Electrics: The Basics
Designing and installing a new electrical system in your home is one of the more complicated elements of the overall building project. Most renovators, faced either with historic electrics untouched since the era of Bakelite’s dominance (if not before) or, perhaps worse, ‘improved’ and amended over years of previous owners’ marginal projects (closed off faceplates and switches that don’t work being classic signs) will also be keen to bring things up to date.
For those of us who didn’t listen much in physics classes, the world of electrics can be quite scary and for most, the services of an electrician are essential. However, it is critical to approach the specification of a new electrical system with a few key bits of knowledge, such as:
How an electrical system works, the rules regarding electrical work, and what you would like it to do.
Information on systems that go beyond the basics.
Typical cost expectations.
Electrics is one of the more dangerous elements of a home construction project. Each year, on average, 10 people die and 750 people are seriously injured as a result of electrical work — so approach any attempts at DIY seriously
Electrical systems start with, and from, the meter, which belongs to the electricity board. From there it goes to your consumer unit (also known as a distribution board or fuse board) which has a main switch, and to the lifesaver RCD (Residual Current Device), and then it feeds all the circuits in your house via a miniature circuit breaker — MCB (fuse).
RCDs really are lifesavers: they trip out on leakage, not overload, meaning they cut off the flow of electricity automatically when they sense a ‘leakage’ – or imbalance – of electric current from a circuit. Whatever’s going into the circuit, carried on the live and neutral wires, must remain balanced as it flows through and returns — or the RCD will trip.
A guide to the electrical safety certificate
Nobody likes a dodgy landlord: someone happy to charge their tenants rent, but cutting corners when it comes to maintaining their property, leaving it below standard and in disrepair – because, after all, they don’t have to live there.
government has introduced a number of measures in recent years to reduce this kind of behaviour – for example, landlords can no longer look after the deposit themselves, in case they pocket the lot should a dispute arise. Also, landlords need health and safety checks to ensure all the basics meet certain standards; in terms of electrics, that means acquiring an electrical safety certificate.
The Electrical Safety Council is the governing body that writes the necessary guidelines. It also publishes helpful literature, such as The Landlord’s Guide to Electrical Safety. By applying the guidelines and earning a certificate, this is proof for tenants that all the electrics within a property are of a good standard and safe to use upon moving in.
The certificate is a requirement by law and, if asked by the authorities, a landlord must be able to produce the paperwork within seven days. Regular checking of the electrics is recommended, but only a legal requirement in certain properties.
Sockets and appliances
An assessment for a landlord’s electrical safety certificate makes the distinction between fixed installations – wiring, switches, sockets, light fittings – and appliances, including TVs, refrigerators and toasters. Any appliances provided by the landlord must be included in these checks, to ensure they work and that there’s no risk of injury. They must also carry at least a CE marking: the manufacturer’s claim it meets EU standards.
How to become an electrician
You can get into this job through:
a college course
You can take a Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation, which may help you to find a trainee position with a company.
You’ll usually need:
2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You may be able to move into electrical installation work if you’ve got experience and relevant qualifications from a related industry, for example building services or electrical engineering.
Skills and knowledge
the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
knowledge of building and construction
maths knowledge for understanding technical plans
to be thorough and pay attention to detail
the ability to use your initiative
the ability to work well with your hands and use equipment safely
customer service skills for working with colleagues and clients
to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Your work will depend on what type of electrician you are, for example:
installation electrician – install power systems, lighting, fire protection, security and data networks in buildings
maintenance electrician – check electrical systems to make sure they’re working correctly and safely
electrotechnical panel builder – make and install control panels that operate electrical systems in buildings, like heating or alarms
machine repair and rewind electrician – fix and maintain electrical motors and transformers found in industrial equipment
highway systems electrician – install and maintain street lighting and traffic management systems
How to Become an Electrician: Career Guide
It doesn’t matter what your situation may be, or what occupation you may have, you need the power to perform your day-to-day functions. Because electricity is such a vital utility to have for all of us, this puts electricians in high demand; so much of the world depends on them daily.
Electrician – Job Description
The term Electrician is referring to the occupation of an individual in which they perform work on electrical equipment around our homes and neighborhood. This can entail installing new electrical boxes or replacing parts in your current one, upgrading or maintaining these boxes or other vital pieces of electrical equipment.
Because of the nature of the work that is being performed, electricians should know the ins and outs of power, lighting, and electrical control systems. Every job that an electrician performs will require looking at the specific blueprints from the city for that particular property, understanding where everything is located and what needs to be done, and then to physically perform the necessary actions on the electrical box and other electrical equipment.
Some electricians are more skilled in specific areas, and as such will specialize in those. For instance, one electrician may be skilled in highway electrical systems while another may be more suited to perform work on residential properties.
it is also important to learn all that you can to diversify your skillset; this will make it easier for you to go from job to job without fear of not knowing how to perform a specific action or work on a specific piece of electrical equipment.
Plan electrical systems for new buildings and future developments
Fully read and understand blueprints, diagrams, and technical documents to perform the job correctly
Set up and install electrical systems such as wiring and lighting; making sure that these are up to code for new and old buildings
Form and connect electrical circuits
Complete both the installation as well as the future maintenance of electrical panels and products. This can include the act of inspecting said products; such as circuit breakers and transformers
Maintain the desired functions of electrical products; this includes, but is not limited to repairing, replacing, and upgrading outdated and malfunctioning equipment.
Installation and maintenance electrician
Install, maintain and repair electrical systems in industrial, commercial and domestic environments
An installation and maintenance electrician installs, maintains and repairs electrical equipment and systems, from switchboards to renewable energy technologies, in industrial, commercial and domestic environments. As an apprentice, you may also contribute to the design of electrical systems. You’ll be able to set out jobs from drawings and specifications to the requisition of the necessary installation materials.
During this apprenticeship, you’ll specialise in one of two occupations: installation, as in working on the installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance of low voltage (less than 1000v) electrical and electronic devices and appliances; or maintenance, where you’ll maintain electrical and electronic installations. In this role, your duties will include the supervision of the equipment, its maintenance and necessary repairs.