The accessories we buy may not be what they seem. Counterfeiting is big business, it is estimated that 10% of all world trade is counterfeit! In the UK that amounts to £30m of counterfeit electrical goods enter the supply chain.

Since 2000 15 million counterfeit products have been seized, mainly circuit breakers and wiring accessories. The vast majority of these counterfeit goods come from China, but some have been found to originate in Dubai and East Africa.

Counterfeit items are hard to spot, they may carry a well-known brand name and all the certification markings, the biggest difference may be the price! The items will not have under gone any form of testing, and they will not meet the required BS standards.

See the full article in Electrical Contracting News.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager here at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Towards the end of August the Electrical Safety Council revealed that DIY errors are the cause of almost half of all serious electrical shocks in UK homes.

Their survey, which took results from both electricians and consumers, found that many DIYers in fact CAN'T do it themselves and are in fact causing themselves extensive and expensive repairs that need to be done by a professional electrician. And that's if they're lucky - they're also risking both their lives and their family's lives.

These over-confident "Dive-in" DIYers are not only attempting simple jobs either, as one in five respondants without any form of electrical training said that they were confident enough to try their hand at installing new lights. One in ten even said they'd even have a go at new wiring!

So where is this added sense of bravado coming from? Well it's partly coming from relying on the advice of friends and family, who usually aren't electrically qualified themselves (over half surveyed admitted to this) but there's also another source - the internet. Two fifths said they happily turn to Google for advice, using "how-to" video guides from YouTube rather than getting proper training or calling in a professional.

But even with this factors considered, it usually comes down to the stereotypical male bravado. two fifths of men say they feel a responsibility to do electrical and DIY jobs, and almost half of all men are likely to try a job themselves or ask a mate, before seeking help from a professional.

In addition to these facts 2,000 electricians from across the country were asked about their experiences and the results were equally as alarming. 82% said repairing failed DIY efforts costs the homeowner more overall in the long run. Even worse, one third said they had seen or been involved with fixing DIY which had resulted in fires, serious electric shock or serious financial cost to repair.

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council, said: “As budgets continue to be stretched, many people will look for the easy solution but we have found this can often be more costly in the long term and can also pose severe risks. There is a lot of good advice out there on how to go about tasks safely but you must make sure the advice you take is reputable. For the small tasks that you are not sure of and for all the major jobs, my message is DDIY – Don’t Do It Yourself – get a professional in. You can find a registered electrician in your area by searching the Electrical Safety Register.”

DDIY even has some minor celebrity backing in the form of former Changing Rooms DIY expert Andy Kane (aka "Handy Andy"). He said: He said: “I’m well known for my DIY skills and love getting stuck into a good project. But when it comes to electrical DIY I always get professional advice and help. I don’t think it’s unmanly to want peace of mind for yourself and your family. Even when you are carrying out simple DIY jobs like putting up pictures, it’s important to be aware of the potential danger electricity presents in the home.”

So next time you're thinking of installing some new kitchen lights or doing a bit of rewiring, stop and think whether it's really in your ability to do that. Either swallow your pride and get a professional electrician to do the job properly, or consider getting real electrician training so you can do it yourself with REAL confidence. As well as offering training courses to those looking to become a professional electrician, Access Training can also give DIY enthusiasts the knowledge, skills and qualifications they need to do extensive home rennovating. To find out more visit our courses page or call us on 0800 345 7492.

Following our plumbing glossary yesterday, Access Training have also put together a brief post covering common electrical terms that will be handy for all the aspiring electricians out there - whether they're DIY enthusiasts or aiming for a professional career.

Bonding: The process by which all metal parts in a circuit are electrically connected together and then linked to a real earth. This is done to prevent any metal component within a building becoming dangerous should it become live due to an electrical fault or damage. Any fault should cause the circuit protection device to operate and isolate the incoming mains.

BS 7671: Currently in its 17th Edition, this is the UK national safety standard for electrical installation work.

Consumer Unit: These are used to control and distribute electricity around the home. They usually contain a mains switch, fuses/circuit breakers and one or more residual current devices.

Earthing: In the event that there is a fault in the circuit, this will minimise the risk of an electric shock. It provides a path for the faulty current to flow safely to earth, causing the protective device (such as a fuse) to disconnect the circuit and stop the danger. An electrician should check that the earthing and bonding is satisfactory before starting any work.

