UK electricians are expected to follow the latest guidelines set out in the regulations of IET Wiring. For installing wiring, this document is a vital requisite for electricians who want to operate in Britain. The regulations cover not only the maintenance of existing electrical appliances, but the erection of new appliances. It also dictates additions and alterations that may need to be initiated.
Why This is Important
The contents of the most recent edition of the wiring regulations (the 18th; published as BS 7671:2018), coming from the Institute of Engineering and Technology (“IET”) replaces all previous editions. The 18th Edition has revised guidelines and incorporated a number of new ones. There are also changes to the entire structure of the documentation. The material set forth in the latest edition went into effect in January of 2019.
It is imperative that all electricians familiarise themselves with the 18th Edition, as this ensures you are not operating outside the newest guidelines. Technology and procedures and safety practices never stop moving forward and no professional wants to be left behind.
Do not think the latest edition may not apply to you. If your function is installation of electrical systems, it applies to you. The guidelines not only manage public safety, it puts the electrician in a better position to perform. Electricians are responsible for people, livestock, and property. Their performance impacts electrical systems and mismanagement of those systems can be detrimental in all manners. While some professions, such as engineering, can benefit from the information in the 18th Edition, the electrician wants to ensure they are up-to-date on the ever-evolving design and implementation of electrical systems. It would be unfortunate to assume to already know all you’ll ever need to know. Technology in the 21st century — technology in the last five years! — has shown us how rapidly protocols and devices can change, and managers of this tech needs to stay informed. You cannot function professionally or responsibly in the UK without keeping up with industry standards. No, the 18th Edition is not necessarily a legal document, but it is every electrician’s responsibility to know what it contains.
The 18th Edition greatly minimises the possibility of installations that fall far below standards, or worse, leaves potentially dangerous situations. This is not only a threat to the general public, it is a mar on your reputation and income.
Not Knowing the 18th Edition…?
It would be difficult to commit the 18th Edition’s content to memory. But it would be wise to have it on hand, to review it as frequently as time allows. You should want to know how to use the 18th Edition to your advantage. You should know how to research its needed information and to see if guidelines you’ve long utilised have been altered, thus allowing you to adjust projects accordingly.
IET Wiring Regulations must be a priority, especially for up and coming electricians. Registering as a CPS (competent persons scheme), not being able to demonstrate understanding of the latest regulations, will hinder success. Even if you’ve achieved level 3 NVQ status, 18th Edition qualification will be expected. Expect to be tested for qualification should you approach the ECS Check System. If you do not pass muster with the ECS, all-important contractors and clients — who can easily verify registration — will smartly avoid working with you.
The publication of the new regulations happens to coincide with ECS card scheme changes and the introduction of Registered Electricians. Registered Electricians are required to update their qualifications to the latest IET guidelines, though nothing on paper requires it. But not having the latest certification could be an issue with anyone looking for fully qualified electricians. This line of thinking should be a consideration for all professionals where some aspect of electrical installation is critical. This includes kitchen fitters and gas engineers. And qualification is undoubtedly the best and fastest route to comprehending the new regulations.
Briefly, here are some of the more significant changes in the IET 18th Edition.
- There have been notable changes in the management of metallic piping entering a structure.
- Regulation 411.3.4 is new. It requires that additional safeguards by an RCD be provided for final AC circuits that supply domestic premise luminaries
- Socket outlets current rated 32A or less are not under the government of regulation 411.3.3
- There has been a change in disconnection maximum times for specific final circuits
- Guidelines in Chapter 42’s thermal effect protections have been altered
- There’s the new Regulation 421.1.7, a recommendation to utilise AFDDs (Arc Fault Detection Devices) in order to reduce risk of AC final circuit fires via arc fault currents
Regulation 722.411.4.1’s guidelines for use of PME supplies has been extensively altered. This includes significant changes concerning socket outlets, RCDs, external influences, and connectors.
Focused on selection and building of wiring systems, there is an important change every electrician wants to be aware of. Regulation 521.10.202 has been altered. It now says all cables must have support against collapse in the event of fire. This is throughout the installation. Previously, an electrician only needed support of cables in escape routes.
A mere half decade ago, there were less than 4,000 new EV registrations. That number now tops 155,000. Moving with the 21st century, the 18th Edition has implemented guidelines for electric vehicle charging installations to keep up with the growing popularity for the technology.
These changes concentrate on surface heating. Ceiling and floor heating systems regulations have been extended and now include embedded indoor and outdoor heating systems. This includes ice and anti-frost systems, such as those used in lawns and football pitches.
This is a new addition and covers energy efficiency. There are suggestions and guidelines for maximising energy efficiency as you design and erect electrical instruments.
This new section aligns with reservations regarding energy consumption. Now electricians must consider the required level of service and safety versus the lowest consumption of electricity. This includes transformer efficiency and losses, metering, cable losses, power factor correction, lighting, electric vehicles, and harmonics.
Your Next Step
As an electrician in the UK, you will need an 18th Edition qualification. Anyone with a working knowledge of installing systems should consider this, but any and all professionals, even if in possession of the level 3 NVQ, should plan to take a course. The course will give you a strong idea of what the latest edition tells us and how it guarantees the highest level of service we can provide. Besides absorbing the latest, there will be basic definitions of terms, assessment of general characteristics, and more, all studied in-depth. There will be close looks at the latest in the erection of electrical tools and equipment, safety protections, inspection, testing, as well as special installations and locations.
If recently awarded the 17th Edition 3rd Amendment Certification, look into a course that will not be as extensive as the typical 18th Edition instruction. Electricians with 17th Edition certification will need only cover the newest material outlined in the 18th Edition.
From January 2019, anyone who wished to apply (for the first time) for an Installation or Maintenance Electrician Gold Card, is required to have ‘Registered Electrician Status’ and be qualified in the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations.
Similarly, anyone who requires an understanding of electrical wiring must also work to the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations from this date, which could be builders, plumbers, kitchen fitters or gas engineers.
Operatives who are already CPS members require the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations alongside Part P qualification.
Whilst 18th Edition Training isn’t necessarily mandatory, it is often the way to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject.
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