Consumer Units

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Consumer units - or fuse boxes as they are more commonly known - are pieces of apparatus that act as the centre of all the wiring in a domestic property and distribute electricity via fuses to the various circuits around a home. Typically, they contain:

  • the mains switch - this allows the electricity supply to be switched off in the event of an emergency or whilst any electrical work is taking place
  • MCBs/fuses – MCBs (miniature circuit breakers) are the modern replacements for fuses which protect electrical circuits in the event of an overload or fault. If an overload does happen, then the MCB just trips and only needs to be switched back on, where formerly a fuse would have required replacing
  • circuit breakers – protection devices inside the fuse box that turn a circuit off if they detect a problem or a fault. They give more exact protection than fuses, but are quite similar in their size, and when they trip, you can just reset the switch
  • residual current devices (RCDs) – switch the trip in a circuit under dangerous circumstances and instantly disconnect the electricity supply to prevent serious electrocution.

The consumer unit is the place where all the electricity in a home is controlled and distributed and it is important for first time residents to locate this in case the electricity needs to be turned off in an emergency. Consumer units will need to be replaced with a current model if they have cast iron switches, a mix of fuses or a wooden back, and Lyco has a wide range of the latest models from which to select a new unit.