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RCBO Spells Savings for Testing


Can one component really make testing easier, safer and faster? Dave Enefer, Devices Product Manager at Crabtree, one of Electrium’s leading brands in electrical components, talks about achieving time and cost savings in periodic circuit testing.

Testing is an essential activity, yet it can often be a time consuming one, whether it has to be repeated annually or more or less frequently at regular intervals.

Obviously, this means that there’s a cost to be budgeted for, with time and labour being the most expensive part. So, if there’s a product on the market that can make testing easier, safer and faster why wouldn’t you use or recommend it?

Responsible social landlords, for example, will have a programme of periodic testing of the electrical installations in the dwellings that they own and rent out. T

hey do this not only because it’s recommended in the IET wiring regulations, regulation 135.1 and Chapter 65, but also to ensure that their tenants have a safe environment in which to live.

In social housing situations periodic testing is often carried out more frequently than other types of installation because every time there is a change of tenant, the housing authority or association will check the electrical installation before the next tenant moves in.

Ordinarily when this involves insulation resistance (IR) testing on circuits that are protected by RCBOs, the circuit cables on the RCBO circuits need to be disconnected.

This is so that the IR tester does not damage the electronic components inside the RCBO, but that slows down the testing process, adds cost and introduces risk.

It takes time to disconnect the live and neutral cables, and attach the test leads to each core in turn in order to carry out the test.

It then takes more time to put those cables back into the terminations on the RCBO and make a secure connection again so that the installation can be put back into use.

However, making that secure connection might mean stripping the cable insulation back a little further to find fresh undamaged conductor cores to put into the terminals (It’s a fact that copper cables can’t be repeatedly disconnected and reconnected without getting damaged from the screw biting into the cable core).

However, all of that can be avoided with Crabtree Miniature RCBOs, as they are two-pole switching devices.

The only thing that has to be done to get a circuit ready for an insulation resistance test is to switch the device off. This saves time and money from your annual budget on essential testing, and provides higher levels of protection for all who interact with it.

In a single second the circuit is ready to test. There’s no need to disconnect the circuit cables, no need to attach test leads, and no need to be concerned about reconnecting cables either. All of which makes this testing process easier, faster, safer and cheaper too.

By taking some of the cost burden away from the regular testing of circuits, it not only makes it more competitive for contractors quoting for ongoing periodic testing but it also then enables the property management company or social landlord to invest more of their increasingly tight budgets into the upgrade of old systems and the implementation of new ones.

Crabtree Miniature RCBOs are just one module wide and the same height as an MCB, so they provide lots of extra wiring space during the installation and test process. Regular maintenance is made safer by the two pole switching capability of the device.

The device also totally isolates any faulty circuit or faulty appliance and provides a much safer environment while waiting for the emergency electrician.

When they arrive, having the faulty circuit fully isolated by a two pole device provides a safe working environment for the task of maintenance or and repair as necessary.

By the way, it’s not just new installations that can benefit from these new and innovative miniature RCBOs.

Crabtree Miniature RCBOs are designed to fit into all Crabtree Starbreaker consumer units, whatever the age of that consumer unit might be.

Crabtree Miniature RCBOs are fully retrofit / backward compatible and can be simply plugged into the fully insulated plug self-connecting busbar system for an easy upgrade from single pole to two pole protection – making the ongoing time and cost benefits from testing readily accessible.

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