Maintenance Services Electrical - News & Information
Electrical inspections for landlords 31/03/21
From 1 April all privately rented residential properties must have an electrical inspection every five years, not just new tenancies.
It’s not surprising we have been so busy completing electrical inspection condition reports for many landlords over the last few months.
If you are a landlord or agent and still have properties to check, please get in touch.
Under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) regulations electrical inspection and testing must be carried out at least every five years. The rules apply to all privately rented properties, including houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Private landlords are responsible for making sure these tests are completed and they must give a copy of the report to each tenant within 28 days and keep a copy themselves.
Every fixed electrical installation must be inspected and tested by a qualified professional.
If the local housing authority asks for a copy of the report it must be provided within seven days.
Any new tenant can ask for a copy of the last report before moving in.
If a prospective tenant asks for a copy, it must be provided within 28 days.
Local housing authorities will enforce the rules and will have powers to take action, including making repairs themselves. Each breach of the Regulations could lead to a penalty of up to £30,000.
Contact us to arrange an electrical inspection and condition report for your privately rented property.
A great job in a big warehouse
Keeping everyone safe while we complete a large installation is a top priority for MSE.
When we complete this type of project we must take in to account the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Electricity at work
The DECC enforces the regulations about electricity safety, quality and continuity while the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces safety.
For some workplaces like offices, shops, hotels, and many warehouses, the Local Authority will enforce the electrical safety regulations, along with the HSE.
All the electrical systems must be properly designed, and wiring must meet strict requirements. Lighting is especially important in warehouses to minimise the risks for everyone working in a busy environment, and also to make sure that energy is saved wherever possible. Lighting installations often involve working at height, so this must be taken into account too.
Inspection and testing are also essential to make sure everyone is working safely with equipment such as conveyor belts, overhead hoists and material handling equipment, for example. It’s also important to make sure that all aspects of emergency lighting are working properly so that everyone can safely evacuate the building if needed.
Please get in touch if you would like more information about lighting, electrical installations, inspection and testing for your warehouse.
Green energy online portal
UK Power Networks has launched an online portal for installers. It’s designed to make it quicker and easier to connect low carbon technologies for homes and businesses.
Fast decisions on green energy options
Technology companies can receive an immediate decision on whether they can connect domestic electric vehicle charge points, heat pumps, battery storage or solar photovoltaic (PV) cells with the local electricity network. It can be used instead of multiple paper forms to streamline the process.
Why create a portal?
The portal has been developed with partner, Octopus Electric Vehicles, following criticism of the process for domestic vehicle-to-grid projects, which was said to be confusing and time-consuming.
By 2030 it is predicted that there will be up to 700,000 electric heat pumps and 4.5million electric vehicles connected to UK Power Networks in London, the East and South East. To meet customers’ needs as volumes increase, a new approach was needed.
The service will help to make sure that the right electricity supply is available for specialist installers of low carbon technologies and domestic customers.
How the portal works
Customers will be automatically referred if their electricity supply needs to be upgraded to manage additional power requirements and installers will be able to keep track of multiple applications.
A range of experts have worked on the project to create a responsive solution for anyone who wants to make use of low carbon technology in their home or business.
The documentation required from customers has been simplified and the progress of their application will be much easier to monitor.
Please get in touch if you would like some advice about installing a low-carbon energy solution for your home or business.
Warehouse lighting requirements
This large-scale warehouse lighting project for our Northampton-based client has significantly improved the lighting levels.
By increasing the lux levels and including motion-controlled units we are helping them to improve their working conditions and safety. They are looking after the environment and energy costs at the same time.
Many thanks to Midshires Electrical & Lighting Ltd for the lighting schematics.
Safe working in warehouses
Warehouses are busy places with noise and movement all around. At the same time, the latest electric forklifts can be almost silent, which means visibility is even more important.
