Whether you need an electrician now or later, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the basic set-up of your electrics at home. So let’s try and do that here.
From the street, a thick electricity cable enters your property through a fusebox, then through your electricity meter (where you can read the figure your provider will need to calculate your bill).
From the meter, a cable will feed into what is known as the ‘consumer unit’, a wall-mounted box (in a plastic casing) hosting on-off switches for all the electrical circuits you have in your property. The switches are called ‘fuses’ or ‘circuit breakers’.
The consumer unit comprises a switch on the far right of the console which turns on and off the entire electricity supply to the home issuing from the mains. This switch is called the Residual Current Device (RCD) protector. If there’s a fault in your electrical system, the switch will trip to the off position causing all the electricity in your home to be switched off.
The RCD controls the current to each individual electrical circuit whether it be to your lights, your power sockets, your cooker, your freezer, boiler, immersion heater etc. The circuit breaker switches for each of these are ordered in a row left of the RCD Protector. Each circuit breaker is calibrated by the amount of current (amps) that flow through it – higher for appliances that need a higher current.
It’s a good idea to label each individual circuit breaker i.e. the circuit for the lights upstairs, the lights downstairs, immersion heater, cooker, freezer etc.
The newer type of consumer unit will have a mains switch and two RCDs. One for one group of circuits, say supplying upstairs, another group the downstairs so you won’t lose power to the whole property in one go.
A ‘ring circuit’ is formed by a cable that connects a circuit breaker on the consumer unit to a circuit of various sockets around the building, before returning to the unit. These are sometimes preferred to a ‘radial circuit’, which is a cable supplying a linear arrangement of sockets (i.e. don’t return to the consumer unit). Appliances that plug into the sockets then have different amp fuses, higher for those requiring a more powerful current, which will isolate the appliance should they experience a surge of electricity.
Electricity is of course very dangerous, so if you have any problems around the home, do contact a qualified tradesperson. If you’re local, looking for professional, reliable Swindon electricians, we’re here ready to take your call.