25 February 2013

Dangerous electrical jobs; the main fuse

I WAS absolutely gob smacked to discover this when I pulled out the fuses to a local fish and chip shop when called out to investigate a cable fault. The cartridge fuses for a 3-phase supply have been replaced with solid metal links. This can create a fire hazard should overloading or a short-circuit occur. Plus the solid link on the far right is undersized and likely not making good contact.

Similarly, in an all too common occurance I regularly find in homes, the same scenario is created in a Consumer Unit when a Circuit Breaker is changed for a higher rated breaker other than the one recommended. The cable becomes unprotected from overloading because the CB is unable to function correctly.

It's a good idea to check the main fuse in your meter cupboard to see if you have the correct rated fuse fitted to protect your installation. The main fuse acts as a back up to the main Circuit Breaker in the Consumer Unit. Fuses are rated in Amps, the rating of the fuse depends on the size of the cable it supplies. As a guide, in homes on the Costa Blanca generally you will find either a 32 Amp or 40 Amp main fuse for properties on a 5.75 kW tariff.

18 February 2013

Why I fitted storage heaters in my casa

AS A journeyman electrician all of my working life I have come into contact with many different types of electric heaters over the years. So when it came to heating my own house why did I choose storage heaters? There are 3 main reasons;


Comfort is my numero uno priority. I hate a cold house, and I’ve worked on enough cold building sites back in the UK to last me a lifetime. I want a system that keeps the rooms at a constant comfortable temperature throughout the winter, and gives me the option to lower the temperature on warmer days, as well as being flexible enough to isolate individual rooms if I so wish.

Low running cost is the big bonus with storage heaters. Used in conjunction with IBERDROLA’s Day & Night Energy they are by far the cheapest-to-run heater available to home owners on the Costa Blanca. Fitted with low-power heating elements and highly efficient storage bricks, you get maximum heat for a reasonable price. No other electric heater comes close to this baby in the running cost & efficiency stakes.

Unlike the UK, Spanish homes have an electrical conduit network pre-installed in the brickwork. Storage heaters need to be wired directly back to the Consumer Unit for separate control. In my house, the existing conduit network enabled me to wire the cables to all of the positions where I wanted the heaters fitted. At the end of the job there were no exposed cables, and the heating controls were fitted neatly inside the Consumer Unit. Plus of course, keeping the boss happy goes a long way, Mrs. Sparks says "these storage heaters ain’t like those big ones your granny had, they look very modern."

From my experience storage heaters offer the best electrical solution to keep you and your family nice ´n toasty all winter long and they don't cost an arm `n leg to run.