Covering a large area, the lighting requirements in a warehouse can vary across the site. General warehouse lighting will normally be between 150 and 300 lux. However, this will depend on the activities taking place. In the loading bays, for example, the lighting level should be 150 lux but if you have a trade counter or desk it could be up to 500 lux.
If you have automated high rack storage you might only need 20 lux with some extra lighting when maintenance is needed, while your pack and despatch area will need 300 lux.
You can save on energy costs with sensors that can be used to switch off lighting where there isn’t any activity, in a low volume area, or at night. Intelligent sensors can monitor daylight and movement and can dim lights to maintain levels throughout the day.
LED prices continue to fall, and energy use can be 50% to 60% lower compared to T8 fluorescent lighting. LEDS need almost no maintenance and are well-suited to cooler warehouse conditions.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your warehouse lighting requirements.
Lighting for engineering
We have recently installed new lighting for our Daventry-based engineering client. They have been impressed with the difference it has made.
We understand how important it is to work safely when carrying out work in engineering and manufacturing environments, so we were happy to arrange this installation over the weekend to keep disruption to a minimum.
Poor lighting can lead to accidents and can make detailed work more difficult, so we’re sure our clients will appreciate the benefits straightaway.
In an ideal world natural lighting is the best option but extra lighting is also needed at workstations and during the shorter days of autumn and winter.
It’s also important to be aware that fluorescent lighting operating at mains frequency can be dangerous in an engineering setting because rotating machinery can appear to have stopped.
Different lighting levels are needed for different activities. For example, general assembly of large components in the workshop where people, machinery or vehicles could be moving around will need average lighting levels of 100 lux and a minimum of 50 lux will be needed.
Where detailed machining and metalwork is taking place there must be enough light to see details and to avoid eye strain, so the average light level should be 200 lux, with a minimum of 100 lux.
Where fine component assembly and electronic work is taking place the average should be 500 lux, and even higher for looking at detailed technical drawings for example, with a minimum of 200 lux.
Overall, it’s important to avoid large differences in light levels in neighbouring areas and glare from sunlight or lamps that are in line of sight.
In some cases adjacent runs of lights are working on different phases or with a high frequency electrical supply, which can create unwanted strobe effects.
If you would like advice about lighting design and installation for your engineering workshop, please get in touch.
Warehouse lighting 2021 25/01/21
What a difference replacing just a few light fittings can make.
We recently replaced three broken overhead lights in this warehouse with LED flowbays, ideal for commercial and industrial sites requiring high mountings in open areas and between shelves.
Installation was straightforward and now the warehouse team can see their paperwork. Even better, there are minimal maintenance costs, and they will save energy as well.
Top considerations for warehouse lighting in 2021
Open spaces with high ceilings need plenty of light for everyone to work safely and effectively.
Modern LED lights are energy efficient and long-lasting, making them a popular choice for warehouse lighting, both indoors and outdoors. They consume up to 80% less energy than conventional lamps and can save up to 97% of your electricity costs compared with traditional lighting.
Long-lasting - LED lights are designed as single units, so all components are compatible, increasing their service life. Typically they will last for about 25 years in normal use, providing 30,000 hours of light. The units are sealed and resistant to vibrations, shocks and severe weather conditions, reducing the risk of damage.
Energy saving - the annual energy consumption of LED lights can be up to 30 times lower than equivalent incandescent lamps. For example, a 15W LED lamp will emit as much light as a 100W incandescent lamp or a 30W fluorescent lamp. Very little of the energy LEDs use is converted into heat, which is why they are so efficient. Dimming and intelligent lighting control functions available for some LEDs can help to save even more energy.
Low maintenance - because LEDs are so reliable maintenance costs are reduced, especially in large-scale commercial sites like warehouses.
Value for money - as LED lighting technology improves and supply increases, LED prices will continue to fall, making them an economic option. Because LEDs offer better light distribution and focus, less are needed to achieve the same level of brightness.
