Electrical currents have great and fatal risks which is why they need to be protected. Any wiring done is connected to the consumer unit which is the distribution point of electric current. The consumer unit, also referred to the fuse board, regulates the current from the electric meter to prevent any electric system failures. This unit prevents electric shocks and fires by providing a way to switch off current flow. Every house should have consumer units with all the components mainly; main switch, RCD and circuit breakers in accordance to the electrical wiring regulations of the 17th edition.
To help you understand the importance and the purpose of fuse boards, hereis a breakdown of the various components and their functionalities.
It is the central switch cutting off current flow from the electric meter to your fuse board and from the board to your home. The main switch is manually operated and is essential in cases of electrical emergencies. You switch it off as you wait for the electricians to arrive. You can also turn it off if you are doing some electric system repairs (you should have the required know how, otherwise contact qualified and approved electricians)
RCD (Residual Current Devices)
In a way, this is the most important component in a consumer unit. Basically, it interrupts electricity flow by tripping automatically if the electrical system’s integrity is compromised. Following its function, each household consumer unit should have RCDs installed.
These devices trip automatically in case there is faulty cables interrupting flow, earth leakage and if electricity flows in the wrong path such as your body. Consequently, RCDs prevent serious electric shocks and electric fires by switching off the flow automatically. This is very beneficial if something goes wrong when you are asleep or away from home.
Circuit breakers/Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB)
They work the same way as the RCDs with the difference being they detect faults in specific areas around the house. For instance, you garage, bathroom and outdoor lighting can have separate circuit breakers. These devices trip if there is an overload or over current in their designated sections.
While these are the main components of a standard consumer unit, you can add a timer as well. The timer simply switches on and off the electricity at the set time which is perfectfor those situations you are on vacations.
Any installations done should be connected to the consumer units and it should be checked regularly to ensure the above components are working. Old models should be replaced withthe new updated modelswhich conform to the 17th edition regulations.