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Posted By Topic: Switchboard replacement hight and inspection.

oldbob
May 04 2015 11:43

I know its stuff I should know, but I don't often do residential work. Just the odd job for friends. I replaced a hot water element for a friend, and whilst doing so, told him he should seriously consider upgrading his old rewirable switchboard to a safer modern one. He is undecided on whether or not he wants it done yet (cost), but it got me thinking on a couple of questions.

The complicating factor is the height. I did not measure it exactly but I estimate it sits at about 2.2m.
Given that its sat at that height for approximately 40 years, would I have to lower it (very difficult) to be legal.

And for inspection, given that it is replacing an existing fitting, would an inspection be necessary? I've heard mixed opinions on this question.

Would relocation of the switch board make a difference for inspection? ie, would it need inspection if moved 500mm down the wall, but not if it stayed in the current location?

Thank you.
   

Sarmajor
May 04 2015 12:33

The height of the switchboard is not a problem as the only requirement for height is the height of the main switch. The main switch does not have to be on the switchboard. It can be mounted lower if you cannot get it down to 2m and still be in the switchboard enclosure.
AS/NZS3000:2007 2.3.3.3.

Replacement of fittings is Low Risk and does not require inspection as long as it fits into the areas described by ESR 6A (1) (a) and (b).
If you do not feel that it fits into the above category then it will be general or high risk depending on how you categorise the small amount of work done to extend the mains and main earth conductor to reach the new location.
Inspection can be done either by the local lines company or an independent inspector depending on whether there is metering to consider.
   

flicker
May 04 2015 14:17

I do domestic switchboards on a regular basis, which get inspected by an electrical inspector, as long as you try and put the main switch as close to 2m as possible you can get away with it as long as on your ESC/COC you state that it is a like for like replacement in original position it should be fine.
   

oldbob
May 04 2015 16:00

OK, so it sounds like I wouldn't need an inspector then. A colleague that I was discussing it with thought I would, because he thought it would qualify as mains work which would override the low risk replacement clause (we do industrial maintenance, so very rarely need inspectors).

It's good to keep some aspects of the other side of the industry ticking away in my head.
Thanks.

   

AlecK
May 04 2015 16:18

The 2m rule is for newly installed switchboards, it does not apply to replacements.
Therre is another (minimum)height rule but again for new, not for replacement.
Replacement in same location is replacement, no inspection required.
But nothing to stop you having one if you want to pay for one.

Inspections have nothing to do with linescos, except that some linescos offer inspection services.
Same for metering, which is up to the retailer . Linescos can't be retailers, but some also act as metering contractors.

Low risk work includes minor movement of conductors to facilitate replacement of a fitting.

if there's an isolating switch in meterbox, you won't even need to talk to linesco 9or retailer) at all

Relocation, of either the switchboard or just the main switch, is an alteration rather than a simple replacement, and since mains work is involved will be high risk work requiring an inspection.


The wording of 6A is quite clear if you take it slowly / carefully: mains work is high risk (only) if it isn't low risk. So there can be mains work that is low risk, and mains work that is high risk, but there is no such thing as "general" mains work.
Since replacement of any fitting(s) is low risk, you can in theory replace an entire installation and it's still replacement so low risk.
   

oldbob
May 04 2015 16:29

Ahh ok so;
ESR (2): In these regulations, high-risk prescribed electrical work means the prescribed electrical work (not being low-risk prescribed electrical work)

"not being low-risk" is the key here. Work is not high risk if it also fits in the low risk clause.

Cheers.
   

dlink
May 04 2015 18:16

@ Aleck

". Linescos can't be retailers,"

Um, why not ?
they were once not allowed by law, but that has been long retracted by the powers (no pun intended) that be. so there is nothing stopping a linesco that i'm aware of.

   

Sunildeo
May 05 2015 15:58

Hi mate, The legal minimum height for a switch board is 1.2m , however it seems bit too low. I usually put it at 1.5m from ground level.This applies to even putting a replacement board.
The inspection - only if the MEN is in the distribution board which you are replacing needs to be inspected by an inspector , if not there and in the meter board , then no need legally. However it is a good idea to get it inspected.
   

DougP
May 05 2015 18:50

1.5m is quite low. Are all your customers little people? For average size people, that would be right at eye level. Wouldn't be my first choice.
   

Sunildeo
May 06 2015 11:42

Hi, mate , it should be eye level for normal size people anyway.

   

DougP
May 06 2015 17:09

Why should it be at eye level? Are you trying to make it a feature?

There is no requirement in the rules that states it should be at eye level - only the rules that have already been discussed above. Those are the requirements I follow. I would also be checking with the customer before moving a switchboard down to be right in their face every time they walk past it.

