How do the 2018 BS7671 Electrical Wiring Regulations changes affect Me?
Are you wondering IF and HOW the New Electrical Wiring Regulations BS7671:2018 affect you?
While these regulation changes were Introduced in 2018, BS7671:2018 became 'Live' as of 1st January 2019. So if you are a Home Owner, Landlord, Office Manager or Business Owner, there’s been some BIG changes in BS7671:2018! Some things are very minor. A couple of things have also been relaxed. But there’s also some expensive introductions too (Especially Surge Protection and Anti-Arcing Devices).
Does it affect you?
Well for the most part it will only be for NEW work carried out (and designed after) 1st January 2019. HOWEVER the old issue of proving that you have done all that is “reasonably practical” still applies, if any legal issues arise after an incident.
Why are the new changes happening?
There are some issues that still need to be tackled in practice. So the new regulations tackle these, which include:
- Still issues with Electric Shock (hence RCD changes)
- Still issues with Electrical Fires (Hence brand new AAFD’s which are already deployed in other countries).
- Landlords – Stats say as little as 10% of landlords are taking safety seriously and that the other 90% are not even carrying out basic checks, let alone providing the basic requirements.
- Provision for growth of the UK need for Car Battery charging, especially the Rapid chargers (Many of the existing infrastructure is not the Rapid type). This shortage will be addressed in New builds too.
- Surge Protection. We now have a LOT of Electronic devices in the home (From LED Lamps to Smart Devices) and so numerous requirements for Surge protection has been introduced. This also covers issue such as Lightning Strikes too.
- Type of Smoke and Heat detectors used (Although not directly BS7671!). These are often removed or neglected. So there are related practical recommendations below to address this.
Here’s the summary of SOME of the practical changes in BS7671:2018 Electrical Wiring Regulations:
- Bonding of pipework. I’m starting with Good news here. This has been relaxed as far as plastic pipework coming into the building is concerned. BUT if you have it installed already, definitely keep it intact. There’s still some small print on this of course (as ever with BS7671).
- RCD Protection requirements have changed in a few areas. Now in addition to socket circuits, luminaire sockets should be RCD protected too. Luminaires being the small round pin sockets that standing lamps are plugged into (Hotels and larger houses have these). ALSO if you opt out you need to provide a documented Risk Assessment, which basically means that you are covering the liability.
- Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs). This is a NEW Recommendation (not yet statutory), but of course it will be expected that Insurance companies will jump to push these as a requirement to be covered with them. These are not cheap unfortunately, at around £90 PER CIRCUIT (Just for the part!!) at the time of writing. These devices cut out when arcing is detected. This usually means failing cables, failing accessories or loose connections. They are a GOOD thing as they prevent Electrical Fires (which unfortunately still happen too often!).
- SPDs – Transient Overvoltage (Lightning and Surge Protection). This has been revised to prevent loss of life, damage to building and to equipment (especially now a growing percentage is Electronic, from LED lamps to Smart Devices around the home). This is determined using a specific Risk Assessment method (quite detailed!) but there is also an exception for certain single dwelling scenarios.
- Additional Earth Protection. This is an increasing nightmare for Electricians … This addresses (although in some cases i’d beg to differ!) an ageing issue of the UK’s Power Distribution network, especially in some built up cities where it is difficult to repair the earthing provision (or lack of it!) entering the home or office/unit. This also addresses new earthing protection issues with Electric Vehicle charging units, as these can be dangerous under certain requirements (Due to voltage differences between two nearby units and/or the car bodywork, as well as any external metal fixtures such as light fittings). There are also certain circumstances where earthing provisions can actually make the hazard WORSE! So definately consult an experienced Electrician when it comes to your Car Charger and outside equipment. Dave from the pub is a no-go here!
- Electric Vehicle Chargers. The Rapid Charge version of these will be rolling out to meet demand. HOWEVER these are NOT a simple connect up and off you go type of installation. So again, beware of Dave from the Pub! There’s actually a lot to consider and they also require necessary paperwork with them (You’ve been ripped off and potentially put at risk if you didn’t get this with yours, as it’s a requirement!).
- New Build Properties. There is a seperate part of Building Regulations that is requiring all new build homes to have “Provision” for Electric Vehicle Charging. In practice this means that some ducting should be ran (so that a cable install will be easy) if and when a charge point is eventually Installed. Or you could go one step further and provide a cable (even if just boxed off for now).
- Smoke and Heat Detectors. The push is to use the type of detector that uses the fixed (non removable) 10 year battery type. This is instead of the removable type (you know the ones that people remove and forget to replace!). Also a good practise is to wire these into the light circuit (as long as the light circuit is verified ok to extend from – Only your Electrician can tell you this after testing). Otherwise if Smoke and Heat detectors are on their own seperate circuit, again these get knocked off and forgotten about.
- RCD Testing by the Home or Office Owner. This has been relaxed. Previously the labels on you Distribution Board remind you to press the Test button on RCD devices every 3 months. This not only ensures it still works, but also works the mechanism to ensure it doesn’t cease up over time. That said, who reading this has done that? (Don’t worry I won’t tell!). Anyway, this has now been relaxed to every 6 months as manufacturers are confident that their parts are ok for this.
What else is on the horizon?
- I already mentioned that a lot of Landlords are not carrying out even basic checks on their properties and that this still remains a big issue. It is expected that EICR’s (Electrical Installation Condition Reports, which some know as “Landlord Safety Certificates”) will become a requirement. In fact a few of the Landlord bodies insist on this already at their own discretion. Again, Insurance Companies are also in on the argument as this will obviously be a clear advantage for them to reduce issues.
- Home Movers are being pushed more and more to have EICR’s (Electrical Installation Condition Reports) carried out. This is not just about liability issues. But imagine buying a home and then doing lots of nice cosmetic work, only to then find later that it needs a full or part rewire. Well, having an inexpensive EICR carried out would save that heartache. It also is VERY useful for a seller to get their price. It’s useful to a buyer to get some money off if there are issues (or ask for it to be put right in order to secure the sale).
- Keeping energy usage down. New build homes will be faced with the usual design issues and requirements, but also the use of lower energy lights and appliances will need to be considered. This comes from other environmental government focus groups.