It is interesting to note that in a University electrical laboratory students are limited to dealing with 50v and 3A maximum, yet we are allowed free to use 240v and 13A with virtually no restrictions at home.
So one would question why all new dwellings have to have modern consumer units fitted by law, and older houses do not? Time for a change maybe?
Well you do not have to wait for the law to change as getting your old fuse box changed for a consumer unit is a very straight forwards job for a competent electrician, and should take them less than a day to fit.
If you have just bought an older property then changing an old fuse box over should be your first priority, particularly if you are going to be doing a lot of refurbishment, which may put a higher than normal load on the electrical system.
Firstly there is the safety aspect with regards to electrocution, a modern consumer unit features Residual Current Devices (RCD’s) that sense any current imbalance between the positive and neutral conductors, such as you drilling through the live cable in a wall. The beauty of them is that they sense this imbalance in milliseconds, and cut out the power before it has had chance to electrocute you. This alone for me is a good enough reason for anyone to replace their fuse box as soon as possible.
Secondly unlike a fuse box, the modern units have mini-circuit breakers that do not blow out like a fuse but just trip out, and unlike a fuse they can be instantly re-switched on by flicking the breaker back up. This means goodbye to trying to find the right grade fuse wire in the dark, and no more running out of the right grade of fuse wire full stop.
They can also be fitted with Residual Current Circuit Breakers with Overload protection (RCBO’s), which also sense current overload. Whilst the fitment of RCD’s in new boxes is mandatory, the next logical progression would be for RCBO’s to also be made mandatory to fit.
Also the safety benefits in replacing an older fuse box with a new consumer unit far outweigh the cost of fitting, particularly with new eight way units starting from as low as £35 plus the cost of the RCD’s and Mini-Breakers.
By fitting a new consumer unit you greatly de-risk being electrocuted or having an electrical fire, so do it today before it is too late.