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  • Cost to Replace a Fuse Box or Consumer Unit

    Trying to find out how much a new fusebox costs? In this article we discuss the price of replacing and installing a new consumer unit in terms of labour and installation costs.

    Average Cost to Replace a Fuse Box or Consumer Unit:

    Depending on the complexity of the job, it usually takes: ½ -1 day

    £500

    How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Consumer Unit?

    The cost of replacing a consumer unit depends on how big your house is and which type of consumer unit you choose. For most homes, a high integrity consumer unit that can carry ten circuits at 100A is the best choice. This will cost £470-£650. For a larger home that requires more circuits, it can cost up to £850. Smaller homes can get a good quality consumer unit for as little as £350.

    If you are looking for a consumer unit to put out in your garage or workshop, this will typically cost £330-£440.

    Consumer Unit Prices

    The cost to replace a consumer unit varies depending on the number of circuits and the type of unit

    Cost Based on Number of Circuits

    These prices are based on different numbers of circuits in a High Integrity consumer unit at 100A, as this is the most popular option.

    Cost Number of Circuits Average Costs
    Six circuits £350-£500
    Ten circuits £480-£640
    Twelve circuits £610-£850

    Cost Based on Type of Consumer Unit

    These prices are based on 100A consumer units with ten circuits, unless stated otherwise, as not all of these can carry ten circuits.

    Type of Unit Average Cost
    High Integrity Consumer Unit £470-£650
    RCD Dual Split Consumer Unit £460-£600
    Split Load Consumer Unit £460-£600
    Shower Consumer Unit – with two circuits £330-£460
    Garage Consumer Unit – with four circuits £330-£440
    Ready to get a price for your job?

    Labour Costs and Timescales

    The cost of labour and the length of the job will depend on how many circuits your home is split into. The large your home, the more circuits there will be. Normally there are individual circuits for the lights and sockets on each floor. Then separate circuits for each bathroom and the large appliances in the kitchen. The specifics will depend on how your home was wired.

    Number of Circuits Duration Average cost
    Six circuits 4-5 hours £300-£400
    Ten circuits 5-6 hours £400-£500
    Twelve circuits 6-7 hours £500-£600

    Supply Costs

    Unit Type

    Type of Unit Average Cost
    High Integrity Consumer Unit £70-£150
    RCD Dual Split Consumer Unit £60-£100
    Split Load Consumer Unit £60-£100
    Shower Consumer Unit £30-£60
    Garage Consumer Unit £30-£40

    Unit Size

    Number of Circuits Average Costs
    Six circuits £50-£100
    Ten circuits £80-£140
    Twelve circuits £110-£250

    Amp Rating

    Amp Rating Average cost
    40A £30-£50
    60A £75-£80
    63A £30-£60
    80A £60-£75
    100A £30-£150

    Additional Costs

    When you get an electrician in to replace your consumer unit, it is possible that they might uncover some bigger problems that need fixing. Each of these can add to the costs.

    Electrical Inspection

    If there is any reason to be concerned about the quality of the wiring in your home, you should have an electrical inspection done. This costs £120-£300. It will either confirm that everything is ok or identify further areas that will need to be fixed to make sure your home is safe.

    New Plug Sockets

    If the sockets in your home are old or broken, you might want to replace them or update them with new sockets that have USB ports in them. You may also want to get some extra sockets fitted. The average cost to install a double socket is £110-£165. This will cost more if you want to hide the new wires as you will need to plaster over them.

    External Plug Socket

    Having an external plug socket can be very useful for completing gardening jobs. While you have an electrician in to replace your consumer unit, this is a good time to get an outdoor plug socket fitted. It will cost £85-£130.

    consumerunitcosts1

    House Rewire

    If the wiring in your house is dangerous and needs to be fully replaced, this will be a big and expensive job. It can often work out to be more cost-effective to move out for the duration of this sort of job. You will be looking at a price of £2,400-£5,500 depending on the size of your home.

    New Light Switches

    You may want to update your light switches. To get old ones replaces costs £3-£55. If you want to upgrade to a dimmer switch, this will cost £35-£65.

    Earth Bonding

    Earth bonding is a protective step that is already taken is most houses. If an electrical inspection shows it is missing, you will need to have it done. It involves connecting all of the metal objects in a room to Earth. To get your home fully Earth bonded costs on average £200.

