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LadyG

Switching power off

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Is it me, that is not very smart or Scottish Power?

I asked them if I could switch off power in to my consumer unit. I tried the same query by phone, with the same type of response, explaining that by switching OFF,  I meant something like a square box with a lever, saying ON or OFF.

We are on the third email. I have been asked to explain my last email which said "how do I switch off power. I have a smart meter.

Third email reads:

'Is there a switch to stop electrons from Scottish Power getting past the meter and in to the house consumer unit .
A switch which OPENS a circuit. Electrons will not flow through an OPEN switch, That is what is called in technical terms A SWITCH'
I may not be using the correct technical terms, I originally asked if the smart meter had a switch so I could turn off power in to my domestic consumer unit. 
Help!

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I don't think I have seen a domestic installation that has a switch before the consumer unit because the switch on the consumer unit isolates virtually all the parts inside the box. When proper electricians have worked on any domestic installation I have been involved with  they broke the seal on the company's incoming fuse box (not the consumer unit) and pulled the fuses. This isolates the consumer unit and meter.

 

Personally I am unable to think of any reason a householder would want or need to isolate the consumer unit from the meter. The switch on the consumer unit itself does all that is needed. I think you have confused them with a very (in my view) off the wall question. They may think you are some kind of nut job so not worth wasting time on.

 

What's in your mind to want to do this?

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There is no switch between the incoming main and your consumer unit.

Instead there is a "head" which terminates the incoming cable and contains a fuse, which is sealed to prevent tampering, to enable the supply to be interupted,

 

The question is why would you want to disconnect your consumer unit? You cannot legally interfere with the supply.

 

There is an exception where the consumer unit is remote from the meter. In that case there is an isolating switch adjacent to the meter.

Some meters do contain a switch but it is not for the consumer to play with, the meter is sealed to prevent tampering again.

Edited by Boater Sam
added more

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38 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

I don't think I have seen a domestic installation that has a switch before the consumer unit because the switch on the consumer unit isolates virtually all the parts inside the box. When proper electricians have worked on any domestic installation I have been involved with  they broke the seal on the company's incoming fuse box (not the consumer unit) and pulled the fuses. This isolates the consumer unit and meter.

 

Personally I am unable to think of any reason a householder would want or need to isolate the consumer unit from the meter. The switch on the consumer unit itself does all that is needed. I think you have confused them with a very (in my view) off the wall question. They may think you are some kind of nut job so not worth wasting time on.

 

What's in your mind to want to do this?

I want to look at the immersion switch as the electrician who did my electrics [some sort of Certificate was issued, refuses to come back and sort it without being paid. I've paid once and I don't intend to pay him again. I think it is a loose connection. His idea of good electrical installation is not mine. I paid a lot of money and explained I wanted a proper job, that's not what I got. The main contractor say "wear and tear", it's pathetic.

I am a lot more safety conscious than the several electricians who have done work in my house, not one has done a good job first time out . I used to remove fuses when I had a fuse box, I am not so confident with the RCD devices. I have to assume the electrician installed the consumer unit better than any other work he did. I don't know who I can get to check their work, I have used six or seven electricians, in twenty years,  they are consistently dead slow and stop when I am paying by the hour. and cut every corner when being paid by the job [as sub contractors]

Edited by LadyG

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Your consumer unit (the box with circuit breakers in it) has a two pole switch in it which isolates the supply from all your devices. That assumes that all the electrical devices  have been wired correctly and there should be no reason why not.

Turn the power off at that switch (NOT the breaker for the immersion only). If that means everything is dark - get a torch... 

If you don't have a test lamp or meter, then probably best to leave alone, otherwise check that there's no power to the immersion heater using the voltmeter before delving too far. Often the cover to the immersion heater element can be removed without disturbing the feed wires and a visual inspection may be good enough to see whether any wire is loose.

Get a decent pair of rubber gloves (not the flimsy pair that come with hair washing stuff)  - they should protect you if you touch anything that's live.

If you don't feel confident - DON'T start in the first place.  All at your own risk you understand.....

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The main switch on the consumer unit should isolate everything as Goat says but I can see why you  are concerned it nay not. I doubt Scottish Power will come and fit such a switch and I think it is illegal for you the break the seals on the company fuses so it would be back to paying an electrical. I go with   how Goat suggests you proceed but reiterate that if you do not have the equipment or are not 100% sure about what you are doing its best to leave it alone.  Pity you are so far away because I would testing find fitting an immersion switch is no problem at all.