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): A report on the condition of your electrical wiring, containing an overall assessment of the safety of the wiring, observations on its condition, and a number of recommendations (in order of priority) for action (if any is required) to restore the wiring to a satisfactory condition for continued safe use. These were formerly known as Periodic Inspection Reports (PIRs).

Flush-fitted: These are electrical switched or sockets that have been installed so that their back boxes are contained within the wall or ceiling, making only the front plates visible. This often looks nicer than surface mounted connections but usually requires chasing to complete.

Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB): These are automatic protective devices fitted into fuse boxes. They will disconnect a circuit should there be a fault or overload.

Part P: The specific section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which relates to electrical installations in domestic properties.

Surface-mounted: This is when switches and sockets are installed on top of a surface rather than behind it. While it is less seamless than flush-fitted installations, it causes less disruption to any decoration that surface may have.

Two Way Switch:  Switches which can be used in pairs so that either can turn a light on or off. Each switch has terminals allowing them to be linked using Three Core and Earth cable.

Of course once again this is only a very brief look at some of the things electricians come across on a daily basis, and is no substitute for proper comprehensive electrical training. If you would like to find out more about what it takes to become an electrician, earn valuable skills and the qualifications to go professional - Access Training have exactly what you need. With courses suitable for both trainees and homeowners looking to do a spot of DIY on their property, now has never been a better time to gain a better understanding of the electrical trade. Please visit the courses section of our website or alternatively get in touch with our team on 0800 345 7492.

From: Professional Electrician & Installer

Findings from a recent survey into consumer attitudes to payments reveal that many self-employed tradespeople may be losing potential income by not being able to accept card payments.

However, there is competitive advantage to be gained as the survey shows that businesses adopting new card payment technology often attract more customers than those only accepting cash. In the last year, one-in-five UK consumers has abandoned a purchase due to the trades person not accepting card payments or because they did not have enough cash, over half of consumers (54%) finding this lack of flexibility inconvenient.

The implications are far reaching:

  • 72% of consumers are left with a negative impression of a business that fails to accept cards
  • 28% of customers may also see this lack of service as poor customer service
  • 19% see lack of card payment options as being unprofessional
  • 18% even perceiving the business as unsuccessful or struggling
  • 87% state that they spend more money when paying by card as they purchase additional services or products, demonstrating the potential benefits on offer for those mobile workers that adopt the new service

Tradespeople have the potential to gain new customers by accepting card payments on the move. 38% of people saying that would prefer a tradesman (38%, an electrician 35% and a plumber 33%) if they accept card payments over one that doesn’t, even if the job quote, materials and service quality are the same.

The survey of 5176 people was conducted via online interviews with UK consumers (18+ year olds) during April 2013 for WorldPay.

As a consequence WorldPay has launched ‘WorldPay Zinc’ which allows tradesmen to use a mobile chip & pin keypad, costing £59.99, to take card payments on-site. Offering quick transfer of funds (usually 4 working days), this service offers a pay-as-you-go system of 2.75% per transaction.

This amounts to the tradesman having to pay £2.75 on every £100 pounds that is put through the card reader, this may seem to be a lot, but bear in mind some retail outlets pay 5% or more.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Original article: British Gas plans to offer free power on Saturdays

So British Gas is offering some of its customer’s free electricity – on Saturdays! Sounds like a good offer, but if something seems too good to be true – it usually is.

Is this just a PR plot too increase profits? Or a way of pushing consumers into requesting the so called ‘Smartmeters’ so British gas can exceed their installation targets? Is it designed to tempt more people to by their electricity from British Gas?

What benefit will those of us that don’t have Smartmeters get? Free on Saturday – sorry I have better things to on a Saturday than spend time at home using free electric. Vacuuming the house, the car, doing multiple loads of washing, tumble drying the clothes so I can do the ironing with free electric, allowing the kids to use the games consoles all day!!

Sounds like a con to me, everyone has better things to do on a Saturday, it will amount to British Gas giving away nothing.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

In response to a survey conducted by the IET, (Institute of Electrical Technicians) formally the IEE, in which 87.3% of respondents said they would like to be able to access IET publications via electronic media such as PC’s, tablets, Smartphones etc.; the IET has launched Wiring Regulations Digital: Online – a suite of browser-based versions of its publications in e-book format. Users can also request a free trial before committing to buy the books.