    Cost Factors of Replacing a Consumer Unit

    There are a few factors that will affect the cost of replacing your old consumer unit. The first is which consumer unit you choose. Some are more expensive than others, but there is not a huge range of cost. There is only about £60 difference between a basic model and a better-quality option.

    The biggest factor in the cost of the replacement of your consumer unit is how big your house is. The bigger the house, the more circuits there are. This will affect how long it takes your electrician to fit the new consumer unit.

    The final factor that may impact the cost is the state of your current consumer unit. If the old consumer unit is very old or in particularly poor condition, then your electrician may charge a premium for getting it out. This will usually be no more than £50.

    What's Involved in Installing a Consumer Unit?

    This should only be carried out by a qualified electrician. You should not attempt to do any part of this unless you are a qualified electrician.

    The power supply will need to be safely disconnected and isolated from the house. The electrician will then check that the wiring is up the required standard before they continue.

    consumerunitcosts3

    The consumer unit will be mounted on the wall and wired up to the circuits in your home. The final step will be to connect the mains supply to the new consumer unit.

    Fuse Box vs Consumer Unit

    Sometimes people will refer to their consumer units as a fuse box or an RCD fuse box. So, there is understandably some confusion about what the difference is. Fuse boxes are the older form of electrical safety devices in homes. Consumer units are newer and safer alternatives. So, you’ll usually end up replacing fuse box with a new consumer unit.

    A fuse box consists of a selection of physical fuses. These fuses look like small tubes with a piece of metal inside. When the current in the home gets dangerously high, the fuses will melt and break the circuit. To get the electricity working again, the old fuse will have to be removed and replaced with a new one.

    An electric consumer unit performs the same function as a fuse box. It will cut off the electricity in a home if there is a potential problem with the electrical circuits in the home. A consumer unit can detect more problems than a fuse box can. When a problem is detected, the circuit breakers are 'tripped' breaking the circuit. Unlike with fuses, when a circuit breaker is tripped it does not need to be replaced, it just needs to be reset, by pushing the switch back up.

    Consumer units are safer and easier to use. If your home still has a fuse box, you should replace fuse box with a new consumer unit.

    What is a Consumer Unit?

    An electric consumer unit is a device that controls the main electricity at the point where it enters your home. If there is a problem with the electricity, it will cut off the supply. It can cut off the supply to a small set of circuits or the whole house depending on what the problem is. To do this, a consumer unit is made up of several parts.

    Main Switch

    The main switch controls all of the electricity that enters your home. It is a manual switch that allows you to turn off all the electricity to your home. If this switch is flipped then the house is completely isolated from the mains. This is the switch you will need to use in case of an emergency or when carrying out repairs.

    Residual Current Deceives – RCD

    The RCDs are devices that monitor your home’s electricity. There are usually two RCDs in each consumer unit. Each covers half the circuits in your home.

    RCDs constantly monitor the current that is flowing through the circuits they monitor. If there is a sudden change in current or if the current gets too high, they will trip and turn off the circuits. RCDs are set to trip if the current gets over 30mA. This is the current at which injury becomes possible.

    RCDs usually trip in cases where someone might be at risk of electrocution. This could be due to a fault in a device being used or in the wiring.

    consumerunitcosts4

    Circuit Breakers

    Circuit breakers are a little like RCDs. Their job is basically the same. They will turn off the electricity in the event of a fault. A circuit breaker or miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) will cover a small specific area of your home. For example, the kitchen sockets or the downstairs lights.

    MCBs trip for two reasons. The first is that they are overloaded. This means you have too many devices plugged into the same circuit. You might just need to plug a device into a different socket in your home or switch something off. This sort of trip can stop things like electrical fires.

    The second reason MCBs trip is if the current is too high. This could be because of loose wire in a device. This sort of trip will prevent electrical shocks from faulty devices.

    What Are the Benefits of Replacing a Consumer Unit?

    The main benefit of replacing a consumer unit is improved safety. The newer consumer units are safer than the older ones. If your home still has a fuse box, then you will be much safer with a consumer unit. Fuse boxes really are safe with the amount and type of electrical devices our homes use.

