What is the difference between a fuse box and an electrical consumer unit?
A fuse box and a consumer unit serve the same purpose. They distribute electricity in your house through multiple circuits and instantly turn the power off whenever a power overload occurs on one of the circuits, which is commonly known as “tripping”.
When “tripping” occurs, a consumer unit will switch the power off using the circuit breaker linked to the overloaded circuit. It will turn itself to the position OFF making the faulty circuit easily identifiable. Once the circuit is fixed, the circuit breaker can be switched back on and the power restored.
A fuse box uses fuses instead of circuit breakers. Each fuse contains a wire which will melt if there is an electrical overload and make the circuit trip and switch the power off.
It is not as easy to identify a faulty circuit when using a fuse box and the, now melted fuse, will need to be replaced before the power can be restored. Consumer units are basically the modern and safer version of fuse boxes which in most cases are no longer compliant with current electrical regulations. If your house is fitted with an old fuse box, it might be time to for you to replace it.
How much does it cost to replace a fuse box or electrical consumer unit?
The costs of replacing a fuse box or upgrading a consumer unit to a more recent once can vary greatly as it will depend on many factors such as:
Which type of consumer unit is needed
The number of circuits required
How old the exiting installation is
It is best to speak to one of our qualified electricians first to get a free quote. A typical replacement (Labour and part) will cost between £350 and £550 and will include:
A Consumer unit
NICEIC Electrical installation certificate and part P notification to building control
The quote in this example does not include the earth & bonding check which need to be carried out before the replacement takes place. The Earth and bonding inspection will establish if there are any fault in the existing installation which need to be addressed before the fuse box can be replaced..
Frequently asked questions
Can I replace my fuse box myself? Electric installation such as the replacement of a fuse box should be done by qualified individuals who are able to issue a certificate for the installation in accordance with Building regulations. In this instance a qualified electrician is your best option
Where to install consumer unit? The location of where your consumer unit should be installed is often overlooked. Since they are not considered as a feature of a house, consumer units are frequently hidden away in some dark place in a house. Consumer units should be located so they can easily be reached whenever it is necessary so it is in compliance with Part M of the building regulations. They should be mounted with the switches at a height of between 0.45m & 1.2m above floor level.
Can consumer unit be boxed in? Consumer units boxed in wooden cupboard or mounted under wooden stairs are seen as a fire hazard as these materials are highly combustible. According to building regulations your consumer unit should be enclosed in a cabinet or enclosure constructed of non-combustible material such as steel.
Can I have a consumer unit in my bathroom? According to regulations, electrical equipment should not be present in shower rooms or bathroom. This includes simple equipment such as wall switches, plugs and especially consumer units.
Is it dangerous to install a consumer unit near gas meter? According to regulation, gas pipes and gas meter in domestic houses, must be spaced at least 150mm from electricity meters, switchboards, electric cables, sockets, telecommunication cables, consumer units and any other conductors. Additionally, there should be a separation between a supply or distribution cable of at least 25mm for domestic pipework up to 35mm or 50mm for pipework over 35mm.
Can you wire a new electrical consumer unit to old wiring? Before fitting a shiny new electrical consumer unit, it is advised to carry out an electrical Installation condition report (EICR). This test will establish the health of the electrical installation in your house and enable you and your electrician to decide if the existing wiring and circuits are fit for purpose.
How long does replacing a fuse box take? The time it takes to replace a fuse box may vary on the size of the property as well as the condition of the existing wiring. A typical replacement generally takes around half a day.