The e-books currently included in the subscription are:

  • BS 7671, The IET Wiring Regulations
  • The On-site Guide
  • Guidance Note 1: Selection and Erection of Equipment
  • Guidance Note 2: Isolation and Switching
  • Guidance Note 3: Inspection and Testing
  • Guidance Note 4: Protection Against Fire
  • Guidance Note 5: Protection Against Electric Shock
  • Guidance Note 6: Protection Against Overcurrent
  • Guidance Note 7: Special Locations
  • Guidance Note 8: Earthing and Bonding
  • The Electrician’s Guide to the Building Regulations
  • The Electrical Installation Design Guide: Calculations for Electricians and Designers
  • Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment
  • Electrical Maintenance
  • and also new titles will be added as they published

The suite of publications has a number of features which can help support electrical engineers and FE college lecturers in accessing and sharing information more easily. All of the publications contained in the platform are automatically updated to the latest edition.

Geoff Cronshaw, the IET’s chief electrical engineer, said, “Wiring Regulations Digital: Online is very much the IET’s response to the changing needs of electrical engineers and those teaching electrical standards in the UK.

“From our research, it is clear that a large majority of electrical contractors use online sources to gain technical information on wiring regulations and guidance. With this in mind, we’ve developed the online function to house a large number of our regulation and guidance publications.

“The software is available through an annual subscription which gives access to all of the latest regulations and guidance that every electrical engineer needs. Not only that, the platform also ensures that everyone has the most up-to-date standards and reference points to work from – helping to ensure that the correct standards and procedures for electrical wiring are practiced.”

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

It’s happened to us all at some time or other, the job we have been putting off because it’s a little bit too big or we’re not sure how to do it. We bite the bullet and decide to get a tradesman in to do the work for us. Which tradesman? Where do we go to find out if the voice at the end of the phone is in fact a ‘quality’ tradesman and not John Wayne with a screwdriver?

You could go to www.trustmark.org.uk

TrustMark is a government endorsed scheme that regularly checks that the registered tradesmen are providing their customers with the quality service and workmanship members of the public expect and deserve (quite rightly). Trustmark registered firms have to;

  1. A firm's technical skills have been independently checked through regular on-site inspections, as well as checks on their trading record and financial status;
  2. Firms have signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety practices and customer care;
  3. The approved scheme operator has checked and will continue to monitor the firm's quality of work, trading practices and customer satisfaction;
  4. Firms are able to offer an Insurance Backed Warranty;
  5. Deposit Protection Insurance is available for consumers in the event a firm should cease trading;
  6. Firms will be able to tell you about any building regulations you must comply with and may also be able to provide appropriate certificates;
  7. If you have a problem or disagreement with the firm, there will be a clear and user-friendly complaints procedure to help resolve the issue;
  8. The scheme is fully supported by Government, the building industry and consumer protection groups.
  9. All of these checks will give you - Peace of Mind.

When employing a tradesman TrustMark recommends you take the following advice;

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief when requesting at least three quotes.
  • Ask friends and family for a recommendation and check the TrustMark website to ensure that the tradesman is registered for the particular trades you require
  • Use a firm that advertises using a landline phone number and be very wary of those only willing to give you a mobile number
  • Seek references, speak to previous customers and if a reasonable sized job, visit previous jobs
  • Don't just go with the cheapest, consider your ability to communicate with the firm and the quality of their work
  • Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesman, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value and ensure these are agreed in writing before the work is done.

If you use a TrustMark tradesman your work should be carried out to a high quality and if things go wrong (God forbid) you, through the scheme, have a means of recourse. That has to give you Peace of mind.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Research by the Electrician Technician Registration has found that "a lack of recognised standards for industry competence" is restricting both electricians' ability and their eventual career progression.

The study looked at how electricians' perceived their professional and discovered many were confused about what constitutes "competence" and which industry bodies could be called upon for careers guidance. Participants in the research also claimed that the vast amount of electrical qualifications available to them made it difficult to decide which routes of study to take in order to gain professional recognition. They also agreed that without a visible benefit of pursuing such qualifications, they feel no reason to aspire toward them.

