The Lowdown on Office Lighting Employees need perfect lighting conditions to thrive in the workplace, so good lighting is key to a successful and productive office. But many organisations fail to appreciate how important this is. And, given lighting in the workplace regulations, this could cause a number of problems. Therefore, it’s crucial that employers […]
How can I get an electrical installation survey done during lockdown?
With the new guidelines on social distancing and the message to stay at home, conducting an electrical installation survey is becoming increasingly difficult or not possible to carry out in person.
However this time shall pass and those projects that need to be completed will still need to be undertaken. A delay in survey will lead to lag in quotation, approval and the project being mobilised and undertaken.
The aim now is to reduce that time lag by still carrying out the earlier part of the process using innovative techniques and systems to complete these surveys and quotations allowing clients to put these budgets into their cash flow so when social distancing is reduced these works can happen immediately.
How can surveys be completed without coming to my place of business?
The majority of surveys can still be undertaken “off site” and the more information that can be collated during this process the more accurate the quotation will be for the needs of the client.
The majority of the information doesn’t change whether it’s a meeting on site or an off-site discussion. The numbers of cables required, the number of users moving into a building, the requirement of the electrical installations, the timescales to complete these works.
Also the construction of the space can easily be communicated which with the knowledge of the project management team accurate quotations can be built. For example, does the space have a false ceiling, a false floor, is there dado trunking around the walls of the offices, how long and wide is the space and where is the electrical cabinet in relation to those requirements?
Drawings allow the process to be even more accurate and will show our quotation team a visual of the space to gauge distances, routes and requirements.
The final element which then allows a 99% accurate quotation is the provision of photos and videos. With the information above and photos or videos of the proposed requirements our team is confident that the quotation provided offsite will be as accurate as an on site survey.
If someone is still based at their offices or place of business a simple walk through the building with Facetime, Zoom or Whatsapp will allow our team to provide the quotations you need.
What Project Surveys And Quotations Can Be Undertaken Off Site?
The majority of projects can be quoted accurately off site and are especially suited to the following due to the similar nature of the spaces:
- Data Cabinet tidy ups and re-patching
- Audio Visual Installations and Video Conferencing
- New office space where estimates are required (moving to new offices)
- Data Centres
What project surveys and quotations are not suitable be undertaken off site?
The following projects usually involve some deeper understanding of the requirements and survey of the spaces and even though these projects are not best suited to off-site surveys than can still be quoted with a quotation range as a budget which can then be confirmed with an on-site meeting once the opportunity arises.
- Listed building and building with restricted electrical installation routes / drilling
Due to the complicated routes and limitations on what can be changed, drilled and have containment fixed, an on-site survey is usually best for these buildings.
- Residential Homes
Homes by their nature have no obvious routes for electrical installations, so seeing the building internally from the start to end point is important. These projects are best suited to an on-site presence.
- External electrical installations and fibre optic links between buildings.
Using technology such as Google earth can assist in proving quotations for these works but in a population dense area such as London the routes externally between buildings or spaces sometimes follow many changes of direction and elevation which cannot be seen or understood off site.
The advantages of Projects during social distancing
With the ability to still provide quotations during the social distancing stage we can then follow through with structured cabling installations during the shutdown of many offices, schools and places of business.
The advantages are that the work can be completed win a much safer way as the premises are empty, the works can be completed in regular hours rather than incurring an out of hours installation cost and in some cases the works can be completed quicker and more economical as the absence of employees in the space allow the works to be completed faster.
Accuracy and Guarantee
The more information that is able to be communicated the more accurate the quotation can be for the client. However in 20 years of pricing so many different projects we know from experience that over 95% of projects we have quoted in the past from off-site information have resulted in no changes to the price, once an onsite meeting has followed to firm up requirements, and of the 5% that have had the change the price hasn’t deviated by more than 10%, once further information was known.
Therefore, during these challenging times if we provide an off-site electrical installation quotation for you based on the information received during a conference call and with the required supporting information we will honour that set price if the on-site follow up doesn’t change the pricing by more than 10%. In essence it allows the cost to increase by 10% and we will still complete the works at the originally supplied quotation
For those quotations that can’t be accurately quoted a range of budget pricing can be supplied and firmed up on site once the situation allows to still enable the clients to budget in their cash flow.