Domestic switchboards have been installed at around 1800mm and often much higher, for the last 100 years. The same as in the first post, where the old switchboard was 2.2m high for the last 40 years.

So there is no SHOULD about it at all.
   

Sunildeo
May 07 2015 08:42

Old school rules.
   

Sarmajor
May 07 2015 08:50

@Sunildeo,
God help us all if you represent the current crop of electricians in NZ.
   

Sunildeo
May 07 2015 14:07

@Sarmajor ,2.3.3.3 refers to MAIN SWITCH and not the switch board , Please read 2.9.2.5 (a).
   

Sarmajor
May 07 2015 18:16

@Sunildeo,
From your comment s you come across as an arrogant young man who thinks that he has all the answers but in reality you don't.
No one knows everything about all aspects of the electrical trade. There are however a large group of people who have accumulated a large body of knowledge.
For someone like yourself to turn up on this forum and spout off on multiple topics with some incorrect information and belittling the other older respected members is not the best way to get off to a good start.
The original question was about the height of the switchboard and the main switch.
The maximum height of the main switch is written in black and white and therefore requires no interpretation.
There is a minimum height for switchboards that do not comply with the conditions set out in the exception in 2.9.2.5.
The height of a domestic switchboard including the main switch could theoretically be between 1200mm to the bottom of the switchboard enclosure to 2m to the handle of the main switch.
   

Sunildeo
May 13 2015 08:58

@ sarmajor
You have ruined the whole learning forum topic by lodging personal remarks and not on topic, speaks of a person like you.
But like to know WHO MADE YOU THE FORUM POLICE ???
   

Sarmajor
May 13 2015 09:50

And who exactly learns anything from your comments: "Old School Rules" "Correct" etc
   

AmonE
May 13 2015 10:38

Sunildeo said, "Respect mah authoritah".
   

AlecK
May 13 2015 10:39

"This" (min height)" applies to even putting a replacement board."

Rubbish!

Wiring Rules apply to new installs, and to alterations; but not necessarily to replacement of fittings.
ESR 59 makes that quite clear.
   

mf51to1
Feb 04 2016 18:17

Ive spoken to an inspector and he says it does require inspection (a he says/she says situation it seems). The inspector says that replacing a switchboard with a new one is high risk mains work because its new, not just a MEN link being replaced in an existing board, but new MEN link etc.
Does the replacement/maintenance cover upgrades? Thats probably the term it comes under, Im not replacing or maintaining it, I'm upgrading it.
   

AlecK
Feb 04 2016 19:14

Your inspector is simply WRONG.
Not uncommon, unfortunately.

And you ARE "replacing", officially you can only do four things with a fitting:
- install it (where there wasn't one before), which is general or high risk PEW;
- maintain it (eg open a cover & close it again, clean it, adjust the settings, etc) which is low risk PEW;
- replace it with anther fitting suitable for the same function the original was there to do, which is low risk PEW;
- disconnect & remove it, for which there is no risk category and no certification requirement whatsoever (according to Energy Safety).

This is NOT a "he says / she says" thing, it's a plain reading of the ESRs. I'd suggest finding another inspector, except you simply don't need one so save that for your next lot of high risk PEW, since this one clearly isn't up to speed.

You can replace one fitting as low risk PEW.
You can replace another fitting as low risk PEW.
You can replace any number of fittings simultaneously as low risk PEW.
Even if those fittings, taken together, make up a "switchboard".


The replacement of a fitting - or any number of fittings - specifically includes any repositioning and / or extension of conductors necessary [ESR 6A(1)].

As long as the total number & type of fittings is the same, and they all suit t way they are used (ratings etc), it's all low risk.

BUT
having replaced all the overcurrent protective devices for the switchboard, you must install RCDs as for a new switchboard. Which is "general" PEW, requiring a CoC.

But still no inspection required.

On the other hand, you are specifically permitted to certify low risk work on a CoC, and you are b implication allowed to request an Inspector to inspect general or even low risk PEW.

The inspector after all is a subcontractor, s/he works for you, and is legally required (commercial law here, rather than ESRs) to do the job you contract him/her to do. No more, and no less.
It's NOT the inspector's job to decide what the risk category of your work is, it's your job. Of course if you get it wrong, you could be in the gun. and sure you can ask for advice.
But since Inspectors like me make our money by inspecting things as requested, why wouldn't we boost our income by agreeing to inspect even when it isn't required?
Personally I wouldn't go as far as telling you that you need an inspection when you don't; but anyone who knows their stuff won't suffer.