Sustainable - for all of these reasons LEDs have good sustainable credentials. For example, they don’t contain harmful chemicals like the compact fluorescent light (CFL) equivalents, which require careful disposal and energy hungry mercury collection processes.
If you would like to know more about LED lighting for warehouses - indoors or outdoors - please get in touch.
Who needs EICRs?
An electrical inspection condition report (EICR) for your property is like an MOT for your car. It will give you confidence about your electrical safety.
It will tell you if there are any faults or defects that need attention in your fixed wiring and will recommend improvements.
Hotels - while many hotels, like this one, are empty due to the coronavirus restrictions, it’s a very good time to book an EICR and complete any remedial work that might be needed. There won’t be any disruption for guests, and everything will be up to date and safe, ready for the doors to reopen.
Landlords - for private landlords, the deadline for EICRs for all your existing tenants is fast-approaching. The regulations requiring electrical inspections came into force on 1 April 2020, applying to new tenancies from 1 July 2020. From 1 April this year these rules also apply to all existing tenancies, so make sure your inspections are booked.
Businesses - if you have business premises you should have a full EICR every five years, or when you move in, for insurance, health and safety purposes. This is in addition to regular testing for your portable appliances (PAT).
An EICR will identify any over-loaded circuits which could lead to frequent tripping of breakers or damage to equipment. Fire or shock hazards will also be highlighted, including any poor quality or non-compliant repairs or installations. Identifying problems in advance will reduce the risk of unexpected faults or failures that could stop your business operating.
Homeowners - the electrical safety charity, Electrical Safety First, recommends that private homes should have an EICR every 10 years. This will provide evidence of proper maintenance if an insurance claim is needed and will help to keep everyone who lives in your property and visitors safe from accidents or injury.
What an EICR tells you
An EICR will check your underlying electrical system; wiring, the fuse board, earth bonding, and all the other things you can’t easily see.
A qualified electrician will visit your property and make a visual assessment. They will then carry out checks on your electrical systems and provide a report that must be verified by a qualified supervisor. There are three main types of problem:
Code one problems that are immediately dangerous will need to be repaired or made safe straightaway.
Code two problems are potentially dangerous, and your electrician will normally provide a quote to address them along with your report.
Code three problems aren’t necessarily unsafe but should be addressed.
Electrical regulations are updated all the time, so you don’t need to be too concerned when your report highlights actions to be taken – you will just be bringing everything up to date.
Included in your check
Fuse board – this should be safe and meet current regulations, including circuit breakers and RCD (residual current device) protection.
Earthing – to prevent potentially fatal electric shocks everything must be correctly earthed, including your gas-meter pipework, water pipework, radiators and all the metal in the building.
Sockets – a sample of your sockets, lights, switches and accessories (normally at least 10%) will be checked to make sure the wiring is correctly installed.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more about EICRs or to book and inspection.
LED lighting is good for business
It’s almost the shortest day of the year and you might be missing the daylight.
We have just installed over 240 energy efficient LED light fittings as an upgrade from old fluorescent lighting in these offices.
We used special units for the large open office areas to cut down glare and reduce strain on eyes that can cause headaches.
If you’re considering a lighting scheme in your offices, we can provide return on investment calculations for your scheme. You might be surprised how quickly new lighting can pay for itself.
Save money with LEDs
Since lighting can account for around a third of your business energy costs, this can make a big difference.
Even better, in many cases, fewer LEDs will be needed to achieve the same lighting levels, saving you even more.
LED lighting – a healthy option for your employees
Did you know that good LED lighting can improve the productivity and health of your team?
LEDs don’t emit ultra-violet (UV) or infrared (IR) light and they don’t contain any mercury, so you’re helping to keep the working environment healthy.
There aren’t any required workplace lighting levels in the UK, although they must be ‘suitable and sufficient’, with natural light where possible. Research by Staples found that cool lighting and high illumination in the mornings improved productivity.
