Electrical regulations are constantly changing and evolving to further improve the safety of individuals and businesses. Recently, the 18th Edition of the IET wiring regulations has been announced. Governing bodies have scrutinised and reviewed a number of major areas around the issue of surge protection and devices designed to remove voltage risks.
What Are Surge Protection Devices?
Surge protection devices (SPDs) are designed to prevent electric shock and control any excess voltage that may be damaging. They are used by both individuals and businesses. Should an over-voltage event occur, the surge protection device diverts the excess current flow to Earth, neutralising the situation and creating a safe environment.
When Will The 18th Edition of Surge Protection Take Affect
Many industries will be affected by this change in January 2019, surge protection being the most significant.
This regulation is put in pace to protect individuals and businesses against temporary overvoltage’s that can increase the risks of electric shock. These overvoltage’s are often called surges,
Why is an Overvoltage Dangerous?
These overvoltage’s or surges can be caused by lightning activity or a switching event. This creates a voltage spike increasing the wave’s magnitude to potentially several thousand volts. This could cause expensive and instant damage or significantly reduce an item of equipment’s lifespan.
The new regulation state that protection against this overvoltage must be provided where the consequence caused by overvoltage could result in:
- Serious injury to, or loss of, human life;
- Interruption of public services and/or damage to cultural heritage;
- Interruption of commercial or industrial action; and
- Interruption affects many co-located individuals.
- In all other cases, a risk assessment would have to be performed to determine if protection against transient overvoltage is required.
Why Has The 18th Edition of Surge Protection Been Introduced?
As technology evolves, electrical equipment advances. Although the technology is developing, everyday household items are still vulnerable to temporary overvoltage. Devices such as televisions, alarms and printers are all at risk, the older the piece of equipment, the more likely they are to degrade over time.
As technology evolves, equipment and devices are often getting smaller. This shrinking size makers individual components more vulnerable to damage from electrical surges. As a result, the number of applications and the technical requirements for surge protection devices increasing.
The other reason the regulation has been updated is to improve safety and wellbeing. If surges are going to cause injury or loss of life, it is obvious that the new regulations should protect us from harm.
What Does This Regulation Update Mean For Me?
This new electricity regulation means that SPD’s are a must have for any installation in commercial, public, industrial and domestic. SPD’s need to offer the right level of protection against overvoltage’s and electric shocks.
There are three types of SPDs that are available to choose from, all of which handle different amounts of currents:
- These are designed for installation at a business location, most likely at the entrance. These are also known as equipotential bonding SPDs. These SPD’s help protect against major surges from a direct lightning strike. The main aim for this type is to protect against loss of life and serious injury. They should be used on a building that has an overhead supply or lightning protection system on the roof.
- SPD Type 2 can prevent the spreading of overvoltage’s in electrical installations and protects equipment connected to it. This type of protection is great for businesses with large premises or properties with a lot of connected devices. They are a necessity to protect the electrical and electronic systems.
- This type of SPD has a low discharge capacity, they are designed to protect sensitive or critical loads, particularly from switching transients.
If none of these are suitable for your needs, there are also ‘Combined Type SPDs’, which combine multiple Types together in a single unit – this can simplify installation and maintenance and save money on costs.
Take no chances
For all other installations a risk assessment should be carried out to determine whether SPDs should be installed. Where a risk assessment is not carried out, then SPDs should be installed.
Previously, contractors have not had to consider this to any great extent. Moving forward, this will need to be taken care of, both in terms of time allocation for project completion as well as cost add-ons for the customer.
Whether you need an SPD or not will depend on a range of factors, including level of exposure to lightening-induced voltage, the value and age of the device or equipment, the type of equipment used to during installation, and whether there is equipment within the installation that could generate voltage shocks.
While the shift in responsibility of risk assessment falling on the contractor is likely to be a surprise to many, by accessing the correct support they can seamlessly integrate this function into their traditional work approach and ensure adherence to the new regulations.
If you need local electrical support with risk assessment, SPD installation, or any other local electrical job, get in touch today! Contact our friendly team at Blythe electrical and see how we can advise on the best approach to solve your electrical issue.