ICF News - December 2004

Residential Wiring

Safety standards in most areas of life are constantly improving but those for domestic electrical installations are falling behind. Electricity use in the home is rising but the ability of some existing electrical installations to cope, and to cope safely, is diminishing ... more

The Safety Issue

It may seem self-evident that an electrical system needs to be »safe«, but what do we mean by this term? Safety is perhaps best defined by the consequences of a lack of it. In the case of electrical installations, the lack of safety results – in the worst cases – in either fire or fatal electric shock ...more

Identifying Electrical Installations that are unsafe

A variant of this basic checklist was used by the European Copper Institute when it commissioned a survey of domestic electrical systems in Europe. The work was carried out mainly in 2001 as part of the FEEDS programme and the survey provides clear evidence that domestic installations are vastly inferior in quality to the level one may reasonably expect ... more

Why is the Present Standard so Low?

By far the most important is the prevalence of old installations that have not been sufficiently upgraded over time. ... more

The Task Ahead

The evidence suggests a very low rate of upgrading and replacement of domestic electrical installations, but how big is the problem? Based partly on FEEDS data, we estimate that the rate of actual replacement and fundamental upgrade amounts to less than 0.6% of the existing housing stock annually. At this rate, it would take more than one hundred years to replace all of Europe’s deficient wiring ... more

How does Europe Compare?

In some ways, Europe is unique. Europe is exceptional in both its huge stock of older housing and its very low rate of new building. Tenancy arrangements, the nature of electrical installations and other factors are also region-specific ... more

Paths for Improvement

The approach favoured by the FEEDS programme for improving the situation in Europe is one based primarily on regulation. For new buildings, adequate standards and suitable verification are already largely in place. For existing buildings, the situation is very much worse. The FEEDS programme places priority on regular inspection combined with an enforced correction of defects as the main mechanism for improvement. Providing incentives to upgrade and improving awareness come in as secondary objectives ... more

The Implications for Cable

While the creation of a safer domestic electrical domain will be good for the cable industry, wire is not the only beneficiary. In many instances, the provision of suitable earth leakage protection (with RCDs) and over-current protection (with correctly sized fuses and circuit breakers) provide relatively cheap means of ensuring basic electrical safety ... more


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