   

ShaneR
Feb 04 2016 21:54



Electron-Issue81-Nov15

"Electrician
A complaint was lodged against an electrician by an electrical
inspector who had attended a property to carry out work on a
revenue meter. The electrical inspector found that the meter
was not sealed and the switchboard had been shifted and
upgraded. No record of the “mains work” was found in a search
of the High Risk data base.
The Board considered the complaint and found that the
electrician;

• failed to have high risk prescribed electrical work inspected
before connection; and

• failed to provide a certificate of compliance within 20

working days of completing the work.
The Board fined the electrician $1,200 and ordered the
electrician to pay costs of $250. "
   

ShaneR
Feb 04 2016 21:57

I need to add this part

"Boards reasoning
As referenced earlier in this ELECTRON the Board accepts that
low risk is the default in the regulations with regard to prescribed
electrical work categorisation. The question though in this case
was the extent to which work can be defined as maintenance,
repair or replacement.
The Board considered that “replacement” work required the
replacement to be “like for like” because there is less risk in
maintaining or replacing fittings once they have been installed
than there is in installing new fittings. However, where a fitting
being replaced is not like-for-like, there are new risks involved
which are more akin to a new installation.
In this case a formica switch board containing ceramic fuses had
been moved and replaced with a larger capacity modern switch
board equipped with residual current device protection and
additional circuits had been added.
The Board considered that the prescribed electrical work could
not be considered as “like for like” and the work in question was
an upgrade to the existing fittings and required inspection before
connection to the supply.
The Board’s interpretation is consistent with advice promulgated
by Work Safe in its 31 July 2015 Electrical Safety Bulletin."
   

weichen
Feb 04 2016 22:12

Hi ShaneR,

I'm pretty sure its a high risk work and it need to be inspected before living it.

Just curious about the not SEALED part,
is it the gab in the broad not sealed or the broad edge not sealed????
   

Sarmajor
Feb 04 2016 22:33

The reason that the electricians work was detected was due to the inspector attending site to reseal the revenue meter.

Without entering into a discussion of the boards reasoning the real issue is that the switchboard was relocated (relocation is included in the definition of install) and this is high risk work if it involves Mains.

If the switchboard had been replaced in the same location then it should all have been low risk and not required inspection at all.
   

ShaneR
Feb 04 2016 23:22

http://www.energysafety.govt.nz/about/publications/publications-for-industry/industry-bulletins/electrical-safety-bulletins/risk-categories-and-definitions-for-prescribed-electrical-work-pew

ESR 4

"install, in relation to an installation, includes to construct, alter, relocate, or add to the whole or any part of the installation"
   

AlecK
Feb 05 2016 09:34

Just to be pedantically & strictly correct; the person arriving to re-seal the meter may have held an "Inspector" PL, was not acting as an an inspector. He was performing the totally separate and unrelated function of a metering contractor. Re-sealing a meter isn't PEW, so unless the meter work involved connections he did not have any obligations to report immediate hazards (as sometimes required under ESR 19).

Not that there has been any suggestion that the work was unsafe er even non-compliant, let alone immediate hazard (the ONLY faults found related to certification & inspection requirements, not the actual work).
Point is, he wasn't working as an "inspector" but as a metering person.

We have to get away from the mindset that inspectors are somehow in positions of authority; and that "inspectors" do metering, or connecting. We have absolutely NO authority whatsoever. We're just (specialist) subbies, and any other functions such as metering or connecting are same thing, doing work requested by others. (we have to make a living, and you guys don't do enough HR PEW so some of us become dogsbodies for networks and/or energy traders).

If an "inspector" turns up to work on a meter, or to connect to network, or even just to re-insert the supply fuse; he's being paid by someone else to do that job (and they will be - or should be - covering the travel as well, so watch out for double-dipping).

Reporting that the complaint was laid by "an inspector" simply shows that even the EWRB still suffer from the delusion that "inspectors" do metering

So this report to EWRB was NOT lodged by "an inspector", it was lodged by a metering contractor. Not a lot different from a complaint laid by a plumber or a painter.
This person took the trouble to access the database to see whether any HR PEW had been recorded. There's other way he could have known that the inspection hadn't happened and without that fact there's nothing to complain about.

There's room for speculation as to why he went to all that trouble, and then reported the work.
Was he upset at not being asked to inspect the tiny bit of high risk PEW involved?
Was there bad blood between him and the sparky?
Or maybe he still thinks he's supposed to be a policeman / god?