In an attempt to address these concerns, the Technical Advisory Panel and Steering group (TAPS) - a collaboration of bodies including the IET, the Engineering Council, Electrical Contractors' Association and the Joint Industry Board, will now act on these key issues highlighted in the research;

 

  • Developing careers pathways to enable professional recognition for electricians to progress to engineering technician.
  • Adopting a 'one body' consistent approach to providing advice on a national scale with an electrician technician membership package.
  • Mapping the engineering technician professional standards to the established industry competence card schemes, NVQs and apprenticeship frameworks.
  • Promoting the benefits of gaining engineering technician recognition to support career progression.
The full report can be found HERE.

Not sure on the qualifications you need to get you your dream career? The staff at Access Training is made up of industry professionals who will be able to advise and guide you on exactly the electrical qualifications you need to make it in the industry. If you want to follow your dream and become an electrician today, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

common electrical problems

Some electrical problems are more common than others, and not everyone requires an intensive electrician course or professional qualification to deal with the issue at hand. With this in mind, here's a short list of five of the most common household electrical problems, and how they can be fixed with ease.

1. No power from an electrical socket

This common household electrical problem could be due to a number of things, some of which you will be able to fix yourself without the aid of a professional electrician. Usually, it's down to a tripped circuit breaker, or perhaps the fuse has gone.

Alternatively, it could be because of a loose wire somewhere. It's easy to check whether the circuit breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown, but if its neither of these you may need the aid of a power tester/voltage meter. If the test results in low or no power, it probably means the wiring is loose somewhere and requires further inspection.

2. Flickering lights

Again, this household electrical problem could be due to any number of reasons. Flickering lights or those that do not turn on/off when commanded are usually due to a larger problem, as is a buzzing sound you'll hear when the lights are on. The simple answer is that you might be using the wrong wattage light bulb, but it could also be a case of a bad connection. Whatever it is, in most cases this can be fixed by simply changing the bulb.

3. Half the house lights have gone off

We've probably all been here at some point. Usually, this household electrical problem can be fixed by locating your house's fuse box and flipping the switch (be sure all the light switches are off in the affected area though!). However once again it could be a short fuse or loose wiring somewhere. You might be able to locate this with your voltage tester/power meter but it's recommended that you call an electrician if needed.

4. Strange smell coming from switch/socket

When the circuit connection of an electrical device is damaged, the electricity jumps to complete the circuit. Not only creating this smell but also potentially resulting in a fire as the electricity zaps anything along the way. Electrical device arcing also indicates a serious damage to both the socket and electrical device. You'll need to unplug the appliance immediately and seek the help of a professional.

5. Hot switches

This usually occurs in dimming switches when they are running bulbs that are equal to or less than 600 Watts. When this happens, achieve the wattage required to run the dimmer properly by adding the right amount of bulbs. However, if it's the wall socket that's hot, you need to use a voltage meter to look for a high decrease or increase in voltage.

Hopefully, this post has helped you in being able to identify some of the common electrical problems you might find at home, and what you can do to fix them. However it is important to know your limitations, and NEVER attempt something that should be performed by a professional electrician.

If you would like to find out more, Access Training offer a DIY Electrical course in addition to our professional qualification courses, giving you the opportunity to practice your DIY electrical skills under the tutelage of industry professionals. For more information give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Until the recent changes to Part P came into force (in England only), if you carried out an electrical task in your home your only option was to notify the work to the local building control office. Building control would then get a qualified electrician to come and test your work and issue the relevant certification.

The changes in Part P now make provision for the home owner to engage a registered third-party certifier to certify that the works meet the requirements of the building regulations and BS7671 2008 (2011).

A word of warning; the third-party certification scheme has not yet started, and is not expected to be in place until later this year.

The 2013 edition of Approved Document P, which applies to England only, makes provision for notifiable electrical installation work to be certified as compliant with the Building Regulations by a ‘registered third-party certifier’. However, those interested should note that, such a service can be provided only by a ‘registered third-party certifier’, who is ‘a competent person registered with a Part P third-party certification scheme’.

Competent persons registered with schemes that authorise them to self-certify that their own work complies with the Building Regulations are not automatically entitled to certify compliance of electrical work undertaken by others. Following development by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the arrangements for third-party certification schemes are expected to be put in place later this year.

