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5 questions you should ask before hiring an electrician

And, when things go wrong or need looking at, being able to pick up the phone or send an email, knowing that the person or persons at the other end are competent to solve the problem.

This holds true of all trades, of course. If your pipes spring a leak, call a good plumber. Broken window? Contact a glazier. If the broadband’s on the fritz, you need a telecoms engineer.

But competence probably matters most where electrics are concerned. Electricity provides us with heat, light, and the power to run our various systems and appliances – but it needs to be handled with care, by people who know what they’re doing. You need to be sure that the person you call has the expertise and experience to complete the work safely, and check everything carefully before they finish.

So, what are the five questions you should ask before hiring an electrician?

1. Ask for proof of competence.

Evidence of competence in the form of a National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) registration number and ID card, and/or registration with another government-approved trade body such as NAPIT. Ask to see the evidence, and accept no excuses. Cross-refer the registration with the Registered Electrical Competent Person website (electricalcompetentperson.co.uk).

2. Ask about experience.

Competence is all very well – and will help to keep you safe – but expertise will turn a competent job into an excellent one. An experienced electrician certainly won’t cut corners, but they will know how to adapt a system solution to your circumstances: the layout of your building, for instance, or your typical energy usage. Ask for references from previous customers.

3. Look for locally based businesses.

There are all sorts of good reasons to work with a local business. It’s great to be able to benefit your local economy, but less altruistically, a local firm will probably go to greater lengths to get your installation right first time. Firstly, doing a bad job risks damaging their reputation with other local clients (word of mouth is still the best recommendation – or condemnation – for small businesses). Secondly, they want to retain you as a customer. And finally, any problems will almost literally be on their doorstep.

4. Get three quotes.

This certainly applies for the first two or three jobs you need doing, although the importance of competitive quotes may ease as you and your electrical contractor get to know each other better. A good working relationship often takes priority over price concerns. But even if you’ve dealt with a company for ages, it doesn’t hurt to look elsewhere now and again. It keeps us on our toes!

5. Ask about the size of the company.

Yes, there are plenty of good, reputable, capable ‘one-man-bands’ out there, but there are a few bad apples – and even one is one too many. The bigger the company, the more visible they are, and the more they have to follow – and be seen to follow – strict industry standards. There are also advantages in terms of availability. An electrical contractor with (say) ten engineers on its staff is more likely to have someone available at short notice, or in an emergency. But always ask about the person they’re sending: his or her qualifications, experience and any particular areas of expertise.

Ask Excel Electrical

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Excel Electrical ticks all these boxes. We’re NICEIC-registered, we draw on 20-plus years of experience, we serve an East Anglian customer base, we’re competitively priced, and we have enough employees to get someone to you – fast.

So take the first step. Pick up the phone and call us on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk – and make the connection.

Excel Electrical: the power is in your hands.

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Is it time to give your office an electrical health check?

Sound planning. Good people. Drive. Determination. Just some hallmarks of a successful business. Plus, perhaps, a certain spark…

The right kind of spark, obviously. The kind that comes from working in a competitive industry. Not the kind that comes from out-of-date, poorly maintained electrics.

 

But do you know what shape your electrical installations and appliances are in?

Perhaps you’re new to the company, or you’ve only just taken on the responsibility for health and safety. Perhaps the business has just relocated. Perhaps your predecessors weren’t as assiduous as they might have been about record-keeping.

 

Keeping everyone in your workplace safe can be a daunting job. When it comes to the electrics, here are a few tell-tale warning signs to look out for.

 

The floor’s a snake-pit

 

If your office floor is populated with trailing cables, you’ve got too few sockets to run your appliances. Sure, the odd one or two extension leads are probably okay, if you’re only using them occasionally – but as a permanent fixture? Not good practice.

 

You don’t know when your systems were last tested

 

This might be because your business has just moved into new premises, or maybe whoever looked after the electrics before was a bit too relaxed about it. Definitely a sign to have everything tested – and to start keeping clear records!

 

You’re experiencing frequent power outages

 

Typically, this is a sign of an overloaded system. The circuitry on your premises can’t cope with what’s being asked of it.

 

The portable appliance testing (PAT) labels on plugs are out of date – or there aren’t any

 

This doesn’t mean that the appliances are definitely faulty, but regular PAT testing helps to provide certainty about the safety of your equipment.

 

There’s no test date on your fuse boxes (consumer units)

 

As with the lack of up-to-date PAT labels on plugs, this doesn’t mean there’s necessarily a fault, but it does mean there’s a chance the consumer unit hasn’t been checked. Prevent mishaps, and ensure that your premises won’t be plunged into darkness, by booking a test – and making sure the date is noted!

 

There are sockets that don’t work

 

This could be – best-case scenario – because they’re connected to a circuit that’s no longer used and has been switched off. Worst-case scenario – it could be because your wiring is faulty. Best practice? Arrange a test to make sure everything is safe.

 

The lights flicker and dim

 

This could be caused by electrical storms, and as such may not be a serious problem. However, another possible cause could be working your electrics too hard and overloading the wiring. If it’s a wiring issue, it needs to be fixed.

 

There are sparks, or a fizzing sound, when you plug something in (or unplug it)

 

This is known as arcing, and is absolutely to be avoided. It’s caused when electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit, or between two electrodes. This is potentially very dangerous – stop using the socket and the appliance, and arrange to have the circuit tested.

 

The sockets are warm

 

While a hard-working socket might be slightly warm to the touch, a hot socket is a sign of danger. The socket is either overloaded, or not wired in correctly. Unplug everything from the socket and arrange a test.

