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connections THE MAGAZINE FOR NICEIC REGISTERED CONTRACTORS £5.00

ADVICE P17 Electrical firms can flourish even in the current uncertain climate

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VEHICLE CHARGING P36 How your business could cash in on installing electric vehicle charging points

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TWITTER: @OFFICIALNICEIC WINTER 2011-12 | ISSUE 180

TESTING P41 The solar PV market is fuelling developments in the world of test equipment

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CITY BONUS

How Metropolitan Electrical Services grew up with London’s Canary Wharf

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Winter 2011-12 | Issue 180

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Contents First phase Seize the moment

25

4

18

Plugged in News Public urged to A.S.K. questions 6 Fees frozen for registered contractors 7 Building firm guilty of logo misuse

8

Renewables news Solar future remains bright Gear up for green deal

10 10

ESC news Concern over smart meters Home improvements boosted

12 13

Product news Non-contact voltage testers

41

Illustrations: Cameron Law

15

Live wire

20 0

Advice 17 Roderic Michelson on how to plant the seeds of sustainable growth

Features

Opinion 18 Voltage optimisation devices provide new business opportunities for contractors, says Matt Cody Regions 20 Contractors in the West Country are diversifying to cope with continued challenging conditions Insight 22 If giving advice or certifying third-party work, ensure you have professional indemnity insurance, says Mike Langton Events 25 Sign up for this year’s Golf Classic Case study Surge protection devices at NICEIC’s Warwick House

26

Customer care 28 Be aware of regulatory obligations when installing downlighters, says Philip Sanders Current affairs Adding a spark to life

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36

Cover story: contractor profile Metropolitan Electrical Services’ growth from a man in a van to a £14 million business

32

Fuel’s gold 36 Growth in demand for electric vehicles will create opportunities for installing and maintaining charging points

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Move with the times Solar technology has driven big developments in testing

41

Ask the experts 45 Some of the NICEIC technical helpline’s more frequently asked questions answered $@@NAMJU@IAJMM@BDNO@M@?>JIOM<>OJMNQBHF

Technical Co-ordination between conductors and overload protective devices

48 48

Snags and solutions

50

Harmonics in installations

52

Medical locations

57

Cartridge fuse standards

60

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NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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Comment

N

EMMA McCARTHY

First phase Seize the moment The year ahead will present opportunities and challenges alike for the electrical contracting industry. Those flexible enough to adapt can use this to their advantage

E

very new year I write my introduction to Connections with an equal measure of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because of the opportunities ahead for the electrical contracting industry and trepidation because of the challenges we will face together. It would be easy, in light of the cut to the feed-in tariff, the threat to electrical safety legislation and the general malaise UK plc finds itself in, to feel pessimistic. But “easy” is not an option for businesspeople, especially those in the electrical contracting industry. This will be a year of huge events for the UK: the Olympic Games, Euro 2012 and the Diamond Jubilee. There will also be major pieces of legislation that will provide growth opportunities, such as the green deal and the renewable heat incentive (RHI). The latter will stimulate growth in heat pump installations. I believe more businesses and

Emma McCarthy is chief executive officer, NICEIC

householders will look to this technology as a way of reducing their energy bills. Electrical contractors are well positioned to use their skills in this market. Ascertiva is ensuring it’s right at the heart of discussions on the feed-in tariff, Part P and green deal pilot schemes so our contractors can access the opportunities they bring. In addition there is the ongoing programme of improvement and development in all our core businesses to serve our customers better and launch new products and services. Last year NICEIC and the ECA decided to work together to provide guidance on what the next 10 years will bring. The research is available on both websites, and highlights many opportunities available to electrical contractors. It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s about being flexible enough to take the opportunities that are presented to you. A very happy and prosperous new year to all Connections readers.

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

PRODUCTION Production manager Jane Easterman Deputy production executive Kieran Tobin

Editor Nick Martindale Technical editor Mike Clark Sub editor Victoria Burgher 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 kieran.tobin@redactive.co.uk

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@ niceicconnections.com

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@ niceicconnections.com

© 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 richard.pagett@ascertiva.com Communications officer Paul Collins 01582 539148 paul.s.collins@ascertiva.com NICEIC Direct Mike Jackson 01582 539709 mike.jackson@ascertiva.com Twitter @officialNICEIC Technical helpline 0870 013 0391 Customer services 0870 013 0382 Sales 0870 013 0458 Training 0870 013 0389

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news

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Plugged in Need-to-know industry news for electrical installers Awards glory for female apprentice

Public urged to A.S.K questions NICEIC has been busy promoting its A.S.K campaign to consumers, urging them to Ask if contractors are NICEIC registered, See if it’s legitimate and Keep their homes safe. The initiative is fronted by TV presenter and former Crimewatch star Rav Wilding, who urged customers not just to accept credentials offered by contractors. “It’s absolutely vital that homeowners are checking and double-checking the ID of tradespeople,” he said. “This is the only way to keep their home and family safe and protected from rogues.” As part of the campaign, NICEIC hit Euston station in the run-up to the busy Christmas period and invited members of the public to help brick a rogue contractor into a “wall of shame”. The stunt was a hit with the travelling public and raised awareness of the risks of using unregistered electricians.

New research from NICEIC reveals that only two in 10 homeowners (19 per cent) would, without hesitation, check for ID when a tradesman arrives at their door, while more than a third (34 per cent) admitted they don’t check at all. Emma McCarthy, CEO of NICEIC, said: “NICEIC is looking to empower the consumer and root out rogue traders. Our message is simple: always find out for yourself that the tradesman at your door is who they say they are.” The campaign has received the support of the government-endorsed quality mark for tradespeople, TrustMark. “This is a great campaign and a critically important message to drive home,” said the organisation’s chairman Liz Male. NICEIC operates its own wall of shame at www.niceic.com, where it names firms caught fraudulently claiming to be NICEIC-registered.

ENNISKILLEN CONTRACTOR CELEBRATES TREBLE Northern Irish NICEIC Approved Contractor Lakeland Electrical Services is celebrating a hat-trick of awards relating to the quality of its work and its approach to health and safety. The business, which is based in Enniskillen with an additional office in Belfast, was awarded the OHSAS 18001 international standard for occupational health and the ISO 9001 quality standard. It also completed the British Approvals for Fire Equipment’s SP203-1 scheme, covering the design, installation, commissioning/verification and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems. Lakeland undertakes commercial, domestic and industrial projects, including the new Enniskillen Hospital, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Lough Erne Golf Resort.

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A woman working for an NICEIC-registered company has won the title of outstanding female engineering apprentice at the prestigious Young Women Engineer of the Year Awards, run by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Laurie-Ann Benner works as a part of the reliability team at Peterborough-based PEME Process Control, and received the Mary George memorial trophy and a cheque for £750 at the event in December 2011. As a condition-based monitoring engineer, Benner carries out regular maintenance of mechanical processes, including the use of thermal imaging and vibration analysis. As well as her day job, she also helps encourage more women into engineering roles, appearing in local papers and visiting schools. “There’s an opportunity for women to go into this sector,” she said. “Many young women just don’t really know much about engineering.” NICEIC was a sponsor for the awards, which were presented by TV presenter Myleene Klass at a ceremony in London.

THREE IN A ROW FOR EMS Middlesex-based Electrical Management Services has landed the title of electrical contractor of the year for the third year running at the Electrical Times Awards. The firm, located in Ashford, has clients including Visa, BskyB, Oxford Brookes University and the Royal College of Art, but won the award for its work with long-term partner Norland Managed Services on the Plantation Place office development in the City of London. Central to the awards success was EMS’s work in restoring a 37-metre high lighting installation known as The Beacon (left) to its former glory.

www.niceic.com

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FREE POCKET GUIDE F I Inside this issue of Connections you will ffind Pocket Guide 25 – RCDs – operating ttimes. A printable version of each pocket g guide is available on the NICEIC website. A Additional copies can be obtained by c contacting the NICEIC customer service d department on 0870 013 0382 or at c customerservice@niceic.com

Fees frozen for NICEIC registered contractors

The football transfer window may have slammed shut, but NICEIC has unveiled its own version, allowing electrical contractors registered with other providers a free transfer to NICEIC’s Domestic Installer scheme. The scheme registers installers to full scope or defined competence for domestic electrical installation work, in accordance with Part P of the Building Regulations. Paul Collins, head of NICEIC, said: “NICEIC is the UK’s leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry and a name recognised by householders. It regularly promotes the importance of employing an NICEIC-registered contractor to homeowners.” Once registered with NICEIC, contractors can also access a range of support services, including technical advice, industry-recognised training, literature and contractor insurance. The free transfer service is quick and straightforward. Log on to the NICEIC website at www.niceic.com/contractor/ join-niceic or call 0870 013 0458.

SBSC WEBSITE RELAUNCH The Scottish Building Services Certification website (www.sbsc.uk.net) has relaunched and now includes updated and extended information on building standards certification. The site provides tradespeople, housebuilders and homeowners with information on certifying work and how to become an approved certifier, enabling tradespeople to take responsibility for ensuring regulatory compliance without the need for detailed scrutiny by local authority verifiers.

EMERGENCY LIGHTING The British Standards Institution has revised its standard on the provision of emergency lighting in new and existing installations in non-domestic premises. BS 5266-1 places responsibility for emergency lighting on the person who controls the premises and has been rewritten to embrace the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Visit shop.bsigroup.com/bs5266-1.

www.niceic.com

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Getty

FREE TRANSFER TO INSTALLER SCHEME

In a move that will be welcomed by its 26,000 registered contractors, NICEIC has announced it is freezing all registration fees from April 2012 through to April 2013. “NICEIC has made this decision in recognition of our customers’ continued support and the business pressures every one of our contractors faces,” said Emma McCarthy, chief executive officer, NICEIC. The price freeze is the fourth in five years and comes at a time when contractors are facing tough economic challenges. “We want to assure our customers that NICEIC is here to help build their

businesses,” added McCarthy. “NICEIC registration marks you out as the best and we provide a range of other services to help our customers at work.” Contractors registered with NICEIC can also access a range of businesscritical support services, including technical advice, industry-recognised training, market literature and dedicated contractor insurance. All surpluses from NICEIC fees are passed to the Electrical Safety Council so the charity can carry out its work promoting registered electrical contractors and the importance of electrical safety. For more information on how to register with NICEIC log on to www.niceic.com.

Book now for NICEIC Live Contractors are being advised to book now for the award-winning NICEIC Live to ensure they do not miss out on one of the biggest events in the industry calendar. There are two shows this year – at Epsom Downs racecourse on 17 May and Bolton Arena on 1 November. The first 100 contractors to book for both events can do so at a heavily discounted rate of £20 plus VAT. NICEIC-registered contractors who miss this offer can book for £36 plus VAT and non-NICEIC attendees for £56 plus VAT. “Such was the response from contractors we felt it necessary to put on an extra event

in the north this year. There was a real buzz around the room and we are confident the shows will be a similar hit with contractors,” said Mark Smith, NICEIC group marketing manager. “NICEIC Live provides excellent value for money and is a great day out for contractors looking to learn information they can take back to their day-to-day role.” Delegates attending the conference will be able to hear from a range of high-profile speakers including NICEIC’s Tony Cable and Darren Staniforth. Motoring journalist Quentin Willson will be speaking at the Bolton Arena event. Lighting expert Philips has signed up as a sponsor, while a wide range of firms from across the industry will also be exhibiting. In December, NICEIC won the award for the best use of events and exhibitions at the Construction Industry Marketing Awards for the inaugural NICEIC Live in 2011. For more information or to book, visit www.niceiclive.com or call 020 7324 2771.

NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news

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Plugged in Building firm guilty of misusing logo An Enfield-based building company has become the latest firm to be convicted of falsely claiming to be registered with NICEIC. Tony Matheou and his two sons Marios and Anthony, who traded as AA & E Builders Ltd, were also found guilty of fraudulently claiming to be Gas Safe registered. The three men pleaded guilty to the offence and were fined £200 each, while the business was fined £800 and ordered to pay £500 costs.

NICEIC // DIARY FEBRUARY 8 Asset Skills Green Deal Connections Northern Ireland Nutts Corner Training Centre, Crumlin

NICEIC’s chief executive Emma McCarthy said: “We take misuse of our logo very seriously and we welcome this latest prosecution. “The NICEIC name is associated with quality and we must protect those contractors who are legitimately registered with us and have the quality of their work assessed on a regular basis. “We must also send out the message that anyone thinking about misusing our logo will be caught and dealt with appropriately by the courts.”

14 NICEIC TechTalk National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth 15 Asset Skills Green Deal Connections Scotland The Lighthouse, Glasgow MARCH 6 NICEIC TechTalk Stadium of Light, Sunderland 20-22 Ecobuild ExCel, London

TAX COMPLIANCE ENCOURAGED

APRIL 17 NICEIC TechTalk Livingston Football Club Rex

HMRC has launched a campaign designed to encourage electrical contractors with unpaid tax to come forward. The electricians’ tax safe plan (ETSP) gives electricians who think they may fall into this category three months from 14 February to let HMRC know they have unpaid tax. Contractors will then have until 14 August to disclose details and pay any outstanding balance. The initiative follows earlier campaigns by HMRC, including one targeting plumbers, gas-fitters and heating engineers. This resulted in 600 notifications of unpaid tax and offers of payments of £4 million to HMRC. NICEIC has been asked to assist HMRC in setting up and running the programme. Paul Collins, head of NICEIC, said: “The ETSP will reinforce compliant behaviour and deter non-compliance in the industry. This is an opportunity for those who may have concerns or worries about their tax issues to get in touch with the HMRC.” You can contact HMRC at www.hmrc.gov.uk/campaigns/index.htm from 14 February, or call 0845 601 5041.

27 EEIBA Spring Ball De Vere Grand Hotel, Brighton MAY 17 NICEIC Live South Epsom Downs Racecourse

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: Wall of Shame winter 2011 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 winter 2011 Consumer awareness campaign encouraging householders to check the ID of tradespeople /// Online specifier campaign winter 2011 Banner advertising on Zoopla.co.uk to encourage homeowners and landlords to always use NICEIC-registered contractors /// DIY SOS winter 2011 Cambridgeshire-based Approved Contractors filmed for future episode of this popular BBC show /// Consumer advertising campaign autumn 2011 National newspaper adverts appearing in eight newspapers reaching over 20 million people /// Google advertising campaign autumn 2011 Promoting NICEIC contractors on “electrician” searches, with approximately 2,000 searches per week /// Landlord information leaflet autumn 2011 Leaflets given to landlords encouraging them to use an NICEIC contractor when upgrading properties /// Don’t play games with safety summer 2011 Editorial campaign urging homeowners to call in a professional if they are thinking about tackling risky DIY electrical jobs in their home /// DIY SOS summer 2011 A team of NICEIC Approved Contractors filmed for upcoming episode of this primetime BBC show /// Advertising campaign summer 2011 Adverts in Thomson local directories and consumer lifestyle magazines /// Blue Square Premier play-off final May 2011 As well as sponsoring the shirts of Luton Town, NICEIC also took out a one-page advert in the programme highlighting the need to always choose an NICEIC-registered electrician /// Twitter launch summer 2011 Launch of Twitter feed @OFFICIALNICEIC to spread the word about only using registered electricians /// Bank holiday dos and don’ts April 2011 Campaign warning homeowners using the bank holiday period to do some home improvements about the potential risks involved in carrying out any electrical work and the need to call in a professional /// Jobs for the Girls spring 2011 Campaign to encourage more female contractors into the industry, featured in national press and radio interviews /// IET Awards spring 2011 Sponsorship of Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award /// Apprentice Academy spring 2011 NICEIC’s new apprentice academy aims to address skills shortages in the industry

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news

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Plugged in

Rex

First BESCA/ NICEIC MCS certification

Solar future remains bright despite cuts NICEIC has responded to the government consultation over the feed-in tariff cut and expressed its disappointment at the reduction. However, a viable market remains for those involved in renewable technologies. Emma McCarthy, CEO of NICEIC, said: “The cut to the feed-in tariff was discouraging at a time when the industry needed a boost and we have let the government know this. But what we need now is a period of calm and stability. “Even at its reduced rate of 21p per kWh the tariff represents a good return on investment,” she added. “This must become a key focus as we look to rebuild customer confidence in the market.” With domestic energy costs set to rise in the long term, NICEIC believes renewable technologies offer customers the opportunity to take control of their energy consumption and offset costs.

