is interviewing for around 10-15 extra engineers as a result of the extra work that has come in. Much of this will be experienced labour – and the current economic climate means there is plenty of this around, says William – but the business has historically thrived through its use of apprentices, taking on at least one every year. “It’s usually two a year, but in the past we’ve chosen to take on a couple more,” he says. “A lot of the personnel who we’ve got came in at the age of 16, have gone all the way through and are now in their 20s and 30s.” The company has big ambitions for the next few years, on the back of an anticipated surge in demand on the energy efficiency and renewables side of the business, partly as a result of the Green Deal. “Energy is definitely going to take a bigger percentage of the business, and that’s where the growth will come from over the next 10 years,” says William. “In the future, I believe we’ll become a much bigger contractor and we’ll employ more than 100 people. That may not be in the next two years, but I certainly expect that over the next five years, we’ll be a very large contractor.” Further down the line, his vision is that the business he started up at the age of just 23 will become part of the furniture of Rossendale, alongside the giant chimneys of the former mills. “I’m 43 now, and I’d like to think that I have at least another 15 years in the business. But I would like to see William Dyer Electrical carry on long after I’m gone and for the people who have worked in the business to carry it on, and when they’re ready to leave, to bring other people through. For me, that would be the fairytale ending.” » Nick Martindale is editor of Connections NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:21


Burning bright By David Adams


for many electrical contractors, the market for installing and maintaining renewable energy was a welcome antidote to the effects of the economic downturn. So the decision to reduce the feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations at the end of 2011, along with the scheduling of a further cut for August, has created an atmosphere of uncertainty that has made it more difficult for contractors to plan for what undoubtedly remains a viable market. The decision by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to cut FiTs, from 43.3p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy to 21p, followed a reduction in 2011 for larger installations (more than 50kW) from 30p to 8.5p. In May, more cuts for domestic FiTs were announced, to 16p from 1 August, and further decreases of up to 28 per cent will follow quarterly, unless the number of installations falls too quickly. The period over which payments can be made has also been cut, from 25 to 20 years. These changes were actually less drastic than those that DECC had considered – a

16 P: The rate to which the domestic feed-in tariff rate will fall for installations after 1 August


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cut to 13p this summer and an end to the link with the Retail Price Index, which will now be retained. But they have certainly had an impact, particularly on how the public perceives the financial benefits of installing PV. The FiTs have been a victim of their own success. The level of electricity generated in the UK using solar PV before their introduction in 2010 was 26 megawatts (MW) a year. By February 2012 it had reached 1,000MW, including “PV for free” installations – whereby the homeowner received reduced electricity bills while the installer took the FiT income – and some installations by local authorities on council properties, including housing. Clearly, the government had not expected such high demand. When it acted to reduce its financial liabilities, trying to cut FiTs before a full consultation had been completed, two solar companies – HomeSun and SolarCentury – and Friends of the Earth took the government to court. The High Court eventually ruled against the government in March 2012. The legal battle, and the uncertainty created by the government’s actions, created spikes in demand for solar PV in November 2011 and March 2012, ahead of the initial, and the then rearranged, deadline for installations that would benefit from the old FiT rates. Meanwhile, following another announcement in April, homeowners seeking to benefit from solar FiTs will need to ensure their properties meet the D standard for an energy performance certificate (EPC). About half of UK homes already meet this, but other homeowners might need to spend substantial sums on energy-saving measures.

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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The FiT rate has been adjusted to reflect the cost of the systems, and the return on investment is as good now as it was when the FiT was introducedâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;

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Picture courtesy of Sundog Energy

The uncertainty created by the reductions in the domestic solar PV feed-in tariff has not helped the renewables sector. But considerable opportunities remain for contractors

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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FiT for purpose Yet, even after these changes, there should still be plenty of opportunities for installers, manufacturers, property owners and electrical contractors to make money out of solar PV, and from other renewables, too. In February, DECC published figures that showed the cost of the average domestic installation had fallen from £15,000 in 2010 to about £8,000; and could drop to £6,000 during the course of 2012. This means the investment will still deliver returns of around 6 per cent over 20 years, claims the department. This may not be as attractive as 10 per cent over 25 years, but is still a good investment. Larger installations may still generate returns of around 8 per cent, according to government figures. The fundamental advantages of solar PV remain the same, says Martin Cotterell, chairman and founder of another solar specialist, Sundog Energy. “The FiT rate has been adjusted to reflect the cost of the systems, and the return on investment is as good now as it was when the FiT was introduced,” he says. But he concedes that “it will be a challenge for the industry to keep reducing costs while maintaining the quality of its installations”. Last autumn, Jonathan Bates, director and general manager at renewable specialist Photon Energy, told Connections that even if tariffs were cut, with Ofgem predicting energy prices could rise by 6 per cent each year, we are approaching “a tipping point where the market doesn’t need the FiT and government support”. Photon, which does a lot of work in the newbuild market, saw a surge in demand for PV before the December deadline – Bates says the company had to turn away about £1.5 million of business – but enquiries have dropped since the first cut took effect in April. Bates says this is not a problem for the company, which is continuing to grow. “We were aware these cuts were coming and we planned accordingly,” he says. “The market’s fallen by about 75 per cent since April, although there are signs of it picking up a bit. But it’s a confidence rather than a FiT issue, because in terms of the investment you’re going to get the FiTs, if anything, are slightly more generous than when the scheme was established in 2010.


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But because there’s been all this negative publicity, the general public is convinced the scheme has been scrapped. It is possibly quieter than I’d thought it was going to be, but there’s still a lot in the pipeline. I’m confident that we’ll see things pick up.” Beyond solar There are other renewable technologies besides solar. Several are also eligible for FiTs: hydrogeneration, wind power, anaerobic digestion (AD, which uses food waste as fuel) and micro-CHP (combined heat and power equipment). FiT rates for these technologies are staying roughly the same over the next year, with some small increases for some AD installations and small reductions for some wind installations. Further opportunities will be created by the government’s renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme. In its first phase, which opened in November 2011, the scheme offers financial support to businesses using heat from solar thermal equipment, biomass or woodburning boilers and heat pumps. The second phase will cover domestic homes and possibly more technologies. But there is concern that uncertainty may again damage the market. The

2013: The proposed new start date for the residential phase of the renewable heat incentive

second phase of the RHI was originally scheduled to start in October 2012, but has been postponed for the government to consider further ways in which it might control costs. Phase two may now not begin until mid-2013 or later. Even so, according to Paul Collins, head of NICEIC, enquiries about NICEIC training courses in relation to heat pumps and biomass equipment are increasing. The heat pump market has flourished over the past three years. John Cantor, founder of John Cantor Heat Pumps, believes there could be opportunities for electricians. “Heat pumps are far less forgiving than boilers, so to be installed correctly they need a qualified and experienced installer,” he says. “But the electrics is a small part of the total, so I would expect that electricians could pick up work as sub-contractors to heating engineers, but not take on installations in the same way as for PV.” There may also be scope for electricians to work on the installation of AD equipment, which is becoming more widespread, particularly on farms but also at industrial sites. Matt Hindle, policy manager of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA), says the industry may be boosted by another government initiative – the weekly collection support scheme – which will require participating councils to collect waste food each week. The ADBA estimates there could be 1,000 plants operating in the UK by 2020, with companies either building their own plants or forming consortia to build them.