 

There’s no emergency lighting

 

Safety lighting needs to be provided where appliances need to be shut down or made safe if there’s a power failure. In most offices this would be in kitchens, computer rooms etc, but in a factory or larger unit more extensive safety lighting may be required. Escape lighting must also be installed to allow the evacuation of the building in an emergency.

 

It’s an older building

 

An older building may have its own charm, but (and this goes for our houses too) older office buildings weren’t designed for today’s proliferation of electrically-powered technology. The older the building, the greater the challenges. Make sure your electrical installations and appliances are checked regularly.

 

There’s been a water leak

 

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: water and electricity don’t mix. If it’s a one-off incident you might be able to kill the power and let natural evaporation do its work. If it’s a persistent or repeating problem, you’ll need to make sure any leaks are fixed.

 

The cabling is damaged and the inner wires are exposed

 

Wires are enclosed for a reason – to minimise the chance of an electric shock. Exposed wires can also cause a fire, and you may see evidence of a drop in performance of the appliances affected. Switch off the appliance immediately, and make sure frayed cables are replaced.

 

The electricity bills are a bit high

 

It’s a common complaint these days, but it could be that the age of your electrical installations and appliances isn’t helping your energy-saving efforts. Generally, newer systems and tech are more energy-efficient than older ones.

 

There’s a burning smell

 

The smell of an electrical fire is very distinct. You are in immediate danger if you smell burning plastic or something fishy. Overloaded circuits, loose wires, frayed cords, damaged wire insulation – all these are common causes of overheating and electrical fires. If there’s a fishy smell or a burning plastic smell in the office, cut the power and check for electrical faults.

 

Ask the experts

 

There is plenty here to look out for, but happily there’s one easy answer to all these issues: call an electrician! If you’re experiencing any of these problems, or you want to put your mind at rest about electrical safety in your workplace, Excel Electrical are here to help.

 

Contact us at 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk to discuss the issue, and make an appointment for one of our friendly, highly qualified, experienced engineers to visit your offices and conduct an electrical health check.

 

Excel Electrical: the power is in your hands.

 

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Calling all landlords: are you up to speed with electrical safety?

The answer for most of you will hopefully be ‘yes’. Residential landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the electrical installations and fixed appliances in the properties they own function properly and are safe to use.

 

The rules, which came into force in mid-2020, are strict – and there are quite a lot of them. It’s easy to miss one, even if you’re an experienced landlord. Easier still if you’re new to managing rental properties. If you are found to be in breach of the regulations, you could face a penalty of up to £30,000. A figure to focus the mind, we’re sure you would agree!

 

What do the (snappily titled) Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 require landlords to do? There are ten elements to bear in mind.

 

Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

 

1) Ensure that your rental property (or properties) meet or exceed national standards for electrical safety.

These are set out in the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s page-turning booklet ‘British Standard 7671’ (now on its 18th edition).

 

2) Make sure that the electrics in your rental properties are inspected and tested by a qualified, competent electrical engineer, once every five years at a minimum – or more often if there’s any reason for concern, or when there is a change of tenant.

 

3) Obtain a report from the tester, which gives the test results and sets a date for the next inspection.

 

4) Supply a copy of the report to an existing tenant no more than 28 days after the inspection has taken place.

 

5) Give a copy of the report to a new tenant before they occupy the property.

 

6) Supply a copy of the report to any prospective tenant within 28 days of a request.

 

7) If asked by your local authority for a copy of the report, hand it over within seven days.

 

8) Keep a copy of the report to give to the next inspector or tester.

 

9) Where the report indicates that work may be required to bring your electrical installations upto speed, complete the work within 28 days, or fewer if specified in the report.

 

10) Supply confirmation within 28 days, in writing, to the local authority and the tenant that the work has been completed.

 

In short, as a landlord you are required to commission a five-yearly inspection and test, to keep the resulting report in a safe place, and supply it promptly to anyone who asks. It is of course of the utmost importance that you choose an experienced, qualified electrical engineer to carry out the inspection.

 

The government’s website helpfully provides a link to a register of possible suppliers –electricalcompetentperson.co.uk – where punching in your postcode will reveal electricians close by who are qualified to do this kind of work.

 

But let us save you some time! It will not surprise you to learn that Excel Electrical is on that register. We’re qualified and experienced in all sorts of electrical testing: for commercial, industrial, retail, business and (yes, you guessed it) residential property installations. To make sure you comply with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations 2020, you’llneed an Electrical Installation Condition Report, or EICR.

 

Our highly qualified, experienced personnel won’t cut corners, but we will keep any inconvenience to a minimum when conducting inspections and tests. Should any remedial work be required, we will help you decide on the solutions that are right for you, your timeframe, and your budget – and help you avoid a costly fine!

 

Ask the experts

 

For your next rental property EICR, contact Excel Electrical on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk

 

Excel Electrical: the power is in your hands.

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Seeing the New Year in a new light

Happy New Year! We hope your Festive Season was everything you hoped and expected it to be. But now the last guests have gone, it’s January, and it’s cold and dark. Back to reality …

 

Believe it or not, the days are actually getting longer – but you could be forgiven for not noticing. At this time of year, most of us are not only heading to work in the dark and going home in the dark, but what daylight there is in the short hours in between often needs a bit of help.

 

But there is good news! While fluorescent strip-lighting (functional, but oh so dreary) is still with us (for as long as the tubes last, anyway!), the days of the incandescent filament lightbulb are well and truly over, replaced by successive generations of bulbs that last longer, cost less to run, emit an increasingly pleasing light and are (slowly) coming down in price.

 

So, what’s available? And how suitable would these new lights be for your home or workplace?

