Your consumer unit replacement – a brief overview

Is replacing a fuse box with a CU (or consumer unit) really necessary? This is a common question in the UK and this is high time to set it straight. Both a fuse box and a consumer unit are essential to ensure electrical safety in a property. Moreover both these elements are crucial components of any electrical circuit. A moment a fault occurs or an issue shows up either the fuse box or the consumer unit will disconnect power supply in your property. This power disconnection is actually a safety measure to prevent chances of fire or any other electrical damage. Even in the recent past both residential and commercial properties depended upon fuse boxes to ensure safety in case of an electrical fault or surge but now these are being steadily replaced by consumer units or CUs. 

If in case your fuse box shows any major fault or breaks down you have the option of replacing it with a consumer unit. In fact this proves to be a practical choice because compared to the older fuse boxes, modern consumer units are much safer, easier to use and most importantly comply with the latest building regulations. If you are planning to extend your property any time soon then obviously you will require a fuse box or a consumer unit with larger capacity to provide your added power requirement. 

In the following sections of this post let us explore few important factors relevant to consumer units and fuse boxes in the UK including fuse box replacement cost with a consumer unit.

Replacing a fuse box with a consumer unit

Given below is the standard cost of replacing a fuse box with a consumer unit although the figures mentioned here are only ballpark costs and are based on the standard prices across the UK. To get the authentic figures you should better contact licensed electricians in your locality and collect three different quotes from different electrician service providers. 

The average cost of replacing a fuse box with VAT included –

  • Cost of populated (10 way) consumer unit – supply only MCBs is £120.
  • Cost of populated (10 way) consumer unit – supply only RCBOs is £250.
  • The Meter tail cable will cost around £4 per metre.
  • Installation cost of a consumer unit usually ranges from £150 to £175.
  • Cost of replacing a circuit breaker is £52.50.
  • Cost of removing a consumer unit or a fuse box is £75.
  • Cost of an electrical inspection is around £200 to £220.
  • Hourly rate of a licensed electrician is £45.

There can be further change in prices based on the following factors.

The cost is estimated based on assumption that the replacement consumer unit or fuse box is installed in the same location. If a new location is selected for the replacement in that case the cost will go up. Moving a consumer unit or a fuse box involves lots of complexities and usually the replacement cost does not cover moving the device or electrical system component to a new location.    

Understanding the differences between a fuse box and a consumer unit

We have been using both the terms, namely consumer unit and fuse box. Now that can be really confusing to many and they may wonder what do these terms actually mean. This is the right time to explain the basic difference between the two. A skilled and experienced electrical tradesman known for quoting reasonable cost to change consumer units in London explains that in the earlier times a fuse box was the only electrical safety device used across homes and commercial facilities. A fuse box contains a fuse which melted and in the process snapped power supply whenever any issue used to cop up with the electrical circuits. A fuse may take a few seconds at the most to melt and snap power supply to the circuit. But those few seconds may prove fatal in terms of chances of fire, electrical damage, injuries and even loss of lives and damages to properties, etc. 

In order to mitigate this risk newer and safer version of fuse box came into existence in form of consumer unit. if there is a surge in power a consumer unit too snaps off current supply to a circuit. Consumer units are more sensitive in detecting any electrical fault and turns of power supply instantly. This makes consumer units much safer than fuse boxes. Once the power transmission is snapped you do not have to replace fuses in a consumer unit, rather just flip it back on and it will resume its function. Whereas in a fuse box manual intervention was always needed, in form of replacing the fuse, to bring the device to working condition once again. 

Components of a consumer unit

Any electrical consumer unit has three distinct components – namely main switch, circuit breaker and residual current device or RCD explain electricians having years of experience in new electrical consumer unit installation in London. Now let us explore these components in little details.

  • Main switch – As the term implies this component or switch control the flow of electricity in your property or premise. If an emergency crops up suddenly or there is a quick requirement to cut off the power supply to the circuit then you flip the main switch manually.
  • Circuit breaker – A circuit breaker is responsible for a certain area of the electrical system in your premise – for example the upstairs lighting. When that circuit becomes overloaded or the current in the circuit reaches a fearsome height the breaker simply cuts the power supply and this how this safety device prevents chances of electrical fires. How does a circuit become overloaded? When too many electrical items are powered on it at the same time the circuit gets overloaded.
  • RCDs or residual current devices – RCDs also cut off the power transmission in your home or premise if and when the current rises to excessive heights.   

Consumer unit types 

Every consumer unit works differently and there exist different varieties of consumer units for you to choose from. Few examples include split load consumer unit, shower consumer unit, garage consumer unit, full loaded consumer unit and others. Electricians working at the Electric Works London explain that typical factors that determine the exact cost of replacing you consumer unit (CU) or fuse box include the size of your home, the type of consumer unit you need, the condition of your existing consumer unit and such other factors.