    The other benefit of replacing an older consumer unit is that it will keep your home in line with building regulations. Building regulations are all about keeping homes safe, and consumer units are covered by this. If you have any work done on your home that requires an inspection by building control, then they may want to look at your consumer unit as well.

    Can I Change My Own Consumer Unit?

    This is not a DIY job. Unless you are a qualified electrician, then you should not try to replace your own consumer unit. It is a legal requirement that this type of electrical work is carried out by a certified professional. Beyond that, if done incorrectly, you could injure yourself or put both your family and home at risk.

    Wiring a Consumer Unit

    If you want to know how to wire a consumer unit, it’s best left to a qualified electrician, but below is a rundown of the key points for the wiring. You can use this to check your consumer unit wiring, to help identify if you will need to employ the services of a qualified electrician.

    The main switch should have a double pole isolating switch clipped in next to the DIN bar. This should be done with separate teeth on the bus bar.

    consumerunitcosts5

    There should be a live wire from the meter and a neutral wire from the meter connected into the double pole switch. The Earth wire from the meter should be connected to the earth terminal block.

    Each MCB should have a connection to the bus bar through their live terminal at the bottom.

    Each circuit's wires should have the live wire attached to the top of the appropriate MCB, and the neutral wire should go to the RCD. The earth wire should then go to the Earth terminal block.

    Signs That You Need a New Consumer Unit

    If you have a consumer unit that was compliant when it was installed, then you will only need to replace in one of two situations. The first is if you are having works done on your home that affects the electrics. The second is if you are having problems with your consumer unit. Signs that you require a new Consumer Unit are as follows.

    No RCD

    If you have circuit breakers in your electrical box, but there are no RCDs, then you do not technically have a consumer unit. You should get it replaced as your box will be out of date and possibly dangerous.

    Old Fuse Box

    If you have an old fuse box where you need to replace the fuses, then you should strongly consider replacing your electric fuse box with a consumer unit. Fuse boxes only provide a minimal level of safety and are not suitable for modern homes.

    Tripping

    If your current consumer unit regularly trips, then this is a sign that there is something wrong. If you unplug the devices in your home and it continues to trip, then this suggests the problem is either with the unit or your wiring. In this case, you should seek the advice of a qualified electrician.

    Types of Consumer Unit

    There are a few different types of consumer unit to choose from. In most cases, your electrician will be able to suggest the best choice for your situation. However, as this is a safety item, it is a good idea to fix your budget, and then choose the best consumer unit that you can afford.

    Garage Consumer Unit Cost

    These are small consumer units designed to go in a separate building like a garage, or workshop. They will only have the capacity for a few circuits

    The average cost is £30-£40

    Pros

    ✔ Can separate an outbuilding's supply from the rest of the house.

    ✔ Can be used to add extra circuits without replacing the existing unit.

    Cons

    ✖ Limited number of circuits.

    Shower Consumer Unit Cost

    These are separate units that can be added to existing consumer units. They are good for large appliances that require a higher standard of circuit breaker.

    The average cost is £30-£60.

    consumerunitcosts2

    Pros

    ✔ Can be installed parallel to an existing consumer unit.

    ✔ Separates an appliance from the rest of the house.

    ✔ Cheap option.

    Cons

    ✖ Only suitable for one or two appliances.

    Split Load Consumer Unit Cost

    Split load consumer units typically separate the large appliances in your home from the rest of the house. For example, your oven and hob might go through separate Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCBO) which means they essentially have their own RCB and MCB. The rest of the house will run through MCBs connected to one RCB.

    The average cost is £60-£100.

    Pros

    ✔ A fault with a large appliance won’t affect the rest of the house.

    Cons

    ✖ A fault on a socket in the home will affect everything in the house.

    RCD Dual-Split Consumer Unit Cost

    This is a consumer unit that has two separate RCDs. This means the circuits in the house are split into two groups. Half the circuits go through each of the RCDs.

    The average cost is £60-£100.

    Pros

    ✔ If there is a problem, only have the circuits in the house stop working at a time.

    ✔ Can separate upstairs and downstairs circuits.

    Cons

    ✖ A fault in one room can affect many rooms.

    High Integrity Consumer Unit Cost

    In these consumer units, every circuit is separated out. Each circuit will trip independently but offer the same level of protection as other consumer units.