 

 

LEDs

 

The light-emitting diode (LED) is today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing lighting technology. Directional in nature, LED lighting is becoming increasingly versatile. There is a bulb or lamp suitable for almost any use around the home. Thanks to their long lifespan and energy-efficiency, LED lightbulbs can save the average household a significant amount of money. However, they remain rather pricey to buy. If you need directional lighting – over a kitchen worktop, say – LEDs will fit the bill perfectly, but you would need several light fittings to light up a room of any size. Because of their directionality, LEDs are arguably better suited to the workplace than the home.

 

 

CFLs

 

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are actually miniature versions of traditional fluorescent tubes. As screw-in or bayonet-type bulbs, CFLs can be used in the same way and in the same light fittings as standard incandescent light bulbs, while using up to 75% less energy and generating very little heat. CFLs are also much longer-lived than incandescent light bulbs, making them a very economical choice for general residential lighting. They can, however, take a minute or two to reach peak performance, and (although some manufacturers would have you believe otherwise) generally don’t work too well with dimmer switches. There is also talk of phasing them out from 2025 as they, like their fluorescent forebears, contain toxic materials – particularly mercury. For now they remain available, are cheap to buy and long-lasting, will fit any standard lightbulb socket and would be equally suitable for the home or the workplace.

 

 

Halogens

 

What a difference a decade or so makes. Once the ‘must-have’ lighting solution in any workplace or home that wanted to appear chic and cutting-edge – jewellers especially loved them for the way they made those diamonds sparkle – sales of most halogen lightbulbs have been banned since September 2021. The government, and others, are pressing consumers to switch to LEDs (see above) which use much less power while producing a similar quality and directionality of light, and in many cases can be fitted in ‘halogen-ready’ bulb sockets with little or no adaptation. Whether at home or in the office, if you’re unlucky enough to be sitting on a stockpile of halogen lightbulbs, there’s no law that says you can’t use them – but it makes sense to start planning your eventual switch to LEDs.

 

 

Let there be light!


If you’re thinking of changing or upgrading the lighting systems in your home or workplace, talk to us! Tell us about your requirements, and we’ll be happy to offer advice and point you in the right direction. Our experienced engineers can carry out any installation work required – to the highest standard, keeping disruption to a minimum.

 

 

Ask the experts

 

Contact Excel Electrical on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

Excel Electrical: the power is in your hands.

 

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Staying safe this festive season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so the song goes. But it’s also one of the most dangerous. We can’t think of another time of year when our homes are quite so full of flammable material (giftwrap, paper chains, tinsel, etc.) at the same time as plentiful sources of ignition (candles, open fires, potentially hazardous electrics). Factor in house guests (more people means more potential accidents), and it can feel as if you’re living in a tinderbox.

 

Our workplaces are not immune, either. That Christmas tree in reception might look pretty – but is it safe? Those twinkly fairy lights haphazardly draped around everyone’s work stations add a warm, Santa’s-grotto style glow – but while setting the grotto on fire might provide (intense) temporary warmth, Father Christmas and his Elves wouldn’t be too pleased, and your colleagues are likely to be similarly disenchanted.

 

That all sounds terribly gloomy, doesn’t it? But as another song goes, “’tis the season to be jolly”, and there are simple ways to minimise the Yuletide electrical risks.

 

 

Christmas trees


However you decorate your home or office, a Christmas tree is likely to be the focal point. In a work environment the tree will probably be artificial. Many artificial trees are fire resistant – if you buy a new one, look for a statement on the packaging specifying this.

 

What if you’re reusing a tree from previous years? If it comes with lights already fitted make sure it has been portable appliance tested (PAT), and that the PAT test is up-to-date. The same goes for the lights, if you’re stringing them about the tree (and elsewhere). To reduce the risk of faults and fire, make sure everything is switched off overnight and at weekends if your workplace is unoccupied.

 

At home, the same rules apply. Check that your artificial tree is fire resistant, and check that your lights are in good condition. A fresh tree, newly cut and well-watered, is less of a fire hazard than an (older) artificial tree – but it will become more of a fire risk if it’s allowed to dry out. Put the trunk of the tree in a sturdy, water-holding stand, well away from any open fires or candles, and keep the reservoir topped up while the tree is indoors.

 

In all cases, the golden rule – whether you’re going out, going to bed, shutting up shop for the night or locking up the office for the weekend – is SWITCH EVERYTHING OFF!

 

 

Lights


After a year stashed away in the loft (or the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet), Christmas lights can easily become unsafe. Here are our dos and don’ts.

 

DO:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Check your lights are not damaged or broken, and inspect them for loose wires
  • If you replace any bulbs, make sure that they are the same as those originally supplied with the lights
  • Ensure all outdoor lights are connected through a 30mA residual current device (RCD)-protected socket
  • Replace blown bulbs immediately to prevent overheating in the remaining bulbs and cable
  • Ensure plugs and transformers are plugged in indoors, even for outdoor lighting
  • Keep lights away from flammable decorations or anything else that could easily catch fire.

 

 

DON’T:

  • Use lights outdoors unless they are explicitly labelled as suitable for outdoor use
  • Connect different sets of lights together
  • Connect lights to the supply while still in the packaging
  • Remove or insert bulbs while the chain is plugged into the mains
  • Overload sockets, so try to avoid using extension leads or adaptors.

 

 

Christmas traditions

 

Many sets of fairy lights have been ‘in the family’ for generations. They’re unreliable and unsafe, so why do we hang on to them? The comfort of the familiar, perhaps? Because it is traditional?