Businesses, too, are set to increase their efforts to generate their own electricity and tradespeople with the skills to install these technologies will be well placed to take advantage. This was highlighted in NICEIC’s 2021 Vision industry research project with the ECA, available to download at www.niceic.com. The renewables market has also been boosted by the introduction in November of the renewable heat incentive, which provides payments for heat generated from biomass boilers, solar thermal equipment and heat pumps. Contractors looking to move into the renewables market can take advantage of a special offer on NICEIC’s MCS accreditation scheme, valid until 31 March. To receive the £50 discount, call 0870 013 0458, option two, and quote the code MCS2012.

CONTRACTORS REMINDED ON SOLAR NOTIFICATION NICEIC is again reminding registered Domestic Installers who self-certify solar PV schemes that they need to ensure the whole job complies with all relevant parts of the Building Regulations. For example, the installation of a solar PV system could include the structural and electrical requirements as part of the notification to the local building control. In this case the electrical contractor would need to take sole responsibility for ensuring the work is compliant with the relevant building regulation requirements as part of the self-certification process, including Part A: Structural safety, Part B: Fire safety and Part C: Site preparation and damp proofing, as well as Part P: Electrical safety. Domestic Installers are able to self-certify that the work they have completed is compliant with all relevant sections of the Building Regulations in England and Wales.

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Kent building engineering services firm Delron Services has become the first company to gain microgeneration certification through NICEIC’s alliance with the Building Engineering Services Competence Accreditation (BESCA). The tie-up between NICEIC and the independent national assessment and certification body of the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association enables heating and ventilation contractors to undertake microcertification scheme (MCS) certification alongside BESCA’s own competent persons’ scheme. Martin Burton (pictured, right), senior project manager at Delron Services and a former HVCA president, said: “We are honoured to be the first to achieve MCS accreditation through the BESCA/NICEIC alliance. The process was completely painless; the key is preparation. “MCS certification provides consumers with an assurance that microgeneration products and installation firms meet robust standards.”

GEAR UP FOR GREEN DEAL NICEIC is urging contractors to prepare for the introduction of the government’s green deal in October. Under the scheme, householders and businesses will be able to take up the offer of energy efficiency improvements to their homes and businesses at no upfront cost, and recoup payments through a charge in their energy bill. “Electrical contractors are already reaping the benefits of becoming conversant with new technologies and NICEIC recently certified its 1,000th contractor for MCS accreditation,” said Emma McCarthy, CEO of NICEIC. “The green deal offers even more chances for the traditional contractor to diversify.” Meanwhile, the Ascertiva Group, which owns the NICEIC brand, has successfully applied to join the UKAS pilot of the government’s green deal initiative. The scheme aims to test the processes and standards certification bodies will need to use to assure customers of a quality installation.

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news

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Plugged in

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ESC unveils app targeting homemovers

The ESC has restated the business case for the inclusion of an electricity isolation switch in the proposed specification of smart metering equipment. In its response to the latest government consultation on smart meters, the ESC argued that an isolation switch would allow electrical installers to work safely on equipment between the meter and the consumer’s main switch without requiring the main supply fuse to be removed. “We continue to strongly recommend the acceptance of either of the engineering solutions given as options 1 and 2 in the consultation document, in the safety interests of electrical contractors and electricians, as well as consumers,” it said. “We are surprised and concerned that, on the basis of the evidence and robust case presented to date, the government does not believe that sufficient benefits have been identified to justify the additional costs that would be incurred by amending the functional requirements to include an isolating switch in smart meters.” The Department of Energy and Climate Change issued the latest consultation document in August 2011. The consultation closed in mid-October. In June 2011 the ESC, with NICEIC, other trade bodies, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and the Association of Meter Operators (AMO), presented four

The ESC has launched a new app that will allow anyone who is planning to move into a new home to do a quick visual check to ensure its electrical safety. The app, which was issued to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the National Grid, will also be promoted to landlords to help them confirm their rental properties are safe. The app highlights potential dangers for each room and explains how to resolve simple, non-technical problems. Where more serious issues are flagged, people are advised to use a registered electrician. Anneke Rousseau, head of communications at the ESC, said: “There is a worrying gap between the public’s perception of electrical danger and the reality. This results in people making simple yet fatal errors that could have been easily prevented. The home electrical safety check app has been developed to help bridge that gap.” Available for use on iPhone a and Android phones, it can be ffound by visiting the App Store o or Android Market, searching ffor “home electrical safety c check” and then following the d download instructions. It is a also available by following the links on the ESC’s website.

British Gas

ESC voices concern over smart meters

potential options to government. These included modifying the design of the currently specified single-pole load switch in the smart meter to permit manual isolation by an electrician; incorporating an additional manually operated single-pole or double-pole switch in the smart meter to provide for isolation; installing a separate double-pole isolating switch at the same time as the smart meter; and introducing a system for the authorisation of competent non-supply industry personnel to withdraw cut-out fuses.

CONFERENCE ADDRESSES SAFETY ISSUES

HIGH PROFILE AT ELEX

ESC’s 2011 product safety conference brought together a range of speakers and delegates to discuss the latest developments in market surveillance and electrical product safety. The event was launched by Edward Davey, minister for consumer policy and consumer affairs (pictured, right, with ESC’s Phil Buckle), who emphasised the increasing importance of co-operation to avoid duplication of effort and better use of intelligence gathering. Davey also made it clear that consumer safety remained the priority. “There is no intention of compromising this,” he said. “But we have to target our resources to the areas of real concern.” Entitled “Market surveillance: overcoming cutbacks through a combined approach”, the conference included a review of the UK’s surveillance priorities and how collaboration between manufacturers and government agencies is increasing seizures of unsafe and counterfeit goods. Phil Buckle, director-general of the ESC, said: “This is the second product safety conference we have run – we knew there was a demand for an event like this.”

The ESC’s presence at the Elex shows has once again proved popular. The show stand at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, attracted more than 500 visitors, including electricians, apprentices and tutors. This provided the charity with a platform to distribute around 4,000 printed copies of its literature and best practice guides, which included the latest two, covering test instruments for electrical installations and the use of plug-in socket-outlet test devices. Visitors to the show were also welcome to join the council at the Elex Industry Forum. Hosted by the ESC, this brought together experts from NICEIC, ELECSA, the IET and NAPIT, who provided news on developments within the industry, such as changes to BS 7671.

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www.niceic.com

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The Electrical Safety Council: raising electrical safety awareness, made possible by funding from NICEIC. Keeping you up to date with news from NICEIC’s parent charity

CABLE THEFT WARNING

New advice on wiring rules The ESC has published industry-agreed answers to several new commonly asked questions posted on the wiring regulations section of its website. Topics include live testing procedures for periodic inspection and testing when an electrical installation is not energised; what should be inserted in the column “maximum disconnection times permitted by BS 7671” where a circuit is protected by an RCD or RCBO; and what inspection, testing and certification a contractor should undertake when carrying out a like-for-like replacement. For answers to these and other questions about the amended 17th edition visit www.esc.org.uk/forum.

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Boost for home improvements The ESC has made a further £100,000 available through its home improvement grants scheme, which helps to provide vulnerable people with safer homes. The charity works in partnership with home improvement and care and repair agencies across the UK, including Foundations in England, Care & Repair Scotland, Care & Repair Cymru in Wales and Gable (Shelter) in Northern Ireland, helping vulnerable homeowners and private sector tenants who are older, disabled or on low incomes to repair, improve, maintain or adapt their homes so they can remain living independently. In 2011, funding was shared between 31 agencies UK-wide, including 20 in England, six in Scotland, four in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. Grants can be awarded to homeowners over 60 years of age, who are on means-tested benefit or state pension and with no other income or are registered disabled. Homeowners who are 21 or over and who are registered disabled are also eligible.

< Older tenants are among those to benefit from improvement grants One company that has benefited is Scotland-based Aberdeenshire Care and Repair. “The funding will enable us to assist clients who are financially unable to rectify dangerous electrical issues and ultimately make their homes safer,” said Shona Milne, service manager. All 31 partners will deliver funded schemes until the end of March 2012. To find out more, visit www.esc.org.uk.

Fire safety workshop The ESC recently ran a workshop on electrical fire safety for Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) from across the country. The London-based event attracted 38 delegates from 25 FRS – representing over half of all FRS in England – with officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government “Fire kills” campaign also in attendance. “The FRS undertake a range of fire-prevention activities, often with the focus on the vulnerable groups – such as pensioners, children and people on low incomes – who are also our priority audiences,” explained Phil Buckle, ESC director-general. “Our workshops are an opportunity for us to provide the FRS with the information and support they need to do this most effectively.” The workshop included presentations from ESC technical director Mike Clark

Rex

ACI

The ESC has expressed its concern over the rising wave of cable theft, with figures from the Energy Networks Association revealing a 50 per cent rise in the first six months of 2011 alone. The charity is pointing out that cable thefts can lead to a serious risk of fire from damaged electrical equipment, as well as of electric shock. MP Graham Jones recently called on the government to take the issue more seriously. “On a daily basis, thefts are taking place against our national energy infrastructure across the UK,” he said. Responding to Jones, energy minister Charles Hendry said metal theft was undoubtedly growing and agreed more needed to be done.

and Mark Hobbs, protection legislation and support manager for East Sussex FRS; John Elliott, ESC senior engineer; and Lorraine Carney, ESC’s senior campaigns manager. A number of key issues, such as how electrical installations can cause fires in homes, were discussed.

NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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News/Renewables news/ESC news/Product news

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Plugged in MICROGENERATION KIT

ALL RIGHT ON THE SITE

Wylex has introduced an off-the-shelf wiring and connection package for domestic micro-power generation switchgear installations. Included in the pack are AC and DC isolators, combination DC/AC photovoltaic isolators in single enclosures, dual-supply photovoltaic and grid mains switches and a range of photovoltaic-ready 17th edition consumer units with integral generated power supply isolator, PV MCB and MID meter pre-wired and connected. The kit is designed for making parallel power connections to existing or new installations. www.electrium.co.uk

Wieland’s new gesis RAN DC combiner box claims to have eliminated the problem of installers having to open boxes to connect cables on-site. The DC solar PV junction boxes feature connector sockets and a ground feed on the exterior of the IP65-rated product, meaning contractors no longer have to open boxes to make connections. The previous installation method involved opening the boxes to make connections, which transferred the responsibility < DC combiner box for ensuring the degree of protection to the installer. The combiner boxes also include an all-round seal to prevent condensation, while Wieland says the fitting of the ground feed-through in the factory also speeds up installation time on-site. www.wieland-electric.com

< Wylex kit

< Martindale’s new voltage testers

NEW NON-CONTACT TESTERS Martindale Electric has brought out two new non-contact voltage testers designed to function in sockets, cables and circuit-breakers without the need for any physical conductor contact, which it says completely eliminates the danger of working on a live circuit. The TEK100 and TEK200 also include a built-in proving device that continuously self-checks the testers are working correctly, which Martindale claims eliminates the need for a separate proving unit. The devices detect the presence of any voltage between 100V and 600V AC by generating both an audible tone and red light indicator. The TEK200 can also identify the presence and polarity of magnetic fields through the use of an additional green LED. www.martindale-electric.co.uk

HAVELLS MAKES ITS PRESENCE FELT

UNDER LOCK AND KEY

Havells has marked its entry into the UK low-voltage switchgear market with the introduction of the Homesafe range of domestic consumer units and a range of type B (three-phase) distribution boards for commercial and industrial applications. There are four basic configurations for the Homesafe < Domestic consumer unit consumer units, including products with integral MID approved meters for landlord billing applications (pictured). The distribution boards include options with pre-wired meters designed to help contractors meet the demands of Part P. www.havells.co.uk

Hager has developed a new feature that gives contractors the option of locking a consumer unit to ensure no one can access it while they work on circuits. The simple solution incorporates a locking bracket in the unit that fits through a hole in the consumer unit door, through which a dedicated padlock – supplied with the unit – can be fitted. This means electricians can work on circuits while keeping the rest of the installation live. When the work is finished the hole in the bracket can be filled with a bung supplied with the board. www.hager.co.uk

< Underfloor power delivery

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MARSHALLING UNDER THE FLOOR Marshall-Tufflex claims its new series 507 Powertrack underfloor power delivery system can save installers time when laying sub-floor cabling and eliminate the need for any specialist tools. The new track contains colour-co-ordinated outlets and end-feeds that the company says should speed up installation time, while the use of a pre-assembled coupler prevents misalignment of track. It is supplied in four lengths of 1.2m, 1.8m, 2.4m and 3.6m, features a standard 300mm pitch with adjustable support brackets and is available in single-phase standard and clean earth 63A versions. www.marshall-tufflex.com

< Lockable unit

NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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Can a heat pump help you reduce fuel bills and meet the Code?

The complete Ecodan package is ideal for both retro-fit and new-build situations and includes a british-built cylinder and self-learning controls to make installation quicker and household operation easier. To find out more, call 01707 278666 or email heating@meuk.mee.com www.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/domesticheating

Air Conditioning I Commercial Heating Domestic Heating I Photovoltaics

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

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BUSINESS GROWTH

Live wire Sustainable growth Developing a business in the current climate is no easy matter. Yet there are ways in which organisations can plant the seeds of future success, says Roderic Michelson

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ccording to government statistics, fewer than 20 per cent of companies achieve sustainable growth – and electrical businesses are no exception. There are, however, a number of common failings, and by tackling just one of the following areas you can make a significant difference in the short term. To achieve long-term, sustainable growth, all five need to be tackled and diligently maintained.

Create a value proposition To achieve growth you must be clear what problem you are solving. Ask yourself why, what and how. Why did I go into this business? What do I want to get out of it? Why should customers buy from me? Why should good employees work for me? What is this business going to look like when it’s fully grown? Will it diversify, into renewables, for instance? And how is the business going to deliver? How will it be organised?

Promote your business

Focus on funding You need to invest in growth, and with that comes the cash flow crunch. Determine your cash conversion cycle by calculating the actual time between paying your suppliers and the time you get paid. This will show you the average number of days your working capital is tied up. Focus on shortening your cash cycle. This will release cash for investment in growth.

Learn from others Failure to recognise when help is needed can kill even a healthy company. If you want your business to grow you need to grow your capabilities. One way is to find a mentor; someone more successful than you. Meet regularly and ask how they would tackle the problems you struggle with. Create an advisory board. Include someone representing a typical customer, someone ahead of you in your industry and a marketing professional. Finally, take an honest look at your skills. Could new blood bring new expertise? Ask your contacts to recommend a person. You need staff who can do what you can’t. Hire people whose values match yours, and who can grow with the business.

Don’t assume marketing doesn’t work or that you can’t afford it. Carried out correctly it can multiply your business-building efforts significantly. Start with the basics. Who are your customers and why are they buying from you? What’s your unique selling proposition? Which media are you using to reach them? Start with your website, then develop a well organised customer database. Start by writing a special report with, for example, practical tips that will interest your prospective customers. Next, do lead generation through letters and postcards. Encourage recipients to request the free report in exchange for their details and permission to be contacted. Follow up eight times with more information, promotions and special offers. Have a prepared and practised sales script. When you complete a good job, ask the client for a testimonial and referrals to their contacts. Finally, stay in touch with non-active clients. There’s plenty of interesting news you can use as an excuse.

