When you let a tradesperson into your home, you want to rest assured that they are trustworthy professionals who will do right by you and complete the work to a high standard.
That should be easy enough. However, there are people out there looking to take advantage of consumers who are want a cheap electrical fix, or who are feeling desperate and make a hasty, uninformed decision.
Use these basic suggestions to guide you to making the right choice for your next electrician.
Ask for referrals
Word of mouth is a great place to start. Since using an electrician is a relatively universal thing, your friends, family, and colleagues should all have people they can recommend to you. This method can run into some issues, though – for example, maybe the suggested electrician is busy and doesn’t have time to fit you in, or nobody you know has had any relevant positive experiences recently. Or, maybe you’ve moved to a new area and you don’t have close friends, family, or colleagues locally whose opinion you value on this subject.
It’s also worth noting that you should always do your own research when someone recommends a contractor to you. If they did a great job for your friend, but a quick search online unearths a load of terrible reviews, it is probably sensible to give this electrician a wide berth - regardless of what your friend has to say about them.
Our good friend Google is quick and easy way to find a suitable electrician in your local area. If you are looking for an electrician with a speciality, such as a commercial electrician, you can narrow your search even further. This will return you many results which you can browse through and compare.
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You can also search for the service you need, such as an emergency electrician, or an electrical installation. This also helps filter the electrical websites to match your specific needs.
Ask the right questions
Get to know your electrician! Don’t be afraid to ask them about their registration, licensing, and qualifications. Any reputable tradesperson will be able to provide you with this information and you can also use online databases, such as checkatrade, to help in your decision.
All our contractors at Swindon Pro Electricians are registered and have the required accreditations and memberships.
Get more than one quote
Speaking to multiple people to get quotes for the work you need might sound tedious (and it’s not always necessary), but it can be a wise idea. Especially if you have a large project, receiving multiple quotes will give you a more holistic market view and allow you to make a better comparison between the offers of each individual electrician or electrical company.
Looking for a free quote? Use the buttons below to request your free quote today.
The caveat here, is that you should not let having multiple quotes in front of you lead you to reach a decision based solely on price. This is a common mistake that people make. If you receive a number of similar quotes, but one which is much cheaper, you must ask yourself, “why is that?”. Often it is because the quality of work is diminished, or the electrician is not really qualified to do the work and is looking for quick cash. You should always be wary of people offering dirt-cheap prices. It is almost always too good to be true.
Watch out for cowboys!
Sadly, cowboy tradespeople are not too hard to come by in the UK. Often taking advantage of vulnerable groups such as older people, they swindle their way into large amounts of your cash whilst doing a sub-par job and leaving your property in a messy and/or dangerous state.
The tips mentioned in this post are a few methods you can use to help you avoid these nasty criminals. Other things you can do include:
So, there you have it! If you stick to these guidelines, you should have no problem finding a reliable and honest tradesperson or contractor to complete your electrical work.
1. Install an Alarm System
Even if it doesn't get activated, the physical presence of an alarm on your building could be enough of a deterrent for thieves. According to a survey carried out by London's Metropolitan Police, ex-burglars agreed that they would be much less likely to burgle a property if it had a well-maintained and fitted burglar alarm system.
The level of alert that such a system provides ranges; from bell-only, where the alarm emits a loud noise; dialler or smart-home systems, which call or send an in-app alert to a nominated person; right through to monitored systems, where a company takes action or calls the police on your behalf when the alarm goes off.
2. Install Outdoor Security Lighting
The fear of darkness is innate, and it's natural to feel uneasy when you cannot see your surroundings. Give yourself peace of mind by lighting up your landscape for visible reassurance of what is, or isn't, going on outside.
A fully lit garden ensures there are no dark corners or hiding places for intruders to lurk. You can even put your lighting system on a timer for hassle-free security and choose solar powered options to save energy and money.
3. Master Your Fence Height and Manage Your Boundaries
Despite what you might think, high and foreboding fencing is not always the best way to discourage unwelcome visitors. A tall barrier at the front of your property could provide valuable street-side cover for intruders.
The best method is to have low fencing in your front garden, to allow for full visibility. High fencing or walls will serve you well at the back of your property, and planting spiky, thorned, or prickly and dense bushes will act as a second barrier to anyone attempting to climb over. This defensive planting technique also works well under windows, or any other easily accessible entry points.
A gravel driveway also makes it harder for intruders to go undetected, so keep it well topped up and any visitors will unwittingly make themselves announced through the sound of their footfall.
