Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information
Managing materials shortages
Materials shortages across the construction industries are continuing to cause delays, due in part to limited deliveries.
Low supplies of key building materials, including electrical cabling, roof tiles, cement, and timber, are delaying projects and increasing prices.
The shortages are expected to continue for the rest of this year, even with the government’s plans to grant 10,500 visas for people with much-needed skills.
Who is most affected?
The delays caused to homebuilding and home improvement projects could affect recovery across the construction sector.
Home renovators could see their budgets put under pressure. The cost of materials for repair and maintenance work rose 6.7% between June and July this year, and by 23% between July 2020 and July 2021.
Small builders are struggling to find the materials they need to keep projects moving forwards and, in some cases, say they're concerned about the viability of their businesses.
A shortage of raw materials could mean the limited supplies of electrical cabling and electronic components will continue into 2022. Even screws and other fixings are hard to obtain.
Building material prices
During 2020 a lot of people turned to home improvements during the first lockdown, while some manufacturers were unable to operate. The supply chain has been under pressure ever since.
Longer lead times and increasing demand mean prices are rising which is making it difficult for manufacturers and suppliers to build up their stock levels.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) State of Trade Survey says that almost all members are experiencing price rises.
While the demand for skilled workers is as high as any time during the last 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as experienced tradespeople retire a shortage is also increasing labour costs.
A shortage in raw materials
There is also a worldwide shortage of raw materials following increased demand and production delays during the pandemic. This is affecting the availability of many products including electrical components, equipment, and appliances.
Wherever possible, you can reduce the impact of delays and shortages by planning your projects well in advance. You can check with professionals and suppliers so that you will know what to expect and how your schedules and budgets might be affected.
We will be happy to discuss your requirements and help to plan your project, so please get in touch.
Top tips for car park lighting
As the days get shorter good lighting in car parks becomes an even greater priority for both safety and security.
Here are some tips for car park lighting:
Lighting levels – it can be surprisingly complicated to create the right lighting level. Your decision will need to take account of how busy the car park will be and whether there will be light, medium, or heavy traffic.
Dimming and controls – lighting levels can be varied according to peak times. For example, you might want more illumination when people are arriving and leaving work, which will often be in the dark at this time of year. Other times might be much quieter, so it’s worth considering reduced lighting levels to suit the amount of use.
This will help you to save energy and will make sure your car park isn’t over-lit. LED lights and intelligent lighting controls such as passive infrared sensors (PIRs) that will turn on the lights when movement is detected, or video detection systems, will help you to manage lighting levels.
Use – to optimise your car park lighting you will also need to think about how people and vehicles use the space. Extra lighting will be needed at entrances and exits, where pedestrians need to cross the flow of traffic, and for signage.
White light – to create the best illumination for parking white light gives a clear image which is helpful if you have CCTV installed. Users will also feel more secure and confident that they see and be seen.
Minimising glare – optics and other lighting accessories will control light and minimise glare so that you will have enough light at the right time and in the right place. If there are adjacent buildings you can avoid causing light pollution and keep your neighbours happy.
Mounting choices – by keeping column numbers to a minimum in open-air car parks you can reduce obstructions and improve safety, minimising clutter, and maintenance points. For larger car parks a high-powered light source at greater height can often provide an economical way to light a large area.
To discuss lighting design and installation for your car park please get in touch.
New energy ratings for ‘light sources’
Lighting manufacturers are improving the energy efficiency of their products and are also trying to reduce the use of plastic packaging and the carbon footprint of their supply chain.
Following a ten-year European government review, major changes have now started to improve energy efficiency, protect the environment from plastic, and boost sustainability.
The new Single Lighting Regulations (SLR) and Energy Label Regulations (ELR) come into effect on 1 September 2021, combining previous rules and covering new lighting technologies.
It classifies lighting products as ‘light sources’ such as lamps and sealed luminaires and ‘containing products’ such as luminaires with replaceable light sources or control gear. Each light source will be given a new energy rating between A and G, replacing the existing energy labels from A++ to E.
