Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information
Here’s a nice garden shed project we completed recently. If you want to run power to your shed, garage, garden office or other outdoor buildings, here are a few things to think about.
If you are using your garden buildings throughout the year you will want to install electrics for heating, lighting, and power.
If possible, your electrical requirements should be planned during the design and installation of your garden building because it this will make the process much easier.
You will need to think about wiring and installation of sockets and switches and getting your electricity supply from your house to the garden building.
Installing the power from your house to the garden building should be done by a qualified electrician who has the technical expertise to complete the calculations and installation to meet the requirements of Part P of the Building Regulations.
Normally you will need an armoured cable buried underground and connected through a consumer unit.
To help keep costs down you can dig the trench yourself to run the cable from your house to your garden building. I which will normally need to be 600mm deep. Make sure you discuss with your electrician at the quotation stage.
Your consumer unit in the house might need to be upgraded to handle the additional power requirements and a residual current device (RCD) might need to be added for extra safety.
The cable will be connected to your home electricity supply, laid in the trench and then connected to the new consumer unit in your garden building. Then sockets, lighting and heating can be safely installed.
A qualified electrician can certify their own work as a ‘competent person’ using a BS 7671 electrical installation certificate and you will be given a copy. If you want to sell your house later, it will be important to have this certificate to show that the work was properly completed.
If you are planning a new garden building or would like to make your shed or garage a more usable space, we will be happy to give you some advice, so please get in touch.
Trustmark monitors ECO measures
Under the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO),energy suppliers must monitor measures installed at people’s homes to make sure that standards are met and that energy efficiency improvements are accurately scored. The amended ECO3 obligations aim to improve quality standards across the energy sector and give consumers more confidence and protection when having work carried out at home.
Concerns over consistency
There has been criticism that the processes used by energy suppliers have been based on interpretations of these requirements, leading to variable results.
As a result, TrustMark has taken over administration of technical monitoring from Ofgem. TrustMark, a Government Endorsed Quality Scheme, is responsible for the technical monitoring process and for conducting score monitoring inspections.
From 1 January this year, their Framework Operating Requirements say that all installations, as a minimum, must provide two years of financial protection cover and be approved by TrustMark. There’s a three-month transitional period during which TrustMark will monitor results.
To ensure a consistent standard across the industry, TrustMark has teamed up with Bierce Surveying. A pilot project will assess technical monitoring standards for retrofitting homes for improved energy efficiency (PAS2035:2019). They are planning to recommend best practices and to create a new framework for delivery and monitoring for 2021.
Homeowners rely on experts to make sure that high standards of installation are provided, and energy efficiency improvements are accurately scored. The new frameworks aim to minimise inconsistencies and increase confidence in the quality of work provided.
We are always happy to discuss your home energy efficiency requirements, so please get in touch.
This is one of our favourite recent projects using Heatmiser products, which we think are excellent. Here seven thermostats and two manifold positions were connected online to allow our customers to fully control their underfloor heating zones using their smart phones. Very easy and very clever.
Back in December 2016, the Government consulted on a range of policy ideas known as ‘Boiler Plus’. The plan was to give consumers more choice about how to heat their homes and more control over their energy bills.
The ‘Boiler Plus’ standards came into effect from April 2018, requiring new home gas and oil boiler installations in England to include devices to programme the system to come on and off at set times, and to set the most comfortable temperature.
One of the following additional energy efficiency measures is required.
Flue Gas Heat Recovery Systems (FGHRS) - these recover heat from waste flue gases and use it to preheat cold water entering the boiler to reduce the energy needed to warm the water.
Weather Compensation - modern condensing boilers work best when the heating system runs at lower temperatures, but in many cases the operating temperature is set too high, so the boiler never works in condensing mode. Weather compensation works with the boiler to intelligently reduce water temperatures, increasing efficiency while still providing a comfortable environment.
Load Compensation - by measuring the difference between the inside temperature and the temperature set by the user, these devices modulate the boiler so that it only uses as much fuel as necessary to reach the target.
Smart Controls with Automation and Optimisation Functions - smart thermostats let consumers remotely control their home temperature using a tablet, smartphone or desktop for greater control over their heating system, just like the one we installed.
Smart controls offering either load compensation or weather compensation would be fully compliant with the Boiler Plus standard. Other types of smart thermostat would also meet the standard as long as they offer both automation and optimisation.
Automation allows devices to automatically control the heating system through programming or detectors that respond when people are present. Advanced examples detect where householders are, using sensor data or geolocation based on smart phone data, for example. This can make sure that the system only operates when it’s needed. If you are away for a long time the heating can be switched off remotely or automatically.
Optimisation devices can calculate how long it takes the property to reach a comfortable temperature, and time the system’s operation to minimise energy use.
If you are planning a new home heating system, we are always happy to discuss the electrical requirements with your installer. Please get in touch.
2019 – the cleanest year on record for electrical energy
According to the National Grid, more zero-carbon electricity was used across Britain last year than electricity produced using fossil fuels.
The National Grid owns and operates the electricity network in England and Wales, and also runs the Scottish networks.