Some lighting designers recommend these cooler, daytime lighting temperatures and a trial by the University of Surrey's sleep research centre suggested that certain wavelengths of blue light just before staff left for home improved alertness. Staff also reported improved sleep patterns.
LEDs will last for more than five years in constant use – probably 10 years in normal use. So, with almost maintenance-free lighting you can minimise the risks of replacing high level lighting or trips and falls if your lighting fails.
A flexible lighting choice
LEDs are available in a wide range of colour temperatures to suit your environment and they don’t flicker when they are turned on. They can be controlled remotely, and you can use smart office systems to manage your lighting too.
In most cases replacing old lighting with new LEDs is straightforward and can be done quickly, so the changeover will cause minimum disruption.
If you are interested in LED lighting for your premises – indoors or outdoors – please get in touch.
Santa’s seasonal safety tips
A fresh Christmas tree from the garden centre will smell wonderful and add some seasonal cheer but did you know that they can catch fire more quickly than a fire retardant artificial one?
One option is to choose a fabulous fake instead that looks convincingly like a freshly cut tree.
If you have a fresh Christmas tree here are some things to do:
keep topping up the water; they can use up to a litre a day and it's important that they don’t dry out
the old tip of using hairspray on the needles to stop them falling is dangerous because it is flammable
position your tree away from heat sources and especially portable heaters.
Our Christmas lights certainly brighten the place up, but make sure they’re safe and turn them off at night. One in twelve people say they have left their Christmas lights on overnight, risking overheating that could be a fire hazard. Make sure you buy from a reliable source and switch them off when you're not at home and when you go to bed.
If you’re using lights outside, make sure they are designed for exterior use. Check that your sockets aren’t overloaded where you are using extension leads or adaptors, and that cables are safely out of the way to avoid the risk of tripping over after a glass of sherry with Grandma.
Check your charging
When you’re getting ready to visit your family you might need to charge your laptop. Make sure it’s on a hard surface and isn’t left charging on your bed while you’re getting ready. Don't overcharge your mobile devices, which can cause some adaptors to overheat and become a fire risk and avoid charging your phone overnight. Definitely don’t use cheap, unbranded chargers.
There’s a lot to do when you’re cooking the Christmas meal and it's easy to become distracted. Nearly half of us have admitted to leaving cooking unattended but it’s important to keep an eye on your cooking all the time.
Please get in touch if you would like some advice about seasonal electrical safety.
Petition to keep your online electrical purchases safe
During the coronavirus outbreak many of us have made much more use of online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Wish.
Did you know that in the UK these sites aren’t bound by the same regulations as other retailers? In the last year over 4 million UK shoppers have bought a fake electrical product and over 1.3 million of them came from online marketplaces.
Your electrical Christmas gifts could be fake
Many of us will be buying electrical goods in the run up to Christmas, unaware that they could contain sub-standard or counterfeit parts. Many fake products look almost identical to genuine items on the outside, but the components might not have been properly tested, leading to risks of overheating, fire or electric shock.
The consumer watchdog Which? and the Trading Standards Institute have been raising concerns for some time.
Electrical Safety First (ESF) has now launched a petition to increase awareness and to promote changes to the law that would make online marketplaces follow the same safety regulations as other UK retailers. They want over 100,000 people to sign up online and, so far, have almost 14,500 electronic signatures.
The campaign aims to make sure that electrical goods offered for sale online by third party sellers are safe to use in the UK. It also wants any electrical products reported as unsafe to be removed from sale within 24 hours.
Safe shopping online
ESF found that a third of people who have bought a fake electrical product bought it from an online marketplace. The safest option is to buy only from manufacturers that you know and trust.
When you’re shopping online the charity offers advice about what to look for, including:
images that might not be an accurate representation of the product
missing or incomplete seller contact details, which could be a sign that the goods are fake and might not have been tested for safety
reviews that might have been faked
very low prices for seemingly genuine products.
“Check it Out”
ESF has provided a free Chrome plug-in that will let you know you could be buying products from an unregulated third-party seller when you’re shopping on Amazon or eBay.