 

Not all traditions should be allowed to stand the test of time. Keeping Christmas lights well past their safe operating life is one we’d like to see outlawed!

 

 

LED options


At Excel Electrical we recommend LED lights over traditional filament Christmas lighting.

  • They operate at extra-low voltage, significantly reducing the risk of electric shock
  • They use much less power, generating little heat and so reducing the risk of fire
  • They are estimated to use at least 80% less electricity than filament bulbs, so they are less expensive to run
  • They typically last up to 60 times longer
  • They are more durable – no fragile bulbs to break
  • Their lower power use is more environmentally friendly

 

 

Other electrics


As well as the fairy lights, it’s a fair bet that everything is going to take a hammering over Christmas and New Year: the oven, the kettle, the toaster, the shower, the vacuum cleaner, the immersion heater … and more. If you have any concerns about your home’s electrics and appliances, talk to us. We’ll be happy to provide reassurance where we can, and advice where we think it is necessary. There’s still time for our experienced engineers to fit in a home visit if needed.

 

 

Ask the experts

 

To talk to us, or make an appointment, call 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

Excel Electrical. The power is in your hands.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

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How to avoid winter Electrical Problems

An unseasonably warm September (stretching into October!) has been a welcome bonus after a hit-and-miss summer. But it is time to face facts: winter is on the way. How cold it will be, and how long the chilly weather will last is anyone’s guess. But it does tend to bring with it a number of electrical problems. They may not be unique to the season, but they are certainly more prevalent in winter. They can affect both domestic and commercial users. Here are just a few of the more common issues, and what you might do to avoid or address them. The opinion of a domestic electrician is always valuable.

 

 

Power outages and tripping circuit breakers

 

The weather gets worse during winter – that’s a given. Much of the UK is prone to gloomy, overcast winter days – ‘dreich’, as they say in Scotland. Those rarer bright, sparkling sub-zero days, perhaps with a picture-postcard carpet of snow, are definitely more welcome. But both damp chills and extreme cold can cause problems. In addition to the drop in temperatures, there also tend to be more storms during the winter months. It’s not uncommon to experience more power outages. Both commercial buildings and homes are likely to use much more electricity in winter than any other time of year, this can put a huge strain on your electrics. Electrical heating systems, supplementary fan heaters and space heaters, more lights on more of the time, kettles being boiled more often. All these factors could cause a circuit breaker to overload and trip. Get your safety systems checked, upgrade them if necessary. You can also consider investing in a generator or battery backup system to keep the power on. A qualified domestic electrician will be able to advise you on this.

 

 

Flickering lights

 

It’s not unusual for storms to batter the UK during the winter, and this may result in lights flickering or dimming. This may not seem like much of a problem – and it probably isn’t. But your electrics, residential and commercial, will be working hard, and that could also cause the lights to dim intermittently. It’s worth getting it checked out. If it’s a wiring issue, it needs to be fixed. Speaking of which…

 

 

Exposed and frayed wires

 

If you haven’t inspected the wiring in your home or workplace in a while, it’s a good idea to do it before the cold weather sets in. Even if you regularly check and inspect your wiring for problems or signs of damage, it is still good practice to get everything checked over. Especially before icy temperatures and harsh winds set in. Exposed and frayed wires are a dangerous fire hazard, especially when mixed with bitter winter weather.

 

 

Pests

 

What causes wires to fray? As often as not, it’s critters. When the weather is icy cold outside, it’s not just people who want to avoid the chill. Animals seek warmth too. Often our buildings are the perfect places for them to take shelter. Rodents can be particularly problematic if they chew through your wiring – this can be very dangerous and put everyone in your building at risk.

If you suspect there are rodents in your building, it is important to call a pest control company before the issue gets worse, or your wiring is affected.

 

 

Old appliances

 

If you can’t remember the last time your workplace or home was rewired, or you haven’t replaced some of your old appliances in the last five years. (from TVs to toasters to machinery)It’s time for an update. Older appliances are generally less energy-efficient, which is both wasteful and costly. Replace where you can, and where you can afford to, but please make every effort to recycle.

 

 

Static electricity

 

Not usually too much of a problem in the UK – our winters tend to be damp as well as cold. But those crisp, dry days can lead to a potentially dangerous build-up of static electricity. This can cause sparks (which might lead to fires) and electric shocks. Unpleasant at best, potentially life-threatening at worst. Luckily this is easy to combat – using a humidifier will add moisture to the air and reduce the static build-up. If in doubt, contact a recognised and accredited domestic electrician.

 

 

Buzzing sounds or strange smells

 

Given how hard we work our electrics in winter, it’s no real surprise that they sometimes complain. Sometimes the protest might be audible, and sometimes even a bit smelly. If you notice any buzzing sounds or strange smells – particularly burning smells – at any point, you have an immediate problem. Switch off the offending appliance and get the matter seen to immediately, by a qualified and experienced electrician.

 

 

Here to help

 

Excel Electrical doesn’t do pest control, but we can help with the rest! Our experienced engineers will look at what you’re using, how you’re using it, and how you’re likely to use it during the winter months. We will carry out whatever work is necessary to keep you, your colleagues, your organisation and your family safe (and hopefully warm) this winter.

 

To make an appointment for our electricians to visit, call 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk

 

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands. For all your Commercial and Domestic Electrician needs contact Excel Electrical.