The SLR includes minimum requirements for effectiveness, maintenance, survival, flicker, and strobe effects. This will mean that some existing LED lamp technologies must be upgraded while some conventional lighting will be phased out if it doesn’t meet the new requirements.
Halogen low voltage lamps GU4, GU5.3, G53 and Halogen R7s up to 2700lm from 1 September 2021
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs ) with integrated control gear (E27, E14, B22) from 1 September 2021
Halogen G9, G4 and GY6.35 capsules from 1 September 2023
T8 fluorescent lamps (600mm, 1200mm and 1500mm) from 1 September 2023.
Although many LED lamps will be improved to meet the new requirements, the most visible change will be the new energy rating scale which will be displayed on the packaging.
The new scale will allow for further efficiency performance and the current A++ classification will now appear as a mid-table E rating.
Most luminaires will now contain products that won’t have an energy label. These are expected to offer replaceability and refurbishment options, either for the end user, a qualified electrician, or by the manufacturer.
Energy efficient lighting – your return on investment
We have been working at a lot of commercial premises recently to install new energy-efficient LED lighting. Part of the service is to calculate how long it will take for the energy savings to pay back the investment. It’s a surprisingly short time.
We know that margins are tight in the logistics and distribution sector which is why we are always happy to show our customers how much energy and money they can save.
Energy efficient lighting – return on investment
The return on investment (ROI) calculation will show you how quickly savings in your operational costs will exceed your investment in energy efficient LED lighting.
The first step is to have accurate figures for your lighting project, including the costs of materials, installation, and disposal and recycling of your old lights where needed.
Next, you will need figures for the energy you currently use and how much will be saved from your overall running costs.
Both figures can be worked out for your whole project or based on each of the lighting units replaced. Either way, you will see that the savings are significant. For example, just one efficient lighting unit that is normally in use for 12 hours per day might reduce your annual energy costs by £75. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you replace 100 lights your savings in the first year will be £7,500.
Of course, the cost of your installation project will depend on your needs and any additional requirements you might have. For an easy calculation let’s say the total project cost is £7,500, then your payback period will be 12 months, and after that you will be saving money every year.
The cost and reliability of LEDs
Depending on the age of your existing lighting and the costs of replacements and maintenance, you could achieve savings even more quickly. That’s because, once installed, LEDs are long-lasting and very easy to maintain. So, not only will your current maintenance costs disappear, when you eventually need to replace any of your new lighting units, it will cost much less.
Responses to product recalls are too low
Did you know there’s a voice app for that?
Electrical Safety First has developed two new apps to make it easier for you to find out about electrical product recalls and to register appliances. These new digital options allow you to find safety information and register appliances using a voice-activated app that’s available on Alexa Skills and Google Nest.
You can simply ask your device to “Open Electrical Safety First” to find out if any of your electrical products have been recalled. If you don’t know the specific model, you can just ask “Has my fridge been recalled” or check by brand name.
You'll be told if there are any recalls and you'll have the option to sign up for email alerts when a new recall notice is issued.
Later this year there will also be an iOS smartphone app available to make popular Electrical Safety First information easily accessible when you’re out and about. This will include electrical product recalls and you can save the names of the brands you have in your home so that you’ll be notified if a new recall or safety notice is issued.
It will also make it easier to register your electrical appliances with links to manufacturers’ websites. You can simply add your appliance details using your phone. You can also use it to find a registered electrician locally or ask electrical safety questions.
Going the extra mile... or two
Recently the MSE team has completed some interesting projects around the country.
This month our clients in Bridgwater had some last-minute problems with paperwork concerning their building lease. As a result, we had just four days to complete five days’ installation work.
Undeterred the team worked hard and had the job completed in good time.
