Discuss Best RCBO consumer unit in the Electrical Tools and Products area at ElectriciansForums.net

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Hi everybody.

In the not too distant future I would like to get my current consumer unit replaced. I want to select the brand for my electrician as I’m a pain and like to research things. I was looking to see whether my thought process seems reasonable so would welcome and appreciate any help please.

I have 14 circuits from my main board at present and want some spares for future expansion (all I can guess for now is the potential for electrical cars). So probably the facility for 16 circuits. I want an all Rcbo board. The current cable runs are rear entry but it could be top entry if required. The board is on show but in a sort of store room (future cinema room?!) so aesthetics are reasonably important. There’s one SWA but from what I can see, it hasn’t been glanded in any shape or form so that will need resolving. I like value for money so not the cheapest but also don’t want to pay unnecessarily!

I love the SBS board, I think the design is brilliant and the prices are also good. However, part of my upgrade is due to poor availability of spares and I’m really struggling to buy something which may have the same problem long term. It annoys me because as far as I can see, it is the best option for an all rcbo board and all boards should move to his design.

Having read up on here, it looks like the 20 way Design 30 board from Hager is the best choice if I want increased certainty of spares. I would then get this populated with 14 x compact RCBOs which seem to be about £22 each. These RCBOs seem to be available from numerous suppliers including screwfix in case any failures occur.

Does this seem reasonable or is there an alternative I should consider? I can see BG will be cheaper to populate but so many people moan About BG (rightly or wrongly?). I want a board which will be as easy as possible to wire up as it will be a busy board and I want to make my electrician’s life as easy as possible.

I’ve also looked at other “unbranded” suppliers for rcbo boards but the certainty of spares makes me want to avoid.

Feedback welcome please, thanks.
 

SJD

Forum Mentor
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1,037
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Braccan heal
I've installed a few Hager boards recently, and found them easy to install. They do look fairly smart. And fairly reasonably priced.

My only comment is that some of their boards have rectangular knockouts, which can be a pain if you have SWA glands to install. I that case, I'd drill a new hole away from the knockouts.
 

Midwest

Electrician's Arms
Messages
11,174
Location
Oxfordshire
OP
P

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Thanks both, I’m not too worried about it becoming a cinema room and it being on show, it’s a very long term aspiration not shared by my wife!

I’ll wait and see if others have recommendations. I’m surprise that very few populated rcbo boards are available. It’s can’t be a cost issue as in many cases the boards are presumably made up at the time of sale anyway!

Thanks again
 

Midwest

Electrician's Arms
Messages
11,174
Location
Oxfordshire
Think it is a cost thing; most of the main manufactures do offer pre populated CU's, but mostly dual RCD boards.

Some of them offer RCBO boards, but generally, like MK, only 10 way e.g. Other, less attractive makes, offer more ways in pre populated CU's.
 

Dobes_88

Jamie
Electrician's Arms
Messages
125
Location
Surrey
I personally prefer Wylex boards with their miniature RCBO's if cost allows, if trying to keep cost down a bit I tend to install Contactum although they're not the prettiest of units if on show.

Would be worthwhile speaking to your electrician first as he/she may have a preference, they might be able to get the equipment cheaper and be able to provide a warrantee for the goods.
 

Cid

Regular EF Member
Messages
91
Location
London
RCBOs are expensive. It makes no sense in selling fully populated 16 way Rcbo boards in which some of them won't be used or will be off the wrong type.

I prefer MK boards. The bits and pieces are more readily available and easy to work with.
 

mhar

Electrician's Arms
Messages
653
Location
devon
I love the SBS boards because the rcbos are double pole single module and they are incredibly neat to install with no earth or neutral fly leads. Also competitively priced (albeit only sold to electricians).
 

Midwest

Electrician's Arms
Messages
11,174
Location
Oxfordshire
I got rather annoyed, when I've been to properties to do some work, and they have a rather obscure or old'ish CU's, for which I'm unable to obtain spares or replacements. Hence why I would not use Mr SBS products, however good they might be.
Has his daughter taken over the business, or is he still running it?
 
OP
P

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Why would you be unable to obtain spares or replacements?
Just because it’s such a small business with presumably a small number of customers, there’s always a risk that they will stop supplying. Unless the manufacturer finds somebody else to sell them, it won’t be possible to source spares presumably? I don’t mind keeping spares (removing the worry of waiting days for a replacement in the event of a failure?) but I want to be able to service the unit for 20 years and maybe my spares will run out?