 

 

 

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Common Electrical Hazards in the workplace

Common electrical hazards in the workplace

 

Electricity. A boon to all our lives, but potentially life-threatening if not handled with care. This is true at home, of course – but perhaps especially at work, where there are more people using more electrical appliances more intensively. Awareness of potential electrical hazards, and fixing them promptly should they occur, is necessary not just for your colleagues’ continued good health (or survival!) – but also to protect your bottom line. Injuries caused by an organisation’s failure to observe electrical best practice could result in expensive litigation. These are some of the dangers you (and your colleagues) should be looking out for. If in doubt contact a domestic electrican – Excel Electrical – Electrician Norfolk.

 

 

Electrical equipment that is poorly installed or maintained

 

Using a qualified, experienced, reputable electrical contractor will ensure that your equipment is properly installed. Thereafter, for continued healthy-and-safety compliance and peace of mind, ensure that all electrical equipment is regularly checked for faults.

 

 

Overloaded sockets

 

There are a lot of electrical appliances in a typical office or factory, and it is all too easy to plug them into a multi-plug adapter or plugboard and hope for the best. Easy – but wrong, and a reliable way to increase the risk of electrical fires as your wall sockets start to get overloaded. Signs of overload include burning smells, smoke, sparks, fuses that keep blowing, and more – but the best advice is always one device per socket.

 

 

Faulty wiring and equipment

 

If your company’s printers, heaters, kettles, coffee machines and so on are not properly maintained and compliant with industry standards, you risk ending up with a dangerous working environment.

 

 

Incorrect fuse replacement

If you’re fitting or replacing a fuse, make sure you use the correct fuse for the appliance. Check the manual, or the label on the appliance, to determine the wattage of the device and the capacity of fuse needed.

 

 

Exposed live wires

 

Temporary or faulty installations – for example a light fitting that isn’t covered, or a broken wall socket – could mean exposed live wires, leading to shocks and burns. It’s important that all electrical components are safely and correctly covered up.

 

 

Exposure to water

 

Electricity and water don’t mix. Nevertheless, there are businesses where the two are forced to coexist – laundrettes for instance, or car valeting operations. Care should be taken that the water in a pressure washer for example. Or a washing machine or other device is always well isolated from the electricity powering the unit. Where necessary your staff should receive extra training, and there might even be a need for PPE. And everyone – everyone, everywhere – should dry their hands thoroughly after washing them, before going near anything electrical.

 

 

Damaged insulation

 

Electrical insulation should always be kept in tip-top condition, but it can degrade over time. The workplace environment doesn’t help either – things get bumped, knocked and scraped, simply because people don’t take as much care as they should, and there are more of them about (for longer) to do the bumping, knocking and scraping!

 

 

Improper earthing

 

Earthing your electrical installations ensures that any excess or misdirected electricity goes into the ground. Thus protecting you and your colleagues from electric shock. All electrical installations, systems and devices must be earthed – if not, you’re at risk of electrocution.

 

 

Vigilance is everything!

 

The people who are best placed to keep their eye on things at work are obviously those who are there day to day. But sometimes a fresh, expert opinion is called for. An electrical healthcheck, if you like. Excel Electrical can help. Our experienced engineers will look at what you’re using and how you’re using it. Making recommendations as to what might need repairing or replacing (and when), and carry out whatever work is necessary to keep you, your colleagues and your organisation safe. Excel Electrical – Electrician Norfolk.

 

Book your electrical health check

To make an appointment for our electricians to visit, call 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

Excel Electrical. The power is in your hands. Excel Electrical – Electrician Norfolk.

 

 

 

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What to expect when you’re (electrically) inspected

Whether you’re a landlord, an occupier, a homebuyer or a home-seller, you want to be sure that the electrics in your property are safe. For that, you’ll need an Electrical Installation Condition Report, or EICR.

 

An EICR inspection is a thorough assessment of a building’s electrics, incorporating various tests and visual checks. The purpose is to confirm, as far as possible, whether or not an electrical installation remains fit for purpose in accordance with BS 7671:2018+A2:2022 (IET Wiring Regulations, 18th Edition, with 2022 amendment). The report should identify any damage, deterioration, defects and potential dangers – some of which may be less than obvious to a casual observer.

 

 

Landlord requirements

 

Landlords should commission a new EICR at least once every five years. The appropriate frequency depends on factors such as the age of the property, significant changes of use, and so on. As of April 2021 it’s been a legal requirement to provide new or existing tenants with an EICR. Failure to do so carries a fine of up to £30,000, and could render your insurance invalid. Repeat offenders could be banned from renting out property.

 

 

Homeowners and renters

 

For buyers, sellers, or those renewing lease or rental agreements there’s no hard-and-fast rule that dictates when you should schedule an EICR inspection. Solicitors and building surveyors may request or recommend an up-to-date EICR as part of a survey or homebuyer’s report, based on their overall observation of the state of the electrical systems in a property.

 

Homeowners are recommended to have an EICR carried out at least once every ten years to ensure their electrics remain safe to use. Some property insurers insist on it.

 

 

What happens during an inspection?


During an EICR inspection, the fuse board (AKA the consumer unit), wiring and electrical accessories are inspected and tested for faults or deviations from wiring standards. The following will be thoroughly scrutinised:

  • The main earthing and bonding
  • Devices that protect against fire and electric shock
  • Wear and tear or other damage that might compromise safety
  • Damaged electrical accessories and fittings, including identification and isolation of any risky items
  • Exposed live wires, including identification and isolation of anything that could cause fire or injury

 

 

 

Do I need to do anything to get ready for an EICR inspection?


Strictly speaking, no – but you can save time and money by clearing access to all components, such as the consumer unit, electricity meter, sockets and switches, etc. Remove any obstacles or personal belongings that might slow the inspection down.

 

Oh – and put the kettle on (if it is safe to do so!). Electrical testing is thirsty work!

 

 

What if my property fails the EICR?


