Buyer beware 

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Deepak Sharad, category manager for final distribution at Schneider Electric, discusses the importance of making procurement safe for the 18th Edition.

The 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations builds on the changes that were introduced with Amendment 3 of the 17th Edition. The Wiring Regulations establish standards providing rules and guidelines for electricians and contractors for the design, erection and verification of electrical systems with the aim of making installations safer. 

The latest regulation changes are effective from January 2019, so it’s key that electricians and contractors get trained and upskill their knowledge to ensure that their installations are compliant.

Providing complete circuit protection

Through best practice, installers can ensure the highest levels of safety for their clients with a comprehensive system approach using a combination of miniature circuit breakers (MCBs), residual current devices (RCDs) and residual current circuit breakers with over current protection (RCBOs). The new regulations further advise on surge protection device (SPD) requirements and recommendations on arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) to give a complete circuit protection solution.

The new regulations focus on the requirement for SPDs and take into consideration possible transient voltages through the network supply. The 18th Edition now requires a surge protection risk assessment on installations in many cases, unless it is decided to install SPDs irrespective, or there is an outright requirement to install them in the regulations. 

The risk assessment can potentially bring its own challenges, as the Calculated Risk Level (CRL) formula involved requires identification of the lengths of high and low voltage overhead lines and underground cables in the last km of the supply network to the premises.

The latest regulations also introduce new technologies such as arc fault detection devices (AFDDs), which help to increase safety as a means of providing additional protection against fires caused by arc faults. 

Peace of mind 

When choosing products, it’s critical to ensure you select safe and compliant systems that are tested and validated to the relevant standards and hold the correct certifications and markings. 

Opting for trusted brands from reputable manufacturers, who provide the relevant technical documentation to support appropriate product standards, can help to safeguard the contractor and end client – bringing peace of mind to the installation.

Care and attention should be taken with offer selection to avoid purchasing non-compliant products. These can pose a safety risk and may not be appropriate for UK markets or adhere to product and installation standards.

Don’t take the risk

It’s sometimes tempting to source and procure outside of recognised industry channels to save money. The reach of the internet can give contractors the opportunity to forgo the traditional supply chain and deal with a community of global sellers that could include unauthorised or unscrupulous suppliers. Understanding your procurement route is critical to avoiding the purchase of counterfeit products inadvertently. 

Non-compliant and counterfeit products can pose significant risk and have serious consequences for people and property, as they may not provide adequate protection against fire or electrocution.

Simple safety checks include inspecting the build quality and ensuring that key identifiers such as CE markings, manufacturer’s brand, rating and part numbers are present and have not been tampered with.

Trusted purchasing channels

It’s imperative that whichever supply chain or purchasing platform you choose to buy from, you can trust the goods you’re receiving are genuine and compliant for the UK market.

To maintain a robust and safe industry, manufacturers, distributors and installers alike should hold themselves to a duty of care through their respective roles in the procurement value chain. Purchasing through recognised stockist networks reduces the risk and brings assurance that products are genuine and will be supported by the manufacturer’s warranty.