I’d love to be persuaded as it’s the best engineering solution I can see.

Sorry will reply to the other comments later.
 

Risteard

Respected Member
Messages
3,880
Location
Derry, Ireland
I love the SBS board, I think the design is brilliant and the prices are also good.
My understanding is that these are not type-tested assemblies.

Hager would be my preference - but I don't think you will pay £22 per RCBO. I would suspect it would be more like £30 each.
 
OP
P

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
My understanding is that these are not type-tested assemblies.

Hager would be my preference - but I don't think you will pay £22 per RCBO. I would suspect it would be more like £30 each.
That was just off a quick google and they seem to be about that price at a few mail order only places?
I thought sbs had got them tested to 61439 a while ago?
 

Pete999

Forum Mentor
Messages
21,801
Location
Northampton
Hi everybody.

In the not too distant future I would like to get my current consumer unit replaced. I want to select the brand for my electrician as I’m a pain and like to research things. I was looking to see whether my thought process seems reasonable so would welcome and appreciate any help please.

I have 14 circuits from my main board at present and want some spares for future expansion (all I can guess for now is the potential for electrical cars). So probably the facility for 16 circuits. I want an all Rcbo board. The current cable runs are rear entry but it could be top entry if required. The board is on show but in a sort of store room (future cinema room?!) so aesthetics are reasonably important. There’s one SWA but from what I can see, it hasn’t been glanded in any shape or form so that will need resolving. I like value for money so not the cheapest but also don’t want to pay unnecessarily!

I love the SBS board, I think the design is brilliant and the prices are also good. However, part of my upgrade is due to poor availability of spares and I’m really struggling to buy something which may have the same problem long term. It annoys me because as far as I can see, it is the best option for an all rcbo board and all boards should move to his design.

Having read up on here, it looks like the 20 way Design 30 board from Hager is the best choice if I want increased certainty of spares. I would then get this populated with 14 x compact RCBOs which seem to be about £22 each. These RCBOs seem to be available from numerous suppliers including screwfix in case any failures occur.

Does this seem reasonable or is there an alternative I should consider? I can see BG will be cheaper to populate but so many people moan About BG (rightly or wrongly?). I want a board which will be as easy as possible to wire up as it will be a busy board and I want to make my electrician’s life as easy as possible.

I’ve also looked at other “unbranded” suppliers for rcbo boards but the certainty of spares makes me want to avoid.

Feedback welcome please, thanks.
Might be best to let the Electrician doing the CU change know what you prefer with regards to what make of CU you want and let Him/her organise the purchase of said item,
If you buy it yourself, any errors omissions will be down to you and could be expensive, by all means ask the Sparky to come with you to the Wholesalers when you make your choice They may not like it much but it's your dosh after all, at the least you can pay there and then and Mr/Mrs/ Ms Sparky will be safe in the knowledge that if you are one of those people who quibble or refuse to pay the Sparky will only be short of cash for their time,
 
OP
P

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Might be best to let the Electrician doing the CU change know what you prefer with regards to what make of CU you want and let Him/her organise the purchase of said item,
If you buy it yourself, any errors omissions will be down to you and could be expensive, by all means ask the Sparky to come with you to the Wholesalers when you make your choice They may not like it much but it's your dosh after all, at the least you can pay there and then and Mr/Mrs/ Ms Sparky will be safe in the knowledge that if you are one of those people who quibble or refuse to pay the Sparky will only be short of cash for their time,
Understood but I’ve already spoken to them
and they’re not fussed as they understand what I’m like! I work in power industry (chemical engineer) so I like to do my own research and select my own products, as long as it’s not a massive pain for the electrician.
 

Charlie_

Electrician's Arms
Messages
2,098
Location
Doncaster & Isle of Man
Understood but I’ve already spoken to them
and they’re not fussed as they understand what I’m like! I work in power industry (chemical engineer) so I like to do my own research and select my own products, as long as it’s not a massive pain for the electrician.
So, your chosen electricians can’t be up to much then? Instead of using their advice/knowledge you would rather do your own research, which basically consists of coming on here and asking other electricians..
 
