DQ Electrical can help you with Switchboard upgrades
Here at DQ Electrical & Solar we have been working on and upgrading switchboards since 2009 and if you have any switchboard work, give us a call.
Your home or business switchboard is often referred to as the “central hub” of electricity. Your board’s purpose is to deliver power from your energy supplier to the various circuits in your home that power your lights, outlets, appliances, air conditioning, and pool. Modern renewable energy technology such as solar and batteries also use your switchboard, therefore this device is only becoming more important.
Your electrical switchboard allows you to turn off and on all the power in your home. When you understand the importance of your switchboard, also known as a fuse box, meter box, breaker box, or electrical box, you realise how critical it is to keep it safe, updated, and compliant.
With the numerous electrical home appliances, smart home features, and other gadgets we own, household power consumption has increased over the years. Furthermore, homeowners, landlords, and tenants are becoming more knowledgeable about the integrity of their home’s electricity and its impact on personal safety.
In South Australia and Adelaide especially, electrical safety standards have improved over the past decade to increase the protection of people in their homes as well as the safety of electricians working on these homes.
Therefore, the dangers of an outdated switchboard cannot be underestimated. For example, old fuses and circuit breakers are regularly responsible for electrical home fires. The difference between the old porcelain circuit breakers and the modern integrated protection breakers is huge. Here at DQ Electrical & Solar we strongly recommend you investigate if your current switchboard has all the necessary safety switches to protect your family from the dangers of electric shock.
In the list of most likely equipment to starting a house fire are:
- Electrical distribution equipment includes wiring, meters, switches, cords, plugs, lamps and light bulbs.
- Heating systems include central heating units, water heaters, indoor open fireplaces, gas vent flues, and chimneys and chimney connectors.
- Cooking equipment including stationary ovens and surface units, fixed deep fryers, portable cooking appliances, grease hoods, and ducts.
- Appliances include televisions, videos, dryers, washing machines, portable appliances, ceiling and exhaust fans, dishwashers, and electronic equipment.
- Service maintenance equipment includes torches, welding and cutting equipment. Other objects include power saws, handheld garden maintenance equipment, electric fencing, flammable liquid transfer equipment and processing equipment.
- Over the last 10 years, the number of house fires has come down, as they were much higher in the 80ies and 90ies. The reason is that homeowners have started to practice improved electrical maintenance, undertaken switchboard replacements, paid for the replacement of old wiring (yes, there is a life limit to wiring) and switches, as well as the increased installation of RCDs.
- RCDs are also known as residual-current devices or residual-current circuit breakers. This safety device quickly breaks an electrical circuit to protect equipment and to reduce the risk of serious harm from an ongoing electric shock.
A modern switchboard represents an increased safety for your home
How do I know if my switchboard needs upgrading?
If your house was built in 1980 or earlier, it’s time to think about improving your meter board. One easy tell-tale sign that improvements are needed is if you have the old-style ceramic fuses.
Other signs of an outdated electrical system at your home are:
- There is only one safety switch for your whole house electricity supply. The Australian Standard AS 3000 mandates that all individual circuits, even the air conditioning and water heater circuits must have a safety switch installed (RCDs). These switches are designed to shut down the electrical circuit that causes a fault or is overloaded within 0.03 seconds. A safety switch is the best way to protect your home and especially your family from electrical faults.
- Regular short-circuits. Older switchboards are much more likely to short-circuit, and there is a higher risk of the fuses catching fire, or causing electric shocks.
- The circuit breaker keeps tripping and has to be reset or the ceramic fuse wire has to be replaced regularly. Let’s say you run the toaster and then someone also runs the microwave, and your fuses burn out and trip regularly. That is a clear sign that your circuits do not match your consumption needs. This can have a couple of different causes and the whole switchboard may not need to be replaced. It could be as simple as a faulty circuit breaker. This can be tested and replaced by contacting us at DQ Electrical & Solar via (08) 7160 0127].
- The circuit is overloaded. With all the modern gadgets, computers, evaporative coolers and heaters a circuit can easily be overloaded, hence the circuit breaker will trip. A normal power or light circuit can only be used for 8A, 10A, or 16A, which means a 10A circuit breaker can only be used with a continuous total power of 2,400W. This can already be reached with one single radiative heater or a toaster and electric kettle.