Illustration: Cameron Law

Stay on top of sales Tracking the sales pipeline and working on pipeline visibility and planning is essential. Without a clear picture growth will be sporadic or non-existent. Create a sales plan segmented by customer type. Write down the number of contracts, the expected value and the likely month of completion. Use contact management software to track enquiries, follow-ups and progress against the plan. Review weekly. This will highlight areas and types of customers to focus sales effort on.

www.niceic.com

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Roderic Michelson is a growth expert at Aralex Consulting

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VOLTAGE OPTIMISATION If you have an opinion about an issue concerning the electrical industry, let us know. Email editor@niceic connections.com

Live wire Eye-openers Voltage optimisation devices allow customers to identify and monitor their energy usage, presenting new business opportunities for contractors, says Matt Cody

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ith electricity prices only heading one way in the long term, consumers are increasingly looking at ways they can save money and improve their household energy efficiency. Having switched electricity supplier and purchased energy efficient appliances, many homeowners start looking at other home improvements that can help them make savings. Voltage optimisation falls into this category, offering a universally suitable product that can be installed in all types of domestic and commercial properties. For an electrical contractor, this is good news. No specialist training is required to install the product and, unlike solar PV, installers do not need specific accreditation. Commercial voltage optimisation has been widely used for many years, with big companies using three-phase voltage optimisation devices to generate significant reductions in energy bills.

Matt Cody is head of marketing at voltage optimisation company VPhase

Domestic single-phase voltage optimisation devices can also be used on three-phase supplies, but only if the installer is selective over the circuits – and load – being optimised, and excludes three-phase motors. Prices for single-phase voltage optimisers are in the low hundreds of pounds rather than the thousands for three-phase. Small commercial premises with high usage of lighting and refrigeration will particularly benefit, but it is equally relevant for home installations. For electrical contractors, voltage optimisation represents another value-added income stream. Bundling the systems alongside solar PV, home automation or new consumer unit installs can increase overall job values while not adding huge amounts of time or cost to the job. All of the main distributors and many of the independents and online retailers stock or list voltage optimisation devices, with manufacturers offering additional marketing support to highlight the benefits of such products to customers.

IN FOCUS// MANDY REYNOLDS

» Mandy Reynolds is owner of Mand Made, based in Sheffield

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How did you start up? I started in 2006. I’d been in financial services for over 20 years and wanted to do something different. I decided people would always need an electrician, even when the economy is bad. How has it worked out ? After training in 2006 I got practical experience working for friends and family. By then we were in the middle of the recession so it has been a struggle. But I am now making a living out of it and in June last year I won the Which? local business of the year

award. That’s certainly helped, but there’s not a lot of business around. What work do you do? Pretty much all domestic, but I’ve worked in schools, shops and universities. How have you found it as a female electrician? Many people prefer a female electrician. I’ve not encountered any discrimination – I must lose out on work sometimes, but I can’t let it bother me. How is the current trading environment? There have been months

where there have been hardly any enquiries and there are people out there who are willing to work for next to nothing. How do you see the business developing? I want to grow it, for very pragmatic reasons. I will not be able to physically pull cables and lift floorboards in a few years because I’m already in my mid-50s. I’ve just taken on an apprentice and hopefully he will be a big help and I’d also like to take on a qualified worker this year so I can concentrate on clients. That’s a full-time job in itself.

Illustration: Cameron Law

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

www.niceic.com

20/1/12 12:43:43


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

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WEST COUNTRY

Live wire

Westward

Ho!

Contractors in the West Country are drumming up new sources of business to cope with continued challenging conditions By Adrian Holliday

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asy, predictable headlines claim the UK is on the brink of a double-dip recession. Other data – GDP growth in the third quarter of 2011 was higher than expected, for example – suggests things are quietly, for some, on the turn. But for sheer numbers, the negative reports (and arithmetic) outnumber the positive. If we’re coming out of a recession, we’re doing it crawling on our hands and knees. But how are NICEIC contractors in the West Country faring? Tim Jones is the director of Mat Electrics, based in Exeter, and employs 30 staff. He’s straight to the point when asked how business is, or was. “2010 was a disaster,” he admits. “We took some very heavy losses with people going bust on us.” Spring 2010 was when the work really started to dry up. “Connaught [a large social housing group that employed around 4,000] went bust and that was an Exeter-based company, which had a big effect on the local economy,” he says. “That also affected a few developers and builders.” Last year, however, was better and Jones feels the wounds of the previous year are healing. A growing part of this turnaround is the photovoltaic market. Mat has got microgeneration certification scheme accreditation and Jones says that side of the business is picking up, although nothing can be guaranteed with the turmoil surrounding the government’s intentions for the feed-in tariff. He admits, also, to concerns about the fledgling industry. “There are a lot of people out there who I feel are mis-selling,”

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he says. “They’re selling at any cost, rather than giving people the right information.” An ongoing maintenance contract with Aldi, covering supermarkets for the south-west and south of England, provides regular work. “We have a fairly good base of long-term customers,” he says. “A lot of them are local maintenance contracts, including some hotels.” Despite the competitive nature of the current climate, Jones is not upping the marketing or ad budget significantly. “This is a long-term business,” he says. “We’ve been going for 30 years and people know what they get when they hire us.” Steady does it Steve Trott heads Plymouth-based S.Trott Electrical Services, which employs four people, including one apprentice. When interviewed, Trott was working on a church conversion with a separate annex; a job worth around £7,000. Like Jones, Trott has looked at the PV market, but decided against it. “With PV, you need to specialise in it or have someone in your company doing it full time,” he says. “It would be pushing it now, but I’m leaving the door open.”

‘This is a long-term business. We’ve been going for 30 years and people know what they get when they hire us’ www.niceic.com

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>Business is on the up for Cornwall-based Andrew Symons (centre) and his team

25 per cent: The proportion of shop units in St Austell not being used in peak season last year

Economic outlook West Country Largely thanks to tourism, the West Country has not been hit as hard by the recession as other parts of the country. Unemployment, however, remains high, particularly among the young – the number of young Jobseekers’ Allowance claimants in Devon and Cornwall almost doubled between 2007 and August 2011 – while property crime has increased in some areas by as much as 35 per cent. Key sectors of the region’s economy are suffering too. The Local Data Company claims 25 per cent of shop units in St Austell were not being used despite the 2011 summer tourist season. Airline traffic growth is certainly down, too – Air South West quit Newquay Airport at the end of September after also pulling out of Plymouth Airport in August.

The downturn has been tough for him, but he has not experienced any sudden work drop-offs. He’s helped himself by diving into new media after, admittedly, standing at the edge for a bit. “We’ve now got a great website up with a YouTube video on it, which keeps rankings up. It’s about optimisation, so we’ve a company profile linked to Google and Facebook. That means we’ve reduced our Yellow Pages budget for more internet-based advertising.” Trott says he gets around two new enquiries every day on the back of it. Meanwhile he has a regular supply of two or so days’ work from public-sector clients, mainly housing association work and assorted testing jobs. “It breaks my heart to go some way just to change some light bulbs, but these bread-and-butter contracts are worth it when things are quiet,” he says. Tough in Torbay For Paignton-based NICEIC Domestic Installer Steve Knight, the Torbay area trading environment – particularly for domestic jobs – remains tough. Knight gave up his one apprentice in February 2011 and says his turnover is still significantly lower than it was in 2008. “People just don’t have the money to spend,” he says. He has, however, noticed a definite rise in demand for private security lighting, as the government has cut down on street lighting, and a sharp rise in LED-related enquiries. “Businesses like bed-and-breakfast operators are all looking at reducing their overheads,” he says. “I’m also getting questions about voltage optimisation boards.” But so far this increase in activity has not been matched by demand for new kitchen or bathroom installations and www.niceic.com

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the local retail sector is weakening. He, too, decided against moving into PV and is glad he waited, given the uncertainty. Holding it together Symons Electrical in Penryn, south-west Cornwall, employs six people with a turnover, last year, of £240,000. Symons has no exposure to the public sector, despite running his business for 15 years, meaning he has avoided some of the sharp tail-offs in business experienced by some competitors. “I had to lay a couple of people off in 2008 – office staff – but that was it,” he says. Most of his staff come through as apprentices and their workload – mostly commercial – is boosted by a local holiday campsite with 800-1,000 chalets, generating regular work on inspection and refurbishments. Symons too is wary about the PV market. “There’s now a big boom, but it will die out eventually,” he says. Small-fry competition is a niggle, particularly from contractors who have recently qualified but have little regular experience. Symons also promotes his own “Symsure” 24-hour electrical protection plan for clients, both small business and retail, which has proved popular. “I’d say 30 per cent of my work is now from my website,” he says. “I keep my ads in Thomson and Yellow Pages,” he says. “It’s still a good idea to let people know we’re out there.” He’s even had his vehicle fleet – a Nissan Primastar, two Nissan NV200s and a Mitsubishi L200 – freshly sign-painted. It’s a small gesture, but one that could suggest confidence is gradually returning to this part of the country. » Adrian Holliday is a freelance business journalist NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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INSURANCE

Live wire Extra precautions Contractors providing advice to clients but not undertaking work, or those certifying third-party work, must ensure they have professional indemnity as well as public liability insurance, says Mike Langton

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n our increasingly litigious world, professionals in various fields can be held accountable by others for mistakes resulting from their advice and services. As an electrical contractor, you provide expertise to customers and so are responsible for any mistakes resulting from that. In certain registration or representative bodies such as NICEIC, a contractor is required to hold a minimum of £2 million public liability insurance to protect them against legal liability for claims of accidental bodily injury and accidental damage to third-party property. However, public liability insurance will only provide cover for “advice” where the services are then provided by the contractor. It will not provide protection in situations where the service being provided is purely advice or certification of third-party work that is not directly linked to repairs or installations that you – the contractor – have subsequently undertaken. Another area common to many contractors where there is such an exposure is PAT testing or issuing reports on work not carried out by the contractor themselves or their nominated sub-contractors. A customer will rely on the certification as proof that there are no issues with the product or electrical works and can reasonably expect the report to be accurate and comprehensive. This is called “professional advice” and is not usually covered under a standard public liability policy. If you fall into the category of providing “professional” advice for a fee or as outlined above, it is vital that you consider professional indemnity insurance in addition to your public and products liability cover. A professional indemnity insurance policy is designed to protect against damages awarded against the business by a court, or resulting from an approved negotiated settlement, in relation to an act, error or omission committed by the contractor when providing this advice. The costs and expenses incurred to investigate, defend or settle any claim are also covered. Where a contractor only gives advice and then carries out the work either directly or via a sub-contractor, then the only cover needed is that of public and products liability. If there is any concern or guidance needed, advice should be taken from an insurance broker or insurer as to the level of cover they need or the risk of exposures they face. This will depend on the type and extent of work undertaken.

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‘If a contractor’s negligence leads to loss of business to his principal contractor, then costs and claims estimates can quickly spiral out of control’

Mike Langton is an insurance consultant at NICEIC

NICEIC Insurance Services is set up to provide this advice free to all its contractors and its public liability cover offers some basic limited professional indemnity protection. But these limits must be checked against your individual exposure and the kind of work you carry out. No contractor can ignore the real possibility that a claim may be brought against them by a disgruntled client at some point in their career. In fact, the professional liabilities any business faces can often be as significant as, or even greater than, those from the company’s general liabilities, particularly where there is the potential for substantial economic loss. If a contractor’s negligence leads to loss of business to his principal contractor, then costs and claims estimates can very quickly spiral out of control. Lastly, because of the way professional indemnity insurance cover operates (called a claims-made basis), it is important to keep a policy in force even after the business may have stopped trading, as claims can occur years after the work has finished. Most brokers will provide you with advice regarding the cover you need, which is commonly referred to as “run off” cover. There are many insurers offering professional indemnity insurance, and the scope and type of cover available can vary enormously. Recognising the need for professional indemnity insurance is the first step, but finding the right solution is not always easy so take the time to speak with a broker who understands your business. Many insurers now provide this cover as an extension to their general liability/tradesperson/contractors’ policy, and this is usually the most cost-effective way to purchase cover.

NICEIC Insurance Services NICEIC Insurance Services includes £75,000 professional indemnity cover as standard with its public and products liability insurance, as well as including cover for tax investigation, efficacy cover and jury service. Our liability insurance has been created specifically for NICEIC-registered contractors, with premiums starting from as little as £70.97 a year. We can also include cover for employer’s liability and tools, as well as many other optional extras. » For free advice, call 0845 601 2376 or visit www.niceicinsurance.com

www.niceic.com

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The Electrocorder range of electrical data recorders has been designed and manufactured in the UK to help you do your job better. Every model has been expertly calibrated to give the most accurate electrical diagnoses, helping you to carry out comprehensive and reliable energy audits. Plus, with its simple design, free software and simple data transfer via USB to your laptop, the Electrocorder is such a low cost investment that it can’t fail to amp up your business.

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NICEIC Insurance Services is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited, registered in England with company number 4043759. Registered address: Towergate House, Eclipse Park, Sittingbourne Road, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3EN. VAT registration number: 447284724. NICEIC is a trading name of Ascertiva Group Limited who are an Introducer Appointed Representative of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited. *Premium quoted is for NICEIC registered contractor, sole trader, ÂŁ2m Public Liability, excludes hazardous locations and Northern Ireland. Premiums include Insurance Premium Tax. 9% of customers achieved the minimum premium during 2011

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

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Live wire Play your part in a Classic Registered contractors taking part in this year’s NICEIC Golf Classic could bag a luxurious weekend away in Scotland, along with the chance to be named NICEIC golfers of the year

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parks are set to fly on the golf course this year as entries are now open for the NICEIC Golf Classic; the industry’s biggest golf tournament. Organised in association with Professional Electrician, it is a Stableford-pairs competition, which pits teams of golfers against fellow electricians from around the country. It is open to anyone who owns or works for an NICEIC-registered company, with a legitimate handicap certificate. Last year’s event saw more than 100 keen golfers take part in eight qualifying rounds nationwide, with eight lucky pairs making it to the grand final at the prestigious Archerfield Links course on Scotland’s East Lothian coast. Belfast duo Lewis Darragh and Michael Dennison were the winners in 2011 and will be the team to beat again when the competition tees off at the end of May. Darragh, owner of commercial and industrial firm Darson, said: “From the minute the taxi picked us up from the airport to when they took us back, the final was truly memorable. It was a great day out and a real treat for any golf fan.” Dennison of DM Engineering added: “The courses, the facilities, the staff; everything was amazing. The NICEIC Golf Classic is great fun, with some great prizes on offer and we will definitely be back again this year.” This year’s competition promises to be even better, with two extra qualifying rounds taking place to cope with increased demand. As usual, prizes will be awarded for teams finishing first, second and third at each regional round, which take place in May, June and July. The winning pair from each qualifier will then spend the weekend of 14-16 September in the luxurious surroundings at Archerfield (below), with all accommodation expenses paid for, before playing two rounds of golf over the

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> How to enter: Booking your place couldn’t be easier. To enter and pay online go to www.niceic-golf.com. For further information email classic@niceicgolf.com or call 0845 123 3839

outstanding Fidra and Dirleton Links, with the eventual winners being crowned NICEIC golfers of the year. The entrance fee is £80 per pair and for this each team will get coffee and a bacon roll on arrival, 18 holes of golf, a two-course meal in the clubhouse afterwards and a golfer’s goodie bag. There will also be various sponsor prizes on offer for the longest drive and closest to the pin. NICEIC certification director Alan Wells said: “We have added two extra dates so more contractors can take part.” So don’t delay. Sign up today and make sure you are there when this year’s 2012 NICEIC Golf Classic tees off.

