Electricity and electrical appliances are essential for the running of a modern home. In fact, it’s estimated that the average Australian spends between $1,500 and $2,000 a year on electricity.
Of course, every electrical system will occasionally experience issues. You may also want additional sockets wired in, add a circuit, or even replace the electrical panel. All of these can seem like daunting tasks, even for the experienced DIYer. But, as with anything, a little research will equip you with the knowledge you need to handle any electrical issue.
However, knowing how to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Electricity is dangerous and there are strict laws governing what you can and can’t do. That’s why you need the number of your local, qualified, and reputable Sydney electrician or do it y yourself. But for this you will have to find electrician programs in your area and learn properly.
The Electrical Panel
Your electrical panel is the heart of your home electrical system. In the past, they were made of metal although, as this is conductive, many modern versions are made of plastic. They are often built into the wall in your home, leaving you with a smart looking door to the circuit box. All you have to do is open the door and check the circuit breakers. If the power has gone out resetting a circuit breaker can resolve the issue.
Circuit breakers trip exceptionally quickly whenever there is a fault on the line. That means they increase the safety of your home. This is obviously beneficial and reduces the risk of a fire in your home. But, older houses are often missing this style of the electrical panel. Instead, they will have the old-style fuses. These are screwed in or large fuses pushed into clips.
This type of fuse won’t trip easily if there is a problem in the circuit. They won’t just increase your risk of a fire, they may make it harder for you to get proper insurance coverage. This is a prime example of when you would want to replace the electrical panel with a modern one.
Replacing The Electrical Panel
If you’re looking at replacing the electrical panel it’s likely that the wiring is also old and needs to be replaced. If that’s the case, you’re looking at a whole house rewire and new circuit box/electrical panel.
As this is a large scale job it can be very disruptive, especially if you want the new cables to run inside the existing walls.
To install a new electrical panel you’ll need to choose a location, near the mains electrical meter, and then add the box to the wall, preferably recessed with a gap behind it. There are state regulations controlling the position of the panel and the material around it.
You’ll then be able to run cables from the box to your desired socket points. You should note that there is a maximum number of sockets and loads on any circuit. Alongside this, certain appliances need to have a dedicated circuit, nothing else can be on the line.
In short, you’ll be running a lot of cables from the electrical box to the various sockets in the house. It’s important to plan the circuits first, this will allow you to buy enough cable and run it to the desired locations. Creating a plan will also help you to calculate the amount of cable you need, the number of breakers, and the size of the electrical panel.
Don’t forget, earthling everything properly is essential.
Electrical Work You Can Undertake
At this point, it is important to recognize the electrical work you’re allowed to do by the state. Australia has some of the strictest rules in the world. Here’s what you can do.
This may surprise you as you’ve probably already done simple tasks like replacing a light switch or a socket. You may have created your own extension lead or perhaps have replaced a lead on an appliance or even repaired a piece of electrical equipment. All of these things are actually illegal to do in Australia without the proper certification. Undertaking these repairs may seem simple but you will be breaking the law, proceed with caution.
On the face of it that would mean rewiring or replacing an electrical panel is a definite no. However, it is possible to undertake these tasks and save yourself a considerable amount of money, providing you contact an electrician and have the installation signed off.
You should note that not all electricians will be happy to put their name to work they have not completed. But a qualified electrician should be able to test your circuits and inspect the installation. They will then be able to confirm that it conforms to code.
At the same time, they can switch the power from your old electrical panel to your new one. This will ensure you remain compliant with the law and eliminate the risk to you of electric shocks. After all, you’ll only be working with circuits that aren’t live.
Of course, before you start replacing the electrical panel you’ll need to find an electrician that will be happy to connect and certify your work. This should be done before you start, allowing them to see the current install and discuss your intended solution.
This will make it easier for them to test, connect, and certify the new electrical panel. It will also give you someone to talk to if you have any concerns or queries, although don’t expect their advice to be free.
The electrician isn’t going to do this for free but it’s likely to be significantly cheaper this way than paying them to do the whole job. That’s a valuable bonus when funds are tight.