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Going green Finally, there is the Green Deal, the government’s grand scheme to reduce energy emissions from homes and other buildings through various energy-saving measures, paid for through energy bills rather than upfront. The government has also been consulting on the design and implementation of a £200 million cashback scheme to boost take-up. Ascertiva Group, NICEIC’s parent company, participated in a Green Deal trial in 2011. In May, NICEIC announced it was one of the first 14 companies selected by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to provide Green Deal certification services. NICEIC can offer contractors seeking to become certified Green Deal installers certification against the PAS2030 standard for services including heating, lighting, insulation and microgeneration. NICEIC is also running workshops and training seminars on the Green Deal. “The Green Deal is a good opportunity for contractors, especially in the context of increasing energy prices,” says Nick Wright, Green Deal project manager at NICEIC. “It creates a framework for electricians to pitch to consumers and non-domestic customers, to help save them money.” Of the 65,000 jobs expected to be created by Green Deal, the majority will be in the installer market. Here too, there is still uncertainty over exactly when the Green Deal will begin, but there is every indication it will get under way in 2013, says Wright. In the end, with a legal requirement to generate a bigger share of the country’s energy using renewables, soaring energy bills and building regulations set to continue getting greener, demand for renewables will grow. Wright just hopes the government will start delivering a clearer, supportive message. “While the DECC announcement on the FiTs may not be popular, at least it creates certainty,” he says. “People know where they want to be. There’s still uncertainty around the RHI, and that affects business plans. It’s going to be difficult for the government to win back trust after what it did with FiTs. But there is a brighter future ahead.” » David Adams is a freelance business journalist

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FiTs and starts: Timeline of government interventions on renewables April 2010: Feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme launched by the Labour government October 2010: Coalition government cuts funding allocation for solar photovoltaic (PV) FITs August 2011: FiTs for large PV installations cut from 30.7p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 8.5p. But a loophole means schemes of more than 100kWh can be extended, with additional installed capacity still qualifying for the higher rate. There’s a big rush to do this before the loophole closes in October 2011 October 2011: Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announces PV FiTs for domestic installations to be cut from 43.3p per kWh to 21p. It seeks to impose this cut retrospectively from 12 December. Two solar companies, HomeSun and SolarCentury, along with Friends of the Earth, take the government to court. Judges rule in their favour. DECC appeals November 2011: First phase of Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme begins December 2011: Just before the 12 December deadline for solar PV, the number of weekly installations reaches 20,000. After the deadline it drops to 800 January 2012: Court of Appeal rules against DECC, which appeals to the Supreme Court February 2012: DECC announces target for 4 million homes to be using solar power by 2020 and an increase in funds for FiTs, up to a possible £2.2 billion by 2015 March/April 2012: Supreme Court rules against DECC, so consumers and business owners who installed PV between 12 December and 3 March will be eligible for the 43p FiT. From 1 April, homes need to meet the D standard for energy efficiency to qualify. Government announces the second phase of the RHI, scheduled to begin in autumn 2012, will be delayed until mid-2013 May 2012: Next cut in domestic solar FITs to 16p announced, to come into effect from 1 August. The period for which tariffs are applied is cut from 25 to 20 years June/July 2012: Roadshow highlighting opportunities in the Green Deal supply chain travels to 11 UK cities August 2012: Solar FiTs cut to 16p November 2012: First of subsequent solar PV FiT cuts set to begin, to continue quarterly “with pauses if the market slows down” (DECC) January 2013: Green Deal scheduled to begin Mid-to-late 2013: Second phase of RHI scheduled to begin

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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curve Taking on an apprentice is not a decision to be entered into lightly, but it can bring immediate and long-term business benefits By Rob Shepherd


n late 2011, the government announced that the number of young people not in education, employment or training – NEETs – had risen to a record high of 1.16 million. Figures released early this year for the final quarter of 2011 revealed a slight fall – to 958,000 – but that still means that around one in six of all 16- to 24-yearolds now falls into this category. Despite these shocking statistics, however, more people will leave the electrical contracting sector than enter it over the next few years. The need for new entrants could be addressed by attracting those NEETs who show the necessary basic skills and initiative to consider a career in the industry. The big stumbling block, though, is the lack of apprenticeship places on offer. The scale of the problem is immense. In 2011, training provider JTL received 25,000 applications for only 2,500 electrical, heating and plumbing places, meaning 90 per cent of applicants had to be turned away. “It’s misleading for young people to be pushed towards apprenticeships when employers simply can’t create enough places to go round,” says Denis Hird, the organisation’s chief executive.


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This lack of places is a cause for concern for NICEIC’s technical training developer Darren Staniforth. “Our figures suggest there is an interest among the 18-24 age group and beyond in electrical contracting as a career,” he says. “But it’s a huge pool of talent that we are not harnessing because employers feel unable to take them on.” The wider benefits were also cited in a City & Guilds report, The Economic Value of Apprenticeships. It found that creating a further million apprenticeship places by 2020 would boost UK businesses by £4.37 billion. Income tax and national insurance contributions alone would generate an extra £1.2 billion for the UK economy. Positive thinking The decision to take on an apprentice is a difficult one for many companies, especially smaller firms. Some

‘Local authorities often have their own grant schemes in addition to those available from central government’

employers perceive that it is costprohibitive, the process is too bureaucratic, or there are no relevant apprentice frameworks. Others feel that the current economic climate makes it too risky to commit to an apprenticeship scheme when their own future may be uncertain. However, despite these issues, businesses should consider the real and long-term value of apprenticeships to their workforce, says Chris Kirk, head of apprenticeships at City & Guilds. “Employers of all sizes tell us that apprenticeships are a great way to fill skills gaps, increase productivity and develop the loyal and competent workforce they need to be competitive.” Milton Keynes-based NICEIC Approved Contractor SJD Electrical is a firm believer in apprenticeships as a way to develop its own talent for the future. “Employing apprentices is essential to provide future skills for the ongoing growth and development of our business,” says company director Ruth Devine. “It also improves the supervisory and leadership skills of our qualified electricians.” Late last year John Hayes, minister of state for further education, skills and lifelong learning, announced new measures designed to make it easier for employers to hire apprentices. He

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968,000: The number of 16-24-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in the fourth quarter of 2011

> NICEIC figures show a lot of interest in the career among the 18-24 age group

outlined plans to reduce bureaucracy, and said he was determined that more employers and learners should have the opportunity to benefit from investment in apprenticeships. However, this desire to cut red tape has elicited mixed feelings. “The

removal of unnecessary and prohibitive bureaucracy is always welcome, but this detracts from the more important issue of funding,” says Staniforth. “Making it easier to take on apprentices is one thing, but it needs to be made financially viable, too.”

Need to know: Reasons to be cheerful According to the National Apprenticeship Service: • Over 80 per cent of those employers who employ apprentices agree they make the workplace more productive • 81 per cent of consumers favour using a company that takes on apprentices • The national minimum wage for apprentices is £2.60 per hour. Many employers prefer to pay more, however, and research shows that the average salary is around £170 per week • Employers who take on a 16- to 18-year-old apprentice pay only their salary. The government will fund their training • 92 per cent of employers that employ apprentices believe that apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce • 83 per cent of employers that employ apprentices rely on their apprenticeship programme to provide the skilled workers that they need for the future • One in five employers is hiring more apprentices to help them through the tough economic climate

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Informed decision Taking on an apprentice is a long-term commitment. There are wages and payroll taxes to pay for three years, and the associated costs for training, supervision and administration. In addition, there are conditions to adhere to in areas such as employment rights, insurance, and health and safety. The government, though, has made several grants available for those willing to create an apprenticeship. Available nationwide, the apprenticeship grant for employers scheme is aimed at businesses with fewer than 250 employees that have either never taken on an apprentice or not done so in the past three years. The grant is available on a first-come, first-served basis for those who take on an apprentice aged 16-24. “Local authorities often have their own grant schemes in addition to those available from central government, so it’s worth digging around to see what is available in your area,” adds Hird. While plenty of people may wish to become apprentices, it is important to get the right type of person onboard. “We have had issues with reliability, and now vet our apprentices carefully,” says Devine. “We prefer them slightly older, with life experience and motivation.” Michael Clark, head of building services at North Hertfordshire Homes, one of the county’s largest registered social landlords, agrees about being selective. “Every time we advertise a vacancy for an electrical apprentice we are inundated, so we implement a rigorous selection procedure,” he says. “As well as their academic achievements, we look to see if they have had a part-time job, and what their interests are. We need to feel confident we’ve made the right choice.” One group that is highly underrepresented in the electrical contracting sector is women. They make up just 0.14 per cent of the workforce in this sector and, since the recession, numbers of female trainees for the

