Electric meter enclosure

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Maj1
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Electric meter enclosure

Post by Maj1 » Wed May 09, 2018 3:06 pm

Hi all :wave:

We are looking to put a cabinet over the electric meters in the communal hallway of a block of 5 flats. Are there any special requirements for fire safety?
Originally this was going to be made of mdf with doors on the front. The consumer unit (bottom right of image) is plastic so as I understand it, this would need to be either replaced with a metal enclosure or have a separate metal enclosure over the plastic one.
IMG_4252 resized.jpg
Thanks for looking.

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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by Alexis » Wed May 09, 2018 3:14 pm

Hi Maj1. :wave:

Just a welcome to HSfB from me.

I am sure our members will come in with their views when they can.

Good to have you aboard.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by baywaves » Thu May 10, 2018 9:07 am

That's a bit of an eyesore to say the least.

But just of the top of my head and looking at that, it would be my view that the priority would be to either 'remove' or 'contain' any source of a fire in that communal hallway. Removal does not look like an option (but I don't know that for definite and its something I would be considering) so containment is the next best option.

I would certainly be requiring any enclosure that you are considering to be to at least 30 minute fire resisting standard. Looking at the work required, I don't think that that would be to difficult to achieve. You would also have to consider the wall behind the switchgear and make sure it is either a solid wall and that there are no holes that haven't been fire stopped around where the cables run through.

I would also be asking for any old redundant cables and control gear to be removed. There is a black box and folded cables in the bottom left corner which look antiquated to me.

I presume that there is also fire detection in the communal hallway. A smoke detector on the ceiling above that mess would also be something I would be asking for.

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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by witsd » Thu May 10, 2018 11:55 am

There may be specific electrical regulations covering this, but looking at it solely from a fire safety perspective:

Standard answer: Do whatever the FRA says (super helpful, I know), assuming that you are not in Scotland and therefore actually have to complete an FRA...

Personally, I'd start by removing anything that was redundant, then look at relocating it all to a higher / less exposed point – as it stands, it looks like that door is going to smack into whatever you put in place on a regular basis, unless you significantly decrease its maximum opening angle (which might have other repercussions for egress…?)

Smoke detection might be a wise thought, but you then need to consider what tenants are expected to do if the alarm sounds – is it a stay put policy or not? How do they reset it if it goes off accidentally?
Last edited by witsd on Thu May 10, 2018 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by bernicarey » Thu May 10, 2018 12:02 pm

Ummm... interesting location to say the least!
Looking at baywaves comments, they're pretty sound, although I'm not 100% in agreement.
I would also be asking for any old redundant cables and control gear to be removed. There is a black box and folded cables in the bottom left corner which look antiquated to me.
I think that is actually the main 3 phase feed with the 3 fuse holders, the individual flats are then getting a single phase via the meters.

The consumer unit which is there is presumably the Landlords for the common areas only. The flats will have their own in each flat.

If that consumer unit is not damaged then it does not have to be upgraded to the latest Building Regs of being a fire resistant box. Quite frankly, that Building Reg/BS requirement is a bit weird; if plastic enclosures are so dangerous, why are they only banned from Domestic property installations, and not Commercial. .scratch .scratch
What you could do for additional safety is install one of these inside the Consumer Unit, which would be a lot cheaper than having it replaced and quite frankly more use. A fire Resistant Casing does not stop a Consumer Unit Fire, it just delays it spreading; one of these will extinguish it. https://envirograf.com/product/envirobu ... on-system/

It doesn't seem to me that there is sufficient clearance to install a suitably strong enclosure around that area without impeding that doorway.
Unlike baywaves saying
Looking at the work required, I don't think that that would be to difficult to achieve.
I think it's going to be really difficult to leave the same layout.
I don't see how you can get a suitable enclosure built, whilst giving access to that main feed.
I think you need to get a quote to have that feed moved.
You might be looking at having the feed cable moved to the outside with its main fuses, then the supply brought in to the rest of the individual meters.

Once that is done, an enclosure would be far easier, but not MDF, it really needs to be Pink Plasterboard with proper fire doors.
There's probably not a Fire Detection system in the common areas, but I'd like to see a detector inside the final enclosure. .salut
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by Essex » Mon May 14, 2018 12:45 pm

bernicarey wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 12:02 pm
Ummm... interesting location to say the least!
Looking at baywaves comments, they're pretty sound, although I'm not 100% in agreement.
I would also be asking for any old redundant cables and control gear to be removed. There is a black box and folded cables in the bottom left corner which look antiquated to me.
I think that is actually the main 3 phase feed with the 3 fuse holders, the individual flats are then getting a single phase via the meters.

The consumer unit which is there is presumably the Landlords for the common areas only. The flats will have their own in each flat.

If that consumer unit is not damaged then it does not have to be upgraded to the latest Building Regs of being a fire resistant box. Quite frankly, that Building Reg/BS requirement is a bit weird; if plastic enclosures are so dangerous, why are they only banned from Domestic property installations, and not Commercial. .scratch .scratch
Great question. The answer is alarming.

The reason this has been brought in to dwellings only is that there has been huge influx of poorly qualified electricians into the domestic environment. People like the NICEIC, that used to stand as a beacon of the best competence have for sometime now operated a 'Domestic Installer' scheme. This means you can now complete a five week course and have NICEIC branding on your van. ECS (CSCS Affiliated) DO NOT recognise these courses and you cannot get an Electricians card without completing at least four years of training.