Here’s what we installed:
power for electric forklift charging and warehouse scanning IT equipment
sensor controlled LED light fittings and wiring and installation of an integrated emergency system
emergency exit box signs over fire doors, upgraded to LEDs
wiring and installation for car park and loading bay floodlights
power supplies for CCTV and security.
Electric forklift truck charging
Whether you have one electric forklift truck or a whole fleet in your warehouse you will need designated forklift charging stations.
Electric forklift trucks are very popular because they are efficient, cost effective, and they have low CO2 emissions. However, they need a dedicated battery charging area with safety features to meet the charging station power requirements.
Complete accessibility is needed and the chargers must be mounted on a wall. All the chargers need breakers to stop the flow of electricity in an emergency.
For health and safety, they should be mounted at a height that will mean wires are no longer than a metre. For multiple units a gap of at least one metre is needed between each forklift truck and each charging station should include a fire extinguisher suitable for use on electrical fires.
Since charging the forklift batteries produces hydrogen ventilation is needed and air quality should be regularly monitored.
Time to review your emergency lighting
People are returning to work from furlough and employees who have been working remotely are starting to combine home and office working.
Now is a good time to check the design and installation of emergency lighting and exit signage in your premises. It’s important to make sure that employees and visitors can safely evacuate your building if there’s an emergency.
Emergency lighting requirements
planning and designing the system
positioning of wall or ceiling mounted emergency lights and signs
periodic testing and maintenance.
Providing clear directions
There are two main types of emergency lighting will take over from the normal lighting if there’s a power or circuit failure. One is for emergency escape routes and the other is for standby lighting that will allow people to continue to work safely if they don’t need to leave the building.
Emergency lighting and signage will make sure people can leave a building safely. There’s a code of practice that explains how to make sure routes are clear, adequately illuminated, and to minimise the risk of confusion.
Rooms with windows will have natural light and won’t need emergency lighting during the day, while unglazed, internal areas such as corridors and stairwells will probably always need it. If a building is used at night, emergency lighting will probably be needed in all areas, including those naturally lit during the day.
Types of emergency lighting
There are two main types of emergency lighting.
Self-contained luminaires include all the essential components such as a battery, charger, control unit, lamp, diffuser and test or monitoring equipment for it to function as an independent emergency light. They are the most common form of emergency lighting, usually designed to be fitted to a wall or ceiling such as a surface-mounted. They can be fast and easy to instal and won’t be affected by power failures. However, they aren’t good for hazardous environments and the batteries might only be suitable for operation within specific temperature ranges.
Alternatively, centrally supplied luminaires, also known as 'slaves', operate from a central emergency power system. These fittings contain the lamp and some of the control gear but the charger, battery and changeover device are remotely located. They will have a longer life than the self-contained units, can be used in a wider range of settings, and are easier to test and monitor.
LEDs are becoming an increasingly popular choice for emergency lighting and the government is currently offering a financial incentive to switch to low energy products.
Please get in touch if you would like to review or upgrade your emergency lighting.
LED sensor controlled lighting
Have you ever struggled to turn the lights on because your hands are full of bags or boxes?
Have you forgotten to switch the lights off, leaving them on for hours and wasting electricity?
The answer is sensor controlled lighting. Combined with energy-efficient LEDs it helps to reduce energy waste in home and business settings.
Lights with motion sensors can automatically switch lights on and off, making them a convenient and energy-saving option. They will also extend the life of your fixtures which will only be switched on when they’re needed.
Can lights be retrofitted with a motion sensor?
An external motion detector can be connected to a light that doesn’t already have one as an alternative to a new light fitting with a built-in detector. One option is to replace the existing light switch with a motion detector.
How do motion sensors work?
Generally, two types of technology are used for motion sensors.
Infrared (IR) sensors – these can be used indoors and outdoors. They have two slots that are sensitive to IR but they don’t respond until a warm body passes the area covered by both sensors.
High frequency (HF) sensors – these are mostly used indoors, responding to an echo image to detect movement. Even the smallest movement can trigger the response, so they are rarely used outdoors unless they are combined with smart technology that can tell the difference between human movement and insects, leaves, or rain, for example.
