Know Your Way Around Your Switchboard

Know Your Way Around Your Switchboard

Back in 2019, New Zealand reported an increase in electrical fires of up to 22%.

While the exact cause of this can’t be ascertained, we can safely assume that some of this was due to the increasing digital world we are immersing ourselves in. With more screens, more appliances, and more electricity, it is putting a strain on electrical wiring and circuitry.

If your house was built some time before 1970, chances are it may have an outdated and potentially illegal switchboard that was not built for the electrical load of today.

Thousands of New Zealand homes could potentially have an outdated switchboard.

So, how do you know if that is your home?

Well, read on as Retrolec will delve into everything to do with switchboards so that you can make an informed decision about whether you need to upgrade yours to keep your home electrics safe.

Know Your Way Around Your Switchboard

The Basics

The switchboard is the main system that is responsible for distributing power around your household. Electricity will come into the switchboard from the main power grid, solar power or via a generator. The switchboard will then distribute the incoming electricity to various panel boards, systems, transformers and internal circuits within your home.

Physically, the board is composed of many switches, with each associated with a different section or group of your home. Depending on the size and power usage of your home, you may either have a single-phase or three-phase powered switchboard. It’s vital to have correct labels associated with each switch, so you know which controls each area of the house.

One of the most vital parts of a switchboard is the safety switch, or more specifically, the residual current device (RCD). These are legally necessary to be on the board, and prevent electrical faults by monitoring the current that comes through the live and neutral wiring.

If power is observed leaking or if any other electrical issues are ‘detected’ by the RCD, this will trip the power in mere milliseconds. Initially, tripping these RCDs would lead to all circuits turning off. However, with newer switchboards, safety switches can be implemented for every single circuit, and Retrolec recommends this for the best and safest electrics for your home.

Where Problems May Arise

Many older switchboards are unfortunately not up to modern standard.

Sometimes, you will only discover this when it’s already too late. Such as, when the heat pump installer has already shown up at your door, but he can’t proceed without upgraded electrics. Or sometimes, you may try to insure a property but be declined as the wiring and associated switchboard are not fit for purpose.

To prevent these things from happening, it is best to be informed. Have an electrician examine your current switchboard to see whether or not upgrades are required.

Signs You Need To Upgrade Your Switchboard

As we have already mentioned, age is a huge determining factor of whether your switchboard needs an upgrade. Chances are, if your switchboard is more than 25 years old, it needs to be upgraded.

Here are some other signs:

  • Your switchboard is overcrowded and there is no room for new circuits
  • Appliances repeatedly trip the safety switches in your switchboard
  • Lights flicker on a regular basis
  • Your switchboard contains ceramic fuses
  • Burning of hot smell when electrics are operating
  • Sparks when you plug in an appliance
  • Blackened or melted fuses within your switchboard

Consult An Expert

Still unsure if you have an outdated switchboard?

It’s recommended that you book an inspection with an experienced electrician like Retrolec for peace of mind. After a relatively inexpensive upgrade, rest easy knowing that you will have a lesser risk of potential electrical fires and electrocution, that your circuits are properly labelled, that you might be saving money on electrical callouts and are certain you have an RCD shock prevention device on the board.

Call Retrolec today to book a consultation, give us a call on 021 935 582 today.