The 1st of January marked the implementation of the new IET Wiring Regulations, better known as the 18th Edition. This entails a set of responsibilities all electrical contractors must become accustomed to and incorporate into their everyday practise to avoid any repercussions down the line.
Chief among them is a new responsibility that contractors must carry out a risk assessment to determine whether Surge Protection Devices (SPDs) are needed on future electrical installations.
Further enhancing safety standards across the industry, Surge Protection Devices prevent electric shock and incidents when excess voltage damages an installation’s wiring infrastructure. Should an overvoltage event occur, the SPD diverts the resulting excess current flow to Earth.
As part of the changes, regulation 443.4 now ‘requires, except for single dwelling units where the total value of the installation and equipment therein does not justify such protection, that protection against transient overvoltages is provided where the consequence caused by overvoltage could result in serious injury, damage to culturally sensitive places, interruption of supply or affect large numbers of co-located persons.’
Aside from single dwelling properties, all other installations will now require a risk assessment to be conducted to determine whether a Surge Protection Device is warranted and therefore needs installing. In an instance where a risk assessment is not undertaken, then the IET requires that an SPD should be fitted. The general guidance is that if the potential cost of damage to equipment in a domestic dwelling warrants the installation of an SPD, then it’s recommended.
The reality is as we increase our reliance on electrical equipment and smart technologies, the homeowner should also be making safety a priority. By investing in a Type 2 SPD, homeowners can be confident that they have done everything they can to protect the valued electrical devices in their home and safeguard everyone against the risk of electrocution in the event of a lightning strike or power surge.
There is an assumption that a surge protection extension lead is the answer, but that only protects the devices that are directly plugged into it. For all-round protection, homes need a professionally installed Surge Protection Device. All types of electronic equipment can be vulnerable to voltage spikes to potentially several thousand volts that can result in expensive and instantaneous equipment damage or a significant reduction in its lifespan.
The requirement of an SPD isn’t something contractors have previously had to consider in detail. As of 1st January 2019, it must be taken into account of, both in terms of time allocation contractors set aside to complete projects, as well as the impact of potential increased costs for their customers.
The need for SPDs depends on many differing reasons, including the level of building exposure to lightning-induced voltage transients, equipment sensitivity and value, the type of equipment used within an installation, and whether there is equipment within the installation that could generate voltage transients.
Electrical contractors facing up to how they deal with the new rules can find plenty of advice and guidance via their trade bodies to safeguard their compliance complaint going forward. Clarification on applying the new 18th Edition regulations can be found at www.beama.org.uk by downloading the guide on surge protection. Alternatively, please feel free to contact us at BG Electrical.