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:25


trade have dropped further. This imbalance prompted NICEIC to launch its Jobs for the Girls initiative as part of its Apprentice Academy. Its research found there are many women looking to learn a trade, and 63 per cent of 16- to 24-year-old women polled stated this is because a trade stays with them for life. “We are committed to attracting highcalibre graduates, to build a real future for the electrical contracting industry,” says Staniforth. “We hope that more ladies will come forward and help to even the balance.” Future-proof In 2011 NICEIC teamed up with the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) to produce 2021 Vision: The Future of the Electrical Contracting Industry, documenting a research survey of 1,000 members of the ECA and NICEICregistered contractors. The UK’s sustainable future was found to have a significant bearing on the industry. The skills needs arising from the transition to the low-carbon economy featured prominently. Apprenticeships have an important role in helping the sector prepare for this future, says Emma Clancy, chief executive officer of NICEIC. “We found that apprenticeships will continue as a good way of training, combining theoretical knowledge with practical application, with an emphasis on understanding both design and practical applications of new sustainable technology,” she says. While the future of the electrical contracting sector depends on employers passing on skills and knowledge to the next generation, the immediate benefits to a business are also far-reaching. By providing a supportive learning environment, employers are likely to be rewarded with loyalty and a work ethic: attributes that are vital to the success of any business, at any point in the economic cycle. » Rob Shepherd is a freelance journalist specialising in the electrical industry

10 per cent: The proportion of applicants for electrical, heating and plumbing apprentices that JTL was able to accept in 2011


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

38_40_apprentices.CC4.indd 40

Case study: NICEIC Apprentice Academy In 2010 NICEIC, in partnership with Bedford College, launched its Apprentice Academy, where apprentices work towards City & Guilds 2330 level 3 and NVQ level 3 qualifications. “NICEIC is committed to improving standards within the industry, and our academy gives those starting out on their careers the knowledge to complete electrical installations in line with current and future working practices,” says Darren Staniforth, technical training developer at NICEIC, who was instrumental in developing the course. One of those who enrolled on the course in 2011 is Nick Durrant, who at 35 years of age is proof that it is never too late to become an apprentice. “I’d worked in the industry for many years as an electrician’s mate ,but I didn’t acquire any formal qualifications, which hindered my career development,” he says. After being employed by Milton Keynes firm SJD Electrical, he received an offer from the company to put him through his apprenticeship. “I have a young family, so the idea of embarking on a three-year apprenticeship wasn’t something that I had considered,” he says. “Although I had a lot of the basic skills, the theory side of things was lacking. But I’m learning a lot on the course.” His typical week involves working for SJD for four days and studying at Bedford College for one day. “This works really well, and gives me plenty of opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in class in real-life situations,” he says. After completing the course, Durrant is determined to help SJD Electrical continue to grow. “The company has given me a wonderful opportunity, and I want to repay its confidence in my abilities by helping it become even more successful,” he says. The first batch of apprentices from NICEIC’s academy was recognised at the recent NICEIC Live show. For more information, see page 22.

26/06/2012 14:25

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NIC.07.12.042.indd 1

27/6/12 14:47:35

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully Charged From the helpline

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


I’m installing a PVC-insulated and sheathed twin and earth cable to be concealed in a wall at a depth of less than 50 mm from the surface, but I’m having to route the cable outside of the ‘safe’ zones mentioned in indent (v) of Regulation 522.6.101. Would the use of several layers of metal capping over the cable comply with indent (iv) of Regulation 522.6.101 to mechanically protect the cable against penetration by nails, screws and the like?

No. Although metal capping gives a degree of protection to cables against damage by the plasterer’s trowel, it’s not sufficient to prevent penetration by nails, screws and the like, which is what Regulation 522.6.101(iv) requires. Even multiple layers of metal capping won’t give any guarantee of doing this. Meeting the requirement of Regulation 522.6.101(iv) is very difficult, especially where tools powered by electricity, compressed air or cartridge are used to drive nails and screws, as is common on construction sites nowadays. A lot of thought should be given before adopting this approach. It’s usually better to use one of the other methods of protection listed in Regulation 522.6.101 where a cable is to be installed outside the ‘safe’ zones. These methods include, for example, the use of a cable having an earthed metallic covering (indent (i) refers), or installing the cable in earthed metal conduit or earthed metal trunking (indents (ii) and (iii) respectively refer).

QUESTION In an installation where the consumer unit has rewireable fuses, am I under any obligation to replace the rewireable fuses with another type of overcurrent device before I carry out work such as altering or extending an existing circuit or installing a new circuit?

43_44_askexperts.gm3.indd 43

ANSWER No, you’re not. Whilst semi-enclosed rewireable fuses to BS 3036 are no longer in general production in the UK, BS 7671: 2008 (as amended) still recognises them. Tables 41.2 and 41.4 of BS 7671 give data on maximum values of earth fault loop impedance for BS 3036 fuses, and Appendix 3 gives time/current characteristics for them. BS 7671 contains a number of requirements that have to be complied with where BS 3036 fuses are used. For example, for overload protection of the cable in a radial circuit, Regulation 433.1.101 requires the current-carrying capacity of the cable be at least equal to the rated current of the BS 3036 circuit fuse (In) divided by a factor of 0.725. This can have the effect of increasing the size of cable required, compared with if, say, a circuit breaker to BS EN 60898 or BS 3871 had been used as the circuit protective device. A possible alternative to increasing the cable size might be to replace the BS 3036 fuse with one having a suitably reduced rated current (In), if this reduced rated current is not less than the maximum sustained current expected to be carried by the circuit in normal service (Ib). As a final thought, there may be a practical reason that might make it sensible to replace a BS 3036 fuse with another type of overcurrent device. For example, if, as is likely to be the case, a circuit that’s being altered, extended or added will be required to have additional protection by an RCD to meet the requirements of BS 7671, a practicable way to provide this protection could be to replace the BS 3036 fuse with a suitable RCBO. NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:26

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged QUESTION Is it permissible to connect a carbon monoxide warning detector to a fire alarm system?

ANSWER No. Carbon monoxide warning detectors should not be confused with carbon monoxide fire detectors. Carbon monoxide warning detectors are intended for sensing carbon monoxide in the air caused by incorrect combustion in a fuel burning appliance. Connecting a carbon monoxide warning detector to a fire alarm system may cause danger should fire occur. For example, on the giving of an audible warning signal, the occupants may be confused regarding what action to take, which could be either to: • escape due to fire, whilst closing the doors to minimise fire spread or isolate the appropriate fuel burning appliance, or • open all doors and windows due to the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning. Such confusion could result in a loss of vital escape time.

QUESTION Are there any particular requirements about through-wiring of luminaires (lighting fittings) in BS 7671?


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

43_44_askexperts.gm3.indd 44

ANSWER Yes. Through-wiring of a luminaire is not permitted unless the luminaire is designed to accommodate through-wiring (Regulation 559.6.2.1 refers). Reference to the manufacturer’s installation information provided with a luminaire or posted on the manufacturer’s website will clarify whether or not through-wiring is acceptable for a particular luminaire. For a luminaire to be suitable for through-wiring it must incorporate some form of heat shielding or screening arrangement. Any cable used for through-wiring must be selected in accordance with the temperature information on the luminaire or stated in manufacturer’s data, as follows (Regulation 559.6.2.2 refers). • For a luminaire meeting the requirements of the relevant part(s) of the BS EN 60598 series having a temperature marking, cables used for through-wiring need to be suitable for the marked temperature. • For a luminaire meeting the requirements of the relevant part(s) of the BS EN 60598 series and not having a temperature marking, heat-resistant cabling need not be used unless specifically required by the manufacturer. • In the absence of any specific information, heat-resistant cables and/or insulated conductors of type H05S-U, H05S-K, H05SJ-K, H05SS-K as classified in BS 6007: 2006 (Electric cables. Single core unsheathed heat resisting cables for voltages up to and including 450/750 V, for internal wiring) need to be used. It should be noted that the use of through-wiring can present difficulties after installation. In particular, it makes the replacement of a luminaire much more difficult than one connected via, say, a plug and socket-outlet lighting rose arrangement. This should be borne in mind at the design stage.

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NIC.07.12.045.indd 1

27/6/12 15:11:32

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged 46 51 54 57 58 62

Surge protective devices Requirements for operating and maintenance gangways Medical locations Use of the location reference column in inspections for the EICR and DEICR Checks to be made before adding to or altering an existing installation Snags and Solutions: A practical guide to everyday electrical problems, now updated to Amendment No 1 of BS 7671

part 2 The first article looked at the nature, origins and effects of transient overvoltages in electrical installations, and at why the installation of SPDs might be required. In this second article, we will look at the criteria given in Section 443 of BS 7671 for deciding whether or not SPDs are required in an installation. Part 2 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Deciding whether or not SPDs are required

Surge protective devices

In every electrical installation, BS 7671 requires protection to be provided for persons and property against the consequences of overvoltages such as those of atmospheric origin (lightning) or due to switching, in accordance with Section 443 (Regulation 131.6.2 refers). Section 443 takes account of lightning strikes close to low voltage lines of the supply network or electrical

This is the second article in a series of three on surge protective devices (SPDs) that began in Issue 181 of Connections.

