What is an Electrical Consumer Unit?
An electrical consumer unit is an important component of the electrical system and is essentially the main control and distribution centre for a home’s power supply.
It is used to power all the circuits in your home and consists of various parts that include the mains switch, circuit breakers, and residual current devices (RCD’s).
Consumer units are often referred to as fuse boxes but, even though they both serve the same purpose of distributing electricity in your house through multiple circuits, they are not the same.
Consumer units are the newer and much safer version of the outdated fuse boxes which, in most cases, are no longer compliant with the UK wiring regulations.
While both consumer units and fuse boxes turn the power off in the event of a power overload or power surge, also commonly known as tripping, the way they do it is very different.
With a consumer unit, when tripping occurs, it cuts the power supply using the circuit breaker linked to the overloaded circuit. Since it turns the specific circuit off, it is very easy to identify and fix the faulty circuit, after which the circuit breaker can be turned on and power restored to the house.
On the other hand, instead of using circuit breakers, a fuse box uses fuses, each of which contains a wire. In the event of a power surge, the wire melts causing the circuit to trip and switching off the power.
Because of the way fuse boxes work, it is not easy to identify the faulty circuit and the melted fuse needs to be replaced for the power to be restored.
Improve Your Homes Electrical Safety
Choose Your Perfect Electrical Consumer Unit
To determine which electrical consumer unit is right for your house, you need to know the types available and understand how they differ from each other.
Popular choice for single-storey houses and small flats
Only one main switch through which all the circuits in the house can be switched off
In the event of a power surge, the main switch automatically turns off along with the faulty circuit
Popular choice for multi-storey houses
Two sets of circuits (RCD1 and RCD2) that offer the ability to split the power load between them
Possible to alternate the circuits so that in the event of one of the RCDs no longer operational, power can still be available to some parts of the house
High integrity Consumer Unit
An extremely popular choice among many homeowners because they offer the ability to independently separate all the circuits
Even if one electrical appliance stops working, the rest of the house will still have power and operate without interruption