You can sign the petition here.
The bathroom boom
New bathrooms have become very popular this year. Since we are all spending a lot more time at home and foreign holidays are off the agenda for now, why not invest in some creature comforts for your home instead?
Here’s a recent replacement en-suite shower room project we helped to complete with a number of on-trend electrical elements.
The happy homeowners can now remotely control the LED colour changing lighting in the shower cubical and shelf.
There is also a mirror with light and demister pad, an extractor fan with humidistat and timer overrun, power to the Mira control box for the rain shower, and smart LED downlights.
Latest bathroom looks
We’re reliably told that brass fittings, deep baths, marbled effects, and fancy mirror frames are popular trends as well as all sorts of subtle integrated lighting effects for contemporary bathrooms.
If you’re planning a bathroom makeover, here are some things you should know about electrical safety for your new fittings and lighting.
A bathroom is a ‘special’ location for electrical installations because extra care is needed to position all the electrical equipment and wiring safely.
This is important because mixing electricity and water can lead to an electric shock, which would certainly spoil your relaxing bath.
There are three electrical zones in your bathroom
The Wiring Regulations describe three zones in a bathroom.
Zone 0 – this is any area in a bathroom that holds water such as baths, basins or shower trays. Any electrical equipment in these areas should meet the standards to be safely immersed in water up to one metre deep for 30 minutes (IPX7).
Zone 1 – splash zones in a bathroom are still high-risk areas that could become very wet to a height of up to 2.25 metres from the floor. Electrical fittings or appliances in this part of your bathroom should be water splash resistant from any direction (IPX4).
Zone 2 – this is the area which could also be splashed that is 600mm above or to the side of your bath and shower and 2.25 metres from the floor. In this area fittings and appliances should also be water splash resistant.
Electrical sockets can be used in bathrooms or shower rooms, but they must be more than three metres from the edge of the bath or shower. Specially designed shaver units can be used but must not be closer than 600mm to a bath, shower or basin.
Electric showers need their own electrical circuit and will need to be connected to the consumer unit and protected by a residual current device (RCD).
All electric heaters and water heaters in a bathroom must be fixed and permanently wired.
Building Regulations will probably only apply if you are adding a new bathroom in a former bedroom or storage area, for example. Gas and electrical work can normally be self-certified by approved installers.
Please get in touch if you would like some advice about electrical installations for your bathroom project.
Contactless door entry systems 29/10/20
With the country heading for another lockdown, everyone is working hard to create safer environments for work, shopping, and exercise, for example.
Building owners are looking for safe ways to manage access and to reduce the risks in high traffic areas.
One way to do this efficiently is to install an access control system which can automatically manage who enters and monitor who leaves.
Importantly, many of these systems can be operated with proximity cards or fobs, which can automatically open doors without any physical contact at all.
Who uses contactless entry systems?
All types of business can install these systems from hotels, surgeries, and schools to offices and building sites.
At their simplest, voice-activated audio door entry systems are a cost-effective option. There are also more sophisticated multi-way video door entry systems as upgrade options for later.
Keypad and proximity reader options can provide a durable and straightforward solution that is easy to install for up to 1,000 users.
How does contactless entry work?
It can be as simple as remotely unlocking a door to let someone in when they ring or appear on a video camera, but more high-tech options use RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, entry cards or fobs that can be detected from about 10 metres.
Staff members, suppliers or visitors can be identified by the system, and access can be controlled automatically or manually.
Automated identity detection helps to reduce the risk of infection from contaminated door handles, push plates, card scanners, or reception desks; a much better option than leaving all doors open.
These systems can also help to encourage people to stay two metres apart with an automatic delay before the door will open again.
Please get in touch if you would like to install an entry system for your business premises.
Sensitive about energy efficient lighting 22/10/20
We have just upgraded over 250 fluorescent light fittings to energy-saving light emitting diodes (LEDs) in a large warehouse. With the addition of dusk-to-dawn sensors for control, our clients will save over £10,000 annually on energy.