Fig 1 A guide to determining the method of providing protection in accordance with Section 443 against overvoltages of atmospheric origin or due to switching

START NO Is the installation supplied by an LV system that includes an overhead line (or the installation includes an LV overhead line)?

Use AQ criteria Which of the following methods is Use Risk assessment (Regs 443.2.2 & 443.2.3) method (Reg. 443.2.4) the most appropriate ? 1 Use of AQ criteria 2 Risk assessment method

Does the equipment in the

YES installation meet the requirements for the impulse withstand voltage given in Table 44.3 ?


Is the installation liable to overvoltages due to switching ?



Is a high level of protection required for safety or reliability?




Is provision for overvoltages protection Category1 equipment by means of SPDs in the fixed installation required ?

Do external influence AQ1 conditions apply?


Are there unacceptable consequences for any of the following? 1 Human life 2 Public services 3 Commercial or industrial activities



AQ1 Conditions â&#x2030;¤ 25 thunderstorms per year To determine if there are unacceptable consequences for: 1 Groups of individuals 2 Individuals Carry out a risk-assessment calculation as described in Note 3 to 443.2.4


Is d > dc?


Overvoltage protection by equipment complying with Table 44.3

Overvoltage protection by surge protection devices

SPDs not required

SPDs required (see section 534)


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

46_48_technical 1 SPDs.CC3.indd Sec1:46

26/06/2012 14:28

installations. It does not take account of direct lightning strikes on these, for which the requirements of BS EN 62305 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Protection against lightning should be consulted. Section 443 also does not cover protection of data and communication cables against transient overvoltages, for which the requirements of BS EN 61643 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Low voltage surge protective devices should be consulted. Note. BS EN 62305 would require SPDs to be installed if the risk of a direct lightning strike to the building structure was higher than the tolerable risk determined in accordance with BS EN 62305. The presence of a lightning protection system on the structure might be an indication that this is the case. BS EN 62305 would also require SPDs to be installed if the risk of a direct lightning strike to an overhead line in the low voltage system supplying the installation was higher than tolerable risk determined in accordance with BS EN 62305. In that case, BS EN 62305 would also require SPD protection to be provided for data and communication cables.

Fig 1 of this article summarises the criteria given in Section 443 for deciding whether or not the installation of SPDs is required. The criteria are discussed in more detail in the remainder of this article. SPDs are not generally required in domestic premises to protect the fixed wiring and other fixed equipment of the installation. Protection against overvoltages of atmospheric origin As explained below, an important factor in relation to overvoltages of atmospheric origin is whether or not the installation is supplied by a low voltage system that includes an overhead line. Installations not supplied via an overhead line Where an installation is supplied by a low voltage system does not contain any overhead lines (except a suspended cable with an earthed metal covering), no additional protection by SPDs against overvoltages of atmospheric origin is required, provided the impulse withstand voltage of the equipment in the installation is at least equal to the relevant minimum values shown in Table 44.3 of BS 7671 (Regulation 443.2.1 refers). Table 1 of this article gives the minimum values of impulse withstand voltage shown in Table 44.3 of BS 7671 for an installation of the rated voltage (U0) 230 V to Earth. These values of impulse withstand voltage depend on the Impulse withstand category (IV, III, II or I) of the equipment in the installation, as shown in Table 1. Many installations are supplied by underground cables only and do not contain or supply equipment with an impulse withstand voltage less than that required by Table 44.3 (see Table 1 for installations rated at 230 V to Earth). As these installations satisfy the requirements of Regulation 443.2.1, protection against overvoltages of atmospheric origin by SPDs is not required by Section 443. However, protection by SPDs should be provided where the consequences of equipment failure due to an overvoltage are unacceptable.

46_48_technical 1 SPDs.CC3.indd Sec1:47

Table 1 Required minimum impulse withstand voltage for equipment where installation rated voltage is 230 V to Earth (based on Tables 44.3 and 44.4 of BS 7671)

Impulse withstand category

Example of equipment in category (Note 1)

Required minimum impulse withstand voltage (Note 2)

I (low impulse voltage)

Sensitive electronic equipment connected to the fixed installation.

1.5 kV

II (normal impulse voltage)

Domestic appliances and portable power tools connected to the fixed installation.

2.5 kV

III (high impulse voltage)

Equipment intended to be installed in a part of the fixed installation where a high degree of availability of overvoltages is expected, such as distribution boards, circuit-breakers and wiring systems

4.0 kV

Equipment intended to be installed at or near the intake to the installation, such as the energy meter.

6.0 kV

IV (very high impulse voltage)

Notes. 1 Table 44.4 of BS 7671 gives a fuller list of examples of equipment falling into each category 2 This table applies only for installations of rated voltage (U0) 230 V. For installations of other rated voltages, see Table 44.3 of BS 7671.

Installations supplied by, or including, a low voltage overhead line Where an installation is supplied by a low voltage system that contains an overhead line (excluding a suspended cable having an earthed metal covering), or the installation itself includes an LV overhead line, Regulations 443.2.2 to 443.2.4 give two alternative methods for determining whether protection by SPDs is required. These are the AQ criteria method and risk assessment method, as described below. AQ criteria method The AQ criteria method in Section 443 is based on the likelihood of the equipment being subjected to overvoltages caused by lightning strikes, taking account of the probable number of lightning strikes per year. For electrical installations in the UK, the map in Fig 2 of this article shows that the probable number of thunderstorm days per year in a given location is

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:28

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged less than 25, and therefore external condition AQ1 applies (not more than 25 thunderstorm days per year). Where this is the case, Regulation 443.2.2 indicates that provided the impulse withstand voltage of the equipment is not less than the values given in Table 44.3 (see Table 1 for installations rated at 230 V to Earth), no additional protection by SPDs is required for protection against overvoltages of atmospheric origin. However, where higher levels of equipment reliability or higher risks (e.g. fire) are expected, additional protection (by SPDs) against overvoltage may be required, irrespective of the AQ value (the note to Regulation 443.2.2 refers). For installations outside UK where condition AQ2 applies (more than 25 thunderstorm days per year), Regulation 443.2.3 indicates that protection by SPDs is required where the installation is supplied via, or includes, an overhead line.

Fig 2 Map of thunderstorm days per year for the UK

Note. The AQ method is not aligned with BS 62305 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Protection against lightning. The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission is reviewing Section 443 to realign it with IEC 62305. Note 2 to Regulation 443.1.1 refers.

Risk assessment method The risk assessment method described in Regulation 443.2.4 may be used as an alternative to the use of AQ criteria method for determining whether or not the use of SPDs is required for protection against overvoltages of atmospheric origin. The risk assessment method is based on a technique described in IEC Technical Report 61662 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Assessment of risk of damage due to lightning. It considers the consequences of damage to electronic equipment brought about by overvoltages. For certain circumstances, it includes a calculation to indicate if SPDs are required. Details of the calculation are given in Note 3 to Regulation 443.2.4.

Average number of days of thunder during the whole year (1971 to 2000)


Protection against overvoltages due to switching Protection against overvoltages due to switching should be provided where the electrical installation designer judges that the probability of switching overvoltages being generated by equipment within the installation is high enough to justify this, or where the consequences equipment failure due to an overvoltage are unacceptable. If SPDs have been provided for protection against overvoltages of atmospheric origin, these can also be expected to be effective against switching overvoltages, as these latter overvoltages are usually less damaging than lightning overvoltages.

Average value (days)

12 to 14 10 to 12 8 to 10 6 to 8 4 to 6 Map courtesy of the Met Office


Remaining article in this series The remaining article in this series, to be published in a future edition of Connections, will cover the procedures for installing SPDs, as described in Section 534 and Appendix 16 of BS 7671.


