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Surge protection gets domestic

Mar 2019 Surge protection | Comments Off on Surge protection gets domestic
Surge protection gets domestic

Under the 18th Edition, surge protection devices are now mandatory and homes require a risk assessment. BG Electrical discusses the contractor’s options

In the past, surge protection devices (SPDs) have not typically been specified for homes, but as consumers rely on more and more technology in the home, their importance is likely to increase significantly, according to BG Electrical.

Tony Jones, technical lead at BG Electrical, explains: “Currently surge protection devices (SPDs) are installed if written into the installation specifications or if the installation is deemed to be in a high risk area, such as for medical or manufacturing businesses, transport hubs or high rise buildings, but this is about to change.

“Thanks to the introduction of SPDs as a mandatory requirement into the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations for domestic installations that came into force on 1 January 2019, installers now have to carry out a localised risk assessment of the electrical supply at single dwelling properties to determine if an SPD is needed.”

The risk assessment is based upon the property’s geographical location, the amount of lightning flashes per year and how the incoming electrical supply enters the building. All these factors have an outcome that determines if an SPD is required.

SPDs are designed to limit transient overvoltage due to lightning strikes or switching and divert the associated surge currents to earth. Such a voltage spike is unpredictable and could cause expensive and instant damage or significantly reduce the lifespan of an item of equipment. As such, SPDs are the only effective way to limit overvoltage to levels that are unlikely to damage the electrical installation or equipment and to reduce the risk of electrocution, or danger to life.

Paul Appleby, circuit protection product manager at BG Electrical, says that changes to the regulations laid out in the 18th Edition of the IET Wiring Regulations, mean electrical contractors will be putting greater emphasis on surge protection in future.

“The general guidance is that if the potential cost of damage to equipment in a domestic dwelling warrants the installation of an SPD, then it’s recommended.”

Such a voltage spike is unpredictable and could cause expensive and instant damage or significantly reduce the lifespan of an item of equipment.

“As more householders integrate sophisticated smart technologies and expensive digital devices into their homes, not only could day-to-day life be compromised, the cost of replacements could far exceed the threshold of five times the cost of the installation of an SPD.”

Managing risks

“We anticipate that after years of relying on surge protection extension leads, householders will be look for more comprehensive solutions as their reliance on digital and electronic tech increases. The new regs will be an important catalyst for conversations around managing the future risks to the thousands of pounds of smart home devices being installed in homes throughout the UK and installers should be prepared for this.”

The installation of SPDs into new build and older properties is something contractors have not previously had to consider, but installers should plan into projects in future, both in terms of time allocations and costs for the customer.

For more practical guidance on applying the new regulations, visit and download the surge protection guide.