Your route to golfing glory There are 10 regional rounds and NICEIC contractors can take part in multiple events with different partners. The regional qualifiers will take place at the following venues: • Glenbervie Golf Club, Stirlingshire, Thursday 31 May • Sandmartins Golf Club, Berkshire, Wednesday 6 June • Wildernesse Golf Club, Kent, Monday 11 June • Wychwood Park, Cheshire, Thursday 14 June • Malone Golf Club, Belfast, Monday 18 June • Players Club, South Gloucestershire, Thursday 21 June • Gog Magog, Cambridge, Tuesday 26 June • Rockliffe Hall, Co Durham, Wednesday 4 July • Moor Hall, West Midlands, Tuesday 10 July • Pannal, North Yorkshire, Monday 16 July Places at each of the qualifying rounds are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

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

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SURGE PROTECTION

Live wire

Surging

ahead

The first amendment of the 17th edition saw the introduction of a requirement for surge protection devices. NICEIC tackled this issue when it first moved into its current premises

By Robin Earl

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he first amendment to the 17th edition brings one of the biggest changes and product introductions to the regulations for many years. The inclusion of surge protective devices (SPDs) is a recognition of the changing way in which we live and the increasing dependence on automation brought into the domestic area from industrial and commercial installations. This was recognised many years ago by NICEIC when the organisation moved into its current headquarters at Warwick House, and again when the property was later extended.

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The offices have a lightning protection system (LPS) fitted and it was only the presence of the earth pits around the site that gave us a clue as to the inclusion of this in the site’s design. The new sections 443 and 534 of the regulations in BS 7671 are very clear about determining whether SPDs need to be applied. If there is an overhead line or an LPS is to be used,

‘Any property close to Warwick House needs to be aware that a lightning protection system has been fitted as they too will need to have surge protection’ www.niceic.com

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> Clockwise from top left: Enclosed type 2 DEHNguard SPD in sub-distribution board of the type available from NICEIC Direct; three-phase type 2 DEHNguard in meter cabinet at Warwick House; the main incomer type 1 DEHNventil lightning device with correct installation close to the main earth terminal according to the changes to BS 7671 amd 1; single-phase enclosed type 2 DEHNguard enclosed SPD in final distribution circuits; enclosed DEHNguard type 2 SPD beside three-phase distribution board in Warwick House; NICEICâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Warwick House headquarters

then the property requires type 1 SPDs to be fitted at the origin of the services. This is the case at Warwick House and the incomer has a DEHNventil type 1 device fitted at the origin. The type 1 device needs to be able to handle at least 25KA per pole, if the LPS type is not known. From the photos we can also see the close proximity of the main earth terminal. Clause 534.2.9 requires that the total length of the connecting cables does not exceed 1m, while clause 534.2.8 is very clear that the status of the SPD is to be displayed locally or remotely. At Warwick House, the use of the DSP range of boxed product with a clear lid means the status of the SPD, that is to say the indicator flag on each pole, is visible. If the site was a remote station, then the use of the volt-free changeover contact built into the base could be wired up to an alarm to show when the SPD had failed or the plug had been removed. www.niceic.com

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After the type 1 lightning current device at the incomer it may be the case that the use of type 2 surge current SPDs are used at sub-distribution level to further clamp down the voltage. At Warwick House, this is done by the use of single-phase DSP boxed DEHNguard units. The LV boards around the whole site are protected and there is a MCB in the circuit to offer over-current protection in the SPD circuit. The actual supply to Warwick House is some distance away in a small block. This location has surge protection in the three-phase switchgear and in the adjacent single-phase distribution board for local power and lights. As the small building has no LPS fitted on the roof or overhead supply, this site only needs the type 2 SPDs that are fitted in the metering panel. Section 443 calls for a simple risk assessment to be carried out and there are some consequences to be considered to loss of human life or public service and industrial activity. In the case of Warwick House, the consequences call for protective measures to be taken. Then there is a more complex assessment based on the determination of risk to groups of people or an individual. A good number of people are employed at the site so the installation of SPDs was again needed and, as section 534.1 points out, any property close to Warwick House needs to be aware that an LPS has been fitted as they too will need to have surge protection. Another consideration is that while some SPDs may quote very low, attractive voltage protection figures, due care needs to be made of the robustness of these units to larger surges and the effectiveness after a temporary voltage event. The voltage withstand levels are clearly shown in section 443, table 44.3, and for 230/240V supplies that level is 1.5kV for category 1 impulse equipment such as portable tools. The equipment used within Warwick House falls within this category. Âť Robin Earl is business development manager at DEHN NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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DOWNLIGHTS

Live wire Downlights update Contractors are increasingly asked to install downlights in domestic and commercial premises, but must be aware of their regulatory obligations, advises Philip Sanders

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ownlights are often installed to create a modern lighting scene for both new and existing installations. While their installation may not seem complicated, designers and installers need to fully consider all the installation issues to ensure the relevant regulation requirements are met and the safety and compliance of the installation is not impaired. To avoid the common pitfalls associated with downlight installation, fitters should: Only install downlights that comply with the appropriate British standard BS EN 60598 is the British/international standard relating to the general requirements for luminaires, including downlights. This standard covers all aspects of luminaire safety including the electrical, mechanical and thermal performance. In particular, it specifies that the manufacturer marks the relevant safety information on its downlights, lamps and associated transformers, or its packaging. This information must be used by the designer/installer to ascertain the method of installation for the particular downlight, lamp or transformer product. An explanation of these symbols is provided in table 55.2 in BS 7671. Ensure compliance with the relevant requirements of BS 7671 The relevant requirements of BS 7671 should always be observed. The requirements for special installations or locations, protection against fire and harmful effects, and the selection and erection of the cables, joints and connections associated with the installation of downlights require particular consideration. For example, failure to observe a suitable distance to flammable materials or incorrect selection of jointing/connection methods may result in overheating and a fire hazard. Ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations Although most installers are fully conversant with approved document Part P (electrical safety), other approved documents that also require consideration include: Part A (structure): The building’s structure must not be subject to a significant reduction in its load-bearing capacity. Joists or roof rafters should not be cut, notched or drilled to allow downlights to be installed. Downlights should ideally be located centrally in the space between joists. Where this is not possible, the installer must maintain the free air space gap to the joists as specified by the manufacturer.

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‘Failure to observe a suitable distance to flammable materials or incorrect selection of jointing/ connection methods may result in overheating and a fire hazard’ Philip Sanders is NICEIC’s customer relations engineer

» Further downlight installation guidance is given in the Electrical Safety Council’s Best Practice Guide 5 – Electrical installations and their impact on the fire performance of buildings and the Installer quick reference guide Downlighters and fire safety. Both guides can be viewed and downloaded free from www.esc.org.uk

Part B (fire safety): The precautions taken, or building design features intended, to limit the spread of fire or the propagation of smoke and fumes must not be degraded. Typically, ceilings in older dwellings were not specifically designed as a fire barrier so there would generally be no specific requirement to install fire-rated downlights. Nevertheless, the fitting of fire-rated downlights should be considered, as this will offer an improved level of fire safety. More modern dwellings are likely to have ceilings with at least a 30-minute fire rating and here the use of fire-rated downlights or downlights with suitable fire-rated hoods or covers will be required. Part C (resistance to contaminants and moisture): The resistance afforded by the floors, ceilings and roof of a building against the harmful effects of contaminants and moisture should not be degraded. Typical “open back” vented downlights may give rise to condensation where warm humid air can be drawn through the downlight on to the underside of a cold roof. Installers may need to consider downlights that provide a sealed barrier between the underside of the ceiling and its associated void. Part E (resistance to sound): The resistance to sound afforded by the floors, ceilings and roof of a building should not be degraded. Where a ceiling is an acoustic barrier, installers will need to consider the use of downlights that maintain the ceiling’s acoustic integrity. Downlights are available that provide an acoustic barrier between the underside of the ceiling and its associated void. Part L (conservation of fuel and power): The elements of a building designed to prevent thermal losses should not be degraded. However, downlights and any associated transformers must not be covered by thermal insulation unless they are specifically designed to operate safely in this condition. An insulation box that maintains the required free air space around the downlight, while being covered in thermal insulation, may be considered. Providing energy-efficient luminaires should also be considered. Use of low-energy lamps, such as compact fluorescent or LED lamps, should be considered as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional tungsten halogen lamps. Ensure manufacturer’s instructions are followed In all cases, the manufacturer’s instructions supplied with the downlight must be followed fully. These instructions will specify, among other things, the amount of space to be left around the side and above the downlight, its fire rating, whether the fitting can be covered with thermal insulation and the type and wattage of lamps that can be fitted.

www.niceic.com

20/1/12 09:48:57


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Partner sponsor:

Technical Conference and Exhibition S O U T H

17 May 2012

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1 November 2012 Bolton Arena

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£56 (ex VAT) Special promotion The first 100 NICEIC registered contractors to book pay just £20 (ex VAT) per ticket!

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A ticket to NICEIC Live includes: • Snack and refreshments on arrival • Access to as many technical, product and business advice seminars as you wish to attend • Access to the NICEIC Live exhibition • Over 4 hours of quality content that will benefit your business

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23/1/12 16:43:00 16:20:39 23/1/12


CONTRACTOR PROFILE // MES COMPANY: Metropolitan Electrical Services BASED: Greenwich, London FOUNDED: 1985 MAJOR PROJECTS: Barclays Capital, Nomura, Morgan Stanley STAFF NUMBERS: 67 TURNOVER: £14 million

Diversify to grow Over the past 25 years Metropolitan Electrical Services has grown from a man in a van to a £14 million business. Being prepared to move into new markets means it is well placed for future success By Nick Martindale

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ust over a quarter of a century ago Maurice Exall left his job as an electrician for an office refurbishment company and started out as a sole trader, seeking work in and around the London area. “I’d always wanted to start my own business,” he says. “I found it quite difficult working for other people. So I was fulfilling a lifetime’s ambition, albeit later than I anticipated. I thought I’d own my own business when I was 25, but in actual fact I was getting on for 40.” His first job involved working in social housing in Peckham, he recalls, installing sockets for £15 each. Today that company is Metropolitan Electrical Services (MES), a £14 million business based on the Greenwich peninsula which employs 67 people, including 43 electricians. The company’s development has closely mirrored that of Canary Wharf as a whole, with names such as Barclays Capital, J.P. Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley all regular clients. “We’ve got people on those sites all the time and they act between the fit-out company and the maintenance firm, doing the work that the maintenance company hasn’t got the skills to do and the fit-out company is not set up to do,” he says.

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From an early stage, the emphasis was on providing a quality job and doing things by the book. The organisation became an NICEIC Approved Contractor in 1990 and would go on to become one of the first electrical contractors to be awarded ISO 5750 (later BS EN ISO 9001), in 1992. “We didn’t actually target the customers we’ve got now,” he says. “People were saying they liked us, but we were too dear. Customers we’d had in the past told us we’d given more than they wanted, and they didn’t want all this documentation. But that’s what the regulations say you’re supposed to do. Now we’ve ended up with customers that do want that service.” Maurice’s big break came when he started sub-contracting for an investment bank based in Canary Wharf and word of mouth ensured a steady stream of work in an environment that proved a good match with his own philosophy. “Canary Wharf is quite strict on its permit system, but if you adhere to that and can produce all the records they require in a way that is not a challenge for you, then you can thrive,” he says. “A lot of other companies find that a real problem.”

‘Some of the contracts that we price accurately are going for cost less 10 per cent. Diversifying has meant we’ve not had to get into that’ www.niceic.com

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» If you would like your company to be considered for a profile in Connections, please email editor@ niceicconnections.com

Robert Warner

Photography: Richard Cannon

Maurice Exall

£1 million: The amount MES invoiced for renewables by December 2011 Steady expansion After about a year, Maurice took on his first employee in Robert Warner, then a 20-year-old electrician who had just finished his apprenticeship. Today, with Maurice having semi-retired, Robert is managing director and a 50 per cent shareholder in the business. The company today is very different. As well as the electrical contracting side – MES has a number of term contracts as well as taking on projects worth anywhere between £2,000 and £4.5 million – over the past few years it has also moved into mechanical services, specialist testing and renewables. The specialist testing is through a franchise with the American firm TEGG Service, which MES operates in the UK and mainland Europe, and is a predictive maintenance system that uses technologies such as ultrasound and load impedance testing to identify potential issues before they escalate. “If you go to a normal thermography company they will show you the hotspots, but we can assess the risk of taking the covers off to identify it in the first place, establish if there is a risk and then identify if there’s a loose connection or if it’s due to harmonics or just a poor quality connection,” says Rob. In www.niceic.com

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one case, this ensured a client was able to identify an issue that would have caused one of its data centres to lose power, which would have had a worldwide impact on the business, he adds. The company moved into mechanical installations three years ago, in response to growing client demand to deal with just one contractor. “We had a big term contract come up for a bank and we put in a lot of hard work to put the package together,” recalls Rob. “I remember thinking that I’d employ us electrically, but not mechanically. So we sat down and thought that if we were going to do it we’d have to do it with the same ethos as the electrical side, doing it in-house with our own people and to the same standards, and that’s what we did.” Sunnier climes The move into renewables, too, has been a new departure, and one that has been a steep learning curve for the company’s directors. So far, the main approach has been to take on sub-contracted work for two other companies, operating out of a separate unit in Chelmsford and serving an area stretching from Kent and Essex up to Ipswich. “These companies are very good at marketing, but it’s a whole new world for electrical contracting,” admits Maurice. “We’re so far behind that you wonder if we’re ever going to catch up. They have very good sales openers and very good closers and we didn’t even know what they were until a few months ago.” Through its Metropolitan Solar brand, however, the business also sells direct to consumers and, like many others, NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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CONTRACTOR PROFILE // MES

£10 million: The amount MES is on target to bring in this financial year

> Managing director Robert Warner (left) with founder and chairman Maurice Exall saw a surge in demand once the government announced the reduction in feed-in tariffs for new installations after 12 December 2011. “We were hoping to have a turnover of about £300,000 or £400,000, but we ended up invoicing just under £1 million by December,” says Rob. He admits the longer-term future of the industry and other initiatives such as the green deal is now uncertain, with the constant changes in government funding making consumers wary. “The good thing is that it put us in the shop window with a couple of other home improvement companies that want us to install on their behalf, so as well as generating our own sales this year, hopefully we’ll be able to sub-contract from them,” he says. Diversifying into new areas means the company has been able to endure the recession reasonably well, says Maurice. “It’s stopped us having to get down and dirty with other contractors,” he says. “Some of the contracts that we price accurately are going for cost less 5 per cent or less 10 per cent, but diversifying has meant we’ve not had to get into that. If we hadn’t moved into mechanical and renewables two years ago we could be in difficulty now,” says Maurice. Feeling the heat Like all those in the electrical sector, however, MES has not escaped unscathed. In the immediate aftermath of the economic crash of 2008 the banks “snapped the purse strings shut”, says Rob, and turnover for 2009 fell from £8.25 million to £7 million. The following year, however, it was up on the back of new business wins in the mechanical and testing areas, hitting £14 million, and for this financial year the company is on course to bring in around £10 million.