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

46_48_technical 1 SPDs.CC3.indd Sec1:48

26/06/2012 14:28

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NIC.07.12.050.indd 1

27/6/12 14:53:31

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged Gangway width and headroom

Requirements for operating and maintenance gangways Operating and Maintenance Gangways are one of a number of new special installations or locations added to Part 7 of BS 7671: 2008 by Amendment No 1, which came into effect on 1 January. An operating and maintenance gangway is defined in BS 7671 as a gangway that provides access to facilitate operations such as switching, controlling, setting, observation and maintenance of electrical equipment.


s for all the special installations and locations in Part 7 of BS 7671, the requirements of Section 729, Operating and Maintenance Gangways, supplement or modify the general requirements of BS 7671. The requirements of Section 729 apply to basic protection and other safety aspects, including those for operating or maintenance gangways, in areas containing switchgear and controlgear assemblies where access to the area is restricted to skilled persons or instructed persons under the supervision of a skilled person. The requirements of Section 729 do not apply to situations where switchgear or controlgear are installed in a location where access is rightly not restricted to skilled or instructed persons. This could be the case, for example, where protection against electric shock for all equipment in the location relies on the generally permitted protective measures listed in Regulation 410.3.3, such as automatic disconnection of supply, and not on obstacles or placing out of reach (Section 418). However, the general requirements of BS 7671 still apply in such situations, such as the requirements of Chapter 41 for protection against electric shock and Regulation 132.12 for accessibility. Control of access to the special location The areas restricted to skilled or instructed persons must be clearly marked by means of appropriate signage (see Fig 1), and measures must be taken to prevent unauthorised access (Regulation 729.3 refers). The latter requirement will most likely be met by securing the access doors by conventional lock and key, or perhaps by security card reader or similar. However, evacuation from the location should be unrestricted and not require the use of a key or tool or anything other than the opening mechanism.

51_52_technical 2 operating.CC2.indd Sec2:51

Fig 1 Example of signage to mark restricted access areas

Two fundamental requirements, given in Regulation Group 729.513.2, are that: • the width of gangways and access areas must be adequate for work, operational access, emergency evacuation, and transport of equipment, and • gangways must permit at least 90° opening of equipment doors or hinged panels. Subject to the above requirements, the minimum width and headroom dimensions for gangways are given in Regulation 729.513.2.1 where basic protection against electric shock is provided by barriers or enclosures in accordance with Section 416, and in Regulation 729.513.2.2 where basic protection is provided by obstacles in accordance with Section 417. The minimum dimensions are summarised in Table 1 of this article. It is interesting to note that the minimum height of 2500 mm for placing bare live parts out of reach (see Table 1, bottom row) exceeds the figure of 7 feet (2.1336 m) for the minimum height to a bare live low voltage conductor that applied in regulation 17 of the Electricity (Factories Act) Special Regulations 1908 & 1944, which appears as a historical comment in Appendix 3 of the Memorandum of guidance on the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (HSR25). The gangway width and headroom dimensions given in Section 729 (and summarised in this article) are absolute minima. Larger clearances must be provided where circumstances dictate this. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reported finding in the past that, even with fully enclosed switchgear and controlgear conforming to relevant standards, inadequate space has been provided between, for example, the front of a switchboard and a facing wall, which has prevented operating handles from being fully extended. Equally, the HSE has also found cases where switchboards have been erected face to face with inadequate spacing to allow safe operation, and that withdrawable units have been installed with insufficient space to withdraw and work on them. It is essential that sufficient working space is provided in all situations. Access to gangways and for evacuation in emergency The requirements for access to gangways and for evacuation in an emergency are given in Regulation 729.513.2.3 and Annex A729. The fundamental requirements for access are that gangways exceeding 10 m in length are to be accessible from both ends, and that closed restricted access areas with a length exceeding 20 m are to be accessible by doors at both ends (Regulation 729.513.2.3 refers). However, a note to Regulation 729.513.2.3 recommends accessibility from both ends of a closed restricted access area if the length exceeds 6 m. Examples of the positioning of doors in various

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:33

Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged Fig 2 Minimum width of gangway (to be read with Table 1)

Table 1 Gangway minimum width and height above Gangway characteristic

Minimum applicable dimension (mm)

Gangway width including between: • barriers or enclosures (or obstacles, where applicable) and switch handles in their most onerous position, and • barriers or enclosures (or obstacles, where applicable) or switch handles in their most onerous position and the wall

700 (see Fig 2)

Gangway width between barriers or enclosures (or obstacles, where applicable) and other barriers or enclosures (or obstacles, where applicable) and the wall

700 (see Fig 2)

Height of barrier or enclosure (or obstacle, where applicable), measured from gangway floor


Height of Iive parts placed out of reach (Regulation 417.3), measured from gangway floor


Notes. 1) This table gives only a summary of the relevant requirements. For the full requirements, see BS 7671, Section 729. 2) Larger dimensions may be required for particular items of switchgear or controlgear (including for transport of these). 3) See Fig 3 regarding provision of space to permit 90° opening of equipment access doors or hinged panels. 4) The use of obstacles is permitted only for parts of the installation that are controlled or supervised by skilled persons (Regulations 417.1 and 729.513.2.2 refer). Obstacles are therefore unsuitable for use where an instructed person not under the supervision of a skilled person is authorised to access an area.

situations are given in Fig 729.3 of the regulation. The main evacuation requirements in Annex A729 can be summarised as: • doors of equipment must close in the direction of the evacuation route • gangways must permit at least 90° opening of equipment access doors or hinged panels • doors that can be fixed in the open position and circuit-breakers that are fully withdrawn for maintenance require at least 500 mm clearance to the opposite limitation of the gangway when the door is open or the circuit-breakers fully withdrawn (see Fig 3). Where items of switchgear or controlgear are installed face to face, it is important that if equipment doors need to be opened, or circuit-breakers need to be withdrawn, opposite each other, at least the minimum passing width shown in Fig 3 is available with doors fully open/circuitbreakers fully withdrawn.


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

51_52_technical 2 operating.CC2.indd Sec2:52

Barriers or enclosures

Circuit-breaker in the position “isolation”

700 mm

700 mm

Elevation view

Fig 3 Minimum passing width (for evacuation) allowing for 90° opening of access doors and withdrawal of circuit-breakers

Plan view

Minimum passing width 500 mm*




Circuit-breaker in the position “completely extracted”


Fixing device of a door


The minimum width of a gangway of 500 mm shall be taken into consideration between the wall and the circuit-breaker in the position “completely extracted” and equipment door in the 90 degree position

26/06/2012 14:33

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Fully charged Medical locations This is the third and final article in a series of three on the requirements of Section 710 of BS 7671 for the design, installation, and inspection and testing of electrical installations of medical locations. The article looks at the requirements of BS 7671 for inspection and testing at various stages in the life of the electrical installation in a medical location.


he first article in this series – published in Issue 180 of Connections − looked at the scope of Section 710 and also at the system of Grouping used for medical locations and how the system of classification of safety service supplies given in Section 560 is applied to medical locations. The second article – published in Issue 181 of Connections − looked at the requirements for the protective measures of Automatic Disconnection of Supply and extra-low voltage provided by SELV or PELV in medical locations, as well as the requirements for supplementary bonding.

part 3 Inspection and testing of the electrical installation For a new installation, or an addition or alteration to an existing one, BS 7671 requires inspection and testing to be carried out during the construction of the installation and on its completion, before it is put into service (Regulation 610.1 refers). The objective of the inspection and testing is to verify that the installed electrical equipment, including wiring systems: • complies with the requirements of Section 511 (Compliance with Standards), • is correctly selected and erected in accordance with BS 7671 and taking into account manufacturers’ instructions, and • is not visibly damage or defective in a way that would impair safety. (Regulation 611.2 refers.) Inspection Inspection must be carried out before testing (Regulation 611.1 refers). This enables any defects to be found that might otherwise make testing of the


