Consumer units, also known as fuse boxes or distribution boards, are electrical enclosures that house circuit breakers or fuses to control and distribute electricity within a building or residential property. They are a crucial part of the electrical system, providing protection against electrical faults and allowing for the safe distribution of electricity to various circuits and appliances.
What does a Consumer Unit do?
The main purpose of a consumer unit is to safeguard electrical circuits from overloading, short circuits, and electrical faults that could lead to fires or other hazards. The consumer unit acts as a central point where the electrical supply from the utility company enters the building and is then distributed to different circuits throughout the property.
What makes up a Consumer Unit? Main Switch
: This is a large switch that allows you to completely isolate the electrical supply to the property. It acts as the main point of control for turning off the electricity in case of emergencies or maintenance .Residual Current Devices (RCDs)
: RCDs are safety devices designed to protect against electric shocks. They monitor the flow of electrical current and quickly disconnect the power if an imbalance is detected, such as when current leaks to the ground. Circuit Breakers
: These devices provide protection against overloads and short circuits. They automatically trip or switch off the circuit when the current exceeds a safe limit or when a fault occurs. Fuses
: In older consumer units, fuses are used instead of circuit breakers. Fuses consist of a thin wire that melts when the current exceeds a certain value, breaking the electrical circuit and protecting against overcurrent. Circuit Labels
: Consumer units typically have labels or identification markers for each circuit, indicating which areas or appliances they supply power to. This makes it easier to identify and isolate specific circuits when necessary.It is important to note that the specific design and components of consumer units can vary depending on local electrical codes and regulations. In some regions, more advanced consumer units with enhanced safety features such as arc fault detection may be required. Consumer units/fuse boxes should only be worked on by qualified electricians due to the potential hazards involved with electrical systems.