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The company has not been affected at all by the public-sector cuts, says Maurice, or indeed by the Olympics happening on its doorstep. This is because it has never been able to break through the murky world of public-sector tendering – which is something of a sore point for the firm’s founder. “We’re a successful company in Greenwich, but we’ve never done anything for Greenwich Council,” he says. “We want to; we’ve tried to. We tried really hard for the O2, but we didn’t get anywhere. We went to meetings galore and ticked all the boxes. That was on the original contract, but when it was all refurbished it was the same again. We don’t know of any small contractors who got a lot of work over there.” The only benefit from the Olympics, meanwhile, has been that it has distracted some of the bigger players in the market from venturing on to the middle ground that MES traditionally occupies. “But as soon as it finishes they’ll be looking to get involved in the sort of work we think should be ours,” he says. The company, however, has found recognition elsewhere. It was recently highly commended in its entry for electrical contractor of the year in the Electrical Industry Awards, and also won both employer and apprentice of the year titles at the JTL Awards. As for the future, both men believe the company’s involvement in so many different areas means the business is well placed for the challenges that lie ahead. Renewables will play a prominent role and the business also has its eye on some of the infrastructure projects that will go ahead following the government’s recent moves to encourage investment in this area. In 2010, the company celebrated its 25th anniversary, bringing back all the main protagonists who had played a part in shaping the business along the way. “We invited them on a trip on the Orient Express and then we had a bash at the Dorchester,” says Maurice. “It was a day I’ll never forget. If someone had said to me when I was driving around in my van with my toolbox in the back that in 25 years’ time I’d be sitting pretty with a £10 million turnover as a mechanical and electrical and testing specialist, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.” » Nick Martindale is editor of Connections www.niceic.com

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ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING

The market for electric vehicles is set to take off over the coming years, creating opportunities for contractors across the country to install and maintain charging points

Fuel’s gold By David Adams

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hat’s the first thing you think of when someone says “electric vehicle”? If it’s a milk float, it may be time to think again. Over the next five years or so such vehicles are likely to become a much more common sight on the UK’s roads, fuelled by rising petrol prices, greater awareness of the green agenda among consumers and hefty marketing campaigns on the part of manufacturers. The Nissan Leaf, one of a new generation of electric vehicles, has already won many plaudits for its energy efficiency and reliability, and from 2013 about 50,000 a year will be built in Sunderland, while other manufacturers will soon be launching new models of electric vehicles. While they remain expensive to buy – even with a grant from the government’s Plugged-In scheme for 25 per cent of the cost (up to £5,000) – running costs are extremely low: about £2.50 or less per hundred miles. By the end of this decade the number of electric cars on Britain’s roads is expected to rise from a few thousand today to hundreds of thousands. The batteries in those cars will

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need to be charged regularly, at charge points in streets, car parks, shopping centres, workplaces or private homes, and someone will need to install and maintain the charge points. Emerging market There aren’t many charge points today. On the website of one manufacturer – POD Point – you can click on an interactive map showing locations of its charge points in Britain and Ireland. There are huge gaps everywhere. Research by another manufacturer – Chargemaster – in 2011 showed that 61 per cent of towns and cities in the UK with a population of 120,000 (77 out of 124) had no public charging infrastructure. But government intervention is starting to change that. Its Plugged-In Places (PiPs) scheme should see 8,500 public charge points installed across London, Milton Keynes, the east of England, the Midlands, Greater Manchester, the north-east, Scotland and Northern Ireland by 2013. The London PiPs scheme – Source London – is a consortium led by Transport for London, which includes Siemens, Scottish and Southern Electric, NCP, Heathrow Airport and Asda, and will deliver 1,300 new public charge points alone. Motorists need to pay an annual charge of £100 to join (the fee is lower in other areas – £50 in Milton Keynes, for example).

www.niceic.com

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8,500: The number of charging points that will be installed across the UK under a government scheme by 2013

There are other sources of funding too. In Lincoln, Siemens has installed charge points in the city centre as part of a scheme to help its employees move between its sites and the University of Lincoln’s School of Engineering. Brighton has received funding to install charge points as part of an international project – Archimedes – organised by the CIVITAS initiative, which aims to support cities to introduce greener transport. Local authorities across the country are also working out how they can install more charge points; Newcastle in particular has been active in promoting this as part of its sustainable city initiative, and around 1,300 are currently being installed across the north-east.

‘We are always on the lookout for good installers. If there’s a benefit to using lots of electricians we’re confident we can get the training done. Otherwise we will use nationwide contractors’ www.niceic.com

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In July, Chargemaster announced POLAR, the UK’s first privately funded electric vehicle charging network, which will initially cover about 100 towns and cities and provide 4,000 charge points by the end of 2012. It is funded by monthly subscriptions from consumers and a 90p fee per use. On-street charge points operate relatively slowly, so vehicles need to be parked for hours to fully charge. Clearly that’s not always practical, so instead there will be what John Lowes, technical specialist for the north-east’s PiP project One North East, calls “grazing”, with drivers topping up at charge points when they can, such as while out shopping. Newer “quick charge” points, which can charge a battery to 80 per cent in 25 to 45 minutes depending on the vehicle, should also help. Nissan is now pushing for more of these: in November it announced it would donate 400 to be installed in locations across Europe, including 65 in the UK, to help boost the growth of charge point networks. Domestic charge points, meanwhile, allow car owners to charge up overnight, and currently cost consumers between £350 and £650 for the unit, although grants are available from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV, part of the Department of Transport) to help. Installation is usually on top of this, although consumers may be subsidised by charge point or electric vehicle manufacturers.

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ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING

Business potential The Institution of Engineering and Technology has published a code of practice for the installation of electric vehicle charging equipment, but the main challenge for contractors is to try to form business relationships with charge point manufacturers or those responsible for commissioning the work. There also needs to be an understanding that, in the case of the public charge points, bureaucracy can cause long delays, as all the necessary permissions are acquired and agreement for supply alterations sought from electricity providers. The costs of installation can also vary significantly depending on circumstances, with obvious implications for profit margins. One of the contractors that already installs pod-points, alongside the building contractor Sovereign Construction, which carries out the necessary civil engineering at many non-domestic sites, is South Eastern Electrical (SEE), based in Hainault, Essex. “We connect it, then test it,” says Steve Wood, senior contracts manager. “There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s not a lucrative business, yet.” In terms of its potential value to the company he likens it to work installing power protection equipment. “We stayed with that when I thought it wasn’t a viable business proposition,” he says. “It has turned around and with green issues that has really expanded. I’m hoping the pod-points will do likewise.” So far, however, the potential for contractors to get involved has been limited. POD Point commercial director Flora Heathcote says the firm wants to expand its network for domestic installers and is considering using some of them to train others elsewhere. “We are always on the lookout for good installers,” she says. “But it will come down to cost. If there’s a benefit to using lots of electricians we’re confident we can get the training done. Otherwise we will use nationwide contractors.” David Martell, chief executive at Chargemaster, says most of the

61 per cent: The amount of towns and cities with populations of 120,000 or more with no electric charging infrastructure in 2011

contractors with which his company has worked until now have been larger firms with a national reach, but he doesn’t believe this will always be the case. “The route to market [for smaller contractors] is to form a relationship with people like us,” he says. “We tend to use people who’ve got national coverage, but we’d consider smaller operators. If any of your readers want to contact us we’d be very pleased to hear from them.” Troubleshooting potential Providing maintenance services could also offer contractors useful opportunities. Heathcote says POD Point may soon be looking for help in this area. “We are currently looking for a recently qualified electrician to work for us on a part-time basis doing site visits for faulty charge points,” she says. “We would like to train a small team who are available on an ad hoc basis to travel to wherever there are problems. The site visits will require more training and expertise than installations.” But, of course, none of this will add up to much if numbers of electric vehicles on the road remain low. “It’s still very early days,” says Bambos Kouyiounta, electrical vehicles manager at Nissan GB. “The infrastructure is still 12 months away from being able to support electric vehicles on a

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nationwide scale. But it’s a market we’re anticipating will grow significantly when other manufacturers start selling electric vehicles.” Indeed, more than 40 new electric vehicle models are expected to be in production within the next two years. “Practically every car manufacturer is releasing an electric car in 2012 or 2013,” says Heathcote. “These are big companies spending serious money. They’ve obviously done their research. “At the moment the Leaf has had no real mass advertising campaign. They’re really testing the water while their UK production facility is built,” she points out. “Next year you’ll see mass market advertisements everywhere and the effect will be compounded by other manufacturers. I think 2012 is the point when we’ll start to hear about them in a mass market context. The general industry view varies, but on average people say that in 2020 they expect 13 per cent of new car sales to be electric vehicles.” Yet it would be a mistake to see the electric vehicle as a replacement for petrol-fuelled models. “You won’t use an electric car to drive from London to Manchester,” says Chargemaster’s Martell. “You would rent a car for that. But they are very efficient for shorter journeys. The number of times that people go on longer journeys is actually very small. Some manufacturers have schemes where you can borrow or rent a car to do a longer journey. Even in 20 years’ time the electric car market will only be for one in 10 buyers. It’s not for everybody.” Still, 10 per cent of the current car market would be more than three million cars, all of which would need to charge up somewhere, using equipment that will need to be maintained and upgraded. The market may be some way off maturity, but it’s definitely time for contractors to start taking this a little more seriously and at least to be aware of the potential that’s out there. » David Adams is a freelance business journalist www.niceic.com

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TESTING

Move with the times The past year has seen a number of notable developments in testing, driven by the growth in solar power installations and safety considerations By Steve Rogerson

C

hanges in test and measurement equipment tend to happen slowly, with minor modifications to hardware and software made for those looking to upgrade or replace kit. Yet sometimes more radical changes are needed, normally following new legislative requirements, but occasionally in response to new trends. This has been the case in the past year as a result of the growing interest in solar panels for domestic, commercial and industrial premises and the subsequent demand for testing. The big change in the past year has been the emergence of multifunction testers specifically for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In May 2011 Seaward launched its PV100, costing just under £1,000 plus VAT. “This does away with the multiple instruments and homemade kits,” says Jim Wallace, product and technology manager at Seaward Electronic. “You press a button and it runs through the safety tests without the risk of contact with deathly DC power.” Wallace believes the time this saves will become more important when the feed-in tariff reduces because this will increase pressure to keep costs low. www.niceic.com

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“If you make £1,000 per installation and you can do it in one or two days, it doesn’t matter if it takes five minutes or an hour to do the test,” he says. “But if you have to cut your charges to be competitive, you need to cut time on things such as testing.” HT Italia, meanwhile, offers the I-V400 solar PV multifunction instrument, which also enables installers to create an IV curve, and it is likely other firms will also develop testing devices for this market. The other problem with solar panels is that they go live as soon as the sun comes up. They cannot be turned off, meaning contractors have to work on live systems and the voltage and current combination can be high enough to give a lethal shock. Earth path Another trend in testing concerns checking the earth path from a socket in the house to the transformer. Once this could be done with a high test current of around 20A, but the emergence of RCDs has dropped this down to below 15mA to stop them tripping. Contractors are now trying to make this work with 10mA RCDs and thus need a 5mA test. “There are several ways of doing it,” says Paul Rutter, technical marketing

4mm: The amount of exposed metal work for category three and four test leads, reduced from 18mm

manager at Kewtech. “Some use a two-wire test. This is handy for the testers, but the results are atrocious. Ours is a three-wire test, which means you have to go from a light fitting rather than a switch, and that means connecting three wires when you are on a ladder. There are various connectors to help with this.” The secondary problem concerns what are known as category-four tests where the work is done between the transformer and the first cut-out. Category-three instruments are not designed for this work and should only be used after the first cut-out. “Electricians are moving to category-four instruments,” says Mark Hadley, product manager at Megger, “but multifunction testers have only just started to go over to category four.” One example of this is Megger’s new MFT1730, offering type B RCD testing and three-pole earth electrode testing. Test leads Another recent change has been to make test leads, now covered by BS EN 61010-2-031, safer by reducing the tip exposure. “They changed the amount of exposed metal work for category three and four,” says Hadley. “It has dropped from 18mm to 4mm. That is quite a big drop.” Most of the probes supplied have a cap that keeps it to 4mm, but for crocodile clips this has to be taken off, he adds. “The changes they have made mean you can no longer use a NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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TESTING

removable cap,” says Hadley. “If you do, it makes it category two and that is for wall sockets. We have had to redesign all our probes and crocodile clips for categories three and four.” Portable appliance testing On PAT work, the driving force is all about speed, with contractors having to carry out multiple tests without hassle. Improvements have thus been in software, where the tester will carry out multiple tests, register them and perform the necessary documentation. The other question with PATs is whether they should be mains-powered or battery-operated. For NICEIC-registered Office Test, the answer is the latter. “There usually is a mains outlet around, but you have to plug and unplug all the time and then it takes time to warm up,” says Sam Savery, head of operations. “We charge per item and the cost of PAT testing has come down considerably over the past few years, so productivity is key.” The company recently carried out work at law firm Baker & McKenzie near Fleet Street in London. “Because we had battery testers we could do the work in one day and it involved 9,000 tests and 23 engineers,” says Savery. “Speed is key for something like that, so it is good to have a handheld tester.” One company that only does mains-powered PAT testers is Megger, and Hadley defends that decision. “You can’t do all the tests with battery testers,” he says. “The main one you can’t do is leakage tests because they are live circuit tests so you need to be connected to the supply.” Voltage testers Because of an increase in accidents caused by contractors working on live systems they believed to be dead, a number of companies are now demanding that voltage testers should be tested with a proving device before and after the test itself is carried out, and as such these are often now packaged with the voltage testers. Also growing in popularity, says Peter O’Hara, commercial director at Martindale Electric, are lock-off kits to prevent someone switching the power back on. “If these are all bundled together, then the electrician has everything they need,” he says. » Steve Rogerson is a freelance technology journalist

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Case study

Modern testing at old mill A good example of the benefits of all-in-one solar panel testers was seen at Devon Mill in Oldham. This is an old cotton-spinning mill built in 1908 and Grade II listed in 1993. The 18,500m2 building is now used by Baum Trading, a clothing importer and distributor. Solar specialist Sundog was contracted to fit solar panels to the warehouse (pictured above), which involved installing and testing 30 separate strings on modules. “They were wired into sub-systems with each string having a number of modules,” explains Sundog’s technical director Martin Cotterell. “Each string needed individually testing, so being able to test quickly was important. Using an all-in-one tester, we completed them all in an hour. It would have taken us a full day otherwise.”

Need to know: NICEIC test equipment website NICEIC-registered contractors can now purchase test and measurement equipment from leading manufacturers direct from www.niceictestequipment.com. The website is a one-stop shop committed to giving contractors a wide range of product options and allows easy comparison of products before purchase. It also offers registered contractors the ability to arrange competitively priced and traceable calibration or repair. The new website features products from all the major instrument manufacturers, including Megger, Seaward, Fluke, Metrel, HT Italia and Socket and See.

www.niceic.com

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

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

ANSWER

What is the IP Code?

The IP (International Protection) Code is a system that indicates the degrees of protection provided by enclosures for electrical equipment against access to hazardous live or moving parts, ingress of solid foreign objects and ingress of water. It is described in BS EN 60529 − Specification for degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP code).

QUESTION

ANSWER

Where can I find out more about the IP Code?

For a complete description of the IP Code, you should refer to BS EN 60529. Not all of the coding system described in BS EN 60529 is used in BS 7671, but only the aspects relating to protection against contact with live parts and the ingress of solid particles and water. Information on the IP Code is given in the Section I41 of Electrical Safety Council’s Essential Guide to the Wiring Regulations (freely available to NICEIC Approved Contractors and Domestic Installers) and in a number of NICEIC publications, including Inspection, Testing and Certification. NICEIC Pocket Guide 16 provides a useful summary of the first and second numerals and additional letters of the IP Code.

QUESTION

ANSWER

How do I find out what IP Code rating an equipment enclosure provides?

For some types of equipment, the IP rating (such as IP20 or IP55) is marked on the enclosure. Where the product specification for the equipment doesn’t require this, the rating should be found from the product instructions or by enquiry to the manufacturer. It should be noted that holes made in an electrical enclosure for the purposes of the installation might reduce the manufacturer’s IP rating. The installer is responsible for ensuring that all such holes are sufficiently closed off to maintain the IP rating so far as may be necessary to meet the requirements of BS 7671. However, small drainage points are permitted in, say, an IPX5 enclosure where necessary for the purposes of Regulation 522.3.2, to allow the escape of water or condensation. The drainage point for an accessory enclosure normally consists of a small hole at the lowest point. Such a hole may already be provided by the manufacturer or may be drilled on site at a point indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions or, for an enclosure into which the installer has mounted equipment, at a suitable position.

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Ask the experts/Technical

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Fully charged

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QUESTION

ANSWER

Do I need to use specialist equipment when checking whether the openings in installed electrical equipment meet the IP Code requirements of BS 7671?