Tel: 020 3912 6200
Electrical Testing Procedures
Electrical products are an essential part of modern living. Without these innovative (and sometimes lifesaving) products life would be very different. However, electricity is also unpredictable and and without regular and rigorous testing can be incredibly dangerous. Check out our Testing Procedures below
That’s why there’s so much legislation in place when it comes to working with electricity. So, to ensure that your electrical installations are safe you need to work with certified experts. Not only will this keep you within the boundaries of the law, but it will also provide a much needed layer of safety. Naturally, you will want to understand the test procedures that these experts will use, so let’s take a closer look at them.
How Do You Test Electrical Installations?
Electrical circuits are complex and technical networks which require specialist training to understand and test. Two main tests are required to ensure that electrical products are safe:
New Installation Testing:
All new electrical installations need to go through an initial testing procedure to be verified as safe to use. This test, which can only be performed by a qualified and competent electrician, evaluates the electrical installation. Factors such as the earthing arrangements, types of conductors, supply parameters and safety devices are all evaluated and documented.
Periodic Inspection Testing:
Existing electrical installations must, by law, be periodically inspected by an electrician to ensure that they are safe. These periodic inspections include both a visual and electrical inspection. The results of these tests should highlight any faults or hazards which either require attention or fail to comply with existing BS7671 standards.
The most common electrical testing procedures:
Protective Conductor Continuity:
It’s crucial that every protective conductor in a circuit meets current electrical standards. They also need to be correctly connected in order to remain safe. An electrician will carry out this test on all accessible and exposed conductors using an insulation tester.
Circuit Breaker Functionality:
All circuit breakers, RCDs and isolators need to be thoroughly tested to confirm that they can disconnect an electrical supply if necessary. An electrician will need to confirm the effectiveness of these devices and verify that they are correctly maintained and labelled.
Ring Circuit Testing:
Every ring circuit must be tested in order to confirm the continuity of each conductor in the circuit. This procedure is completed using a continuity tester to determine whether the ring circuit is complete. This test, however, is not considered crucial if previous test records are available. If changes have been made to the circuit, though, it becomes essential that this test is completed.
Verifying the polarity of all circuits is an important procedure when it comes to testing electrical installations. The polarity must be measured at the point of installation, all accessible socket outlets, distribution boards and before any connection to the power supply. The best way to complete this test is by working with either a continuity tester or multi tester.
Electrical Installations Testing
The only way to confirm that electrical installations are safe is by combining all these test procedures. And, remember, these are not tests that can be completed by anyone. You need a fully qualified electrician to carry out these tests safely and accurately.
Electrical Installation Services Call us now: 01923 587 586
What is an RCD and How Does it Work?
RCDs, or residual current devices
A residual current device (RCD) is one of the best ways to protect yourself from electrical equipment. Accidents, after all, can happen. And the dangers of electricity mean that the consequences of these accidents can be severe and even fatal. By installing RCDs into your electrical systems you can significantly reduce the risk of electric shock.
Understanding what an RCD is and how it works could make a real difference to the safety of your electrical equipment, so let’s take a closer look at RCDs.
How Do RCDs Work?
An RCD is a safety device which is able to detect faults in electrical supplies and immediately switch the circuit off. This prevents the flow of electricity and provides protection against electric shocks. For example, a sudden surge of electricity will cause the RCD to trip out and shut down the current. As mentioned earlier, this reduces the risk of electric shock, but it also prevents the risk of electrical fires developing from faulty equipment.
Types of RCD
There are more than one type of RCD and the most common ones you will encounter are:
- Fixed : Typically found within a fuse box, a fixed RCD delivers the best protection against electric shocks. A fixed RCD is capable or protecting individual circuits and more complex setups which are comprised of multiple circuits. This type of RCD is, given its fixed position, constantly providing protection to your circuits.
- Portable : As the name suggests, a portable RCD can be moved to wherever it’s required. A portable RCD is most commonly used when your options are limited for installing an RCD such as on a construction site. The portable RCD simply plugs into an available socket outlet and is then ready to have an electrical device plugged into it.
- Socket Outlet RCD: Replacing a standard socket outlet, a socket outlet RCD provides a much safer option for working with electrical devices. They are commonly found in extension cables and used for outdoor appliances such as lawnmowers.
What would trip an RCD?