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

54_55_technical 3 medical.CC2.indd Sec1:54

installation dangerous to the occupants of the building or to person(s) carrying out the testing, or which might have invalidated any test results obtained. The inspection must normally be carried out while the part of an installation under inspection is disconnected from the supply (Regulation 611.1 refers). Regulation 611.3 gives a list of the inspection checks to be carried out as a minimum, where relevant. The regulation also points out that the particular requirements of Part 7 of BS 7671 for special installations or locations (which include those of Section 710 for medical locations) must be taken into account in the checking process. The specific items to be inspected for a medical location will include (amongst many others) methods of protection against electric shock. In this respect, both the general requirements of Chapter 41 and the additional requirements of Regulation Group 710.41 must be taken into account, including, for example, the reduced maximum disconnection times required (Table 710), various requirements and restrictions relating to the use of RCDs, and the requirements for supplementary equipotential bonding to be in place (Regulation Group 710.415.2). Testing The general requirements of BS 7671 for testing, given in Chapter 61 (Initial Verification), apply to medical locations as for other type of installation. The order of tests and how they are performed are also the same. As with all electrical installations, there may be a significant time interval between the initial installation of conductors (sometimes referred to as ‘first fixing’) and the final handover of the installation. It is possible for damage to have occurred during this time, when, for example, cables are plastered over and flooring and suspended ceilings are installed. In some cases, this will necessitate repeating a test previously carried out. It is not acceptable to rely solely on test results obtained at an earlier stage of the installation process. Regulation 710.6 requires that the dates and results of each verification are recorded. The same regulation also requires that, both prior to commissioning and after alterations or repairs and before re commissioning, the following tests to be carried out. • Complete functional tests of the insulation monitoring devices (see Regulation 710.61 indent (i) for details). • Measurements of no-load leakage current of circuits supplied by medical IT transformers (see Regulation 710.61 indent (ii) for details). • Measurements to verify that the resistance of the supplementary bonding does not exceed the limits given in Regulation 710.415.2.2 (that is, 0.7 Ω between protective conductors of fixed equipment or any

26/06/2012 14:35

extraneous-conductive-parts and the equipotential bonding busbar for Group 1 locations, and 0.2 Ω between protective conductors of fixed equipment or any extraneous-conductive-parts and the equipotential bonding busbar for Group 2 locations). The above tests are in addition to those required by Chapter 61 of BS 7671 and Health Technical Memorandum HTM 06-01: Electrical Services Supply and Distribution – Part A: Design Considerations, published by the Department of Health. (Regulations 710.61 and 710.415.2.2 refer). Periodic inspection and testing As for any other electrical installation, it is required that the Electrical Installation Certificate for a new installation, or an alteration or addition to an existing installation, in a medical location includes a recommendation of the interval to the first periodic inspection (Regulation 631.1 refers). However, when making the recommendation of the interval, the person compiling the Electrical Installation

Meet the helpline

Justin Maltby-Smith, NICEIC senior operations engineer Industry experience: Ran his own electrical company, lecturer, consultant/ project manager Interests: Kung-Fu and kickboxing, black-belt instructor

If you have ever telephoned our technical helpline you may wonder who the voices are on the other end of the line. Well, meet the technical helpline team: all industry professionals with vast experience in the electrical industry and some interests outside of the day job too!

Alan Turvey, NICEIC operations engineer Industry experience: Electrician, carrying out industrial, commercial, quarry and domestic installations, lecturer and deputy head of construction with further education college Interests: Walking, bonsai cultivation and restoration of classic bicycles

54_55_technical 3 medical.CC2.indd Sec1:55

Certificate should take account of (amongst other things) Note 2 to Regulation 710.62, which recommends: • annual functional tests of the insulation monitoring devices • three-yearly measurements of no-load leakage current of circuits supplied by medical IT transformers • annual measurements to verify that the resistance of the supplementary bonding does not exceed the limits given in Regulation 710.415.2.2. Periodic inspection and testing of an electrical installation in a medical location is subject to the requirements of Chapter 62 of BS 7671, as for any other installation. In addition, however, Note 1 to Regulation 710.62 recommends that periodic inspection and testing should be carried out in accordance with Health Technical Memorandum 06-01: Electrical Services Supply and Distribution – Part B: Operational Management Electrical Services and local Health Authority requirements, if any. HTM 06-01 Parts A and B can be obtained from TSO (The Stationery Office). Information can be found at

Stuart McHugh, senior technical helpline engineer Industry experience: More than 41 years in the electrical industry, including a six-year apprenticeship, industrial commercial domestic and street-lighting work Interests: Vintage aircraft, motoring

Clinton Thompson, NICEIC operations engineer Industry experience: Electrician (domestic and industrial), electrical engineer (food industry, high-volume production and heavy press industry), college tutor, training centre tutor Interests: Classic cars and bikes, music

Norman Bradshaw, NICEIC technical helpline engineer Industry experience: Electrician for 23 years, working as an Approved Contractor, assisting new electricians in gaining Part P registration and working in partnership with local building control departments Interests: Voluntary work, running

Duncan McFarlane NICEIC technical helpline engineer Time-served electrician, working on domestic, commercial, industrial and petrochemical installations. Electrical clerk of works, electrical surveyor, lecturer and NVQ assessor Interests: Travelling and motorcycling

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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Fully charged Use of the location reference column in the schedule of inspections for the EICR and DEICR NICEIC is sometimes asked how to use the ‘Location reference’ column in the Schedule of Inspections that is issued with the NICEIC Electrical Installation Condition Report or the NICEIC Domestic Electrical Installation Condition Report. This article explains the use of this column.


he NICEIC Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and the NICEIC Domestic Electrical Installation Condition Report (DEICR) are amongst the new and updated forms of certificate and report produced by NICEIC to align with the corresponding model forms introduced by Amendment 1 to BS 7671: 2008, which came into effect in January. The EICR and DEICR replace the old NICEIC Periodic Inspection Report and its domestic equivalent. The new forms are produced in the serially numbered ‘red’ and ‘purple’ versions for use by NICEIC Approved Contractors and NICEIC Domestic installers respectively, and in the uncontrolled ‘green’ version for use by contractors not enrolled or registered by NICEIC. Fig 1 shows the first page of the Schedule of Inspections for the ‘red’ version of the DEICR. The Location reference column can be seen in Fig 1.

This report is not valid if the serial number has been defaced or altered



Item Description


Condition/adequacy of distributor’s/supply intake equipment


Consumer unit(s)


Service cable



Service cut-out/fuse(s)

Adequacy of working space or access to consumer unit


Meter tails - distributor


Security of fixing


Condition of enclosure(s) in terms of IP rating


Condition of enclosure(s) in terms of fire rating


Meter tails - consumer


Metering equipment


Means of main isolation (where present) 4.5

Enclosure not damaged/deteriorated so as to impair safety


Presence of adequate arrangements for other sources (microgenerators etc)


Presence of linked main switch


Operation of main switch (functional check)


Earthing and bonding arrangements



Presence and condition of distributor’s earthing arrangement

Manual operation of circuit-breakers and RCDs to prove disconnection



Presence and condition of earth electrode connection

Correct identification of circuits and protective devices


Confirmation of adequate earthing conductor size


Accessibility and condition of earthing conductor at Main Earthing Terminal (MET)


Confirmation of adequate main protective bonding conductor sizes


Condition and accessibility of main protective bonding conductor connections


Provision of earthing and bonding labels at all appropriate locations

Outcome* Location reference


Item Description

(To the person ordering the work)

Fig 1 Page 1 of the Schedule of Inspections for NICEIC Domestic Electrical Installation Condition Report

4.10 Presence of RCD test notice at or near consumer unit 4.11 Presence of non-standard (mixed) cable colour warning notice at or near consumer unit 4.12 Presence of alternative supply warning notice at or near consumer unit 4.13 Presence of replacement next inspection recommendation label 4.14 Presence of other required labelling (please specify) 4.15 Examination of protective device(s) and base(s); correct type and rating (no signs of unacceptable thermal damage, arcing or overheating) 4.16 Single-pole protective devices in the line conductor only

* All boxes must be completed.

‘N/A’ indicates Not applicable Further investigation required state F/I Outcome Provide additional comment where appropriate on attached numbered sheets. indicates Acceptable condition ‘✔’ Unacceptable condition state C1 or C2 (to determine whether danger or C1, C2 and C3 coded items to be recorded in section F of the report. ‘LIM’ indicates a Limitation Improvement recommended state C3 potential danger exists) This report is based on the model forms shown in Appendix 6 of BS 7671. Published by NICEIC, a part of the Ascertiva Group © Copyright The Electrical Safety Council (July 2011)

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Page 4 of DPN5/7

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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Ask the experts/Technical


Fully charged Use of the Location reference column The main purpose of the Location reference column is to indicate the location where a deficiency (damage, deterioration, defect or other non-compliance) in the installation has been found. This information should be placed against the relevant item in the Schedule of Inspections. An example of this is shown in Fig 2, in which information in the Location reference column is given in terms of the part of the building in which a deficiency was observed. Depending on the nature of a deficiency, any corresponding information in the Location reference column could alternatively be given in terms of (say) the reference number of a circuit or item of equipment in relation to which the deficiency was observed. Other suitable means of description of the location of the deficiency may also be used in the Location reference column, provided they are sufficiently clear and accurate. It should not normally be necessary to make an entry in the Location reference column against every item in the Schedule of Inspections.

