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The New Consumer Unit Is Installed!

A bit of a boring post, this one. But, renovating the home isn't always as exciting as it might seem. This job has been in the making for a long long time. It's probably the entire reason we haven't pushed harder to complete the bathroom before now. Why? Because fitting a new consumer unit doesn't come cheap! We also wanted the new shower cable installed at the same time which put the price up even more. So in all, we've been putting this job off for months!

We had quotes last year that varied around the £500 mark, but now with the bathroom virtually complete, it was the time to bite the bullet and empty our wallets. Our neighbour co-incidentally just had a new consumer unit installed a few weeks ago for the sale of her home, so she recommended an electrician to us whom we went with.

Why It Needed Replacing

I don't know how fast consumer units date, but ours needed replacing for two main reasons:

1. It wasn't big enough. - It was pretty much full to capacity. There was only one 'slot' left, which wasn't enough for the new installations we would need in the future.

2. It was only part RCD protected. - The left of the unit is RCD protected and the right isn't (mainly the lights). This is no longer ideal, and you can see the RCD protected side is full anyway, which meant we couldn't install the shower on this consumer unit as it requires an RCD protection.

This old unit was now 24 years old (same age as me!) so it was definitely time for an upgrade.

1991 Consumer Unit

1991 Consumer Unit

New Regulations 2016

The regulations of new installation consumer units is set to change as of January 1st 2016. All new consumer units must either be made from a non-combustible material OR be fitted inside a non-combustable enclosure. The main reason for this new regulation is due to the amount of house fires caused by poor/loose wiring inside the consumer unit. But since metal is far more expensive than plastic, this makes the new consumer units more costly. Whilst these new regulations aren't legally in place yet, electricians are encouraged to begin work to this new edit before that date. Since we like to save money, our new consumer unit is still made from plastic, which is still fully compliant, but yes, not ideal. Hopefully we can add a non-combustible casing or something at a later date.

The Job

The job itself was a full day job and quite an intrusive one too. We had to move back all the furniture in the bedroom and landing so that the carpets could be lifted up where the new shower cable needed laying. The carpets are no longer in perfect fitted condition and underneath we discovered this ridiculously jazzy, crazy, retro, eye-aching vinyl flooring.

Retro Vinyl Flooring

Snazzy, right?

We also had to be without electric for around three-four hours. Which meant no wifi, no computer and no way to charge my iPhone after I drained its battery from four hours of constant use. Yep, it was boring to say the very least. Here's some 'progress' pics:

Installation of New Consumer Unit

Consumer Unit Wiring

Lead Cables?

As this house is 100+ years old and the wiring has been added to and added to, it was inevitable that we would come across a few problems. The most unexpected problem was that we still had a live lead sheathed electrical cable coming out of the meter! Say what?!

Seriously. These cables are old (somewhere between 1900-1950) and they're dangerous. We traced it across the basement and it appeared to be going through into the next door property. The electrician told us that back in the day they used to use one house in a set of terraces to supply the others. Bonkers! There was the small possibility this cable was still supplying our neighbours property, however this seemed unlikely as the house next door had been changed into three flats at some point in the past. He was able to disconnect the cable without anyone losing their electric supply, so all was good. If you're wondering, the cable was on the 'other side' of our electric meter, so the supply would never have been read by our meter reader.

So we now have these beefy (it's huge!) new consumer unit, which will hopefully be good for many years to come.

Consumer Unit 2015

Consumer Unit Installation


I have one more little niggling issue to share. I specifically asked for a isolation switch for the shower, as opposed to a pull-chord. They break and they look ugly. This was my justification. He said "yep, no problem". We discussed a number of possible places to put the switch but the easiest was at skirting board height, bit like a plug. Seemed A LITTLE bit out of place, surely on top of the door, or outside the bathroom would have been more normal? But non-the-less, I like easy, so I agreed.

But I did not expect THIS:

Shower Isolator Switch

Ugly Shower Isolator Switch

Seriously. Is this a joke? What is that?! Just...Just...What?! I didn't want a pull chord because they're ugly and he fitted THIS. My reaction was somewhat an eye-rolling "typical!" response. Designers, electricians are not. I know they like to do things on the cheap to maximise their profit. But come on now. Does this thousand pound (and more) bathroom really look like I wanted THIS? Am I being just a little bit fussy?!

This needs changing. For SURE.


(rounded to the nearest pound)

Installation of new shower cable and fitting a new consumer unit:


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