Don’t worry – it’s not the end of the world. One purpose of an EICR is to discover any faults, and make sure they can be fixed. Once rectified, a new inspection can be carried out, and the property can be given a clean bill of (electrical) health!

 

 

The next step

 

If you’re concerned about electrical safety in your property and you’d like to arrange an EICR inspection, talk to one of our experienced, qualified engineers. To book an appointment or request a visit, call us today on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.

 

 

 

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Energy management: time to get smart

For reasons that are well documented, energy prices have skyrocketed over the past 18 months or so. There have been some welcome reductions here and there – petrol and diesel prices have fallen, although they’re still a lot higher than they used to be. Summer, too, makes us a bit less reliant on energy than we are in colder seasons. But it seems safe to assume that high energy prices are here to stay.

 

This may be a discussion for another forum, but it could be argued that these price rises are a good thing. With the global climate in crisis, whatever motivates us to use our cars less, turn the heating down a notch or switch the lights off can only be beneficial. And there is good news – a rapid growth in the number and range of smart devices that can help us all reduce energy usage in our homes and workplaces. This saves us money and – let’s not mince words – helps to safeguard our future.

 

Here are just a few examples.

 

 

Smart meters


Starting with the basics, you probably already have a smart meter installed. If you don’t, until the end of 2025 your gas and electricity supplier will supply and fit one for you, for free – all you have to do is ask! Smart meters won’t automatically reduce your energy usage, but they will allow you to monitor what you’re spending, in real time. Watching those numbers tick over can be a sobering experience.

 

 

Smart lighting


Monitoring your energy use might persuade you to invest in some smart plugs and smart light bulbs. A smart plug is a small Wi-Fi-enabled power adapter that plugs into a regular wall socket and controls the flow of electricity to connected devices, typically things like TVs, computers, and table lamps – devices that draw power over long periods rather than in short bursts. Once set up, you can control a smart plug from a companion app on your phone or tablet, or from a smart speaker or display.

 

Similarly, smart light bulbs can be paired with smart speakers, smartphones and other mobile devices via Wi-Fi, offering ‘from-anywhere’ control. You can turn them off and on from wherever you are, at home or about and about. Also, in common with other ‘next-gen’ light bulbs (and not at all coincidentally), smart bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and last much longer too.

 

 

Smart timing


You can reduce your energy usage further by installing smart motion sensors, which will turn the lights and heating on when a room is occupied, and off when it isn’t. Old-fashioned motion detectors tended to be a bit of a blunt instrument – useful for detecting intruders or opening doors, but a bit unforgiving in domestic settings (stay still at your peril). Smart motion sensors are much more intuitive. No need to keep dancing about to keep the lights on!

 

 

Smart heating

 

While not in our sphere of expertise, traditional thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) remain an excellent way of reducing your central heating costs. But there’s a new kid on the block, which does fall within our purview. Smart TRVs can cut your heating bills still further. Controlled remotely via a smartphone app, Smart TRVs allow you to control the temperature of individual rooms much more precisely. Pair them up with an energy-efficient smart thermostat, and you can set up an energy-saving heating system that runs completely by itself.

 

 

Smart security


With all this, there is one note of caution. Because these smart products are connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network, hackers can use them to infiltrate your network and steal personal information. If you want to go the smart route (and there are plenty of reasons why you should), make sure your internet security is kept up to date.

 

 

Smart investment


The key takeaway from all this: w
hen in doubt – AUTOMATE. Investing in smart technology (not all of which is expensive) will enable you to get on with life, secure in the knowledge that you’re doing what you can for the planet and your pocket. Excel Electrical will be happy to advise you on what’s available (products featured here, and others), carry out your installation, and instruct you in how to get the best from your new gadgetry. Get smart – and free up your own personal bandwidth.

 

To find out more, call us today on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

 

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.

 

 

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Smart tech: it’s the business

We’ve all of us felt the pinch of rising energy costs, and it seems safest to assume that those prices are here to stay. But for businesses, which typically consume a lot more power than domestic users, those costs have hit particularly hard.

 

In some cases, they can be unaffordable. There are numerous organisations, some long-established, that have gone under or are teetering on the brink, hit by a perfect storm: labour shortages, rising material costs, falling demand … and the fact that they can’t pay the electricity bill. Hospitality has been particularly hard-hit, but the pain is being felt across the board.

 

 

Smart Solutions


There is some good news for businesses! Smart technology could help your company to minimise your electricity usage and use power more efficiently, which could make all the difference between a red number or a black one on your bottom line.

 

This is not entirely a matter of choice. The government has ruled that as of 1st April this year, the majority of commercial real estate (CRE) has to meet new minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES). Almost all commercial buildings must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of E or better (ratings run from A to G). If you rent your business premises, it is your landlord’s responsibility to ensure your building complies with the new regulations.

 

Whether you own or rent, the energy your company uses on a day-to-day basis is down to you, the end user. The key thing is to keep yourself informed. In a typical company there will be a wide variety of devices and machines, drawing down power in different amounts and at different times, but there are systems available that will enable you to monitor everything: from the amount of electricity used in a production run, to which lights are on and where, and how often the staff room kettle gets boiled.

 

 

Smart switching


Armed with this information, you can begin to make changes. Perhaps there’s an outdated machine that’s drawing too much power. You’ll be able to spot it, and replace it or shut it off. Maybe there’s an office that stubbornly refuses to warm up – do you need to fix the insulation, or is it just an open window? Meanwhile, smart thermostats will keep offices and meeting rooms at a constant, ambient temperature. Smart timer switches will allow you to schedule energy-intensive processes to take advantage of times when energy might be cheaper. Smart motion-sensors will turn the lights and heating (or air-con) on when a room is occupied, and off when it isn’t. Smart plugs, sockets and lightbulbs will add further efficiencies. And you can monitor and control the whole system from a companion app on your phone or tablet, or from a smart speaker or display, whether you’re in the office or not.