The full warehouse lighting refit included installation of emergency escape route lighting and high-level lighting to allow full use of the tall racking. Our clients expect to see a full return on their investment in just three to four years.
They will also be going ahead with a full lighting refit in their office spaces soon.
LED lighting makes a difference to the bottom line
Warehouse operators like our clients always need to manage overheads without affecting performance. Making sure the warehouse is environmentally friendly will help to reduce energy costs and this can make a big difference to the bottom line.
Lighting often accounts for a large part of the electricity bill for a warehouse. Installing LEDs is a quick and certain way to reduce energy use, to be more environmentally friendly, and to save money.
The advantages of LED lighting
LEDs use far less electricity than traditional incandescent lighting, halogen lights or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Typically, LEDs will use just a quarter of the energy needed by these types of lighting and around a third of the electricity needed for high-intensity discharge (HD) lighting.
Lifetime costs of LEDs
The lifetime costs of lighting technology can be an important consideration. LEDs last much longer than incandescent, halogen or CFL lights, saving on replacements and maintenance.
Materials handling equipment (MHE) accounts for around 25% of a warehouse’s annual energy expenditure, while the cost of lighting can be up to 70% of the remaining operating costs.
The future for LEDs
Only lighting parts of the warehouse when they are in operation using motion sensors can save money. It’s also possible to take advantage of LED dimming, using local detectors to reduce energy consumption when there’s no activity in specific bays. Even more energy can be saved when high level LEDs are linked with daylight control sensors.
With lighting accounting for almost 6% of global CO2 emissions, if we all switched to LED technology over 1,400 million tons of CO2 could be saved, reducing the need for new power stations.
If you would like to know more about LED lighting for your warehouse operation, please get in touch.
The electrical world is full of letters and terms – here we explain some of them.
If the term you’re looking for isn’t here, please get in touch and we will be happy to tell you about it and add a simple explanation to our list.
AC - an abbreviation for alternating current. Electricity is all about electrons travelling through a conductor (like copper). When electrons alternately move in different directions it is an alternating current. AC current us used for homes and businesses.
DC – an abbreviation for direct current where the electrons are all moving in the same direction. DC current is used to charge batteries, for electronic systems, some industrial processes and high voltage power transmission.
Amp – the unit for measuring electrical current.
BS7671 – the UK national safety standard for electrical installations, also known as the wiring regulations.
Circuit – electricity needs to flow continuously, without any breaks, and this is called a circuit.
Consumer unit – used to control electricity. The unit will often include a main switch, fuses, circuit breakers or residual current devices (RCDs).
Current – the more electrons travelling through the conductor, the more power they deliver. Large electrical currents are dangerous.
Earth – the earth wire will direct the electricity straight into the ground rather than passing through you. Earth wires are usually marked with yellow and green striped plastic covers.
Fuse – a key part at the beginning of an electrical circuit to prevent too much electricity from passing through wiring. Often a circuit breaker will cut power when something is overloaded to prevent the cable and equipment overheating and becoming a fire hazard.
Insulation – a coating, usually plastic, around conducting materials.
IP rating – categorisation of safe lighting. For example, high IP ratings are for bathrooms or outside and lower IP ratings are for indoor lighting.
Joule – the unit for measuring electrical energy.
Live – a wire carrying electricity, commonly coated in brown plastic (note - older systems might include live wires covered with red plastic). You can receive an electrical shock from live wires.
Neutral – a neutral wire completes an electrical circuit and allows electrons to flow. Neutral wires are usually covered in blue plastic (note - older systems might use a black plastic covering).
Part P – a section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales about electrical installations in domestic properties.
Transformer – used to change voltage, to dim lighting for example.
Voltage – the unit for measuring the force of electricity moving through wires. High voltage locations are often marked as dangerous.
Watt – a unit to measure electrical power.