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How do you replace a Consumer unit? ...there's no off switch!

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How do you replace a Consumer unit? ...there's no off switch!

12 replies 27.2K views
MGAstraMGAstra Forumite
65 posts
So then, I need to replace an old consumer unit (mains distribution box)

The thing is, there is no access to an 'off' switch further upstream when the mains first comes in.

I guess I'm not legally allowed to replace this box, so I will probably need to pay a man (or women) from Yorkshire Electric to come in.

So, when a 'qualified' person does said job, will they just disconnect the wires 'live' using insulated tools etc??? (or will there be another switch they have access to, perhaps just outside my house)

Anyone any idea how much it will cost if I supplied a box??
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Replies

  • FlimberFlimber Forumite
    736 posts
    I hear some lecky boards will do this for free but you're right in thinking that it's not really a DIY job. There's a good deal on one at TLC-Direct at the moment, fuses extra.

    HTH,
    Mike.
  • robowenrobowen Forumite
    3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭
    When I did mine, I fitted the new consumer unit to the wall and waited for the electrician to connect to the meter.

    When the new consumer unit had power to it, I disconnected each of the wires from the old consumer unit and transfered them across one by one.

    This was a while ago now, so don't know what the current regs require.
    And it was in a cellar, so the wiring had lots to spare and were easy to move across.

    rob
    If only everything in life was as reliable...AS ME !!
    robowen 5/6/2005©

    ''Never take an idiot anywhere with you. You'll always find one when you get there.''
  • dougk_2dougk_2 Forumite
    1.4K posts
    I was lucky....

    The elctricity board was comming to replace the meter with a new one so I bought a switch , mounted it on the wall and got the guy to wire the meter to that!

    It meant from that point on I could isolate the mains and do what I wanted.
  • This should not be tackled yourself. The only thing upstream of the consumer unit is the leccy board fuse. Normally this is a big ceramic thing close to where the supply enters your house. You will have to cut the tamper evident seal to remove it. They will not be pleased.
  • MGAstraMGAstra Forumite
    65 posts
    I think I will buy a new box, then let the bloke from the leccy board sort it.

    There isn't really enough room to mount the new one as well.

    I guess the main cost involved will be a call-out fee, so there might not be much more cost involved to swap the wires over from the old consumer unit (ie rather than me doing it after he has connected the input)

    THANKS TO ALL FOR YOUR POSTS!
  • HellionHellion Forumite
    100 posts
    If you have an old style board then some leccy boards will upgrade it free of charge. You may find your main fuse is underrated for the new consumer unit your about to put in. You will need to contact your REC(regional electricity company) to ask them about upgrading your main fuse, then when the engineer comes just ask him to wire up a isolating switch between your meter and old consumer unit.
  • FlimberFlimber Forumite
    736 posts
    Hellion wrote:
    If you have an old style board then some leccy boards will upgrade it free of charge. You may find your main fuse is underrated for the new consumer unit your about to put in. You will need to contact your REC(regional electricity company) to ask them about upgrading your main fuse, then when the engineer comes just ask him to wire up a isolating switch between your meter and old consumer unit.


    Any idea what classes as an "old-style" box ?
  • robby-01robby-01 Forumite
    1.3K posts
    Changing the board requires certification under new part p regs.It is not really a diy job anyway .If you are putting in a new split load consumer unit the switch will be rated at 100 amps which will most likely be bigger rating than the one you are taking out,this will mean that you will also have to upgrade your bonding conductors and your main tails.[This work may have been carried out if you have had any other work done in the past].Also the circuit protection on new consumer units is much more sensitive than the old rewirable fuse.It will pick up faults that previously went undetected and cause circuits to trip.The wiring needs checking for faults before the job is started .With the meter most electricity companies turn a blind eye to people cutting the seals on their equipment .If you get the job done then give them a call they will come and reseal it.
  • MGAstraMGAstra Forumite
    65 posts
    This is very good advice! Thanks again to everyone!
  • JimArnoldJimArnold Forumite
    519 posts
    New part p regs apply and you shouldn't change it
    But 3 months ago you could do it legally ! and it is unlikely that anyobne can date the change exactly :-)

    I changed mine last year - its really only a little more complicated than changing a plug I just pulled the main fuse - yes you need to break the tamper proof seal and strictly speaking I should have asked the leccy board to replace it but they won't make a fuss unless there is evidence of you tampering with the meter!

    I have twice moved into houses where the tamper proof seal was missing and I have never had a problem

    If you do it or get someone in then make sure you choose a split load one one with an RCD to cover half the circuits - you don't want the lights on RCD and cookers etc can trip them

    If ypu look at TLC-direct.co.uk they have a wylex 12 way one at less than half price at the moment £40 (MCBs are extra - just buy the ones you need now - there are standard and will always be available) If you do decide to DIY rememebr that you'll also need earth sleeving
    whichever you choose make sure you have plenty of spare capacity 12 way units are only a few quid dearer than 6 way units
    Now I can't think why I would need more than 8 ways (2 ring mains,2 lighting circuits, cooker, garage, immersion, shower) but its always nice to have spare capacity just in case. Oh and remember you may run out of RCD protected ones if you only have 3.
    TANSTAAFL !
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