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Posted By Topic: Switchboard in the shower - Legal or no legal

Oct 06 2014 10:57

Hi There,

We have a house which have switchboard in our bathroom.
See Picture,

the shower box is right beside it.

Is this legal ?

Please advise

Oct 06 2014 12:58

Picture is too small to see what\'s there

However simply having a switchboard located in same room as a bath or shower is not always illegal, though never good practice.

Mostly happens when changes are made to room use without considering how that affects electrical compliance.

There are zones specified near baths, showers, etc, and as long as the switchboard is outside all zones, and not subject to splashing, can be acceptable.

Details were discussed in another thread not long ago, try searching.

Oct 06 2014 13:57

Agree with Aleck that picture is too small to see anything and it is not good practice. I do note your comment that switch borad is right next to shower which does concern me but we do need more information, better picture(s) distances from edge of shower to edge of switch board and wahat type of shower enclosure or open shower you have etc as there are various zones which are interpreted in different ways depending on the shower setup.

Oct 06 2014 19:59

Looking at the picture after zooming in a lot it looks like the shower enclosure has a hinged door that when open overlaps the center of the switchboard enclosure.
Given that AS/NZS 3000:2007 section state no switchboard shall be installed in any zoned area and table 6.1 reinforces this message the switchboard should not be there and likely never complied when it was upgraded to the shiny new plastic unit in the picture. Perhaps the outside meter box is on the other side of the wall.
The best possible interpretation of the shower / bathroom zones puts the switchboard 3 m away from the edge of the shower enclosure as there is not a zone drawing for a shower with a door only a barrier.

Oct 07 2014 08:26

a door or curtain = a barrier.
Which would limit Z1 to interior of shower cubicle.
As shown in Figs 6.7 & 6.8.

I still can\'t see anything much in the picture, but unless the swbd is protected by a further barrier to limit Z2 / Z3, or behind a fixed panel giving IPX4, or above 2.25 m; probably a non-compliant location.

Now the chicken-&-egg question: which came first? Illegal for electrician to install a swbd into a bath or shower zone; but what stops a plumber / builder from installing a shower near a swbd?

Oct 07 2014 12:39

The ESR\'s apply equally to all so if they can find the responsible person he can be prosecuted. Just a different mechanism for plumbers, builders etc but still prosecutable.
Easier if it was the sparky of course, just have to haul him before the board and empty his pockets.

Still looks like the Z2/3 distances apply.

Oct 07 2014 14:08

Yes ESRs apply to everyone, but they don\'t apply exactly equally.

If the close proximity of the swbd and shower results from electrical work, then there\'s a clear path saying electrical work must be done i.a.w \"3000\", and \"3000\" doesn\'t permit a swbd to be installed into a Zone of a bath or shower.

But it\'s much less clear how a builder or plumber is bound by \"3000\", if they are at all. \"common\" sense should have been in operation, but sense actually isn\'t all that common.

Bottom line, assuming that the situation is non-compliant and arguably unsafe, is less about \"whodunnit\" than how to make it right.

Best option is probably to relocate one or the other.


Oct 07 2014 18:03

when i try to zoom in on the picture, the image blurs, but the switchboard stays nice and straight, almost makes me wonder if its been edited, therefore the post is a windup
?????? feel free to prove me wrong :D

Oct 07 2014 21:27

Have a read of thr NZ Building Code part G9 Electricity and you will find that AS/NZS 3000 is called and NOT ESR 2010.

Get copy by Googleing \"NZ Building Code G9 Electricity\" Builders have to use the majority og NZ Building Code so are expected to hold a copy in their areas of work.

Oct 08 2014 09:52

There are some problems with that.

Firstly \"3000\" is not cited by the Clause itself, only by the \"acceptable solution\" AS1 and the verification method VM 1.
The only mandatory aspect is that VM/1 says compliance with 3000 \"shall be accepted as a method of verifying compliance with the relevant Performances of NZBC G9\";. The same applies to the three ECPs cited.
Also a certificate issued i.a.w ESRs \"must\" be accepted by the building consent authority as establishing that G9 has been complied with(that\'s in the Building Act).

Accordingly \"3000\" is NOT mandated by the Building Code, it just deemed to comply.

Secondly clause G9 itself only has high-level objectives, not specific things to do (or not do). Back to \"common\" sense (or lack of it).

All three of the relevant NZBC compliance documents (mandatory clause G9, and associated AS/1 & VM/1) refer to the \"electrical installation\", which is defined as: \" Any electrical fixed appliances, and components used in the reticulation of electricity, which are intended to remain permanently attached to and form part of the building.\"

So even if AS/1 was mandatory, it only covers work on the fittings that make up the installation, not building or plumbing work that brings other items into conflict.

I haven\'t checked through the plumbing Regs but very much doubt that there\'s anything in them to mandate \"3000\" for plumbers.

I have not found any other clauses of NZBC that cite \"3000\" even as advisory.

In the absence of mandated rules keeping showers away from switchboards, we have to rely on the general Rules of ESRs.

An argument could easily be made that chances of someone standing in the shower and pointing the spray at the switchboard are very low. That\'s the exact reason \"3000\" allows \"temporary\" barriers like doors & curtains to limit Z1

Add to that the fact that any parts of swbd above 2.25 m are outside all Zones, and it\'s hard to make a case that the situation is \"electrically unsafe\" (as defined in ESR 5) let alone an \"immediate hazard\" requiring to be reported.

Seems to me, on the limited info available, that the situation - like most existing installations - is in between \"electrically safe\" and \"electrically unsafe\". IE not up to (in fact probably far from)the standard required for new electrical work, but not so bad that it\'s not allowed to remain in service.


Oct 10 2014 23:03


You are on to something there.

The colours of the board are too bright compared to the environment.

It is pixel straight when some of the other vertical lines are slightly off.

It looks like the lower left corner is installed mid-air over the toilet doorway.

Oct 11 2014 16:16

Like your style wireman :D


Oct 11 2014 18:27

this is just my humble opinion and am quite prepared to be shot dpwn by the regulation lawyers and their interpretation of our regs but.....

its a fuseboard with no apparent IP rating fitted in a typical NZ bathroom which will tend to have walls that run with rivers of condensation when the shower is on or heaven forbid if the bath is used and we are more or less saying its ok???? pretty damn stupid and I would say dangerous place to have it
in 3000 1.5.14 protection against external influences should apply but probably doesn\'t
1.7.4 damp situations
section 6 Damp Situations 6.1.2 a and b should apply
Best get your local Spark in to relocate the fuseboard.