    The average cost is £70-£150

    Pros

    ✔ If there is a problem only one circuit is affected at a time.

    Cons

    ✔ More expensive.

    Planning Permission for a Consumer Unit

    Typically planning permission is not required for electrical works. The only exception is for listed buildings. If you live in a listed property, you should check with the local council before carrying out any work.

    Consumer units are covered under building regulations.

    Building Regulations for a Consumer Unit

    Replacing a consumer unit is covered by building regulations. It is specifically covered under Part P.

    The cost for Part P building control fees will depend on your location. It is usually between £120-£200. This includes the application and inspection.

    The best option is to find an electrician who is a Part-P registered 'competent-person'. This means the work will be completed to standard, and they will complete the notification and paperwork for you. Usually, this is included in the fee they will quote you for the work.

    Maintaining and Repairing a Consumer Unit

    There are no maintenance requirements for a consumer unit. Once installed, it should protect your home without intervention. When you get any work done in the future that affects the electrics, it should be checked by an electrician.

    consumerunitcosts6

    If one of the circuit breakers tips, it is a simple task to flip the switch back up. If it trips again, unplug everything from the circuit. You can then plug the items in one at a time to see if the problem was with one of the electrical devices you were using. If your unit trips with nothing plugged in, then it could be an indication that it is time for a consumer unit replacement.

    Cost of Relocating a Consumer Unit

    You might want to move your consumer unit if it is in a position that causes problems. For instance, it is taking up space you want to use, or it is inaccessible, then you may want to move it. Sometimes people need to move their consumer units when they are having extensions done.

    Moving a consumer unit can be a very big job. It requires moving the point at which the mains enter your home. If the move is small, within a meter or two, then there is usually no problem, and the cost of the job may be no different than to install a consumer unit. A bigger move, however, can be very costly. For instance, if you need to move your consumer unit from the garage into the house, it would cost on average £2,000.

    Removing an Electric Fuse Box or Consumer Unit

    If you are going to have electricity in your home, then you will need a consumer unit. For this reason, the removal of the old one is covered as part of the cost of installing the new unit. Your electrician will also be able to dispose of the old unit.

    If you want to remove an old garage unit and not replace it, you will only need to pay for the electrician’s time. It will not take long so you could expect to pay £50-£120.

    Hiring a Consumer Unit Installer Checklist

    When hiring a tradesman to install a new electric consumer unit, you should check the following things:

    • Look for a Part-P registered 'competent person' or firm. This means the work should be done to building control standards, and the paperwork will be taken care of.
    • Check if the electrician is registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contractors (NICEIC), ELECSA, NAPIT or another government approved scheme. This will give you some support in case something goes wrong.
    • Check their qualifications. A competent electrician should have some qualifications; these could be a level 3 vocational award or a City & Guilds qualification.

    FAQs

    What does a fuse do?
    A fuse is a thing piece of metal that is designed to melt if the current in a circuit gets too high. When it melts, the circuit is broken, and no more electricity can flow.
    What is a high integrity consumer unit?
    A high integrity consumer unit is one that separates out all the circuits in your home. This means that if one circuit has a problem, it is the only one affected.
    What is a split load consumer unit?
    A split load consumer unit is one that separates the large appliances in your home from the rest of the circuits. So, if the oven trips the circuit, the rest of the house is unaffected.
    What is earthing?
    If there is a fault in an electrical device that allows the electricity to leave the circuit, the electricity will travel through anything to get to the ground. Earthing means that you have given the electricity a safe route to travel to get to the ground.
    Can I get a new consumer unit if I have old wiring?
    It depends on how old the wires are and what state they are in. As long as the wiring is still safe, you can put in a new consumer unit. If you are unsure, you should have an inspection carried out on the wiring in your home.

    Sources

    https://www.edwardes.co.uk/consumer-units-explained-everything-need-know
    https://www.screwfix.com/c/electrical-lighting/domestic-consumer-units/cat7230028
    https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/16/electrics
    https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200135/approved_documents/82/part_p_-_electrical_safety
    https://www.britishgas.co.uk/home-services/home-improvements/protective-bonding.html

    Last updated by MyJobQuote on 30th April 2020.

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