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How will the 18th Edition change daily work for electrical installers?

10 August 2018

The 18th Edition of the IET Wiring regulations has landed, bringing with it an array of new things for electrical installers to be aware of and make part of their day to day.

We are now one month in to a six-month adjustment period for electricians to make sure they have everything in place. From January 1st 2019 installations must be fully compliant to the new regulations, meaning all electrical work that takes place from December 31st 2018 must abide by the new rules.

In line with the latest technology advances and updated technical data, the new regulations aim to make installations safer for both electricians and the end user, as well as impact on energy efficiency.

All changes are important, however we have picked out four key points that we think are particularly interesting:

1: Metal Cable Supports

Regulations currently outline that only cable located on fire escape routes must be supported against early collapse in the event of a fire. The new regulations now demand that metal fixings, rather than plastic ones, be used to support all cables throughout installations, to reduce risk to occupants or fire fighters from falling cables as a result of failed cable fixings.

2: Installation of Arc Fault Detection Devices

Considering that UK buildings now have more electrical equipment in them than ever before, and electrical fires are occurring at roughly the same rate year-on-year, the installation of Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs) to moderate fire risk in some circuits has been introduced.

Electrical fires caused by arc faults usually occur at poor terminations, loose connections, though old and failing insulation or in damaged cable. These sensitive AFDDs can lower the likelihood of electrical fires resulting from arcs by early detection and isolation.

Installation of AFDDs started in the US several years ago, and there has been a reduction in related fires by about 10%. 

3. All AC sockets rated up to 32A now require RCD protection

Residual Current Devices (RCDs) constantly monitor the electric current in the circuits they protect and trips the circuit if flow through an unintended path to earth is detected—such as a person.

These are life safety devices and potentially a life-saving update. Previously, all sockets rated up to 20A required RCD protection, but this has been extended in an effort to reduce electric shocks to installers working with live AC socket outlets. It will also protect the end user in cases where a cable is damaged or cut and the live conductors could be accidentally touched, causing current to flow to earth.

To prevent the RCD being overwhelmed by the current wave form, however, care must be taken to ensure the appropriate RCD is used.

4: Energy efficiency

The draft of the 18th Edition update featured a clause on the energy efficiency of electrical fixings. In the final version published, this has been changed to full recommendations, found in Appendix 17. This recognises the nationwide need to reduce energy consumption overall.

The new recommendations encourage us to make the most of overall use of electricity, in the most efficient way.

Overall, the revised installation processes may call for investments in new equipment, and of course further training. Most importantly though, if working on a new build project, for example, electricians may now have opportunities to take on more leading roles in the design process of a building, to ensure the whole project complies to the new regulations

The 18th Edition brings new progress toward safer installation and safer spaces for end users. We know that electricians across the UK are working hard to prepare for these changes and we want to know what you think will affect you most and what you are doing to make the transition as smooth as possible.

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