Setting up motion sensors
Some products are easier to adjust than others. For some the motion detectors are fixed in place while others with an external motion sensor can be directed at a specific area.
The easiest way to set them up is to work with someone who can move around in the target area so that the sensor can be accurately positioned.
Other optional settings can include:
time the light stays on
range of the motion detector
sensitivity of the twilight sensor controlling the light level at which it will activate.
Power for motion sensors
While lights and sensors usually have a power connection, there are also battery-powered light options that can be mounted on the wall or ceiling. While these will provide a lower light level than standard fittings, they are useful for night lighting. However, they will need to be accessible so that batteries can be easily replaced when needed. For exterior lights and sensors there are also some solar powered options.
Whether you’re retrofitting existing lights with an external motion detector or installing new lights, the installation should be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Please get in touch if you are interested in installing sensor controlled lighting at your property.
Get ready for summer with garden lighting
We can look forward to warm summer evenings in the garden. With luck, we’ll be able to stay outside well after dark.
Some effective lighting will give a whole new dimension to your peaceful garden moments. Everything can look completely different at night with the right lighting approach, from your decking, trees and planting to ponds, fountains, pergolas, patios, or paths.
However, it’s important to make sure everything is properly installed and checked.
Plenty of bright ideas
Whether you want functional lights for security or something more decorative, there’s plenty to choose from. It’s worth remembering that less is probably more, so you won’t want to floodlight every corner or upset your neighbours. Concealing the source of light will enhance the results.
You can create some interesting effects by ‘painting’ walls with light, with reflections across ponds, or backlighting features to create silhouettes. To avoid dazzle, position your lights at angles and use foliage to diffuse the beams.
By changing the distribution and angles of light you can highlight features that you might not even notice in daylight. A lower wattage with narrow beams can produce very effective light patterns. Don’t forget, there are plenty of colour choices for subtle style and lighting contrasts.
Choose the best possible quality fittings to prevent issues such as corrosion and leaks which could shorten their life and make them a safety risk. It’s also important to think about how quickly your plants will grow so that your lights won’t become overgrown.
Some larger fittings can create a lot of heat if they are used for a long time, so they should be positioned to avoid singed plants, accidental contact, and to protect children and pets.
Electrical safety outdoors
In England electrical Choose the best possible quality fittings to prevent issues such as corrosion and leaks which could shorten their life and make them a safety risk. It’s also important to think about how quickly your plants will grow so that your lights won’t become overgrown.
Some larger fittings can create a lot of heat if they are used for a long time, so they should be positioned to avoid singed plants, accidental contact, and to protect children and pets.
work in gardens is no longer covered by Part P of the building regulations, so you don’t have to notify your local building control department.
However, because you are exposing electrical installations to the weather, extra care must be taken. Make sure your cabling is secure and protected from wildlife damage and is safe if you’re digging or mowing.
All outdoor electrical equipment, including lights, must be designed for use outside and be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should regularly check for signs of damage and, while there aren’t any rules about inspection and testing of your garden lighting, it would be a good idea to have a professional check at least every 10 years.
Please get in touch if you’re planning new lighting to make the most of your garden space this summer.
Net zero emissions for the lighting industry
We have recently completed several large-scale commercial installations of low-energy LED lighting. They provide excellent light levels for a fraction of the cost of traditional installations and they are long-lasting. However, they will eventually need to be replaced, raising the question of what to do with the old units.
All types of manufacturing businesses are turning their attention to a circular economy that will support net zero targets for carbon emissions. The lighting industry has a part to play in helping the country reach these targets.
For lighting manufacturers this will become more important as demand for resources rises, and energy costs increase. Government targets will also make a net zero approach a requirement of doing business.
Net zero carbon by 2030
Recolight is a leader in the UK’s lighting compliance scheme for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). It has set a target to be net zero for carbon by 2030.