An RCD is considered a highly reliable device and will prevent electrical shocks in around 97% of all cases. Naturally, this is a success rate which is highly favourable to your well-being, but it is not a 100% guarantee. Therefore, you should always be careful when working with electrical applications and RCDs by following these best practices:
- Test Your RCDs
All RCDs will have a test button built into them so that you can test that they are working and will disconnect the circuit. You should run a test on each RCD every three months to confirm that they are in good working order. If the test button does not activate the trip then contact an electrician to investigate this further.
- Check Your Wiring
It’s important that any electrical installations (and the RCDs themselves) are checked every 10 years. Wiring can deteriorate over time and circuits can easily malfunction, so it’s crucial that you cover every base rather than relying on the promise of an RCD alone.
For more information on RCDs and the options available to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our expert engineers.
EICR – Electrical Installation Condition Report
Our homes and workplaces rely on electricity to power the many devices we need to live and survive. But we have to make sure these devices are safe. Electricity is a powerful form of energy and can cause serious injuries when it gets out of control. Clearly, it needs to be respected and regulated. One of the most conscientious ways to achieve this is through an EICR report – electrical installation condition report.
Why Do You Need an EICR?
Electrical installations, like any product, age over time and this deterioration can cause malfunctions. Sometimes the end result will be that the device is broken and simply won’t work. But, at other times, the malfunction will lend itself to something more serious such as electrocution. Therefore, it’s important that these electrical installations are regularly monitored. This objective should ensure that the device maintains a level of safety that protects anyone using it.
What is Involved in an EICR report?
When it comes to completing an EICR then there’s one thing you need before starting: a fully qualified electrician. The knowledge required to complete an EICR involves understanding the BS7671 IET Wiring Regulations and is not something you can quickly brush up on beforehand. So, you need an electrician in place. And once they begin an EICR they will look at the following:
The first port of call will be to carry out a visual inspection to identify any issues caused by wear and tear e.g. damaged cables or power switches. These are often the most obvious risks present in electrical installations. Also, the presence of any outdated standards or equipment needs to be addressed during this section.
This is comprised of two sections: live testing and dead testing. Live testing looks to test disconnection efficiency in the presence of an electrical fault and the suitability of residual current devices for preventing electrocution. Dead testing concentrates on investigating resistance, polarity and continuity of any circuitry in place.
How Often Do You Need to Complete an EICR?
Until recently, landlords were not legally obliged to complete an EICR. However, the government has announced that an EICR will soon become mandatory. This move has been taken to safeguard properties, tenants and landlords from the risk of serious injury and ensure safer living standards. The guidelines for an EICR will require that the report is completed every five years to guarantee a level of safety that takes into account any deterioration of electrical installations.
There are, of course, other instances in which it is recommended to complete an EICR such as:
- Following any major damage to a property such as flood or fire damage. These forms of damage can compromise electrical installations and render them dangerous to use. An EICR will help to identify any major defects caused by such events and allow you to rectify them.
- Before a property is sold or is being prepared to let is an ideal time to complete an EICR as it will provide peace of mind to any new tenants or property owners.
What is Portable Appliance Testing?
Portable Appliance Testing is the description for the inspection of the safety of use for electrical equipment.
The inspection consists of a visual inspection of the equipment and an electrical test of the same equipment. Both are important in the inspection and testing due to all electrical faults not being detected just by electrical testing alone. An example would be a damaged casing that exposes the equipment but doesn’t have any fault on the electrical circuits
Visual checks can be undertaken as part of regular maintenance, however electrical testing should be undertaken by a component engineer
Why should I PAT Test?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a safe condition
The UK Health and Safety Executive along with insurance companies will expect you to perform PAT testing to ensure that you are compliant with certain regulations including:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations of 2006
Do I need to PAT test new equipment?
There is no formal requirement to test new equipment as it should be provided in a safe working condition. However due to potential damage / complications in transit and delivery it should be part of your routine visual inspections to check if new equipment is free from damage before using
Is Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) Compulsory?
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is not a firm requirement by law. However the requirement of all electrical equipment being safe for use is part of several regulations.
An employer is required by law to ensure that all electrical equipment is maintained to prevent danger. How that is done is down to the employer?
The requirements on the employer should be part of a risk assessed approach. Equipment that is heavily used or in higher traffic areas might be required to be inspected more often than those used less so
The more often equipment is moved is also a consideration. Visual inspections should be undertaken every time equipment is moved or reused for this reason
The decision on PAT Testing will depend on these factors
How frequently do I need to test my electrical appliances?
