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Consumer Unit Related Questions

A consumer unit which is primarily used in houses is a type of distribution board through which power is provided to subsidiary circuits. Some of the frequently asked questions regarding consumer units answered by Experts are listed below.

A consumer unit that was installed in a room which also had a toilet/sink room adjacent to a bathroom was opened up to make it one big room. What precautions should be taken to protect the Consumer Unit placed in the room?

Make sure that all switches are placed or fitted outside this room and/or are of “pull cord” type. It is imperative that there be no sockets and fixtures in the room within 2 meters of the bathtub. It would also be wise to place a lock on the consumer unit to prevent it from being tampered with or accidentally opened.

I recently installed a new consumer unit in my shower which has since, stopped working. Whenever I turn on the shower the light on the switch goes off and so does the bathroom light. What should I do?

There seems to be a fault with your wiring. Since the consumer unit is new, you could call the electrician who installed it to rectify it since it is his responsibility to do so. There seems to be a wrong connection within the consumer unit and it would be risky for a person other than a licensed electrician to try and solve the problem.

I had a small office built in the garden area of my house recently. This has a power supply connected from the main house but there have been times when all the power goes off in the house. The main RCD shuts off every now and then. What could be the problem? Is it because it is wired in a TT system? Should it be wired as a TCNS system?

The problem probably is due to a leakage of current to earth. You need to get a new registered electrician and ensure that he uses a Megger Meter to conduct tests with, which will pinpoint the exact location of the problem.

After a power outage lasting a few hours, there seemed to be a voltage drop in the neighborhood which was reported to the electric company. The neighbors’ problem was rectified, but mine is still left unresolved. The lights work properly, but the appliances are not working as they should. What should I do?

The best option for now would be to purchase an inexpensive 2 -lead voltmeter from a Home Improvement store and measure the voltage at the consumer unit and also at the power socket/s of the concerned appliances. It should read between 230 and 240 volts, depending on where you are located. Note that any reading less than 225 volts is definitely indicating a problem, which needs to be sorted out by your Electricity Board. However, if the problem is only at where the appliances connect, and not at the consumer unit, it would be your responsibility to undertake repairs.

I live in the UK. I just replaced a power shower thermostatic with a 9.5kW electric shower. The isolation switch on the power shower used a 3 amp fuse. What size fuse should I use for the isolation switch on the electric shower?

The specifications for a 9.5 kW electric shower state 40AMP (MCB rating). In addition it also states as follows: “To enhance electrical safety a 30mA residual current device (RCD) should be installed in all UK electric and pumped shower circuits. This may be part of the consumer unit or a separate unit.” This means that you may need an electrician to help with the RCD unit. This is similar to a Ground Fault Detection system. In case you are using a cartridge type fuse, it would be 45 amps. The specifications are detailed in the manual which can be found at http://www.tritonshowers.co.uk/media/1153927/amber3.pdf It is not advisable to undertake any kinds of repairs on Consumer Units if you are not a licensed electrician. If you have problems with a Consumer Unit or are not sure as to how it functions, asking an Expert is quicker, easier and more economical than hiring an electrician or trying to figure out the problem yourself
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