The use of specialised equipment mainly relates only to tests carried out on new enclosures in the controlled environment of a factory, test house or similar, and not to the on-site inspection and testing of electrical installation. In most cases an experienced competent person can assess fairly easily on-site whether any openings in an enclosure or barrier meet the IP Code requirements of BS 7671, without the need for specialist equipment. For example, consider the requirement of Regulation 416.2.1 that an enclosure or barrier intended to prevent access to live parts shall provide a degree of protection of at least IPXXB or IP2X. These IP ratings both mean that the live parts must have adequate clearance from a jointed test finger 12 mm in diameter and 80 mm long (pictured left) as referred to in BS EN 60529. But it is not necessary to use this test finger for most of the checks on compliance with Regulation 416.2.1 that need to be made on-site (such as checking if spare conduit entry points have been suitably blanked off); compliance can usually be adequately assessed by inspection. A rating of IPXXD or IP4X, mentioned in Regulation 416.2.2 for a readily accessible horizontal top surface of a barrier or enclosure, means that the live parts must have adequate clearance from an access probe 1 mm in diameter and 100 mm in length. Once again, compliance can usually be checked adequately by inspection, without the need for an access probe. Needless to say, a person carrying out an inspection should never attempt to place fingers, wires or the like into openings in electrical enclosures, as this could pose a serious risk of electric shock. Inspection is usually also an adequate way to check compliance with requirements of BS 7671 for protection against ingress of water or solid foreign bodies, such as in Regulation 701.512.2, for equipment in a location containing a bath or shower. In such cases, the inspection process will include examining the IP rating marked on the equipment or stated in the manufacturer’s data sheet, checking that the manufacturer’s installation instructions have been followed and that any openings made during installation have been suitably closed.

QUESTION

ANSWER

Is it necessary to go into a loft when carrying out a periodic inspection of an installation?

You will have to consider factors including the following before deciding whether or not to go into a loft: • Is the loft readily and safely accessible? • Would accessing the loft provide useful information not available by other means? • Are there items such as aerial boosters, central heating boilers, solar PV system inverters and the like installed in the loft? • Would carrying out an inspection in the loft reduce the amount of damage and disturbance to the installation or the decor of the premises? If, having considered the factors, the inspector deems it safe and worthwhile to carry out an inspection in the loft, the person ordering the inspection and testing should be approached to agree to this. Section D (Extent and Limitations) of the Electrical Installation Condition Report (and formerly the Periodic Inspection Report) states that “Cables concealed within trunking and conduits, or cables and conduits concealed under floors, in roof spaces and generally within the fabric of the building or underground have not been inspected”. However, this is not a requirement; it is only a note, so that a recipient of the report should assume that the inspection has not covered such parts of the installation unless this has been specifically stated and agreed.

QUESTION

ANSWER

So when might a loft be deemed readily accessible?

In some premises a loft can be accessed directly via a doorway, and there may be an access stairway or substantial loft ladder. Many lofts nowadays also have lighting and floor boarding sufficient to allow ready access to water tanks, central heating boilers, inverters and the like for regular inspection and maintenance.

Winter 2011-12 NICEIC Connections

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged 48 50 52 57 60

Co-ordination between conductors and overload protective devices Snags and solutions: A practical guide to everyday electrical problems, now updated to Amendment No 1 of BS 7671 Harmonics in electrical installations Medical locations Changes to cartridge fuse standards

Co-ordination between conductors and overload protective devices At first sight, many engineers and electricians may find the requirements of Regulation 433.1.1 for co-ordination between the conductors of a circuit and an overload protective device a little daunting. This article aims to explain the reasons behind these requirements and to demonstrate that, in the majority of cases, compliance with them will be achieved by following accepted cable sizing procedures.

R

egulation 433.1.1 indicates that the operating characteristics of a device protecting a conductor against overload must satisfy the following conditions: (i) The rated current or current setting of the protective device (In) is not less than the design current (Ib) of the circuit (that is, In ≥ Ib), and (ii) the rated current or current setting of the protective device (In) does not exceed the lowest of the current-carrying capacities (Iz) of any of the conductors of the circuit (that is, In ≤ Iz), and (iii) the current (I2) causing effective operation of the protective device does not exceed 1.45 times the lowest of the current-carrying capacity (Iz) of any of the conductors of the circuit (that is, I2 ≤ 1.45 Iz). Reasons behind conditions (i), (ii) and (iii) of Regulation 433.1.1 The object of condition (i) is to avoid unwanted operation of the overload protective device when it is carrying the steady-state load current (Ib) of the circuit. This is achieved by requiring the rated current of the protective device (In) to be at least equal to Ib. (Note, however, that a higher value of In may be necessary for loads with high starting or inrush currents – see Regulation 533.2.1). Condition (ii) is intended to give protection under normal load conditions such that the steady-state temperature of the conductors will not exceed the maximum admissible value (such as 70 °C for

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thermoplastic insulated conductors). This is achieved by requiring the conductors to have sufficient current-carrying capacity (Iz) to carry the rated current of the circuit protective device (In) (and hence to carry the design current of the circuit (Ib)). Condition (iii) is intended to give overload protection when the circuit carries overload current, by causing operation of the protective device within a time suitable to avoid damage to the insulation and surroundings of the conductors due to high conductor temperatures caused by the overload current. Small overloads of long duration Regarding conditions (i) and (ii), it is important that the circuit is designed so that small overloads of long duration are unlikely to occur (Regulation 433.1 refers). In other words, care should be taken that the amount of simultaneously operating load connected to the circuit (Ib), and the current rating of the conductors (Iz) and protective device (In), are such that there is unlikely to be a prolonged overload current lower than the current causing effective operation of the protective device (I2). Meeting the requirement of condition (iii) Provided the requirements of conditions (i) and (ii) are met, the requirement of condition (iii) is deemed to be met where the protective device is a type (gG) fuse to BS 88-2, a fuse to BS 88-3, a circuit-breaker to BS EN 60898 or BS EN 60947-2, or an RCBO of any type to BS EN 61009-1. Regulation 433.1.100 refers. Where the protective device is a semi-enclosed (rewireable) fuse to BS 3036, the requirement of condition (iii) is met where In does not exceed 0.725 times the current-carrying capacity of the circuit conductors (Iz), provided the requirements of conditions (i) and (ii) are also met. Regulation 433.1.101 refers. This is to compensate for the high value of I2 of a BS 3036 fuse, which can be up to 2 × Iz. For cables either buried directly in the ground or buried in ducts where current-carrying capacity is based on an ambient temperature of 20 °C, compliance with condition (iii) is afforded where In does not exceed 0.9 times Iz, provided the requirements of conditions (i) and (ii) are also met. Regulation 433.1.102 refers. Cable sizing procedures in Appendix 4 of BS 7671 Section 5 of Appendix 4 in BS 7671 lays out the procedure for determining the size of live conductors that will generally give compliance with the requirements of Regulations 433.1.1 to 433.1.102, discussed in this article. Where overcurrent protective devices other than the fuses and circuit-breakers referred to in Regulations 433.1.100 and 433.1.101 are used, such as a thermal overload protective device in a motor circuit, it will be necessary for the electrical installation designer to refer to the device

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20/1/12 10:03:33


Table 1 – Requirements of Regulation 433.1.1

Fig 1 – Diagram of proposed circuit characteristics in order to ensure compliance with all aspects of Regulation 433.1.1. Worked example A circuit supplying a 30 A single-phase load is wired using flat twin and earth 70 °C thermoplastic insulated and sheathed cable installed ‘clipped direct’ (tabulated current-carrying capacities given in column 6 of Table 4D5 of Appendix 4 of BS 7671). The circuit cable is not grouped with any other loaded cables (Cg = 1.0), the ambient temperature is 30 °C (Ca = 1.0), the cable is not installed in thermal insulation (Ci = 1.0), and the overload protective device is a 30 A BS 3036 fuse (Cf = 0.725). Rating factors Cc and Cd, relating to buried cables, do not apply, and hence their value is 1.0. Use the procedures described in Appendix 4 of BS 7671 to determine the minimum size of cable required for the circuit from considerations of normal load and overload. Also, for the purpose of this example only, show that the circuit meets the requirements of Regulation 433.1.1 when this size of cable is used.

From column 6 of Table 4D5 of Appendix 4, the minimum size of cable for which It is not less than 41.4 A is 6 mm2 (It = 47 A). Thus, using the procedures described in Appendix 4, the minimum required size of cable from considerations of normal load and overload is 6 mm2. Now, checking that this size of cable meets the requirements of Regulation 433.1.1 (see Table 1, above), the proposed circuit can be represented by Fig 1, above.

Using Equation 1 of section 5.1.1 of Appendix 4:

As indicated in section 5.1.1 of Appendix 4, the size of cable to be used is to be such that its tabulated current-carrying capacity (It) is not less than that given by Equation 1 (41.4 A, in this case).

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Main equipotential bonding in a block of flats

Snags & Solutions A practical guide to everyday electrical problems, now updated to Amendment No 1 of BS 7671 Snag 16

Main equipotential bonding must be provided in each flat in a block of flats.

‘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 was published on 1 July 2011 and came into full effect on 1 January 2012. 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 1 – Earthing and bonding, relating to the main protective bonding arrangements applicable in a block of flats.

snags and solutions A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EVERYDAY ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS

Part 3

inspection and testing

COMPLIES WITH

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NICEIC is occasionally asked whether main equipotential bonding should be provided for every flat in a block and, additionally, at the intake position.

Solution In each installation main protective bonding conductors must connect all the extraneous-conductive-parts to the Main Earthing Terminal (MET). (Regulation 411.3.1.2 refers). The requirements apply individually to each flat which has its own supply of electricity given in accordance with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations: 2002 (ESQCR). This is because the consumer’s electrical equipment of each such separately-supplied unit (for example, the consumer unit, wiring system and accessories) is an ‘electrical installation’ as defined in Part 2 of BS 7671. Therefore, main bonding conductors complying with Section 544 are required to connect all the extraneous-conductive-parts within the flat to the MET. The main bonding connections to extraneous-conductive-parts such as gas, water, oil or other services need to be made as near as practicable to their points of entry to the respective flat, in accordance with the detailed requirements of Regulation 544.1.2. The same requirements that apply to the installation of each separately-supplied flat also apply to the electrical installation in the common parts of the multi-occupancy premises (eg the landlord’s areas). The extraneous-conductive-parts within such areas must be connected to the MET of that particular installation. The supply arrangements may vary from those shown in the figure in a number of ways. For example, the meter operator’s metering equipment may be grouped together at a common location, and/or the supplies may not be PME. The principles of application of Regulation 411.3.1.2, however, remain the same. The electricity distributor may have particular requirements for main bonding, above and beyond those of BS 7671, especially where PME conditions apply. Most electricity distributors publish notes of guidance and/or drawings to explain any such requirements.

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20/1/12 10:04:50


PME link

Electricity Distributor's Cutout

MET

CNE denotes combined neutral and earth conductor

CNE Rising Service

PME link

Electricity Distributor's Cutout

MET

Water

Gas CNE

L Supply cable Definitions Electrical installation. (abbr: Installation). An assembly of associated electrical equipment having co-ordinated characteristics to full specific purposes. Origin of an installation. The position at which electrical energy is delivered to an electrical installation. Regulation 411.3.1.2 In each installation main protective bonding conductors complying with Chapter 54 shall connect to the main earthing terminal extraneous-conductive-parts including the following: (i) Water installation pipes (ii) Gas installation pipes (iii) Other installation pipework and ducting (iv) Central heating and air conditioning systems (v) Exposed metallic structural parts of the building Connection of a lightning protection system to the protective equipotential bonding shall be made in accordance with BS EN 62305.

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Where an installation serves more than one building the above requirements shall be applied to each building. To comply with the requirements of these regulations it is also necessary to apply equipotential bonding to any metallic sheath of a telecommunication cable. However, the consent of the owner or operator of the cable shall be obtained. Regulation 544.1.2 The main equipotential bonding connection to any gas, water or other service shall be made as near as practicable to the point of entry of that service into the premises. Where there is an insulating section or insert at that point, or there is a meter, the connection shall be made to the consumerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hard metal pipework and before any branch pipework. Where practicable the connection shall be made within 600 mm of the meter outlet union or at the point of entry to the building if the meter is external.

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Harmonics in electrical installations BS 7671: 2008 (17th Edition of the Wiring Regulations) introduced a range of requirements for safety where harmonic currents are present in an installation. This article is the second in a series of three that began in the previous issue of Connections. It looks at how triplen harmonics can significantly increase the current in the neutral conductor of a three-phase circuit, which can increase the minimum conductor size required for the circuit. The article also briefly looks at the implications of harmonics on overcurrent protection and voltage drop. Fig 1 Circuit diagram

Distribution board

Three-phase distribution circuit

Three single-phase circuits

Load on each circuit = 10 A fundemental + 3 A 3rd harmonic

part 2 What are triplen harmonics and why do they impact on conductor size? Triplen harmonics are multiples of the 3rd harmonic (that is, the 3rd, 6th, 9th and so on). However, they are often considered to be only the odd multiples of the 3rd harmonic (3rd, 9th, 15th and so on). This is because even harmonics (2nd, 4th, 6th etc) are rare in a.c. circuits nowadays, mainly because half-wave rectification is no longer widely used. Triplen harmonic currents are typically produced by loads such as electronic fluorescent lighting ballasts and computer switch-mode power supply units. To help understand the effects of triplen harmonics on circuit currents, we will consider the installation shown in Fig 1. This has a three-phase distribution board supplying three single-phase circuits (one on each phase), each of which supplies a load that draws a fundamental current of 10 A and a 3rd harmonic current of 3 A. We will determine the resultant current in the line and neutral conductors of the single-phase circuits and the resultant current in the line and neutral conductors of the three-phase distribution circuit that supplies the distribution board. It can be shown that for any conductor carrying harmonic current, the resultant current (I) is given by:

Where I1 is the fundamental current, Ih2 is the second harmonic current, etc. Therefore, for our above example, the resultant current in the line and neutral conductors of each single-phase circuit is:

This current of 10.44 A is also the resultant current in the line conductors of the distribution circuit, as shown in Fig 2. The resultant current in the neutral conductor of that circuit remains to be found. To help determine the resultant current in the neutral conductor of the distribution circuit, it is useful to consider the waveforms of the fundamental and 3rd harmonic currents in all live the conductors of that circuit, as shown in Fig 3. We should also remember that the neutral conductor provides the return path for all three line currents, and therefore these currents combine in the neutral conductor.

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Fig 2 Circuit diagram showing resultant currents (except for neutral of distribution circuit) Note. Protective conductors omitted for clarity.

Total current in line conductors of distribution circuit = 10.44 A

L1

SUPPLY

As the three-phase load on the distribution circuit in our example is balanced, the fundamental currents in the three line conductors are equal in magnitude but displaced from each other by 120°. These currents therefore cancel each other out in the neutral, and consequently there is no fundamental current in the neutral, as can be appreciated from Fig 3. The situation is different for the 3rd harmonic currents in the three line conductors. These currents are equal in magnitude and are also in phase with each other. Consequently, like all triplen harmonics, their magnitudes add together directly in the neutral, as can also be appreciated from Fig 3. Thus current in the neutral conductor of the distribution circuit is therefore 9 A, consisting of 0 A of fundamental current and a contribution of 3 A of 3rd harmonic current from each of the three line conductors. This is represented in the diagrams in Figures 4(a), (b) and (c) (see page 54). The diagrams in Figures 4(a), (b) and (c) also show the line conductor currents and confirm that the resultant is 10.44 A, as calculated earlier.