There are no requirements for PAT testing frequency, however there are recommendations:
Offices, Shops and Hotels – Class 1 equipment including stationary and IT equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Moveable equipment such as extension leads and portable equipment should be tested every 24 months. Handheld equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Schools – All Class 1 equipment in schools should be PAT tested every 12 months. Class 2 equipment should be tested every 48 months.
Public Use Equipment – Stationary and IT equipment such as computers should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 2 should be tested every 12 months.
Moveable, Portable and Handheld equipment falling into Class 1 should be tested every 6 months.
Construction – All 110V equipment used on construction sites should be tested every 3 months.
Industrial – All industrial sites, including commercial kitchens should have Portable and Handheld equipment tested every 6 months. Stationary, IT and Moveable equipment should be tested every 12 months.
Do I need an Electrician to do Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)?
It is not a legal requirement for the testing to be done by a qualified electrician. However depending on the inspections required an experienced electrical person will be more suitable than in house members of staff. The only requirements is all tests are taken out by a competent person
For most visual inspections this can be done by employees within the company. However PAT Testing consists of both visual and electrical testing so the following is recommended and required
- Do they understand what is to be looked for and what to test?
- Do they have the correct equipment to undertake the tests?
- Do they have the knowledge to use the test equipment correctly and produce the correct results?
- Do they know how to understand the results and what to recommend for remedial works if the equipment doesn’t pass?
An experienced electrician will also complete the works in a timely manner due to their experience, knowledge of the equipment and knowledge of what to test
Do I need to label any equipment tested?
The requirement of labelling your equipment is not required by Law. However labelling serves as a quick visual reminder to which equipment has been tested and how long since it has been tested.
It also allows employees to quickly asses the suitability of a piece of equipment when moving or using it
Do I need to keep Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) records?
Once again the keeping of records is not a legal requirement.
However records highlight to employees which equipment has been tested and the duration since in association with the labels as above
How Do I Know If My Electrical Equipment Is Safe?
Is Your Electrical Equipment Safe? Electricity can be highly dangerous, so it’s important that you know what you’re dealing with when it comes to working with electronic devices.
Regardless of whether you’re changing a light bulb or rewiring a plug, the dangers of electricity have the potential to kill. Naturally, this leads to a high level of concern when working with electricity, but when it comes to electrical safety there’s a lot of misinformation floating around. So, to help keep you safe and confident, it’s time to take a look at how you can tell if your electrical equipment is safe.
Making Sure Your Electrical Equipment Is Safe
Before you start using any piece of electrical equipment, it’s important you establish that it’s safe to use and, equally important, that you know how to use it safely. The following steps are crucial to take when working with electrical equipment:
Many people consider risk assessments to be unnecessary and a waste of valuable time, but the truth is that they exist with good reason. A well thought out risk assessment ensures that you are aware of the hazards associated with the equipment, the risks that these hazards cause and, finally, the ways in which you can minimise these risks e.g. isolating the power supply when maintaining the equipment
Inspect Electrical Equipment:
Visual checks are an essential part of staying safe with electrical equipment. Even if you’ve completed a highly thorough risk assessment, a visual check is still vital for ensuring that the equipment is safe to use. Therefore, make sure that you check the condition of plugs, extension sockets and electrical fittings for any visible signs of wear and tear. Anything which is even slightly suspect should be investigated further.
Ensure Users are Trained:
Anyone who is using electrical equipment needs to be fully trained on how to use it safely. So, for example, if specific safety wear is required to use the equipment – such as insulated safety gloves – make sure that any users of that equipment are issued with both verbal and written instructions.
Install a Residual Current Device (RCD):
The longer an electrical shock is allowed to continue, the more damage it can cause. Accordingly, the safest way to minimise the effect of an electric shock is to disconnect the electrical circuit as soon as possible. This safety measure is made possible by installing an RCD which can detect many electrical faults and then quickly disconnect the circuit. While an RCD won’t completely stop the chance of an electric shock it can significantly reduce the impact of a shock.
Carry Out Regular Tests:
Maintaining your electrical equipment is important for not only ensuring that it operates correctly, but also that it’s safe to use in between tests. Regular safety tests should be drawn up before the equipment is used for the first time and these checks must be strictly stuck to in order to reduce the risk of any electrical hazards being allowed to develop.
By following these safety steps, which are relatively simple compared to the potential outcomes from ignoring them, you’re positioning yourself and those around you in a much safer environment.