Inside The Consumer Unit

Your consumer unit is the base of the electrics in your home. It is responsible for powering all of the circuits in your home and is made up of several components. It is important that you know these different components, as well as where your consumer unit is located in the event of an accident or emergency.

Different types of consumer units

All new consumer units are required to have metal clad casing, as this is a lot safer than older plastic coverings. Metal prevents connections from overheating and, if a fire were to start, the fire can easily be contained within the casing itself - something that can't be guaranteed with an otherwise meltable plastic case. 

However, there are still a lot of plastic consumer units still in use. Whilst they are not illegal, they are just not recommended. The IET suggest you should have an electrician inspect your consumer unit and switch gear regularly to check there is no fire hazard or other associated risks. The condition and location of your consumer unit will also be taken into account. 

If you have a plastic consumer unit underneath wooden stairs, this is seen as a major fire hazard because they can block off the fire exit (stairs) and give a lack of ventilation for the fire. 

What are the components in a consumer unit?

Mains switch 

This controls the supply of electric in your home and is what should be switched off in the event of an emergency. This controls all the other components in your consumer unit. 

RCDs (Residual current devices)

RCDs are what turn off the power immediately after finding an electrical fault in your home. This prevents you touching a live wire and getting a potentially fatal electric shock. They constantly monitor the flow of electric in your home. As of 2008, all homes must have RCDs fitted for safety purposes.

Circuit breakers

Each home has roughly 6 circuits, each controlled by a circuit breaker. Similar to RCDs, circuit breakers trip and turn off when they find an electrical fault, to protect you from electric shocks. If a circuit breaker trips, you can switch it back on, but it is advised you get the help of an electrician to find out where the fault lies.

Bus bar

Bus bars are only seen by electricians working on your consumer unit. It is a long strip of copper with teeth to lock all the components into place.

Need a new consumer unit in Worcester Park?

We cover all of your electrical needs across Worcester Park, Sutton, Cheam, Banstead, Kingswood, Epsom, Tadworth and Wallington. To get in touch with our highly qualified electricians, give us a call on 0203 6593 651 / 0791 4615 151 or email us at info@aeielectrical.com; alternatively, you can reach us via our contact form.