Checks to be made before adding to or altering an existing installation Many existing electrical installations require one or more additions or alterations during their lifetime. This article looks at the checks that must be made by the electrical installer or other designer before any such work is started.

Related actions An appropriate entry must be made in Section F of the EICR or DEICR (Observations and recommendations for actions to be taken) wherever deficiencies have been allocated a Classification Code (C1, C2 or C3) in the Schedule of Inspections. An accurate, yet concise description of the non-compliance should be given with, if necessary, a more in-depth identification of the location of the non-compliance within the installation. Using the summary of the findings of the inspection and testing contained within Section F, the person compiling the report should complete: â&#x20AC;˘ Section E (Summary of the condition of the installation), and â&#x20AC;˘ Section G (Declaration) In both cases, the person compiling the report must clearly state whether the electrical installation is in either satisfactory or unsatisfactory in terms of its suitability for continued use.

Fig 2 Example of the use of the Location reference column SCHEDULE OF INSPECTIONS Item Description 3.6



Condition and accessibility of main protective bonding conductor connections


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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Location reference

Cupboard under kitchen sink


he proposed addition or alteration may be minor, such as the addition of a socket-outlet to a final circuit or the repositioning of a lighting point; or more major, such as the addition of one or more new final circuits, distribution circuits or distribution boards. Where any addition or alteration is to be made to an existing installation, the relevant requirements of BS 7671 have to be met such that, not only is the addition or alteration safe, but also the safety of the existing installation is not impaired. Regulation 132.16 of BS 7671 requires that no addition or alteration, temporary or permanent, is made to an existing installation, unless: a) the rating and the condition of any existing equipment, including that of the distributor, are adequate for the altered circumstances, and b) the earthing and bonding arrangements, if necessary for the protective measure applied for the safety of the addition or alteration, are adequate. It will therefore be necessary for the installer or other designer of the proposed addition or alteration to make an assessment of the existing installation. The purpose of the assessment is to check whether requirements (a) and (b) above have been met. Table 1 of this article summarises the checks that typically need to be included in the assessment of an existing installation for the purposes of Regulation 132.16, mentioned above. However, the list of checks in the table is not exhaustive, and further checks must be carried out where this is necessary to make a proper assessment of the existing installation. If it is found during the assessment that either of requirements (a) and (b) above has not been met, upgrading work must be carried out to the existing installation and/or its electricity supply to put the deficiencies right, before the intended alteration or addition is made. If, when carrying out the assessment of the existing installation, the electrical installer/designer discovers a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation that

26/06/2012 14:36


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Fully charged affects the safety of the circuit(s) to be worked on or any other part of the installation, the client must be advised of this situation (immediately in the case of a dangerous condition), and the advice should be confirmed in writing In such cases, the addition or alteration to the installation must not proceed until any dangerous or potentially dangerous situations have been remedied, to satisfy the duties imposed on competent

persons by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. An NICEIC Electrical Danger Notification can be issued to inform the client of the presence of a dangerous situation. The new work carried out to the installation must comply with all the relevant requirements of the current edition of BS 7671 for design, construction, verification and certification.

Table 1 – Checks typically required to be carried out when assessing the existing installation


Equipment to be checked

Checks to be made

Circuits to be added to or altered and any distribution circuits supplying them

That the current-carrying capacity of cables is adequate for the altered circumstances

Protective devices supplying the above circuits

That the current rating and time/current characteristics are suitable for the altered circumstances, in respect of load and for the purposes of fault protection

(a) Adequacy of rating and Switchgear and controlgear supplying the condition of existing above circuits equipment Electricity distributor’s equipment (service fuse(s) etc.)

(b) Adequacy of earthing and bonding arrangements, if necessary for the protective measure applied for the safety of the addition or alteration

That they are capable of carrying the additional load (if any)

All of the above

That the equipment is undamaged and not unduly affected by wear and tear or external influences, such as corrosion

Means of earthing (electricity distributor’s earthing facility (TN system) or installation earth electrode (TT system))

That the means of earthing is present and that the external earth fault loop impedance (Ze) is sufficiently low for the altered circumstances.

Earthing conductor and main earthing terminal of the installation

That the protective conductors are present, of adequate crosssectional area and of suitable types.

Protective conductors and connections of any distribution circuit(s) that will be used to supply the new, altered or extended circuit(s) Main protective bonding

That the bonding conductors: • are present • for main bonding conductors, they connect to the main earthing terminal of the installation all extraneous-conductive-parts, such as Supplementary bonding, if the addition metallic gas and water installation pipework and exposed metallic or alteration is for a special installation or structural parts of the building location where BS 7671 requires this bonding, • for supplementary bonding conductors, they connect extraneoussuch as: conductive-parts and circuit protective conductors in the special • a location containing a bath or shower location as required by the relevant Section of Part 7 of BS 7671 (except where conditions (iv), (v) and (vi) • use conductors of adequate cross-sectional area, labelled where of Regulation 701.414.2 for omission of necessary, and supplementary bonding are met) • are so installed and connected that any foreseeable operation • a location containing a swimming pool performed on gas, water or other service does not result in damage or disconnection of the main bonding All of the above


That the current rating is adequate for the altered circumstances

Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

57_60_technical 4-5 schedule_checks.CC3.indd Sec4:60

That the equipment is undamaged and not unduly affected by wear and tear or external influences, such as corrosion That electrical connections provide durable electrical continuity and adequate mechanical strength and protection

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Fully charged Snags & Solutions A practical guide to everyday electrical problems, now updated to Amendment No 1 of BS 7671 ‘Snags & Solutions’, NICEIC’s problem solving book, is available in three parts, which cover many commonly-encountered electrical installation problems. All parts have now been updated, where appropriate, to take account of the requirements of Amendment No 1 to BS 7671: 2008 (17th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations), which and came into full effect on 1 January. Part 1 of Snags & Solutions addresses

53 problems relating to earthing and bonding, Part 2 covers 55 problems relating to wiring systems, and Part 3 covers 52 problems relating to inspection and testing. 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 the installation of PVC cables above suspended ceilings.


Part 2

wiring systems 3rd Edition

Amd 1: 2011


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

62_63_technical 6 snags.CC3.indd Sec1:62

Amd 1: 2011

Amd 1: 2011

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PVC cables above suspended ceilings The space above a suspended ceiling offers a useful void for the installation of electricity, water, gas, heating and other services.

Snag 40 The grid of light metal bars, usually having an inverted ‘T’ section, into which ceiling tiles, recessed luminaires (light fittings) and ventilation grilles etc. are installed is not considered adequate and appropriate support for installing, say, flat insulated and sheathed cables. Consequently, such cables should not be laid directly on the metal framework for the following reasons: • The cable is liable to be damaged, both during installation and later, by the sharp edges of the grid, or a cable may become trapped between a ceiling tile and the grid, possibly where other trades have carried out work in connection with the ceiling or other services routed above. • The suspended ceiling grid may not have been designed to take the additional weight of cables, and may deform or collapse as a result.

Solution All cables for fixed wiring are required to be properly supported within a suspended ceiling void. This can be achieved in a number of ways to ensure that the cables are kept well away from the grid and from other services. For example, a designer should consider: • fixing the cables to the underside of the ceiling • providing a conduit, trunking system or cable tray (metallic or non-metallic) fixed at suitable spacings to the building structure above the ceiling, or to walls or other structural elements. • providing a catenary system (shown left), to which the wiring system may be attached using proprietary clips, cable-ties or cable- hangers at appropriate intervals. • attaching the cables by suitable clips or cable ties to ceiling support rods. Connections to each luminaire should be made by sheathed flexible cable from ceiling roses or Luminaire Supporting Couplers (LSCs) located as closely as possible above each lighting point so as to avoid fortuitous contact of the flexible cable with the framework.

