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AH#14 - Electrical Work

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Dave, I just got around to listening to AH#14. You were talking about the restrictions on working on electrical (mains) power in AU, and asked what it was like in other areas...

I've been building an In-Law apartment attached to my house for about 6 months. About a month ago it was time to deal with the power. The existing breaker box on the house was only 100 amps, and only provided 14 circuits. There were also some horrible (scary) changes made by the previous owner. I had corrected them when I moved in a dozen years ago, but now it was time to replace the whole thing.

Long story short; I got a permit from the city ($125), started at 6:00am by killing all power to the house, ripped out the old box, opened up the wall, installed the new box (200 amp, 44 circuits), wired it all up and had the power back on by 4:00pm. Note: bending 00 gauge cable to fit in the box was a bitch! The city inspector came out and did a 5 minute inspection and signed me off. Done.

To your question, I have no formal electrical training or certificates. Here (in Arizona anyway) if you own the house you can undertake virtually any kind of repair or construction you wish -PROVIDED- you get the proper permits from the city, and you pass the inspection of your work. Now I think it's safe to say that virtually no one actually does this level of project on their own, but the thing is, they could.

Here's the picture I posted to Facebook of the work...

Technically I think you can do that here too, get an electrical to sign off on your work.
I don't know how happy they are to do this though.

Although I can design a full product with 240V in it (and an IEC connector etc), AFAIAW I am not allowed to attach a fixed 240V cable and wire up the mains plug on the same gear. Nuts.


Does anyone actually pay attention to the Aus rules Dave? Can you easily buy sockets, distribution boards etc. over the counter?

Here in the UK, they added a section to the building regs a few years ago which meant that in theory all but simple like-for-like replacement needed to either be done by a registered 'competent person*' or notified (with fee) to council building regs dept.

*Competent person basically mean they've paid a fee for membeship of a trade body.

This all arose from some bogus statistics about electricity related deaths/injuries, but the figures actually showed the vast majority were due to faulty appliances! There is also a suggestion it was more about keeping track of tax evaders doing cash jobs.

At around the same time they changed the wiring colours, which was completely unnecessary, but there was enough overlap between new colours being available and the rules coming into force (about a year) that you could easily claim that any work in new colours  was done before the rules came into effect.
You still often see ebayers selling reels of old colour cable!
However in practice few people  pay any attention to it. Even solicitors dealing with house purchase don't usually bother checking that the paperwork is in place. About the only time it's unavoidable is when new wiring accomapanies new building work that comes under other building regs.

Here in Italy rules are quite strict, only technicians could do any work on the electrical system. However, as in other places no one cares, except for the new buildings.
The majority of houses built before 15 years ago have no technical paperwork about their systems, and having one will cost thousands of ÔéČuro even if no concrete work has to be done. The situation is worst here (because of the earthquake in 1976) and in the areas where tax evasion is more frequent.
If the Government would seriously start to make controls around, I think there will be a rebellion.

While before the changing in University regulation an engineer (5 years degree and registration after an exam) could make any kind of project (for example, an EE could virtually design a house), now we are only allowed to work into our area, which in my case is Information Engineering :( This results in the fact that I can't sign a photovoltaic system (even if I work on inverters), but a mechanical engineer can!

I think the safety level in electrical systems and appliances is orders of magnitude over other areas (transportation, for example), maybe somewhere excessive. For anything electrical it is required that a stupid can handle it while sleeping, but if you drive a car, even if you pay maximum attention you can have an accident.


--- Quote from: mikeselectricstuff on November 03, 2010, 09:18:49 am ---Does anyone actually pay attention to the Aus rules Dave? Can you easily buy sockets, distribution boards etc. over the counter?

--- End quote ---

Yes, you can buy sockets, power points etc at the local hardware store. They are all marked with "must be installed by a licensed electrician" etc.
No one really pays much attention to the small stuff, but few would wire their own home etc



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