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I have a switch between my incoming power fuse and my consumer unit. Obviously some waffle going on here.

20190401_140547.jpg

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That's not a switch, its an RCD breaker.  It has a test button. Your installation is quite old and a low current (60A) supply. Most now are 100A. Its not Waffle.

They don't install like this now, the RCD is in the consumer unit and does not necessarily disconnect everything like your external RCD will.

Your installation requires an update and tidy up.

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2 hours ago, pete.i said:

I have a switch between my incoming power fuse and my consumer unit. Obviously some waffle going on here.

 

But that switch is installed after the meter, rather than before as discussed above.

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13 minutes ago, dor said:

But that switch is installed after the meter, rather than before as discussed above.

 

2 hours ago, pete.i said:

I have a switch between my incoming power fuse and my consumer unit. Obviously some waffle going on here.

20190401_140547.jpg

 

14 minutes ago, dor said:

But that switch is installed after the meter, rather than before as discussed above.

Incoming mains cable,- service head with sealed fuse, -meter,- consumer unit is how it is done. The irregularity is an old style 60A RCD fitted between the Meter and the Consumer unit., they don't do it like this any more.

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It's the switch in the kitchen which I suspect, I recall it did not work the first time he tried it, then he went back and fiddled with it, and it worked.

Scottish Power will put a power isolation switch if I pay for it.

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3 minutes ago, LadyG said:

It's the switch in the kitchen which I suspect, I recall it did not work the first time he tried it, then he went back and fiddled with it, and it worked.

Scottish Power will put a power isolation switch if I pay for it.

But you don't need it !!!! Just switch the consumer unit off. 

 

Everybody else understand this, it will isolate all the wiring in the flat. Its all any electrician does, switch off and work, test and switch back on, dead simple. Oh shouldn't have used that word!

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2 hours ago, Boater Sam said:

But you don't need it !!!! Just switch the consumer unit off. 

 

Everybody else understand this, it will isolate all the wiring in the flat. Its all any electrician does, switch off and work, test and switch back on, dead simple. Oh shouldn't have used that word!

I think LadyG has absolutely no confidence that her immersion heater circuit is wired up correctly so wants to be sure he circuit is isolated. Based on what she has said in the past I can't say I blame her. Just maybe the electrical has fitted a separate circuit breaker and RCD just for the immersion. I know a John Lewis kitchen fitter did just that for the new kitchen in my house and could not find a neutral to earth fault behind a socket. Now we have a proper RCBO distribution board. I can't say I blame her but unless she is confident enough to turn of the immersion circuit breaker or main isolation witch on the consumer unit and knows how to cheek the circuit is dead she is stuck. Just a pity I am not a lot closer. It may even be a cowboy has fitted a light switch!

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I am not suggesting lady G does this, but  a voltage pen would be a simple method to determine if the immersion has been isolated at the CU. 

 

If in any doubt (which there is), always employ a qualified electrician (I know you already did). 

 

https://www.screwfix.com/p/lap-ms8907-voltage-detector-pen/3222G?tc=HB7&ds_kid=92700022850517523&gclsrc=aw.ds&ds_rl=1241687&ds_rl=1245250&ds_rl=1244066&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIs4TChcqv4QIV7JztCh1k9gzoEAQYASABEgIJtPD_BwE

google.com.jpg

Edited by rusty69

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All good old fashioned electricians isolate and then short the cables with a screwdriver before touching anything. You soon find out if its still connected!

 

To be sensible if there is only one pair of cables from the meter into only one consumer unit, there cannot be power from anywhere on that supply once the consumer unit is turned off. It would have to be pinching electricity from next door.

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11 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

They may think you are some kind of nut job so not worth wasting time on.

You owe me a knew keyboard Tony Brooks. I just spat my tea all over it!

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Just as a query, what did the electrician switch off when he/she came? (and didn't do much of a job). If he/she didn't end up electrocuted, whatever they did must have worked OK.

Edited by Wanderer Vagabond

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Whenever I’ve done any electrical work on our house I’ve just opened the big switch on the consumer unit. Yes it is worth checking that the circuit you want to work on is then not live, although it shouldn’t be unless there is some major mis-wiring within the consumer unit.

 

Bear in mind that in order to get an electric shock you need to be part of a circuit. So just touching live won’t kill you. Viz the birds that land on high voltage bare cables and don’t get vaporised! Touching live whilst standing bare feet in a bath of salt water probably will kill  you, so try to avoid that. I have on occasion touched live (former electrical/electronic engineer so clearly I’m invincible) but it was only painful, not deadly, because I was not making a good circuit (plastic-soled shoes etc). Mains electricity is very dangerous if some other part of you is well earthed, otherwise it is not that dangerous, although it will definitely make you jump!

