The fuse box (or consumer unit) is a unit where the electricity into your home is controlled and distributed. The first port of call in an emergency, the fuse box is where you turn off the supply to your house, so it’s important that you know where your fuse box is.
For home owners, from January 2016 there was a change introduced concerning the construction for consumer units for any new or replacement installations. Consumer units are now made to be fire resistant, so made from steel rather than plastic.
The fuse box contains three things, the main switch, fuses and/or circuit breakers and Residual Current Devices.
Main Switch – This is a simple toggle on and off isolator switch which will cut all electrical supply to the house.
Residual Current Devices (RCD) – An RCD is designed to protect against the risks of electrocution and fire caused by earth faults. By monitoring the current through the circuits and devices, if it detects a change of direction in the intended flow of current (like a human body), it turns the circuit off immediately (within 0.03 seconds). Some fuse boxes do not have RCD’s fitted, we highly recommend that it is changed to incorporate one as they save lives.
Circuit Breakers – These devices automatically turn off the supply to the circuit if they detect any fault. As opposed to fuses, they are more precise and do not have to be replaced entirely in case of a fault. You just have to reset them. If a circuit breaker trips, you will lose power in the areas which are only controlled by the breaker.
Fuses – (may be found in place of circuit breakers) – They ensure electrical safety by cutting off the circuit if there is a faulty overload current. In such a case, the fuse wire becomes hot and melts. This is referred to as a blown fuse. A new fuse can then be used as a replacement.
If your fuse box has a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a mixture of fuses it is likely that it dates back to before the 1960s and will need to be replaced.