 

 

Smart storage


Whether or not your organisation draws its energy from the grid, from renewables (well worth considering) or from a combination of sources, battery energy storage systems (BESS) could enable you to make further savings. Battery storage is a fast-evolving technology – the latest incarnation of which is the smart battery. Smart battery storage works by using intelligent software to coordinate the use and distribution of energy. Power can be released from the storage system when demand is at its highest, which limits total costs and removes the superfluous flow of electricity. Among other benefits, this helps with ‘peak-shaving’ – reducing power usage (‘load shedding’) quickly and for a short period of time to avoid a spike in consumption.

 

 

Smart security


With all this, there is one note of caution. Because these smart products are connected to your business’s computer network, hackers can use them to infiltrate your network and steal sensitive company information. If you want to go the smart route (and there are plenty of reasons why you should), make sure your internet security is kept up to date.

 

 

Smart move


The key takeaway from all this is:
when in doubt – AUTOMATE. Buying into smart technology (not all of which is expensive) will enable your organisation to optimise its electricity consumption, as well as staying on the right side of what are likely to be ever-more stringent rules and regulations concerning corporate energy usage. Excel Electrical can advise you on what’s available (the products featured here, and others), carry out your installations, and instruct you in how to get the best from your new gadgetry.

 

To find out more, call us today on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

 

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.

 

 

 

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Electricity: FAQ’s for residential customers

Electricity. It’s hard to know how we ever managed without it. Actually we didn’t – it was there all along. No-one invented it, but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries we learned how to generate it and harness it to power our homes, our workplaces, our lives.

 

Over the past 100-plus years, we’ve become more reliant on electrical power. It commonly boils our kettles, heats our ovens, runs our vacuum cleaners. Our computers, TVs and mobile phones couldn’t function without it. Increasingly our cars and vans run on it. We’ve moved a long way from the simple incandescent light bulb!

 

With that proliferation has come a host of gadgets to help us manage electricity efficiently and safely. But what are they, and what do they do? And the terminology associated with electricity: what does it all mean?

 

Here we answer just some of the most frequently asked questions concerning electricity, and how it relates to you and your home.

 

 

What’s the difference between watts, amps and volts?

 

Wattage is the amount of power an electrical device consumes (this is important to understand – the watts you use determine the size of your electricity bill).Named after James Watt, read more for an in-depth explanation of the science. Amps are a way of measuring the amount of electricity running through a circuit or along a wire (large appliances like air conditioners, washing machines and ovens will need a bigger electrical flow rate – amperage – than smaller ones). Voltage can be thought of as a measurement of the pressure of electricity flowing through a system.

 

 

How often should I get my electrics checked?

 

At Excel Electrical we recommend at least once every ten years, as electrical circuitry and electrically powered devices do deteriorate over time. But if you notice anything untoward at any stage – a burning smell, the lights flickering, or anything else – do not hesitate. Pick up the phone and call a qualified electrician, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! It’s also well worth having the electrics checked if you’re moving into a new home – the previous owners may have been less than diligent!

 

 

How do surge protectors work?

 

The main job of a surge protector system is (obviously) to protect electronic devices from surges. Brief increases in voltage (see above) can damage your equipment and devices, but a surge protector diverts the excess voltage into a socket’s neutral or earth wire instead, keeping your devices safe.

 

 

Is it safe to use a multi-plug strip to run multiple devices from one socket?

 

This is a vexed question. As a point of principle at Excel Electrical we don’t like them, and you may struggle to find a qualified electrician who does. Read more to understand how they work. Muti plug extension leads may be legal, but multi-plug strips are easy to misuse, overloaded power outlets are one of the leading causes of house fires. In an ideal world your home would have enough power outlets to run one appliance each – one device per socket – but in the real world a useful rule of thumb is that the devices running from a multi-plug strip should have a combined ‘draw-down’ of 13 amps or less, as most domestic power outlets have a 13-amp capacity. We strongly advise that you do not run high-power devices such as kettles, washing machines, or electric heaters from a multi-plug strip for this reason.

 

 

How do I know what size fuse to use?

 

Most UK plugs have either a 3-amp or a 13-amp rated fuse – it’s rare that you find anything in between. If you need to install or replace a fuse yourself you can determine the appropriate fuse capacity with a simple calculation: watts ÷ volts = amps. The wattage and voltage information should be displayed on the appliance ID plate, on the base of the appliance, or on the back. After you have calculated the amperage, it is simply a matter of adding around 10 per cent to the value and choosing the next fuse up from that number. For anything over 3 amps, you’ll need to use a 13-amp fuse.

 

 

How do smart meters work?

 

A smart meter works by measuring the electrical current flow and voltage at regular intervals, and using this to calculate the power used in a defined period – say, half an hour. Your smart meter will record how much electricity you use and securely share this information directly with your energy supplier, so you won’t have to take any meter readings manually. As well as measuring energy, meters are constantly monitoring their own performance and environment, keeping your home safe and efficient.

 

 

What is the safest way to use electricity outside?

 

The cardinal rule is to avoid water. Electricity and water don’t mix, so if it’s pouring with rain or there’s dew on the ground, don’t use electrical equipment outdoors until it is dry. (The obvious exception is an electrically-powered appliance that dispenses water – a pressure washer, for instance – but there should be an impermeable barrier between the water it dispenses and the power it uses to do so.)  So that you remain safe.