- There is a fault in the wiring, switches, or appliances. You can check this when you pay attention when the circuit breaker trips. Check what you turned on last. You may find that every time you turn on a certain switch of an appliance the circuit trips. Turn the appliance off, reset the fuse wire or reset the circuit breaker and try this appliance switch again. If the breaker trips again, turn the appliance off, reset the circuit breaker and call DQ Electrical & Solar.
- When you have an old switchboard, there may only be 2 or 4 ceramic fuses and a mains fuse for a whole house. In modern homes, many more circuits are installed with a switchboard holding for example 12, 16, or even more circuit breakers. Separated circuits will protect you from overload. Overloading can cause elements on your switchboard to melt as they overheat, cables to melt, and eventually catch fire. In some cases, the fire can start at the back of the fuse board, and the fire can travel through the wall cavity and into the roof space. Many fires start getting bigger when they reach the roof space, burning the house from the roof space down into the living areas.
- You still have an analog meter i.e. the old black meter with the spinning wheel. A new switchboard will also be upgraded to a smart meter, so you can benefit from different tariffs.
30 years ago the demand for the electrical system of a residential home was very low compared to today. Instead of one TV now almost every room has one. You would be lucky in the olden days to have a stand-alone fan for cooling and now a house has at least one or 2 air conditioning units, slow cooker, microwave unit, air fryer, electric kettle etc.
The old fuses and the few circuits in an older electrical system cannot cope with the higher demand. This can result in overloads by all the electrical appliances and devices running together, hence fires are much more likely.
What signs do I have to look for before electrical safety issues arise?
The main clues were already described above, but other clues are:
- Old switches or power points that are yellow or black in certain areas;
- Power points or switches that are loose on the wall;
- Insulation that has come off from a power cable near the plug or socket or rodents have eaten through insulation in the wall cavity-causing arc faults
- Then there is this terrible buzzing sound and burning smell coming from loose or broken wiring or from an appliance;
- Lights are flickering, particularly sometimes when turning on another appliance.
If your house is experiencing any of these signs, it is time to look at a switchboard upgrade. One way to compare a switchboard is to think of the tyres on a car. Every day we drive, we wear the tyres a little and after a while, we nearly forget that we have them, but if after a certain time we do not replace them, we expose ourselves to high risk. Same with meter boards.
These electrical boards are not on many homeowners’ minds, but if they are 10, 15, or 20 years old, they do need an overhaul, improvements, or even a full replacement, sometimes even with the rewiring of some or all circuits.
How can DQ Electrical and Solar help Adelaide homeowners with electrical issues?
If you call us out for an electrical safety check, we will be able to undertake electrical fault finding, replace damaged wiring, install new breaker panels, advise you on the best type of circuit breaker required, check the conditions of your electrical wires, test your electrical equipment, check for common electrical faults and teach you how a modern electrical circuit breaker can be reset. Naturally, we are also fully qualified to undertake a wide range of electrical services as well as solar, battery and EV charging works.
What is the cost of a switchboard replacement?
If your gut feeling tells you that your switchboard has not been looked at for a long time, and if you wonder how out of date it is, then listen to your inner voice and get it checked out. There is no point in having regrets after an electrical fault. Get into action today. Replacing a switchboard will cost some money. While just changing some old circuit breakers can be as little as a few hundred dollars, a full switchboard upgrade will be more. In some instances, not as much as you think, as it varies if wiring, switches, power points etc also need to be replaced.
The best would be to call us on (08) 7160 0127 for a free assessment and quote. We then can outline the options and costings from a simple replacement of circuit breakers to a full replacement.
We will test your electrical system, carry out a fault diagnosis, attend to the fault and advise you of the best way forward.
Replacing a switchboard is still cheaper and causes less hassle and interruptions than facing a damaged house by smoke and fire. It will also improve your family’s safety. Don’t leave it too late to replace your old switchboard. The main causes of electrical fires – electrical arc faults or failures – are not always easy to identify, and therefore harder to mitigate, but if your switchboard has reached the end of its life, then you should take some action.
Make sure your family, your home and your belongings are secure. Consider the safety of the property’s occupants. We are here to help Adelaide homeowners to keep their homes safe.
We are your local experts in switchboard upgrades since 2009. For a free assessment and obligation-free quotation from a quality brand, contact us today. We will promptly test your electrical system and advise you of the best way forward.