A Guide to Commercial Electrical Installations
When it comes to owning and running a commercial property, one element above all others is crucial for it to be operational: electricity. But electricity is far from simple. In fact, it’s very complex and, with this complexity, comes a significant danger. This means that commercial electrical installations need to be handled carefully and correctly. Understanding all the intricacies of these systems is difficult, but it’s more than achievable to get to grips with the basics.
What is a Commercial Electrical Installation?
A commercial electrical installation is an electrical system which powers a commercial building. These installations can include everything from electrical panels and wiring to lighting systems and appliances. The installation process typically involves a team of skilled electricians working closely with property owners to, firstly, establish the electrical needs of their building. With this plan in place, the electricians can begin designing and implementing a system that meets the needs of the building and its occupants.
Commercial Electrical Installation Regulations in the UK
As we have already covered, electricity can be dangerous and, in certain cases, fatal. Therefore, ensuring that these installations follow UK regulations is paramount. In particular, the most important UK commercial electrical installations regulations are:
British Standard BS 7671:
In the UK, the national standards for fixed electrical cabling and procedures for testing this cabling are covered in the BS 7671 wiring regulations. These regulations are applicable to all types of installations, regardless of whether they are domestic, commercial, and industrial. They cover a wide range of electrical works, from the installation of new circuits to the replacement of fuse boxes and minor repairs. Complying with these regulations is crucial to avoid potential legal consequences, such as prosecutions arising from non-compliance.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR):
Electrical devices can easily develop faults which may not be visible. This means that it’s important to test and evaluate them for safety. Thankfully, a qualified electrician can produce an EICR, this will cover both visual inspections and more technical testing, such as live and dead testing, to identify any faults. Whilst an EICR is not mandatory by law, it is highly recommended to demonstrate a commitment to safety.
Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC):
Any newly built properties will require the issuing of an EIC. This certificate will confirm that any electrical installations present are safe and that they comply with BS 7671 regulations. Once this has been awarded, the property will be deemed safe, and it will not need to be issued again.
Expertise Required in Commercial Electrical Installations
Commercial electrical installations differ significantly from residential electrical installations in that their wiring is different. Residential wiring uses single phase wiring, which delivers 120V, although larger appliances can often require 240V and this is provided by two-phase circuits. Commercial wiring, however, uses three phase wiring to provide 415v. Accordingly, when it comes to commercial electrical installations, you need to align yourself with a fully competent engineer to work with this type of wiring.
Commercial projects are generally more complex than residential projects. Therefore, additional work and time is required to really understand your scope of works. You want to have a specified scope of works so your electrical quotations dont spring any suprises.
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