OP
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Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
So, your chosen electricians can’t be up to much then? Instead of using their advice/knowledge you would rather do your own research, which basically consists of coming on here and asking other electricians..
Not really fair. My electrician is fine, it’s just that he is only one opinion and I want to see further opinions. It’s also rare for a full RCBO board even now so I think that is another reason he doesn't have a strong opinion.

And even if my own research did only involve posting here then it’s still valid research rather than relying on one person’s opinion. But I’ve done a lot more than that, which is probably evident in my first post.

Maybe if you were getting a new boiler you might want to look into what’s best rather than just asking your installer, who might get a bigger commission for x/y? After all, you’ve got to live with it and not the installer. That research might include posting on a forum...
 

ElectricSeamus

Active EF Member
Messages
32
Location
Sussex
Oh dear god. Hopefully the OP has the required info as this, like so many threads, has been derailed. I read through just waiting for that first comment. Maybe, just maybe the OP, like all of us, is entitled to do what the hell he wants. Sad.
 

Charlie_

Electrician's Arms
Messages
2,098
Location
Doncaster & Isle of Man
I think you need a more experienced electrician, he should be able to give you all the options available and the pros and cons..
Fully populated RCBO boards aren’t rare, just not the most popular.
Have you discussed type A and type AC with him yet?
I don’t think your choice of analogy is a good one.
 
OP
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Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Oh dear god. Hopefully the OP has the required info as this, like so many threads, has been derailed. I read through just waiting for that first comment. Maybe, just maybe the OP, like all of us, is entitled to do what the hell he wants. Sad.
Cheers. Appreciate the comment, it’s always sad when forums have people commenting like that. If I was asking about doing notifiable work without being competent then I would expect that sort of thing, but this is different.

I think I do have what I need and it’s useful to speak to people that deal with this day in day out. The people I work with only use Schneider acti9 for commercial building services and this is not within my price range.

I’ll go back through the thread tonight and use the info for when I do get the work done so thanks to everybody
 

Charlie_

Electrician's Arms
Messages
2,098
Location
Doncaster & Isle of Man
Have I said anything offensive? No.

I have given my perspective of the situation, maybe have a little think about what you are doing.. If I was asked to install a consumer unit for an incompetent person I would hope they would have faith in me..
If that person then said he was going to do his own research and ask advice from other electricians; how do you think that would make me feel?

Does that sort of thing happen to you in your profession?
 

ElectricSeamus

Active EF Member
Messages
32
Location
Sussex
It's just part of the process on here. Unfortunately it is disruptive, detracts from the original enquiry and leads to debates about unrelated matters. There are people willing to help as you've found already but I think they are put off when this kind if negativity comes along. If you're in the clique, you're unaffected by forum rules.
 
OP
P

Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
I think you need a more experienced electrician, he should be able to give you all the options available and the pros and cons..
Fully populated RCBO boards aren’t rare, just not the most popular.
Have you discussed type A and type AC with him yet?
I don’t think your choice of analogy is a good one.
It is in context of the question I’m asking. I’m not asking detailed design comments on the type of RCD I’m asking about the general board design, aesthetics, quality, equipment availability, price etc. Those are things I need to live with, not my electrician, hence why I’m seeking additional and broader advice.

Presumably I can get a, ac and b RCBOs regardless of supplier so it doesn’t influence me on which board I ask him to fit.
 

telectrix

Scouser and Proud.
Respected Member
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60,287
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cheshire/staffordshire
i've fitted a couple of the BG boards with compact RCBOs. only gripe was that the positioning of the din rail is critical ( there's a bit of lstto get the lid on right, and there's 2 fixing screws covered by RCBOs, so you need to get it right before populating/fixing the busbar.
 

telectrix

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Respected Member
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there's 2 sides to this thread.
1.OP wants input on what he will be happy with.
2. the electrician who installs it will have some preferences.
..... end of the day, needs OP to discuss with sparks so both are happy.
 
OP
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Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
Have I said anything offensive? No.

I have given my perspective of the situation, maybe have a little think about what you are doing.. If I was asked to install a consumer unit for an incompetent person I would hope they would have faith in me..
If that person then said he was going to do his own research and ask advice from other electricians; how do you think that would make me feel?

