What is RCD Protection - and why would I need one just to have an electric shower fitted?
4th March 2011
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Allan Lathan is a qualified electrician who works in the Hinckley & Bosworth area and undertakes an extensive range of domestic and commercial electrical installation, repair, maintenance and inspection work.  Allan has 22 years of experience as an electrician and is an elecsa Part P registered electrician, which means he can self certify his own work.

In this article Allan looks at the issues that need to be considered when installing an electric shower.

Alan says … I regularly receive enquiries about fitting a new or replacement electrical shower and quite often the initial enquiry starts with “I’ve been told that I’ll need a new fuse box if I have a new electric shower fitted, is that true?” and my response to this is “Let me come and have a look, assess exactly what you do actually need and then give you a proper and accurate quote, at no cost to you!”, which is the way that I work.

When I carry out the survey of the property for the quote I am looking to see, amongst other things, whether the property has:

The current regulations for electrical installations (17th Edition Wiring Regulations) require new installations of an electric shower to have Residual Current Device (RCD) protection.  Old style fuse boxes (let’s introduce the technical term here – consumer units) do not have RCD protection and as such, would need to be upgraded.

There are a couple of ways of achieving the RCD protection required and the most obvious would be to simply replace the existing ‘old style’ fuse box with a new RCD protected consumer unit (see image 3 below). This is the most expensive way but has the advantage of protecting all the circuits connected to the consumer unit.  The advantages of this are:

  • the additional overall safety in the house against electric shock and fire;
  • that it would then allow for any other work to be carried out if and when required (e.g. installation of new socket outlets, bathroom fan, etc.).

A way of reducing costs though but achieving the level of protection required for the new shower installation would be to have a dedicated Shower Consumer Unit fitted (see image 2).  This is a less expensive solution as there is only one circuit to be connected and so less parts and labour time required.  However, should additional electrical work be required within the property a new consumer unit would probably be required anyway.

The answer to the original question then is “Yes, to fit a new shower an RCD protected consumer unit is required) but depending upon your budget and any future plans for your property, you have a choice of method.  Both methods are equally effective at providing the required* RCD protection for the new shower.

(* Manufacturers also specify RCD protection for their showers and so to meet their requirements an RCD consumer unit would be required as described above.) 

If you would like more information, advice or guidance on electrical installation or electrical safety then do contact Allan on 01455 265 063.

To find out more about the work of Allan Lathan – domestic and commercial electrical services, CLICK here to visit their feature on the bestofhinckley.


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