The aim is to limit the environmental impact of lighting waste. While LED recycling is an important part of this process, there is still a carbon ‘cost’. For example, when aluminium is recycled the need to use energy-intensive processes to extract new metal from bauxite is reduced. However, collection and transport of the materials still uses valuable resources.
Recolight has said that this will be a consideration when its transport and treatment services are retendered at the end of this year. A quarter of the evaluation points will be based on the plans and actions potential contractors have for achieving net zero targets.
Recolight says it will make up to £50,000 available, on a competitive basis, to help companies establish zero carbon or low carbon collection or recycling of waste lamps.
Please get in touch if you would like some advice about energy efficient LED lighting for your commercial property.
Smart home standards
Not long ago speaking to your home appliances would have been seen as eccentric.
Now smart appliances that can be controlled by your voice activated home assistants or via an app on your smartphone have become an important part of the strategy to help the UK achieve its net zero carbon target.
Innovations in the design and manufacturing of smart appliances and controls are accelerating. The UK trade association for manufacturers and providers of energy infrastructure technologies and systems, BEAMA, is now supporting two new standards.
Flexible energy services
These standards will provide a foundation for integration of ESAs and flexible energy services.
Compatibility with international standards will help to make the UK a leader in this area and will support our competitiveness. Further supporting policies and regulations are expected to follow.
An appliance classified as an ESA should now meet the requirements of these standards, but at present they are voluntary. The Department for Business Energy and Industrial strategy (BEIS) might later introduce certification requirements.
The framework provided by the new standards will help service operators and appliance manufacturers develop systems that work consistently in the background of our homes without human intervention. At the same time, they will protect data and provide security.
They will be important for the integration of heat pumps and electric vehicle charge points in buildings and energy networks. They will help to make the most of smart metering and opportunities to manage energy use.
Logistics company reducing its carbon footprint
This large-scale lighting project in West Yorkshire has taken our clients to a new level of lighting in their warehouse.
It was good to work with a company that is planning ahead and is happy to make the investment needed to be more energy efficient and kinder to the environment.
In this case their old system of lamps and tubes has been replaced with modern alternatives that they can now control to meet their needs. It was a real joint effort to design and plan this simple but effective solution with our clients and the team at Midshires Electrical & Lighting. Their installation will pay for itself in the first 12 months and will save over 400 tonnes of CO².
Sustainability and logistics
Large businesses and their supply chains need to show that their operations are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Many do this regularly in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, explaining what they have done over the last year to meet these expectations.
However, the expectations are increasing and directors must look closely at all aspects of their supply chain. Some will only buy from suppliers who meet their environmental standards. Their customers also want to know that they consider sustainability when they source their products.
The MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics says that energy efficiency is a way to meet expectations and make good business choices as well. It can cover everything from efficient electric vehicles to lighting.
Since energy is often the largest cost for many businesses reducing energy use will save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.
Some logistics companies are planning smart networks that include vehicles that use advanced energy efficient technology and facilities powered by sustainable energy sources.
For more information about energy saving options for your distribution centre please get in touch.
Electrical updates for your commercial properties
As a commercial landlord the electricity supply in your property must be safe, reliable, properly tested, and well maintained.
With the rise in home working and flexible hours many businesses are reviewing their need for office space. Commercial landlords that provide high-quality business settings will attract tenants and optimise rental income.
Priorities for your commercial property
You will want to make sure that each property you own has a safe, reliable electricity supply and fully functioning appliances.
Commercial properties must also have adequate safety measures in place to detect and alert tenants if there’s a fire. Smoke alarms might be needed in every room or on every storey of the property.
Before a new tenant moves in you will need an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). A registered electrician should complete the inspection and, even where there are existing tenants, your property should be inspected at least every five years.
Energy Performance Certificates
Most commercial properties must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) that should be displayed in the building if:
the total useful floor area is over 500 square metres
the building is frequently visited by the public
an EPC has already been produced for the building’s sale, rental, or construction.