Load

L2

Load

L3

Load

N Distribution board

Total current in line and neutral conductors of each single-phase circuit = 10.44 A

Fig 3 Fundamental and 3rd harmonic current waveforms for the line and neutral of the distribution circuit

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Line 2 current Line 3 current Neutral current

In the absence of triplen harmonic current there would be no current in the neutral conductor of a three-phase, four-wire circuit, unless there was an imbalance in the line conductor currents. If there was such an imbalance, the temperature rise in the neutral conductor due to the current it carries would be offset by a reduction in the heat generated in one or more of the line conductors. By contrast, if triplen harmonics are present in the line conductor currents of a three-phase, four-wire circuit, these harmonics do not cancel in the neutral of that circuit but add together, as shown in Fig 2 earlier. The neutral conductor therefore carries current without a corresponding reduction in the current carried by the line conductors, meaning that the temperature rise in the neutral conductor is greater than if no triplen harmonics were present. This tends to reduce the current-carrying capacity of the neutral conductor and possibly that of the line conductors too (due to their close proximity to the neutral), and can increase the minimum conductor size required for the circuit. The main implications of triplen harmonic current on current-carrying capacity and minimum required conductor size in a three-phase, four-wire circuit are: â&#x20AC;˘ the neutral conductor must be taken into account when ascertaining the current-carrying capacity of the circuit (Regulation 523.6.3 and section 5.5 of Appendix 4 of BS 7671 refer).

Line 1 current

Implications of triplen harmonic currents on minimum conductor size

NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged • where the total harmonic distortion due to triplen harmonics is greater than 15% of the fundamental line current: • the neutral conductor is to be considered as a loaded conductor (Regulation 523.6.1 refers) • the neutral conductor must not be smaller than the line conductors, as is permitted in some circumstances by Regulation 524.2.3 (Regulation 523.6.3 refers) • where the total harmonic distortion due to triplens is greater than 33% of the fundamental line conductor current, an increase may be required in the cross-sectional area of the neutral conductor (Regulation 524.2.2 refers), in which case either the neutral conductor would have to have a cross-section area greater than that of the line conductors, or the cross-sectional area of all the circuit conductors would have to be chosen taking account of the current in the neutral conductor. • the heating effect of harmonic currents on the line conductors also has to be taken into account (section 5.6 of Appendix 4 of BS 7671); this includes not only triplen harmonics but other harmonics too.

Fig 4 Diagrams of distribution circuit

(a) Fundemental currents Distribution board

L1 Ih1 = 10 A L2 Ih1 = 10 A Supply

L3 Ih1 = 10 A N Ih1 = 0 A

(b) Harmonic currents Distribution board

Implications on overcurrent protection Overcurrent detection in accordance with Regulation 431.2.3 must be provided for the neutral conductor where the harmonic content of the line conductor currents is such that the current in the neutral conductor might exceed the current-carrying capacity of that conductor. Harmonic currents should be taken into account when selecting an overcurrent protective device (Regulation 533.2.2 refers).

L1 Ih3 = 3 A L2 Ih3 = 3 A Supply

L3 Ih3 = 3 A N Ih3 = 9 A

Implications on voltage drop Because their frequencies are higher than the fundamental frequency, harmonic currents increase the voltage drop in a circuit compared with the value calculated using the tables of a.c. voltage drop in Appendix 4 of BS 7671, which apply for frequencies in the range 49 to 51 Hz. The increase in voltage drop is more marked at higher harmonic frequencies and for larger conductor sizes. It is caused by an increase in inductive reactance (which is proportional to frequency) and an increase in skin effect and proximity effect, which affect conductor a.c. resistance. Some information on skin effect and proximity effect can be found in Topic R105-25 of the Electrical Safety Council’s Essential Guide to the Wiring Regulations.

(c) Resultant currents Distribution board

L1 I = 10.44 A L2 I = 10.44 A Supply

L3 I = 10.44 A N I =9A

Remaining article in this series The remaining article in this series (Part 3) will explore the procedures in Appendix 4 of BS 7671 for sizing four-core and five-core cables carrying triplen harmonic current.

54

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PP

THE ORIGINAL BS8436 CABLE

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Will operate a 32A Type B MCB and so will fail safe when penetrated by a nail or similar metallic object.

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Easy to handle and install, lighter cable tray could be used for multiple layers of cables. Offers impact resistance, retains its shape when bent and dressed.

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Flexible in the applications it can be used for as a multi purpose cable.

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NIC.01.12.056.indd 1

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Medical locations Section 710 (Medical Locations) is a new special installation or location added to BS 7671 by Amendment 1, issued in July 2011. This article is the first of a series of three on the requirements of Section 710 for the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations of medical locations. Fig 1 – Medical premises

T

his article looks at the scope of Section 710. It also describes the system of Grouping used for medical locations in Section 710, and how the system of classification of safety service supplies given in Section 560 is applied to medical locations by Section 710. Scope As for all the special installations and locations in Part 7 of BS 7671, the requirements of Section 710 supplement or modify the general requirements of that standard. Section 710 is applicable to those parts of the greater electrical installation of the premises that are intended for use in connection with the diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and care of patients. The requirements of Section 710 apply not only to parts of hospitals, private clinics, medical and dental practices and the like, but also to dedicated medical locations in other workplaces and in medical research establishments (Regulation 710.1 refers). Where relevant, the requirements may also be applied in veterinary clinics. The requirements of Section 710 do not apply to medical electrical equipment. The intention of Section 710 is to provide an environment that is safe, in relation to the electrical installation, for both patients and medical staff. Supporting information on the electrical installations of medical locations can be found in Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) 06-01 (Part A), published by the Department of Health (note 4 to Regulation 710.1 refers). Assessment of general characteristics In addition to the characteristics that Part 3 of BS 7671 requires to be assessed for any electrical installation, the designer of the electrical installation of a medical location is required to determine both the Group into which a particular medical location falls and the classification that is to be applied to the electrical safety services (Regulation 710.3 refers). Liaison between the designer of the electrical installation and the medical specialists is essential for this. In practice, a number of different medical treatments or procedures may need to be performed in a particular medical location. The requirements applicable to the most onerous usage should be applied in order to ensure the safety of those in the location. Grouping Medical locations are categorised by Section 710 into Groups 0, 1 and 2, according to: • whether ‘applied parts’ (see note below) are intended to be used and to which parts of the body they will be applied, and • whether the loss of supply could cause a danger to life.

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NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Note: Applied parts are parts of medical electrical equipment that necessarily come into physical contact with the patient in normal use, in order for medical electrical equipment or a medical electrical system to perform its function.

The definitions of Groups 0, 1 and 2 are given in Part 2 of BS 7671. Table 1 (right) gives these definitions. It also gives some examples of rooms likely to be included in each Group, based on the guidance in Table A710 of the annex to Section 710. Whilst the examples of the Groups into which locations fall in Table 1 may be useful, it remains the responsibility of the electrical installation designer, in consultation with the relevant medical staff, to determine the appropriate Group for any particular medical location.

Table 1 – Definitions of the Groups, and examples of locations included in them

Group No

Summary of Group definition

Examples of medical locations in Group

0

Medical location where no applied parts are intended to be used and where discontinuity (failure) of the supply cannot cause danger to life.

Massage room

1

Medical location where discontinuity of the electrical supply does not represent a threat to the safety of the patient and applied parts are intended to be used: • externally • invasively to any part of the body except where Group 2 applies.

Massage room Bedrooms Delivery room ECG, EEG, EHG room Endoscopic room Examination or treatment room Urology room Radiological diagnostic and therapy room Hydrotherapy room Physiotherapy room Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) room Nuclear medicine

2

Medical location where applied parts are intended to be used, and where discontinuity (failure) of the supply can cause danger to life, in applications such as: • intracardiac procedures vital treatments • and surgical operations.

Classification of safety services Where failure of an electrical supply in a medical location could cause danger to life, appropriate safety services are necessary, such as a standby supply for an operating theatre light. Regulation 560.4.1 gives a system of classification of supplies for safety services. Section 710 requires this system to be used to designate the maximum changeover time of the automatic supplies for safety services (if any) in a particular area concerned. Table A710 of the annex to Section 710 gives guidance on the changeover times in typical medical locations. For example, whilst a changeover time of between 0.5 s and 15 s is indicated for a massage room or bedroom, a time of no greater than 0.5 s is indicated for supplies to luminaires and life-support medical equipment in operating theatre locations. Summary Risks to patients from the effects of electricity or supply failure can be more significant than for those who are healthy. Human resilience is decreased in those who are unwell, and where medication and procedures are used that may reduce the body’s electrical resistance. To take into account these increased risks, Section 710 utilises Groups and safety service supply classifications for particular types of location found within a medical/ healthcare environment. Medical locations are categorised according to the type of contact between applied parts and the patient, the threat to the safety of the patient should there be a loss of electrical supply and the purpose for which the location is used.

Radiological diagnostic and therapy room Anaesthetic area Operating theatre Operating preparation room Operating plaster room Operating recovery room Heart catheterization room Intensive care room NOTE: An intracardiac procedure Angiographic examination room is a procedure whereby an Haemodialysis room electrical conductor is placed Magnetic resonance imaging within the heart of a patient or (MRI) room is likely to come into contact with the heart, such a conductor Premature baby room Intermediate Care Unit (IMCU) being accessible outside the patient’s body. In this context, an electrical conductor includes insulated wires such as cardiac pacing electrodes or intracardiac ECG electrodes, or insulated tubes filled with conducting fluids.

Further articles in this series The remaining two articles in this series will cover: • the requirements of Section 710 relating to protective measures against electric shock that may be employed, and • inspection and testing required at various stages in the life of the installation.

58

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23/1/12 14:18:42


Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Reason for change

Changes to cartridge fuse standards Changes have been made to the British Standards for the cartridge fuse types generally used in electrical installations. These changes, which affect fuses to BS 88 and BS 1361, have been taken into account by Amendment 1 to BS 7671: 2008 (IET Wiring Regulations 17th Edition) and have a number of implications for electrical designers, installers and persons carrying out inspection and testing. Table 1 – Types of fuses affected by the changes

General description of fuse type

Withdrawn standard

Replacement standard (see notes)

Fuses for use by authorised persons (mainly for industrial application)

BS 88-2.2: 1988

BS 88-2: 2010 system E (bolted)

Fuses of compact dimensions for use in 240/415 V a.c. industrial and commercial electrical installations

BS 88-6: 1988

BS 88-2: 2010 system G (clip in)

Fuses for a.c. circuits in domestic and similar premises

BS 1361: 1971(1986)

BS 88-3: 2010 system C

Notes: 1) BS 88-2: 2010 is dual numbered BS HD 60269-2: 2010 2) BS 88-3: 2010 is dual numbered BS HD 60269-3: 2010

Table 2 – Maximum Zs for fuses for industrial/commercial purposes, for 0.4 s disconnection time with U0 of 230 V (see Regulation 411.4.6) Fuses to BS 88-2.2 and BS 88-6 (Both standards withdrawn, and no longer recognised by BS 7671)

Fuses to BS 88-2: 2010 Fuse systems E (bolted) and G (clip in) (Recognised by BS 7671: 2008 (2011))

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

6

8.52

6

8.21

10

5.11

10

4.89

16

2.70

16

2.56

20

1.77

20

1.77

25

1.44

25

1.35

32

1.04

32

1.04

Note: This table is based on information given in Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 and Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 (2011)

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The changes to British Standards for cartridge fuses are a result of a restructuring and simplification of international standard IEC-60269, Low-voltage fuses, to aid the selection and replacement of such fuses. The technical content of the updated IEC 60269 was used by the European Standardisation body CENELEC to produce a European harmonised document. Consequently the UK was obliged to make the necessary changes to its British Standards for cartridge fuses to maintain technical alignment with the harmonised document. The British Standards that were affected needed to be withdrawn by 1 March 2010 and replaced accordingly. Fuse types and British Standards affected Table 1 lists the types of fuses affected by the changes, together with the numbers of the associated British Standards that have been withdrawn and those that replace them.. Implications for designers, installers and inspectors The changes to the above fuse British Standards have been taken into account in the requirements of BS 7671: 2008 by Amendment 1, which came into effect in January 2012. This has had an effect on a number of the values of maximum of earth fault loop impedance (Zs) for fuses given in Tables 41.2 and 41.4 of BS 7671 for disconnection times of 0.4 s and 5 s at a nominal voltage (U0) of 230 V. Tables 2 to 5 of this article show the changes. Also affected are some values of maximum of Zs for fuses in reduced low voltage systems (U0 of 55 V and U0 of 63.5 V), as given in Table 41.6 of BS 7671. Table 6 of this article shows the changes. The term ‘BS 88 series’ now covers fuses to BS 88-1, -2 and -3. Appendix 1 (list of British Standards) of BS 7671: 2008 (as amended) refers. In the Schedule of Circuit Details accompanying each Electrical Installation Certificate or Electrical Installation Condition Report (or their domestic equivalents, where applicable), the type and rating of any fuses used for overcurrent protection will, as always, need to be accurately recorded. For example, a cartridge fuse recorded as a BS 88-2 would not clearly identify the fuse as a type E (bolted) or a type G (clip-in) device. Therefore, one solution to overcome this would be to insert ‘BS 88-2(E)’ into the data-entry box on the schedule, where the fuse is of the bolted type. The rated currents of some of the fuses in Tables 41.2, 41.4 and 41.6 of BS 7671 have been adjusted. For example, the closest replacement fuse for a 15 A fuse to BS 1361 would be a 16 A fuse to BS 88-3 system C. See the tables

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Table 3 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Maximum Zs for fuses for domestic and similar purposes, for 0.4 s disconnection time with U0 of 230 V (see Regulation 411.4.6) Fuses to BS 1361 (Standard withdrawn, and no longer recognised by BS 7671)

Fuses to BS 88-3: 2010 Fuse system C (Recognised by BS 7671: 2008 (2011))

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

5

10.45

5

10.45

15

3.28

16

2.42

20

1.70

20

2.04

30

1.15

32

0.96

Note: This table is based on information given in Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 and Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 (2011)

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

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60_62_technical 5.fuses.FINALNEW.indd Sec1:61

showing the changes to Tables 41.2, 41.4 and 41.6, in this article, for other examples. The replacement fuse must be suitable to provide the required level of overcurrent protection. For example, the replacement fuse may well have the same physical dimensions as the existing one. Its current rating may have a higher rating than the one being replaced (as in the case of some ratings of BS 1361 fuse where being replaced with BS 88-3 system C fuse). The value of earth fault loop impedance (Zs) at the electrically furthest point or accessory of each circuit must not exceed the revised value of earth fault loop impedance given in Table 41.2, 41.4 and 41.6, as appropriate. (Where impedance measurements are undertaken at ambient temperature, the measured value will need to be adjusted to take account of the increase of resistance of the conductors with the increase of temperature due to load current. Information on this can be found in Appendix 14 of BS 7671.) A fuse that is no longer recognised by BS 7671 may still be suitable for continued service. For example, where a fuse to BS 1361 is encountered (during, say, a periodic inspection of an installation) it should not generally be deemed unsatisfactory for continued service or, for that matter, immediately be seen as a departure from the Wiring Regulations. As the values of maximum earth fault loop impedance for such devices will no longer be included in BS 7671, the manufacturerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s data should be

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

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 (owns an MGBGT sports car)

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 (owns a Royal Enfield Bullet), music (plays guitar in a small group)

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, cross-country running and visiting places of interest with family

NICEIC Connections Winter 2011-12

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Ask the experts/Technical

N

Fully charged Table 4 – Maximum Zs for fuses for industrial/commercial purposes, for 5 s disconnection time with U0 of 230 V (see Regulation 411.4.8) Fuses to BS 88-2.2 and BS 88-6 (Both standards withdrawn, and no longer recognised by BS 7671)

Table 5 – Maximum Zs for fuses for domestic and similar purposes, for 5 s disconnection time with U0 of 230 V (see Regulation 411.4.8)

Fuses to BS 88-2: 2010 Fuse systems E (bolted) and G (clip in) (Recognised by BS 7671: 2008 (2011))

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

6

13.5

6

12.8

10

7.42

10

7.19

16

4.18

16

4.18

20

2.91

20

2.95

25

2.30

25

2.30

32

1.84

32

1.84

40

1.35

40

1.35

50

1.04

50

1.04

63

0.82

63

0.82

80

0.57

80

0.57

100

0.42

100

0.46

125

0.33

125

0.34

160

0.25

160

0.28

200

0.19

200

0.19

Fuses to BS 1361 (Standard withdrawn, and no longer recognised by BS 7671) Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

5

16.4

5

15.33

15

5.00

16

4.11

20

2.80

20

3.38

30

1.84

32

1.64

45

0.96

45

1.04

60

0.70

63

0.72

80

0.50

80

0.53

100

0.36

100

0.40

Note: This table is based on information given in Table 41.4 of BS 7671: 2008 and Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 (2011)

consulted. Alternatively, a relevant earlier issue of BS 7671 should be consulted. For convenience, NICEIC publishes, on the inside front covers of all NICEIC pads of certificates and forms for reporting purposes, the limiting values of measured earth fault loop impedance for commonly used types and rating of overcurrent protective device, operating at a nominal voltage (U0) of 230 V. These values are 80 % (approximately) of the corresponding values given in the tables of maximum earth fault loop impedance in BS 7671..