The Board's "like for -like" reasoning is not sufficiently detailed to tell whether it stacks up. All depends what they mean by "like for like".
But we do know that the previous ESR's wording was to the effect of "suitable for the circuit", which is NOT the same thing at all as most people would understand "like for like" to mean. And was MUCH clearer.
So there's a good chance that the Board is wrong on this point, wouldn't even need a lawyer to win that argument.
As on so many other things.

But more worrying is that entire "reasoning" is unrelated to the offending.
The offences were "failing to provide CoC within time", and "failing to have HR work inspected".
Seems obvious there should also have been "connecting without issuing / sighting CoC".
And maybe "failing to issue / supply ESC" as well.

The offences found to have been committed mean
a) there was some installation work and
b) some of that work was high risk.

The "reasoning" deals only with whether the replacement is or is not low risk, and completely misses the most obvious point; which is that relocating is ALWAYS installation work. So there was no need to even consider "replacement".

In this context "replace" means to substitute one for another.
There is another meaning in the dictionary, being to place somewhere else (ie relocate); but that meaning simply can't apply for ESR 6A; because of the definition of "install".
   

ShaneR
Feb 05 2016 10:40

Off topic warning (there seams to be tolerance for this in this forum)

@AlecK "Just to be pedantically & strictly correct"

I wonder if its deeper than that?

On my last refresher coarse they emphasized regulation 19. What I heard on the coarse was different to what I read in 19 but anyway, I wonder if they want electrical workers to actively report no-compliance rather than just turning a blind eye?

That article was just an extension of this concept?




   

Sarmajor
Feb 05 2016 11:02

Perhaps the reporting of the work was done by a person holding an inspector practicing license and the board has chosen to label him as an inspector purely because of that rather than his role when he discovered the heinous crime.

Sound better in the reporting than a complaint laid by a metering contractor.
   

mf51to1
Feb 06 2016 08:27

"been moved and replaced with a larger capacity modern switch
board equipped with residual current device protection and
additional circuits had been added.
The Board considered that the prescribed electrical work could
not be considered as “like for like” and the work in question was
an upgrade to the existing fittings and required inspection before
connection to the supply."

So the key word there is 'moved' had he not moved the switchboard it would have been low risk. However they also mention 'larger capacity'. How do they compare capacity on an existing Formica/ceramic fuse board with a new switchboard?

By the way thanks for your reply AlecK, the inspector I spoke to is rather well known in the north island but don't think it's appropriate to name.
   

Sarmajor
Feb 06 2016 11:58

Wasn't me.
   

ShaneR
Feb 06 2016 12:27

Leaving the inspector/complainant out of the equation.

Does anything think the ruling was wrong and there should not have been any fine?
   

mf51to1
Feb 06 2016 17:31

Yes, the electrician relocated the board and also did not complete a COC for the PEW.
   

Sarmajor
Feb 06 2016 19:42

Leaving aside all the other issues I beleive that the issues in the complaint were valid and required addressing by the board.

Every day I see things that are not compliant but certified as such.

Simple things like bonding the conductive reinforcing in a concrete slab of a dwelling containing a bathroom are not being done but no one is checking so nothing will change.

We had a big argument with a major builder about this issue who had never heard of the requirement and did not beleive us until we showed him the section in 3000. His response was still dismissive as it was not his rule book.

Self certification for some electricians is a joke and most inspectors just shake their heads and ensure that the parts that they are there to inspect are correct and move on.

Some inspectors will try to make electricians correct obvious failures in installations but it is not our role and we shouldn't have to be doing it.

I live in a 2 year old house that would fail a serious inspection admittedly on minor points but as a new installation it should not have any defects.

I personally beleive that we should be moving to a system where we have electrical inspections throughout the construction phase of the build just like the builders, plumbers and gas fitters are subject to with a final inspection before connection.
After all electricity is at least as dangerous as gas and more dangerous than plumbing and building when done wrong.
   

dlink
Feb 06 2016 19:56

what makes electrical " more dangerous than plumbing and building when done wrong. "

buildings can fall over and kill way more people easier, and plumbing can explode and kill multiple people also, electricity would struggle to kill in such a way.
   

ShaneR
Feb 06 2016 22:46

I agree with Sarmajor


When I was a kid my dad would get a vehicle warrant of fitness from the local garage down the road knowing that if he gave the car a good clean the chances a failure we slim. Taking the car to a testing station, failure was certain.

Warrant's were very inconsistent.

I understand that the local garage was closed down after a sting operation took place.

In my opinion WoF are now fairly consist and it doesn't really mater where you take your vehicle.

I fear the same can't be said for electrical work.

I suspect that the powers that be have recognized this and are making steps to improve this situation.


* Regulation 19
* ESC
* CoC
* Fining People and advertising the fact


All though valid points were made about the inspector I did think it was a bit harsh?