 

Anyway, as said it is not normal to have a switch between incoming mains and the consumer unit. You don’t need it. If you want to replace the consumer unit you need to remove the main incoming fuse to isolate the supply, but as I understand it you don’t want to replace the consumer unit, just check one circuit.

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15 hours ago, LadyG said:

Is it me, that is not very smart or Scottish Power?

I asked them if I could switch off power in to my consumer unit. I tried the same query by phone, with the same type of response, explaining that by switching OFF,  I meant something like a square box with a lever, saying ON or OFF.

We are on the third email. I have been asked to explain my last email which said "how do I switch off power. I have a smart meter.

Third email reads:

'Is there a switch to stop electrons from Scottish Power getting past the meter and in to the house consumer unit .
A switch which OPENS a circuit. Electrons will not flow through an OPEN switch, That is what is called in technical terms A SWITCH'
I may not be using the correct technical terms, I originally asked if the smart meter had a switch so I could turn off power in to my domestic consumer unit. 
Help!

 

Are you perhaps dealing with an Indian 'help centre'?

 

The answer their culture forbids them to give you, is "NO, no, you do not have a switch to turn your consumer unit OFF". They must be creative and find a way to avoid saying NO, particularly when NO is actually the correct answer. 

 

Helps to understand this when dealing with Indian people. 

 

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9 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Are you perhaps dealing with an Indian 'help centre'?

 

The answer their culture forbids them to give you, is "NO, no, you do not have a switch to turn your consumer unit OFF". They must be creative and find a way to avoid saying NO, particularly when NO is actually the correct answer. 

 

Helps to understand this when dealing with Indian people. 

 

Either that or they are confustipicated by the question “'Is there a switch to stop electrons from Scottish Power getting past the meter and in to the house consumer unit .”

Because the electrons don’t get past the meter into the house consumer unit. They just sit there going to and fro 50 times a second, because it’s AC.😎

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7 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

Because the electrons don’t get past the meter into the house consumer unit. They just sit there going to and fro 50 times a second, because it’s AC.😎

I'll bet they are tired when I've finished cooking the turkey at Christmas!

 

George

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27 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

Either that or they are confustipicated by the question “'Is there a switch to stop electrons from Scottish Power getting past the meter and in to the house consumer unit .”

Because the electrons don’t get past the meter into the house consumer unit. They just sit there going to and fro 50 times a second, because it’s AC.😎

 

 

There is a further good point lurking about in the fun-poking here. This may surprise LadyG to discover, but the 'customer facing' staff in big companies tend not to be highly qualified in the technical aspects of the company's actual product, so probably didn't even understand her question let alone know the answer. Their training usually revolves around 'managing' complaints or in the case of Scottish Gas, selling more expensive tariffs dressed up as cheaper to unsophisticated punters. 

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1 hour ago, nicknorman said:

Because the electrons don’t get past the meter into the house consumer unit. They just sit there going to and fro 50 times a second, because it’s AC.😎

 

And on this technical point, I hold you are wrong. Electricity travels at the same speed as light, i.e. 186,000 miles per second approx, IIRC. So in a half cycle of 1/100 sec, they will travel 186,000 miles divided by 100, or 1,860 miles.

 

So even though it is AC current, the electrons will be getting all the way from LG's meter through the consumer unit to her cooker and back on every cycle, assuming she doesn't have a REALLY BIG flat. 

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2 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

 

 

And on this technical point, I hold you are wrong. Electricity travels at the same speed as light, i.e. 186,000 miles per second approx, IIRC. So in a half cycle of 1/100 sec, they will travel 186,000 miles divided by 100, or 1,860 miles.

 

So even though it is AC current, the electrons will be getting all the way from LG's meter through the consumer unit to her cooker and back on every cycle, assuming she doesn't have a REALLY BIG flat. 

So what happens if MY electric is coming through the European interconnector and the power station supplying the juice is more than 1860 miles away?

 

Do they electrons say "bugger it, I'm off home again"?

 

No wonder I keep having power cuts! 😄

 

George

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Electricity may travel at the speed of light but the electrons themselves don't. Think of it as if they were all lined up one behind the other and you push the one at the end; after an extremely short delay the one at the other end moves, and it is that effect which moves at the speed of light. Which of course begs the question, how fast does light move INSIDE a cable?

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