At present, the IET Wiring Regulations - otherwise known as BS 7671 - only take steps to safeguard against fire and electric shock. These regulations are now under full review, says the ECA's Bill Wright.
6 June 2017 | Bill Wright
One of the biggest changes in the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations is expected to be energy efficiency, which is set to be included for the first time because of the increasing importance to clients of having energy-efficient electrical installations.
This proposed new section details the steps to be taken during the design process to consider the energy efficiency of an electrical installation. The implication of these changes to the electrical installation design hierarchy is to introduce a fourth step - efficiency - ahead of resilience, but behind capacity and ultimately safety.
Effectively there will be two design requirements - the first is to understand the energy profile of the building and both the passive and active measures taken within it; the second is to take steps to cut energy losses within installations. This update will provide a framework for clients to stipulate levels of energy efficiency to achieve:
- Less environmental impact;
- Reduction of energy losses and energy cost;
- Use of energy at lower tariffs;
- Less reactive maintenance; and
- Optimisation of life cycle performance.
IEC 60364-8-1 - the international document on which the update is based - considers several factors for energy efficiency, including:
- The efficiency placement of the electrical intake;
- Types of controls to avoid waste;
- Electrical distribution wiring system efficiency;
- Provision of energy measurement;
- Types of loads that can be switched off without impacting safety and usability;
- Electrical system energy management; and
- Energy efficiency impact of maintenance work.
Significantly, IEC 60364-8-1 recognises that replacement of existing building stock is low - 5 per cent or below, and so this regulation states that it should also apply to existing buildings as well as new developments.
Other regulation changes are expected to include the protection against over-voltages and updated guidance on surge protection, protection against fire and updated guidance on arc fault detection, and updated guidance on special locations.
Updates should bring the UK's rules in line with both CENELEC and IEC 60364 standards, to ensure that existing regulations are clearer, and to allow for new technology and methodology to be incorporated.
A draft of the 18th edition will be open to public consultation from June for industry feedback until late August. The ECA will also be discussing the changes with members and other stakeholders in the sector.
1 June - 24 August 2017: Draft for Public Consultation (DPC)
24 August - 9 November 2017: Expert panels review public comments
9 November - 30 November 2017: Approval of DPC changes
28 June 2018: 18th Edition published
1 January 2019: 18th Edition comes into full effect
Bill Wright is head of energy solutions at the Electrical Contractor Association (ECA)