So rather than address the issue of poorly trained people carrying out electrical work the IET decided to allow fires to keep starting due to poor connections but put them in a metal box.

With institutes like this writing British Standards is it surprising a tradegy like Grenfell happened?
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by Essex » Mon May 14, 2018 12:49 pm

Maj1 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 3:06 pm
Hi all :wave:

We are looking to put a cabinet over the electric meters in the communal hallway of a block of 5 flats. Are there any special requirements for fire safety?
Originally this was going to be made of mdf with doors on the front. The consumer unit (bottom right of image) is plastic so as I understand it, this would need to be either replaced with a metal enclosure or have a separate metal enclosure over the plastic one.

IMG_4252 resized.jpg

Thanks for looking.
As this is a main exit it could be argued that the plastic CU could be potentially dangerous and thus warrant a C2 recommendation on an EICR. This would go down as Unsatisfactory for continued use. As such would require remedial works to correct. Please bear in mind that the Reg covering this also covers 'similar switchgear' so all those plastic isolator would also need to be replaced.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by bernicarey » Mon May 14, 2018 2:33 pm

Couple of good answers there Essex. ./thumbsup..

What do you think of the concept of enclosing it all?
If I'm right that those are the supply fuses bottom left, I'm guessing it's a big and expensive job for the supply company to come and move them outside; are there any other options from your experience?
I'm assuming the supply company wouldn't extend the feed by a metre, just to have the fuses further over.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by Essex » Mon May 14, 2018 6:26 pm

bernicarey wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:33 pm
Couple of good answers there Essex. ./thumbsup..

What do you think of the concept of enclosing it all?
If I'm right that those are the supply fuses bottom left, I'm guessing it's a big and expensive job for the supply company to come and move them outside; are there any other options from your experience?
I'm assuming the supply company wouldn't extend the feed by a metre, just to have the fuses further over.
Difficult to do but not impossible to enclose it all. Would possible intoduce issues for anyone needing to work on the equipment in the future.

The fuses in the bottom left is the main head yes. Anything can be done with the main head, within reason but it comes at a cost.

There is also a maximum length of 3 meters between the head and the meters that really limits what can be done here.

But with a bit of clever design it is possible. But expensive.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by grim72 » Tue May 15, 2018 10:15 am

Just as an aside to all the excellent feedback regarding the actual specifics regarding the electrics, it might be worth considering re-hanging the door to open in the other direction to avoid the door constantly hitting the unit if you do decide to enclose it?

Just my thought form a non-fire background but looking to offer some practical advice.
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by bernicarey » Tue May 15, 2018 1:00 pm

grim72 wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 10:15 am
Just as an aside to all the excellent feedback regarding the actual specifics regarding the electrics, it might be worth considering re-hanging the door to open in the other direction to avoid the door constantly hitting the unit if you do decide to enclose it?

Just my thought form a non-fire background but looking to offer some practical advice.
I did think of that early on when it was first posted, but then I discounted it as it probably wouldn't help much. The opening Arc of the door is still going to cause issues, possibly even more so... .scratch


I'm wondering if we're all thinking a bit 'in the box' here. Trying to keep easy access.
The Main Head and Fuses seem to be the big stumbling block here.
How about the area between the door and the White trunking being boarded over, with a Fire Retardant material, because access to the fuses is a very rare occurrence. There's plenty of materials that could be used, such as this Board , which costs 10 times the cost of Pink Plasterboard, but cheaper than paying to have the main head moved. If it was screwed into place with a load of big screws and those little cups you get to go under the screw heads, it might be a 10 minute job to get access in the future, but not too difficult.
Then the RH side has more space for regular construction of a fire retardant access door....

Perhaps Maj1 might come back in response, since today is their 1 week anniversary?
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Re: Electric meter enclosure

Post by baywaves » Thu May 17, 2018 9:53 am

bernicarey wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 1:00 pm

I did think of that early on when it was first posted, but then I discounted it as it probably wouldn't help much. The opening Arc of the door is still going to cause issues, possibly even more so... .scratch


I'm wondering if we're all thinking a bit 'in the box' here. Trying to keep easy access.
The Main Head and Fuses seem to be the big stumbling block here.
How about the area between the door and the White trunking being boarded over, with a Fire Retardant material, because access to the fuses is a very rare occurrence. There's plenty of materials that could be used, such as this Board , which costs 10 times the cost of Pink Plasterboard, but cheaper than paying to have the main head moved. If it was screwed into place with a load of big screws and those little cups you get to go under the screw heads, it might be a 10 minute job to get access in the future, but not too difficult.
Then the RH side has more space for regular construction of a fire retardant access door....

Perhaps Maj1 might come back in response, since today is their 1 week anniversary?
So let me get this straight bernicarey, in your first post you say that you are not in 100% in agreement with my comments, then in your second and third posts you pretty much are in agreement that enclosure is the best option.

Maj1 - if you had loads of money you could easily solve this issue. But assuming that you are in the familiar situation that we all find ourselves in these days and cost is an issue, then enclosure is your only option. The opening of the door will not be significantly compromised to any great extent if the job is done with some thought.

All the other talk of 'poorly qualified electricians into the domestic environment' etc etc is not your problem here. I repeat again, remove what's not required and enclose to 30 minutes and ensure there is a fire detector in the hallway.

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