 

You should also use a residual current device (RCD) with all outdoor electrical equipment. If you don’t have one built into your fusebox, you should use a plug-in RCD. This also helps to protect you. See our other blog content for advice on RCD tripping.

 

Make sure you switch off and unplug outdoor electrical items before cleaning, adjusting or checking them. Store your equipment in a dry, safe place and check that it hasn’t been damaged or affected by water before using it.

 

When using equipment outdoors, be aware of where the power cable is at all times.

 

 

Are smart plugs and bulbs safe?

 

Smart plugs pass the same standard safety guidelines as any other device you plug into the wall. As with any electrical appliance, you should be safe as long as you don’t overload the outlet. Smart lightbulbs don’t draw any more or less power than conventional bulbs. Bear in mind that the ‘smart’ part allows your plugs and bulbs to be activated or deactivated remotely (the good bit) – but that requires internet connectivity. In other words, they can be hacked and used as access points for your home network. Make sure your internet security measures can protect your smart devices against hacking attempts.

 

We hope this answers at least some of your electricity-related questions. If you have more, or you’re concerned about you electricity usage and safety, talk to one of our experienced, qualified engineers. To book an appointment or request a visit, call us today on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

 

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.

 

 

 

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Solar panels: your questions answered

It used to be so simple, didn’t it? Make fire. Heat cave. Cook food.

 

We’ve come a long way since then … or have we?

 

Just as our ancestors worshipped various sun gods, so we are becoming a nation of sun-worshippers, harnessing the power of Planet Earth’s own personal star. We have developed cutting-edge technologies to turn sunlight into energy – to heat our caves, cook our food, and more.

 

Solar-panel technology continues to evolve. Here are some of the most common questions we’re regularly asked, along with our answers.

 

What’s the difference between photovoltaic and solar-thermal panels?

 

Photovoltaic solar panels (solar PVs) generate power; solar-thermal panels heat water.

 

Solar-thermal panels are the preferable solution if all you’re looking to do is heat your home and provide hot water for baths, showers and so on. In comparative terms they’re cheaper, simpler and longer-lasting (although you’ll need to boost the heat they provide with a boiler or immersion heater, especially during the winter).

 

Solar PVs convert light into energy. They function best in prolonged bright sunshine, but they will generate some power as long as they are in daylight. You can use the energy they produce to heat your home, and power your lights, your TV … all the things for which you previously depended on your electricity supplier.

 

 

How does solar PV work?

 

Solar PV uses the photovoltaic effect to generate electricity. When a photon (the basic unit of light) impacts on a semiconductor, an electron is released, producing a direct current. These semiconductors are formed into thin layers that constitute the core element of solar cells. The cells form the basic elements of a solar PV system. Individual solar cells are grouped together into panels, producing electrons on a larger scale. Solar panels are grouped in turn into what’s known as an array – typically ten or so panels – which is then positioned on a south-facing roof for maximum potential sunshine exposure. The power generated by the panels is fed through an inverter to convert the current from DC to AC, making it suitable to use for your domestic electricity supply.

 

 

Do I need a battery to make savings using solar power?

 

Strictly speaking you don’t, but to maximise your savings we would certainly advise incorporating a battery into your setup. The output from solar PVs will vary from day to day and season to season. In high summer you may end up with a surfeit of energy you can’t use, while in winter your system may struggle to produce enough. A battery-storage facility will help to flatten the day-to-day peaks and troughs, storing the excess electricity produced in times of plenty to use when daylight is in short supply.

 

 

How long does installation take?

 

Some providers promise to complete your installation in a day, but in our experience you need to allow two days. This includes the construction and dismantling of the scaffolding needed to access the roof area. At any point before the installation, or up to 28 days afterwards, you will need to notify your Distribution Network Operator (DNO), especially if your new equipment is connected to the National Grid. Your solar PV provider will usually do this for you. Once the panels are installed, safety tested and certified, you’re good to go!

 

 

Can I get a grant?

 

There are some grants available to make solar panels more affordable, but in our experience grants and low-interest loans can be offered and withdrawn seemingly at random. Where you live and how much grant money your local authority currently has in its coffers can influence your eligibility for financial assistance.

 

The nationwide Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO4) has made £4bn available in solar-panel grants. The ‘LA Flex’ element of the scheme allows local councils to decide who in their region will be eligible for the grants, so it is worth checking with your local authority to see whether you can apply for support.

 

The good news is that until the end of March 2027, solar panels are VAT-exempt.

 

 

Can I put solar panels on an old house?

 

Yes – although if your roof needs to be replaced or repaired, we advise you to have this done before installing solar panels.

 

There are, however, two exceptions. If you live in a conservation area you will need to obtain planning permission. If your home is a listed building, you need to obtain Listed Building Consent as well. Consent or permission is normally dependent on the placement of your array, the features of your home mentioned in any listing, and the current condition of the building.

 

 

How long do panels last?

 

Nobody really knows. Domestic systems haven’t been around long enough to collect any meaningful data. As a guide, most solar PVs are guaranteed for between 20 and 25 years. The US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy currently estimates the operational lifespan of a PV module to be about 30 to 35 years. Some wild-eyed optimists reckon next-generation solar PVs could be good for up to half a century, but in our view the US figures are probably about right.

 

 

Contact us

 

We hope this answers at least some of your solar-panel questions. If you have more, or you’d like to discuss how solar PVs might benefit you, our experienced, qualified engineers can help. To book an appointment or request a visit, call us today on 01508 488007 or email enquiries@excelelectrical.co.uk.

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.