Does that sort of thing happen to you in your profession?
Yes of course it does. If I believed everything that contractors said I wouldn’t have a job. There’s only a limited amount of objectivity in most answers. It’s my money and he has already agreed that he doesn’t have a strong preference and my personality includes the need to verify decisions so therefore it’s likely I will specify the board manufacturer. He’s not upset that I’m involved in the decision any more than when I specified the various lighting controls I wanted when he did some lighting work for me.

If your customer spends his working life around LV and HV electrical equipment, turbines and boilers, it would be odd, in my experience, for them not to want to have a significant involvement in work of this type.

Offensive? No, but I didn’t say that. Unhelpful? Probably.

As an example of the problem with relying on one person’s opinion, this thread has people saying Wylex, hager, MK etc as their preferred boards. If I had asked the electrician who said MK to do the consumer unit replacement he would presumably have advised MK. Should I accept that and tell him to get on with it or rely on the numerous posts on here saying that MK is not the best board?
 

telectrix

Scouser and Proud.
Respected Member
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another ting to consider is this..... your electrician will have his preferences and for the boards he usually installs will have spare RCBOs, and have a rapport with suppliers as if anything goes wrong, replacements will be readily available. that's related to my post ~28
 
OP
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Pghstochaj

EF Member
Messages
11
Location
Manchester
another ting to consider is this..... your electrician will have his preferences and for the boards he usually installs will have spare RCBOs, and have a rapport with suppliers as if anything goes wrong, replacements will be readily available. that's related to my post ~28
Understood. I’m sure if I ask him to install something he knows nothing about then he might challenge it.

Again thanks for everybody’s help I think I have enough to short list.
 

happysteve

Electrician's Arms
Messages
1,088
Location
Nottingham
I've fitted Hager, Wylex and BG boards (all RCBOs). BG I will not do again, mostly due to critical alignment of the modules with the lid, the DIN rail is just too flexible so unless your incoming tails are tensioned just right in the main switch (not pushing it down too much, and not pulling it up too much) there's always difficulty closing the lid. It sounds a trivial thing, but its enough to make me say "never again!"

Hager boards are good, the quirkiness with the square knockouts notwithstanding. I tend to find all the action is on the right hand side (particularly with SPD fitted) leaving some bits cramped, other bits with loads of space. But very happy with the quality - rigid DIN rail, not problem fitting the lid, earth/neutral bars not made of cheese etc. Can easily insert/remove MCBs/RCBOs without affecting the busbar. Type A RCBOs, and can get bare boards supplied with a type 2 SPD.

I've recently started fitting Wylex boards (the "new look" NMX14S) with SPD, these are very nice, with good space inside; again, good rigid DIN rail. The only design niggle I don't like is you have to knock the (round) knockouts out from the inside outwards. This is fine when swapping the board, but if you're later adding to a populated board, it turns a simple job of adding another circuit (without going through the rear knockout) into a more complicated job (unless I'm missing a trick? maybe hitting them sideways with a screwdriver?). Like the SBS boards (which I've not used), the Wylex have switched neutral (type A) RCBOs - if used on a TT earthing system, it's a no-brainer. They're a tiny bit dearer than the equivalent Hager boards (from my wholesaler) but they're growing on me, after being a Hager fan for a while.

Hope that helps :)
 

Murdoch

Regular EF Member
Messages
25,126
Location
Woking
Electricians are a bit like economists ... ask 10 for opinions and you’ll probably get 8 different answers

My view on customers supplying parts .... my day rate rises and I charge extra for every minute wasted if all the parts aren’t correct.

When I do a CU change, I supply the kit AND I take my spares box with me too so I can adapt or change what is required depending on what I find inside the existing unit .... without leaving site and wasting time or money
 

Murdoch

Regular EF Member
Messages
25,126
Location
Woking
Electricians are a bit like economists ... ask 10 for opinions and you’ll probably get 8 different answers

My view on customers supplying parts .... my day rate rises and I charge extra for every minute wasted if all the parts aren’t correct.

When I do a CU change, I supply the kit AND I take my spares box with me too so I can adapt or change what is required depending on what I find inside the existing unit .... without leaving site and wasting time or money
 

Midwest

Electrician's Arms
Messages
11,174
Location
Oxfordshire
I can understand OP's view point here. He's after an installation of a particular product, be it a CU, washing machine, tv, mobile phone, artificial grass etc etc. Wants advice on the best product, dull as it is with a consumer unit. Why can't he canvas views here, without the 'ask your electrician' responce etc etc.
 

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