The Number 1 question on EICR’s – Plastic Consumer Units

EICR in progress

Plastic consumer units are the most asked question we get. Right now, in March 2021 we are doing 20-30 EICR’s a week.

Most of these are for Landlords and Letting agents as part of the PRS Scheme. (What’s the PRS Scheme? More information here)

One of the most common question that we get asked is about plastic consumer units.

In this video I explain why we are getting this question and what it means if you have a plastic consumer unit in your property.

If you don’t want to watch the video just carry on reading.

Plastic Consumer unit – The Facts

Over the last 100 years consumer units and fuse boards have been made from Plastic, Metal, and believe it or not, even Wood.

From the 80’s to 2015 the vast majority of domestic consumer units were plastic.

Every few years the electrical regulations (BS7671) are updated. As part of these updates consultations are held with various industry experts and organizations. It became apparent that a high number of electrical fires started inside the consumer unit.

For this reason the regulation was intorduced that Consumer units in a residential premisis must be made from, or housed in a non-combustible material.

Enter the metal consumer unit.

Is it the law to have a Metal Consumer Unit

In short, No.

The electrical regulations are not law. However, some instances they are enforced as law. Such as the landlord regulations.

If you have an electrical report carried out and you have a plastic consumer unit it is still not a requirement to have an upgrade.

Plastic Consumer units are still in use, and will be for many years without issues.

My Electrician has recommended an upgrade

A plastic consumer unit is a sure sign of an installation that was carried out to a previous edition of the regulations. This may be recent, and still be mostly compliant with current regs. Or it may be a few editions out of date.

Quite often a consumer unit is the quickest and most cost effective way to upgrade your installation.

You will find that a plastic consumer unit installed to 16th edition (10-15 years old) may look new, but actually require a few upgrades to gain a satisfactory outcome on a EICR.

Common items are RCD protection missing from some circuits where it is required.

Damage to the consumer unit due to general wear and tear, or poor installation of upgrades.

Or additional works being needed and the old parts being obsolete or costly (I’m looking at you Memera2000!)

I hope this sheds some light on the plastic consumer unit issue.

One final thought, if you have a fuse board that looks like this then you will need an upgrade for sure!