   

ShaneR
Feb 06 2016 22:52

" personally beleive that we should be moving to a system where we have electrical inspections throughout the construction phase of the build just like the builders, plumbers and gas fitters are subject to with a final inspection before connection.
After all electricity is at least as dangerous as gas and more dangerous than plumbing and building when done wrong."

Unfortunately I agree

Pike River

I love de-regulation but sometimes I do wonder if we have gone to far?


   

peter
Feb 07 2016 11:28

interesting discussion .
I became a registered electrician almost 40 years ago .
Then we got a permit to do a job . and after the job it was inspected by an inspector from the power board .
As a recently registered electrician i found it was a system that worked. I could approach the inspectors at no cost to me to talk over the job, I found the process to be helpful , and collaborative .
Our system now , seems combative ,. Im not sure if electrical work today is any safer. Maybe there are stats on that?
Anyway off topic.
Thanks for the regular contributors to this forum, I continually learn from the in depth responses.

   

JTElectric
Feb 09 2016 00:12

It's good to keep some aspects of the other side of the industry ticking away in my head.
Thanks.


   

wireman
Feb 09 2016 21:05

"We have to get away from the mindset that inspectors are somehow in positions of authority; and that "inspectors" do metering, or connecting. We have absolutely NO authority whatsoever. We're just (specialist) subbies, and any other functions such as metering or connecting are same thing, doing work requested by others. (we have to make a living, and you guys don't do enough HR PEW so some of us become dogsbodies for networks and/or energy traders)."

Out of interest, to all self employed persons whom are also Registered Inspectors:

How much of your working week (assuming you are aiming for 40 hours or more) is taken up from inspection jobs?

Do you need to supplement your income with general contracting, metering, or (dis)connections etc?
   

Sarmajor
Feb 09 2016 21:18

Even inspectors employed by line companies are not generally fully employed inspecting.
It is probably only 20% of my job with metering, disconnections, reconnections and revenue assurance investigations filling in the rest.
   

mf51to1
Feb 14 2016 15:03

So asking again about the replacement switchboard. Does it have to be the same physical size? Bit difficult when its a old POS fuse board. And circuit protection has to be the same type i.e. old 80A main switch could be derated to a 63A?
   

AlecK
Feb 14 2016 18:48

short answer:
No, it doesn't need to be same size.
But to be replacement, needs to have same number of subcircuit protection devices , same overall rating, etc.
   

o2inspect
Jan 18 2018 23:17

Hi there all, I understand the subject of do we dont we has been traversed and some appear to be set in their ways regarding this .... however, as I read the regulation 6A defines high risk as 2(b) is mains work on an installation
Mains work as per the interpretations 4(a) means any of the following
(i) work on mains(including connecting the conductors of mains at an MEN board
(ii) work on main earthing systems(including connecting the conductors of main earthing systems at an MEN switchboard
(iii) work on the connection between earth and neutral made by the removable link within the MEN switchboard closest to the point of supply.
Given the above I would have thought that an Inspection was the obvious answer.

Without wanting to be labelled - simply wrong and not uncommon or worse!
I fail to see how "replacing a switchboard can be treated as low risk when taking into account Regulation 6A (2)(b) and the interpretation of "Mains work" Reg 4.

Also to note in particular Regulation 4 , Mains work (b) does not include(ii)(iii)
and (iii) in particular only when there is NO possibility of transposition.


   

AlecK
Jan 19 2018 08:28

To repeat what I said back in May 2015:

"The wording of 6A is quite clear if you take it slowly / carefully: mains work is high risk (only) if it isn't low risk. So there can be mains work that is low risk, and mains work that is high risk, but there is no such thing as "general" mains work.
Since replacement of any fitting(s) is low risk, you can in theory replace an entire installation and it's still replacement so low risk. "

The work of replacing a MSB includes some "mains work"; but the mains work involved is defined as low risk in 6A(1)(a) & (b). It therefore cannot be high risk work.

ESR 4(b)(iii) covers "installation" of a revenue meter; ie where there wasn't a meter before (which would be "replacement" and therefore low risk). By excluding meter installation from being "mains work", it doesn';t have to be inspected. This was because ,many meters were - and are - installed by the same "Inspector" who also inspects the "mains work" and often connects to supply. Because an inspector cannot inspect PEW they have done, or certified (installing meters needs a CoC); they could have inspected the sparky's "mains work" but would have had to get another inspector to come and inspect their installation of a meter.
Probably would have been a tidier option to simply exclude meter installation from being high risk, using 6A; because it's completely illogical to say that work that involves connecting things to mains is not "mains work". But the effect is the same.