Getting the consumer unit specification right is vitally important in social housing. Resident safety is paramount, but so are cost, convenience and accessibility.
The 17th Edition has proved vital for safety in effectively providing RCD protection across all socket and lighting circuits. One of the problems with this approach of course is the potential loss of power to unaffected circuits. There are a number of ways to meet the regulations (see our Consumer Unit Guide to the 17th Edition (PDF, 1,8 MB)) and the challenge is to balance cost against convenience.
In practice a number of social housing landlords opt for a board that provides individual protection for each outgoing circuit with an RCBO. This solution reduces emergency call outs and future maintenance costs. Capital cost is also an issue in today’s economic climate, but equally if you go for the cheapest options you may be storing up problems for the future. The cost of labour and speed of installation is certainly something to be considered, and in tests, this was one of the product goals when developing The Design Range.
Convenience and Accessibility
In Social Housing you need to consider the needs of all of your residents, which means that you must comply with Part M when you install the Consumer Unit.