The country is now halfway to the target date set in 1990 to achieve at least a 100% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The latest information shows that wind farms, solar and nuclear energy, alongside energy imported by subsea cables, delivered 48.5% of our electricity. This compares to 43% generated by fossil fuels – coal, gas, and other carbon-based sources such as oil and diesel. The remaining 8.5% was generated by biomass materials such as wood pellets.
Are we making zero-carbon progress?
In 2010, fossil fuels were used to generate more than three-quarters of our electricity, while zero-carbon sources delivered less than a quarter.
Now, coal plants that once provided almost a third of our electricity contribute less than 2%. In fact, in May and June last year we went without coal-powered electricity for 18 days. By the end of this year we will have only four coal fired power plants.
We are also making a lot of progress with wind farms, solar panels and hydro power, which now generate just over a quarter of our electricity, compared with just 2.3% in 1990.
However, more than 38% of our electricity is generated using gas; a big increase on 1990 figures.
Alternative electricity sources
Our offshore wind projects now generate more electricity than onshore. On one day in December 45% of our electricity came from wind farms.
At the end of last year, the National Grid said it will be investing almost £10bn in the UK’s gas and electricity networks over the next five years. Almost £1bn has been allocated to move us to a net zero carbon electricity system by 2025.
Another £85m will help us to change the way we heat our homes, moving from gas boilers to things like electric heat pumps and hydrogen boilers.
If you would like to discuss energy-saving options for your business or home, please get in touch.
Electrical installation, inspection and testing regulations for private landlords
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 are now making their way through the Houses of Parliament.
Once approved, they will mean that private landlords and their agents must make sure that electrical installation inspections and testing are carried out for all new tenancies in England from 1 July 2020 and for existing tenancies from 1 April 2021.
Every fixed electrical installation will need to be inspected and tested at least every five years by a qualified professional. The Regulations, which include houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), say that a landlord must give a copy of the report to each tenant within 28 days and keep a copy themselves. They must also provide the report to whoever carries out the next inspection.
• If the local housing authority asks for a copy of the report it must be provided within seven days.
• Any new tenant can ask for a copy of the last report before moving in.
• If a prospective tenant asks for a copy, it must be provided within 28 days.
Local housing authorities will enforce the rules and will have the powers to take action, including making repairs themselves. Each breach of the new Regulations could lead to a penalty of up to £30,000.
Who is a ‘qualified person’?
The Regulations say that a ‘qualified person’ must carry out the inspection. They must be competent to complete the inspection and testing and any further investigations or repairs needed to meet electrical safety standards.
Putting things right
If the inspection highlights an existing or potential fault the landlord must either investigate it further or repair it within 28 days, or sooner if required in the report.
Following further investigations or repairs, the landlord must keep written confirmation of what has been done and that electrical safety standards are met, or what further work will be needed. This will continue until the property meets the required standards.
Confirmation that the work has been done must be given to each existing tenant within 28 days, along with the original report that identified what was needed.
If you have any concerns about electrical safety, it’s important to have a professional inspection. Please get in touch.
The electrical world is full of letters and terms – here we explain some of them.
If the term you’re looking for isn’t here, please get in touch and we will be happy to tell you about it and add a simple explanation to our list.
AC - an abbreviation for alternating current. Electricity is all about electrons travelling through a conductor (like copper). When electrons alternately move in different directions it is an alternating current. AC current us used for homes and businesses.
DC – an abbreviation for direct current where the electrons are all moving in the same direction. DC current is used to charge batteries, for electronic systems, some industrial processes and high voltage power transmission.
Amp – the unit for measuring electrical current.
BS7671 – the UK national safety standard for electrical installations, also known as the wiring regulations.
Circuit – electricity needs to flow continuously, without any breaks, and this is called a circuit.
Consumer unit – used to control electricity. The unit will often include a main switch, fuses, circuit breakers or residual current devices (RCDs).
Current – the more electrons travelling through the conductor, the more power they deliver. Large electrical currents are dangerous.
Earth – the earth wire will direct the electricity straight into the ground rather than passing through you. Earth wires are usually marked with yellow and green striped plastic covers.
Fuse – a key part at the beginning of an electrical circuit to prevent too much electricity from passing through wiring. Often a circuit breaker will cut power when something is overloaded to prevent the cable and equipment overheating and becoming a fire hazard.
Insulation – a coating, usually plastic, around conducting materials.
IP rating – categorisation of safe lighting. For example, high IP ratings are for bathrooms or outside and lower IP ratings are for indoor lighting.
Joule – the unit for measuring electrical energy.
Live – a wire carrying electricity, commonly coated in brown plastic (note - older systems might include live wires covered with red plastic). You can receive an electrical shock from live wires.
Neutral – a neutral wire completes an electrical circuit and allows electrons to flow. Neutral wires are usually covered in blue plastic (note - older systems might use a black plastic covering).
Part P – a section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales about electrical installations in domestic properties.
Transformer – used to change voltage, to dim lighting for example.
Voltage – the unit for measuring the force of electricity moving through wires. High voltage locations are often marked as dangerous.
Watt – a unit to measure electrical power.
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