Catenary wire

Regulation 522.6.1 Wiring systems shall be selected and erected so as to minimise the damage arising from mechanical stress e.g. by impact, abrasion, penetration, tension or compression, during installation, use or maintenance..

Luminaire Regulation 522.8.1 (Part of) A wiring system shall be selected and erected to avoid during installation, use or maintenance, damage to the sheath or insulation of cables and their terminations.

62_63_technical 6 snags.CC3.indd Sec1:63

NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


26/06/2012 14:37

Product Focus Aico Aico is pleased to announce a new addition to its Firecap range of intumescent fire safety products in the form of Fire Rated Air Valves. The valves are designed to allow air flow from ventilation systems at the same time as providing an effective 60-minute fire barrier. Available in 100mm and 125mm diameters, Firecap Fire Rated Air Valves perform to the same level as normal air valves in terms of air flow, and are fitted in the same manner without any need for adhesive material or special fixings. They can also be readily retrofitted in place of existing valves. Aico’s best-selling Firecap range also includes intumescent fire and sound protection covers for downlights and fluorescent modules.

Ideal Industries IDEAL launches its new SpliceLine™ in-line wire connector, an innovative alternative to traditional butt splices that does not require time-consuming crimping, soldering or heat shrinking to create secure end-to-end connections. Utilising patented push-in technology, the unique design provides a “Maintenance Free” connection that is 3X faster to install than traditional crimped butt splices. In addition, SpliceLine™ is precision-moulded from transparent polycarbonate that permits visual inspection of connections.

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Insudite™ helps to make Prysmian’s FP200 Gold and FP PLUS fire-resistant cables the best on the market. It’s an innovative and unique hard-skin and fire-resistant insulation that tackles today’s requirement for greater cable durability and can address the risks often associated with cables insulated with just soft silicone. Construction sites are busy places and, after first fix, vital cables can be accidently damaged by other trades or even materials mishandling. Prysmian’s tests show Insudite™ has significantly greater resistance to abrasion, puncture, cut through and blunt impact than soft silicone.

Scolmore Scolmore International has expanded its Energetic low-energy lighting, with new LED lamps that incorporate the very latest SMD (surface-mounted diode) technology. There are two new ranges – SMD Economy and SMD Performance – each designed to bring to the market lower-cost, superior-quality LED lamps that are suitable replacements for any incandescent lamp – including what Scolmore believes is the perfect alternative to the 60W lamp. SMDs are the new generation of LED lighting, enabling manufacturers to produce lamps that offer a better light output, are more affordable and continue to offer the significant energy savings associated with LED technology. Offering good quality LEDs at affordable prices is the SMD Economy collection, which comprises six lamps including 2W and 4W LEDs. The SMD Performance range has higher light outputs, making them suitable for commercial and domestic applications. There are four lamps, covering 4W and 11W. Scolmore believes its SMD LED 11W A60 lamp is the most efficient replacement for the 60W incandescent on the market. It offers 800 lumens on a 11W lamp, equivalent to 72 lumens per circuit watt, compared with the nearest competitor product at 60 lumens. 01827 63454


Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

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Martindale Electric Now available from Martindale Electric is the CB12 checkbox. Designed to check the calibration of continuity and resistance ranges of insulation testers and multi meters, the CB12 allows you to easily verify instruments are working within specification. The CB12 uses only one connection for your test leads, with 12 insulation ranges being selected using the rotary dial, which also ensures quicker test times. For increased accuracy, a Production Verification Certificate is included, giving the actual measured values of the unit. Housed in an impact resistant case, the CB12 is a robust and compact checkbox which is small enough to be used on site. It is supplied with a comprehensive two-year warranty.

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Competitive price, top quality and great looks proved to be the winning combination for Marshall-Tufflex’s Twin Plus cable management system, gaining it specification within the £8m refurbishment of Newcastle University Student Union’s Grade II-listed building. The redevelopment won the Education Interior Design Awards 2011. At the planning stages, a number of surveys established a ‘most wanted’ list from Newcastle students. Topping the request list was the introduction of social learning facilities and IT access, which are now in plentiful supply. To provide this, SES required a large capacity cable management system with a good sized bend radius to contain extensive power and data cabling. It picked Marshall-Tufflex’s Twin Plus, a robust CAT 7 compliant PVC-U trunking with bend radius up to 50mm and a comprehensive suite of flush accessories and boxes.

Fast, safe installation and a huge choice of sizes and fittings are offered with a new range of galvanised cable trunking introduced by Unistrut for installation in ceilings, on walls or in floor cavities. The new trunking range extends from 50 x 50mm to 300 x 300mm in 17 sizes, and also includes a lighting trunking range. One, two and three segregated compartment options are available and there are more than 2,000 associated fittings, including angles, bends, tees, crossovers, offsets, reducers, bell mouths, pin rails, cable retainers, socket plates, stirrup hangers, girder clamps and other fixings.

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NICEIC Connections Summer 2012


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Current affairs

Don’t forget to send Current Affairs any pictures that have made you smile and let us know of any hidden talents or charity initiatives. Email editor@


Saddle-sore engineers South-west contractors have helped two NICEIC area engineers raise over £7,000 for a local children’s hospice. Andy Clatworthy and Pete Haskell (pictured left and right), area engineers for Cornwall and Bath respectively, raised the money by cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End, with friend Nick Willdig. Andy was inspired to support the hospice after visiting two Approved Contractors on-site while it was being built in 2011. “It’s the only hospice in Cornwall for children and requires £1 million a year just to operate,” he says. To sponsor Andy and Pete, visit

Photography: Neil Atkinson/Mirrorpix

Holiday home from home


Deep down, we’re all creatures of habit but retired electrician Byron Price has perhaps taken it to extremes. Byron has been visiting the same caravan park near Tenby for over 50 years. He made his first visits as a small boy with his parents at a time when gas lights and slop buckets were the order of the day. He later honeymooned there and brought his own family in the 1980s and 1990s. Now retired, he visits with the caravan most weekends with his wife Anne, often taking along his grandchildren too. As any good tradesperson knows: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Summer 2012 NICEIC Connections

66_current_affairs.gm1.indd 66

Evidence of poor installations, close escapes and unfortunate incidents are all part of the day’s experiences for hardy NICEIC-registered contractors. This issue’s collection includes (1-4): rubber cables melting into cavity wall insulation in a metal switch box with no earthing; an unfortunate mouse who put one leg on the live and another on the neutral bar; fire damage caused by faulty wiring of a halogen ceiling light fitting; and a 13A plug with a cut-down six-inch nail as a fuse. The sorry collection continues with (5-8): an unearthed light switch for a metal light fitting in a residential property; a domestic installation missing a cover over the fuse holder; the results of using a 13A fuse to wire an immersion heater; and uncovered electrics found in a charity shop.




5 4


Thanks to our contributors: Chris Smith of Leicesterbased C D SMITH /// Mark Hatton of Mark Hatton Electrical in Belfast /// Lee Ashdown of L.A. Electrical in Herne Bay /// Alan Hawes from Gainsborough Electrical Services in Canewdon Rochford, Essex /// John Hubbard of Hubbard Electrical Services in Southampton /// Mark Billett of Surrey-based Active Connect /// Jonathan Mather of Abbey Electrical on the Wirral /// Dean Haywood from I.C.L Electrics in Walthamstow.



Keep those shots coming in!

Music to the ears Working to a bit of music makes the day go faster and can keep spirits up on cold mornings on construction sites. Now, though, it seems the benefits of having music on the job are also appreciated by bosses. A study by licensing organisations PPL and PRS for Music found 65 per cent of managers believe having a few tunes on in the background can make people more productive. “A completely silent work environment can lack stimulation, interest and, for many people, a dynamic and creative source of energy,” said psychologist Vicky Williamson. But presumably there is something of a fine line to tread. A bunch of contractors moonwalking along the scaffolding is unlikely to impress.

26/06/2012 14:38

Outstanding productivity saves time and money

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26/6/12 15:42:08

When it comes to Green Deal, we’ve got some real beauties. Are you planning to work on Green Deal assessments? If so, then you should consider the Electrocorder range of data loggers from Acksen, which record electrical energy consumption allowing you to estimate savings and make recommendations to clients.

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Connections July 2012  

Connections July 2012