An EPC will normally be valid for up to 10 years. A prospective tenant should be given a copy of the EPC and if you don’t provide one you can be fined up to £5,000, based on the rateable value of the building.
For new tenants or lease renewals the property must have an EPC rating of ‘E’ or above. If your property has a rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’, you will need to improve its energy efficiency.
From April 2023 every commercial lease, including those already in place, must meet this standard. As part of the government’s promise to achieve an 80% reduction in CO² emissions by 2050 all commercial rental properties will probably need a ‘D’ rating or above by 2025, and a ‘C’ rating or above by 2030.
If your tenants are responsible for paying their energy bills, they can choose to install a new business energy meter. However, if you’re re-charging multiple tenants in one building, you might want to install a sub-meter system to monitor each tenant’s use.
Contact us to arrange an electrical inspection and condition report for your commercial property or for advice about how to improve your energy efficiency.
Electrical inspections for landlords 31/03/21
From 1 April all privately rented residential properties must have an electrical inspection every five years, not just new tenancies.
It’s not surprising we have been so busy completing electrical inspection condition reports for many landlords over the last few months.
If you are a landlord or agent and still have properties to check, please get in touch.
Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) regulations electrical inspection and testing must be carried out at least every five years. The rules apply to all privately rented properties, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Private landlords are responsible for making sure these tests are completed and they must give a copy of the report to each tenant within 28 days and keep a copy themselves.
Every fixed electrical installation must be inspected and tested by a qualified professional.
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 powers to take action, including making repairs themselves. Each breach of the Regulations could lead to a penalty of up to £30,000.
Contact us to arrange an electrical inspection and condition report for your privately rented property.
A great job in a big warehouse
Keeping everyone safe while we complete a large installation is a top priority for MSE.
When we complete this type of project we must take in to account the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Electricity at work
The DECC enforces the regulations about electricity safety, quality and continuity while the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces safety.
For some workplaces like offices, shops, hotels, and many warehouses, the Local Authority will enforce the electrical safety regulations, along with the HSE.
All the electrical systems must be properly designed, and wiring must meet strict requirements. Lighting is especially important in warehouses to minimise the risks for everyone working in a busy environment, and also to make sure that energy is saved wherever possible. Lighting installations often involve working at height, so this must be taken into account too.
Inspection and testing are also essential to make sure everyone is working safely with equipment such as conveyor belts, overhead hoists and material handling equipment, for example. It’s also important to make sure that all aspects of emergency lighting are working properly so that everyone can safely evacuate the building if needed.
Please get in touch if you would like more information about lighting, electrical installations, inspection and testing for your warehouse.
Green energy online portal
UK Power Networks has launched an online portal for installers. It’s designed to make it quicker and easier to connect low carbon technologies for homes and businesses.
Fast decisions on green energy options
Technology companies can receive an immediate decision on whether they can connect domestic electric vehicle charge points, heat pumps, battery storage or solar photovoltaic (PV) cells with the local electricity network. It can be used instead of multiple paper forms to streamline the process.
Why create a portal?
The portal has been developed with partner, Octopus Electric Vehicles, following criticism of the process for domestic vehicle-to-grid projects, which was said to be confusing and time-consuming.
By 2030 it is predicted that there will be up to 700,000 electric heat pumps and 4.5million electric vehicles connected to UK Power Networks in London, the East and South East. To meet customers’ needs as volumes increase, a new approach was needed.
The service will help to make sure that the right electricity supply is available for specialist installers of low carbon technologies and domestic customers.
How the portal works
Customers will be automatically referred if their electricity supply needs to be upgraded to manage additional power requirements and installers will be able to keep track of multiple applications.
A range of experts have worked on the project to create a responsive solution for anyone who wants to make use of low carbon technology in their home or business.
The documentation required from customers has been simplified and the progress of their application will be much easier to monitor.
Please get in touch if you would like some advice about installing a low-carbon energy solution for your home or business.