Note: This table is based on information given in Table 41.4 of BS 7671: 2008 and Table 41.2 of BS 7671: 2008 (2011)

Table 6 – Maximum Zs for fuses for industrial/commercial purposes, when used in reduced low voltage systems, for 5 s disconnection time (see Regulations 411.8.1.2 and 411.8.3)

U0 of 55 V (single-phase system) Fuses to withdrawn standards BS 88-2.2 and BS 88-6 Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Fuses to BS 88-3: 2010 Fuse system C (Recognised by BS 7671: 2008 (2011))

U0 of 63.5 V (three-phase system)

Nearest equivalent fuses to BS 88-2: 2010, systems E (bolted) and G (clip in) Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Fuses to withdrawn standards BS 88-2.2 and BS 88-6 Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

Nearest equivalent fuses to BS 88-2: 2010, systems E (bolted) and G (clip in) Rated current (A)

Maximum Zs (ohms)

6

3.20

6

3.06

6

3.70

6

3.53

10

1.77

10

1.72

10

2.05

10

1.98

16

1.00

16

1.00

16

1.15

16

1.15

20

0.69

20

0.71

20

0.80

20

0.81

25

0.55

25

0.55

25

0.63

25

0.64

100

0.10

100

0.11

100

0.12

100

0.12

Note: This table is based on information given in Table 41.6 of BS 7671: 2008 and Table 41.6 of BS 7671: 2008 incorporating Amendment 1

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Product Focus Polypipe

Prysmian

Polypipe’s online Ventilation Specification Web planner, which provides customers with a quick and simple ventilation specification tool, has been upgraded to make it even easier to specify and install domestic ventilation. Now, in just three simple steps, the online planner provides a quick and simple solution to specifying the most appropriate appliance and optimum duct system for properties using centralised energy efficient ventilation systems.

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Hager

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Hager has introduced a free Junction Box Guide. It has been produced in response to Amendment 1 of the 17th Edition, which specifies what can be used for maintenance free connections. The 16-page guide outlines the requirements of the regulations and how they affect cable connections and junction boxes. It goes on to recommend solutions depending on the application. To receive a free copy of the Junction Box Guide to the 17th Edition, contact Hager.

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MK Electric

Havells

MK Electric continues to invest in British manufacturing and launches The Decorative Collection, a new range of finishes inspired by the latest interior design trends, which will meet the most demanding customer and client requirements, whilst still retaining the quality, reliability and safety standards that MK Electric is renowned for. Customers can now choose from 16 standard finishes across the four popular MK decorative wiring device ranges.

The Homesafe range of domestic consumer units is the first offering in a brand new range of low-voltage switchgear products under the Havells brand. Homesafe offers all the control and protection configurations that would be expected of a quality switchgear manufacturer. In addition, the range includes units with integral MID Approved meters for landlords’ billing applications. This reflects Havells’ determination to provide UK-specific solutions through innovation and design.

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Marshall Tufflex

Seaward

Marshall-Tufflex’s new Series 507 Powertrack underfloor power delivery system is faster to fit, stronger underfoot and has been independently tested to be compliant with BSEN 61534-1:2011 and BSEN 61534-22:2009. The system also meets current UK wiring regulations (BS 7671:2008). The new Powertrack is manufactured from rigid galvanised steel with key and colour co-ordinated outlets and end feeds to facilitate fast, error-free installation that requires no specialist tools, and is supplied in four track lengths.

A new high specification instrument combines irradiance measurement with a host of other features to enable solar PV and solar thermal contractors to carry out site surveys quickly and easily. The versatile Seaward Solar Survey 100 uses a precision PV cell sensor for the highly accurate irradiance measurement, displaying results in either Wm-2 or BTU/h/ft2 and making it ideal for both solar PV and solar thermal site installations.

marketing@marshall-tufflex.com

www.seawardsolar.com

www.niceic.com

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Product Focus Martindale Electric Now available from Martindale Electric is the portable and sleek PD700 Proving Device, designed for the testing of contact voltage detectors up to 700V. The PD700 offers users of voltage indicators enhanced operator safety as it can generate high voltages up to 700V but also lower voltages down to 50V. The PD700 also features an indicator that illuminates when lamps and voltage testers draw high currents. Lightweight and compact for easy transportation between sites, the PD700 will go a long way to ensure compliance with safe working practices. Complete with batteries and a carry case, the PD700 is supplied with a two-year guarantee.

Ideal Industries IDEAL has launched its most extensive catalogue yet – with a quadrupled product offer featuring more than 600 products. IDEAL’s new catalogue is jam-packed with even more fresh and unique innovations set to transform the UK electrical market. Marked with clear and concise product sections, key categories include wire termination, tools and supplies, power tool accessories, electrical safety and test and measurement, as well as network tools and testers. Each product is showcased with an eye-catching photograph and full specification details, along with an overview of the features and benefits.

01923 441717 sales@martindale-electric.co.uk

01952 444446 www. idealindustries.co.uk

Wieland Electrical

Sprue Safety

Gone are the days of opening combiner boxes on site to connect the cables because Wieland has launched its new gesis RAN DC with external connections. Designed for simple connection on site, even for protective ground, the new DC Solar PV combiner boxes have connector sockets and a ground feed through on the exterior of the IP65 rated junction box. Wieland’s gesis RAN DC combiner boxes are pre-installed and factory tested with terminal blocks, fuses, overvoltage protection modules and DC switch connectors etc, to suit customers’ requirements. To combat harsh weather conditions and guarantee the IP65 protection level, the combiner boxes have an all-round seal and pressure compensation seals to prevent condensation. 01483 531213 www.wieland-electric.com

BRK has launched a new RF interlink base for use with mains powered smoke and heat alarms in their range. Quick to install and quick to link; installers can save time and money on projects and increase overall productivity. The RF base is a simple system that provides a wireless interlink between mains powered smoke and heat alarms and will transmit a radio frequency (RF) signal, when the alarm attached to it senses smoke or fire. When another RF base receives this signal the attached smoke or heat alarm on that will also sound, eliminating the need for connection wires between each alarm. The bases can be used with any BRK mains operated smoke and heat alarms in the 650, 670 and 680 series. www.brk.co.uk

ASD Enterprises ASD Enterprises has launched its easy-to-use bookkeeping software aimed specifically at sole traders. Costing only 18p a day, how can you afford not to be using it. Even better, 10 buyers randomly drawn out of the first 100 people to buy our software in February 2012 will be refunded their purchase money. The HMRC are embarking on checks of small and medium enterprises. . . you need to be keeping accurate records so you don’t get penalised. Keeping records also lets you know how your business is doing at any given time and gives you the information you need to either do your own self assessment or give accurate figures to your accountant, both ways saving you £££s on accountants fees. We are happy to help you with any questions on the software or bookkeeping – just put them on our blog page at www.bookkeeping-made-easy.co.uk/blog and we will post answers there. Act now – go to our website and start saving money. www.bookkeeping-made-easy.co.uk

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For great deals on products and services visit www.niceicdirect.com

Scan QR code with your smart phone to visit our site

Havells Sylvania

Robin Amprobe

Havells-Sylvania is introducing a range of highly energy efficient, long-life lamps under the Superia EcoPlus banner. EcoPlus technology captures and reuses energy to make lamps more efficient than conventional alternatives. EcoPlus’s innovative recycling burner is coated in an IR reflecting layer that captures normally wasted heat and reflects it back onto the filament allowing a more efficient use of energy without sacrificing quality or quantity of light. The Superia 50 EcoPlus is a replacement for the standard halogen MR16 reflector and dichroic lamps typically found in domestic, hospitality and retail lighting and has an average life of 5,000 hours.

Robin Amprobe offers one of the largest ranges available to the electrical contractor and engineer. Robin, one of the most famous brands within the UK electrical testing arena, has now partnered with Amprobe to offer a wide range of cost-effective, innovative test equipment specifically designed to make the electrician’s job faster and easier. This includes a brand new range of single, dual and multifunction 17th Edition installation testers specifically designed for the UK electrical market. Robin Amprobe products are sold and supported by a wide range of dealers and are backed up by a professional support service.

www.havells-sylvania.com

01603 256662 www.robin-amprobe.co.uk

REB2B Renewable Energy

Scolmore

Solar PV wholesaler REB2B has launched an ingenious DC isolator, to save solar PV installers time on site. The Minute Mate DC isolator comes fitted with four integral Type 4 connectors – so the unit can simply be plugged into the final solar PV panel in the array, and the inverter. The entire unit is thoroughly checked and electrically tested at source, ready for use, with no need to open the box or undertake complex wiring. The Minute Mate was conceived by REB2B’s own solar PV engineers – experienced electricians who regularly provide technical support and guidance for solar PV installers – and was created according to REB2B’s brief by a leading isolator supplier.

One of the main causes of electrical accidents on site is the failure to ensure the implementation of safe isolation procedures. Our new lockable fused main switches provide a simple solution to safe isolation and is part of our continual drive as a business to bring to market innovative products that will make life easier and, in this case, safer for electricians and contractors. The DB751 – lockable 80A fused main switch (100A max) – and DB701 – lockable 80A fused main switch – introduce the ability to lock the main isolator in the “off ” position. By providing protection against the power supply being unintentionally or inadvertently energised, it means the contractor can work elsewhere in the building safe in the knowledge that only he can restore the supply.

www.reb2b.co.uk

01827 63454: sales@scolmore.com: www.scolmore.com

Nittan

Nittan

Nittan has extended its range of audio visual fire products with the new Evolution EV-HIOP-SB(IC) Sounder/Beacon. The EV-HIOPSB(IC) provides a simple and highly cost-effective solution to meeting the DDA requirements by providing both sound and flashing light to alert occupants to a fire. The cost effectiveness comes from its exceptional ease of installation and because the EV-HIOP-SB(IC) is IP65 rated as standard. The EV-HIOP-SB(IC) comes with 16 alarm tones to choose from and individually controlled alarm and alert tones. Designed to be wall mounted, the new Sounder/Beacon features the same contemporary design style as the Evolution detectors and is fully compatible with all Evolution protocol panels.

UK conventional and addressable fire detection products manufacturer Nittan has launched the EV-PSBCN base for use with its recently introduced Evolution EV-PS optical smoke sensor with built-in sounder. The analogue addressable photoelectric EV-PS sensor drives and controls the new base, with the entire platform only taking one address for maximum system efficiency. The EV-PS and EV-PSBCN base incorporates the latest sophisticated alarm technology for exceptional reliability and performance, including ASIC design and EEPROM addressable capability. They have been designed to provide a simple and highly cost-effective solution to meeting the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requirements by providing both sound and flashing light to alert occupants to a fire.

01483 769 555 www.nittan.co.uk

01483 769 555 www.nittan.co.uk

www.niceic.com

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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@ niceicconnections.com

CAUGHT ON CAMERA

Time travel When the time comes to invest in a new van, a 1960s Mini estate would perhaps not be the obvious choice. For NICEIC Approved Contractor John Maybury, director of Eccles-based J.Maybury & Sons, however, it was a unique opportunity to merge business and pleasure. “I’d always had an interest in classic cars and thought I’d combine it with a marketing tool,” he says. To complete the retro look, John approached NICEIC to see if he could use its 1961 logo on the van, and we were happy to assist. “It’s not an everyday vehicle, but I use it if I’m out doing estimates,” he says. “It really makes people smile.”

The job of an electrical contractor can sometimes be a lonely one, but you never know what you’re going to find while out and about. This issue we have (1-4): a mouse that bit into more than it could chew; a new type of cable joint found in a famous London restaurant; a bathroom-fitter’s attempt at wiring with no RCD protection; and a light fitting that still worked where the supply cables were right next to the lamp. It continues with (5-8): a still functioning “consumer unit” in a domestic property; a severe case of over-crowding in a bar; connections discovered behind plasterboard during a kitchen refurbishment; and an ill-advised solution to a tripping RCD.

NICEIC likes to keep its engineers in shape to ensure they’re up to the rigours of the annual inspection. Two area engineers from the south-west and South Wales, however, have taken their quest to keep trim to a new level by pledging to cycle unsupported the 1,017 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End. Andrew Clatworthy (left) and Pete Haskell (right) will set off in May and expect the challenge to take 10 days. They are raising funds for the Children’s Hospice South West and the Little Harbour children’s hospice. Visit www.chsw.org.uk/jogle 66

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Thanks to our contributors: Colin Stenner of Colin Stenner Electrical Services in Bristol /// Jim Haswell from George V. Cummins in Sunderland /// Graeme Stringer of Albion Electrical in Hartlepool /// Mark Blake of Sutton-based Acertec Property Solutions /// Eddie Von Lydden of Phase 3 Electrical Installations in Blackpool /// Dave Simcox of Customcall in Scarborough /// Mark Bates of Diamond Electrics in Luton /// and Layne Barber of LH Barber Connections in Downham Market.

Hospice help

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Keep those shots coming in!

Frozen out Tough economic conditions in the UK, winter, post-Christmas blues – it’s enough to make you up sticks and make a fresh start somewhere warmer. . . like Spain. Antarctica, however, probably wouldn’t figure too highly on the list of possible destinations. Yet the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) – the UK’s scientific research body based there – is expecting a deluge of applications for the 80 positions it has on offer in the world’s most southerly point, which include several electrical posts. The BAS says it is expecting a wide range of applicants and successful recruits will undergo a range of training, including first-aid, how to put up a tent and roping out of a crevasse. Being able to wire installations without getting frostbite would presumably also come in handy.

www.niceic.com

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Have you seen it?

You have now! New Megger MFT1700 series, the shape of testing’s future. Now offering Q

2-wire non-tripping loop testing

Q

Loop and PFC displayed at the same time

Q

Phase sequence indication

Q

3-pole earth testing

Q

CAT IV 300 V safety rating

Now you have seen it call 01304 502 101 or go to www.megger.com for full details

Megger Limited Archcliffe Road Dover CT17 9EN UK T +44 (0) 1304 502 101 F +44 (0) 1304 207 342 E uksales@megger.com

The word ‘Megger’ is a registered trademark

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Terminals comfortably accept 2 x 1.5 Twin and Earth cables with screwless snap-fit cover and cable clamp, for ease and speed of installation

Patented intumescent disc Open design of fitting allows lamp to ‘breathe’ providing optimum lamp life and allows for use of ALL suitable branded lamps

Sleeved AND double insulated high temperature cable

Sprung clips for sturdy fixing in variable ceiling thicknesses providing tight and lasting positioning to ceiling

Supplied c/w GU10 & LV Lampholders (except low energy versions)

Moisture seal

Ultra slim bezel provides minimalistic look

Twistlock operation for easy lamp installation and replacement

Take a closer look at the coolest downlight around. Ansell Lighting have launched a breakthrough fire rated downlight range. iCage is a unique ‘cool cage’ design allowing lamps to operate within a cooler environment. Innovative design includes multi lamp option that allows for use of ALL suitable branded lamps including the latest LEDs and GU10 CFLs up to and including 14watt. INFORMED INSTALLERS INSIST IT’S iCAGE

@ e k \ c c ` ^ \ e k  = ` i \  I X k \ [  K\ Z _ e f c f ^ p

www.iCage.co.uk

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Connections January 2012  

Connections January 2012