Registration with third-party certification schemes is expected to be available to named individuals from trading companies who meet particular assessment criteria intended to ensure that those individuals are competent to inspect, test and report on the condition of electrical installation work carried out by others.

The DCLG is not expecting competent persons registered with existing Part P schemes to use third-party certification in place of self-certification. The third-party certification option is intended for DIYers and other unregistered installers who currently notify their work to local authorities.

- Mark Jenkins

Full story: Trust in tradesmen still a consumer concern

A recent study from Bradstone Assured has shown that concerns about rogue tradesmen still rank as one of the highest consumer concerns when it comes to the construction industry. The poll, taken by 2000 homeowners, found that nearly three quarters of the sample "felt anxious" when dealing with tradesmen they hadn't met before and a total of 60% thought it was difficult to find an honest tradesman.

Among the main consumer concerns were whether the job would be finished in time, being charged more than the original quote and fearing that the builder would go out of business before the work was completed. HOWEVER it also emerged that many customers were not taking the available steps to ensure that they were hiring a genuine tradesman and not one of the "cowboy builders" you so often hear about in the news. Less than a third of people check for professional credentials, only one in four take up references and 70% don’t even know the surname of the person they have employed.

Bradstone Assured spokesman Mike Leeming said: “Our research suggests that falling foul of rogue traders is still a real concern for homeowners. One in 10 even admitted to attempting work they weren’t capable of rather than risk bringing someone in."

So what measures can be taken to ensure a trustworthy tradesman? Professional branding, a good website and offering references up-front were among the things found in the poll to most likely reassure customers. It is important to know some of the professional branding to look for, as it can come from many different places and is all different depending on the tradesman you need. Electricians who have their Part P qualification will be able to join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA - they will usually have these stickers on their van/website and it shouldn't be too hard to look up with these bodies if you were really unsure. Plumbers also have their own Competent Person Schemes, and gas engineers are required to become Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas appliances legally. If you're unsure your engineer is registered - be sure to find out. Only last week a plumber narrowly escaped a jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work - resulting in an explosion at a home and the owners suffering serious burns.

There is also TrustMark, a sign of quality working across the RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector which recruits reputable and worthy tradesmen. The TrustMark scheme offers a number of checks to give you full peace of mind, and is fully supported by the Government, building industry and various consumer protection groups.

Of course, tradesmen are also required to do their part - from getting the right, reputable qualifications to doing the work to a professional standard. For tradesmen-in-training, all of the courses Access Training offer the qualifications you need to reach the "industry standard" employers look for. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a part of the schemes mentioned earlier, securing you a long and prosperous career in the industry. If you would like to find out more give us a call today.

View the amended Part P Document here: planningportal.gov.uk

As of last month the Government has wheeled out its latest changes to Part P of the Building Regulations in an attempt to cut down on the amount of “red tape”. In the eight years since its introduction Part P has been a vital measure in maintaining safety when it comes to electrical installations, making sure that professional electricians have the skill and competency needed to perform these tasks. In order to do certain installations, electricians (and DIYers) are required to gain their Part P certificate and join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA.

The main change to the document is that it is now shorter and has greater clarity, with a notable reduction to the number of works that need to be notified to Local Authority Building Control. The full breakdown of changes is

  • Under the new regulations, any electrical work undertaken in kitchens or outdoors in no longer covered by Part P unless a new circuit is required. 
  • While before installers not registered with a Competent Person Scheme would have to notify their work so that a third-party inspector would need to check it, now these installers can instead use a registered third-party (e.g. another electrician) to sign off their work. This eliminates the cost of producing Building Regulations Compliance Certificates for some minor works, but importantly, the new regulations still retain the need to issue Electrical Installation Certificate Reports (EICRs) for all work carried out within a dwelling.
  • Reference is now made to BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 1:2011.

The main positive that has come out of these changes is the potential new areas of work it opens up for Part P qualified electricians who can earn more from inspecting and signing off other people’s work. Organisations have also commended this new streamlined document for not compromising on safety.

However while the ESC (Electrical Safety Council) has praised the fact the Government is amending Part P, they have expressed concern over some of the changes. They believe that the areas that have seen a reduction in notifiable are reasonably high-risk according to data, and so “any electrical work must be of a particularly high standard”.

The third-party certification is also still in question, as the rules for the Approved Inspector Scheme are currently unclear. The document itself is likely to go under review again in 2015.