Electrical Information – Perth Electrians
Time to Move on Safety Switches
In the past 17 years, 29 people including eight children have been electrocuted in homes in Western Australia. Twenty-three of these deaths could have been prevented if Residual Current Devices (RCDs) had been fitted to the power and lighting circuits.
In a tragic period of just 17 days in January 2009, there were three electrocutions in and around Perth. In all instances, the victims most likely would not have received a fatal electric shock if the circuits had been protected by Safety Switches. Also, in all cases, Safety Switches were installed in other parts of the installations, but not on the circuits involved. Director of Energy Safety in WA, Ken Bowren, has urged electrical contractors to draw their clients’ attention to the importance of having two Safety Switches installed as normal circuit breakers or fuses will not protect them against electric shock.
To facilitate this Mr Bowren has written a letter to the householder drawing their attention to the importance of these vital safety devices. It is intended that electrical contractors provide a copy of this letter to their clients when attending their premises. A copy of the letter can be found on the Energy Safety website.
Installation of RCD Safety Switches in Residential Premises
Two RCDs protecting all power and lighting circuits must be fitted to a residential property before it can be sold and the transfer of title takes place. Penalties apply if RCDs are not fitted and the land title is transferred to another person. If you own a residential property and do not intend to sell, lease or rent it then you do not need to have RCDs fitted to protect all the power and lighting circuits.
However, RCDs protect you and your family from electrocution. Fitting these devices to all power and lighting circuits in your home can be a life-saving investment and is strongly recommended. Electrical hazards are often hidden and can be difficult to identify, such as a small hole in an extension lead or a power board damaged internally. Electrical accidents occur in an instant. RCDs are the only device that can protect your family from these hidden dangers and give them a second chance.
RCDs detect an imbalance in the electrical current and disconnect the power within 10 to 50 milliseconds, preventing electrocution and fire. Installing at least two RCDs in your meter box or distribution board and testing them regularly is a small investment in money and time. It will provide long-term protection for you and your family against serious injury and death.
The electrical contractor will install the RCDs and provide an Electrical Safety Certificate, which will state that RCDs have been installed in compliance with the AS/NZS 3000:2007, Wiring Rules. A sample of an Electrical Safety Certificate is here.The electrical contractor will also notify the network operator that two RCDs have been installed by submitting a Preliminary Notice and Notice of Completion. Following the receipt of these Notices, the network operator may inspect the work as part of its monitoring of electrical contractors’ work.
WA Seniors Card holders may be eligible for a rebate of up to $200 for the purchase and installation of RCDs. For further information phone 6217 8855 or 1800 671 233 (Country Free Call) or visit www.seniorscard.wa.gov.au
Regulations can be found at www.docep.wa.gov.au/energysafety
New Smoke Alarm Legislation
New regulations relating to the installation of mains-powered smoke alarms has been developed.In simple terms, the regulations will require that homes and rental properties have mains-powered smoke alarms professionally installed before they can be sold or re-tenanted.
These regulations relate to the Local Government Act (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act 2007, which commenced on 8 January 2008. These regulations were passed as law in October 2009.
Further information can be obtained at www.fesa.wa.gov.au
Download the Smoke Alarm Brochure here
Electrical Installation Safety Assessment Scheme
Energy Safety is presently planning regulations to establish a home electrical installation safety assessment scheme. This scheme will allow participating electrical contractors to undertake electrical installations safety assessments and prepare a report confirming that the electrical installation is safe to use or list any defects and recommending remedial action required to make the installation safe.
Buyers making an offer to purchase a property will be able to add a condition to real estate contracts similar to subject to finance or subject to a building and termite inspection. It is also beneficial for homeowners or tenants who just want to know whether their home is safe.
Regulations are available in 2011
Homeowners Warned of Downlights Danger
An article posted on the ABC website has warned homeowners about the dangers of installing downlights themselves. Another reason to always use a licensed electrician.
Charlie Hoare from the Office of the Technical Regulator in South Australia says downlights are a particular concern, as they have the potential to cause house fires.He says the consequences can be severe if lights are installed wrongly.
“We’ve done tests on the lights and recorded temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius so it’s fairly hot,” he warned. “If they’re in close proximity to structural timbers or if they’re covered in thermal insulation and it could even be leaves or rodents’ nests in the roof, these are what catches fire and creates the problem”
Download brochure here
If downlights are not correctly installed or maintained they can set fire to insulation, wiring, leaf litter or timber which can burn undetected in the roof space above smoke alarms. Old or poorly installed ceiling downlights are thought to cause at leat one house fire a week in Western Australia.
What can you do to prevent a downlight fire in your home?
- Always use a licensed electrical contractor and ask to see their Electrical Safety Certificate
- Ask a licensed electrical contractor to inspect all downlights and transformers
- Ensure a non-combustible or mechanical barrier is installed to prevent insulation or other combustible material covering downlights
- Always use fittings and guards that meet Australian Standards
- Following any work in your roof space, request your licensed electrical contractor or insulation installer to inspect all downlights and transformers to ensure they are clear of insulation or other combustible material
- Consider replacing 240 volt incandescent globes with compact fluorescent globes that produce less heat
- Consider replacing 12 volt halogen (dichroic) globes with Light Emitting Diodes (LED) that produce considerably less heat