A simple yet often forgotten tip is always keep your side gates locked.
4. Upgrade Your Locks
Ever wanted to enter your front door by fingerprint scanner? Yeah, me too.
There's a whole world of Bluetooth enabled, voice activated, videorecording, touchscreen wielding smart locks out there that will make accessing your home very twenty first century.
If you're not all that into gadgets, fear not, there are still plenty of low-tech alternatives which will do the job. Make sure any damaged locks are repaired, and any old locks are updated. This will ensure any previous tenants or strangers with spare keys can't let themselves in, unannounced.
5. Home Automation
To keep up with the times, many people are opting to upgrade to a "smart home". This gives you control over your property even when you are not physically there. You can use remote and scheduled light controls, which is especially useful when you're on holiday, to give the impression that your property is still occupied.
A two-way doorbell allows you to communicate with people on your doorstep, and many doorbells offer live video feeds directly to your phone or tablet so you can see who you are dealing with.
Other features include instant notifications triggered by motion detectors, smoke alarms, Co2 alarms and more. The real-time alerts allow you to act fast when you need to, leaving no nasty surprises when you arrive home after a trip away.
6. Secure Your Home Wi-fi Network
Your home Wi-Fi network is a gateway to your personal and financial information. If a hacker is able to access this, it can quickly escalate from a matter of privacy to security, especially in the modern day and age where our smart gadgets and home systems are all interlinked.
Digital intruders could gain access not just to files and accounts, but to your physical residence through cyber-attacks.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to combat this. You should use strong passwords which are changed regularly, and only share the information with those you trust.
Make sure to rename your Wi-Fi network, as the given username and password and generic and can often be found easily by those who are savvy online. You should also hide the network, use encryption, turn off WPS (except when pairing new devices), use a VPN, and firewalls for optimum protection.
7. Install CCTV
It might seem extreme to some, but there's few better ways to catch a perpetrator red-handed than to have a legitimate image of them committing the crime. You'll need to consider weather conditions, coverage angles, and powering options amongst other things when going down this route.
Many cameras offer cloud storage for a limited number of days, but there are also options for you to store the footage locally if you prefer.
With plenty of affordable options, time lapse recording, and even facial recognition, this is one investment that will help you sleep sounder at night.
You can opt for all the above options or mix and match depending on your needs. Whether you’re looking for simple comfort in the knowledge that your home and its content is protected, or you want to create a high-tech modern fortress; considering these 7 points will set you on the road to achieve your goal.
What is a fusebox?
A fusebox, also referred to as fuseboard, is the central hub of your home’s electrical systems. It’s the electrical heart, or brain, which distributes power around your property as needed.
The clue is in the name; it looks like a box, or board, containing many fuses.
Usually, you can find it tucked away in a cupboard under the stairs or in a utility room. Other common places to look include the porch, hallway, or garage.
What is a consumer unit?
The terms consumer unit and fusebox are often used interchangeably, although a consumer unit is essentially the modern and safer version of a fusebox.
A consumer unit contains circuit breakers in place of old-style fuses that you would see in a fusebox.
The elements of a fusebox or consumer unit
Even if you’re not into DIY and you don’t have much of a technical mind, it’s a wise idea to get familiar with your fusebox, or consumer unit.
Not every situation requires an electrician and knowing the difference could save you costs in unnecessary callout fees. For example, if you are ever alone when your power goes out, you should know how and what to check. The fix could be as simple as flicking a switch in your consumer unit!
The main switch which controls the power for your property is often big and red to signify its importance. It allows you to instantly turn your home’s electrical supply on and off.
RCD stands for Residual Current Device and they are a safety feature on modern consumer units. Their purpose is to cut electricity flow if there is an electrical problem, which protects residents from faulty appliances or live cables.
If you’re unsure whether your consumer unit has an RCD installed, look for a “T” or “Test” button. This means there is an RCD, which can and should be tested every 3 months or so. You can do this yourself by pressing the button, and if your power does not switch off, there is an issue. You should call a qualified electrician to investigate further.
Circuit breakers are another type of protection and appear as a row of switches on your consumer unit.
Most commonly when lights go out in your home, it is one of these circuit breakers which has “tripped”. In this case, you can simply flick the switch back to an upright position to restore power.
A fuse is basically a short piece of wire held between two screws. You will see these appear in old fuseboxes, where there are many individual fuses instead of circuit breakers. The wire of a fuse has a low melting point, so when there is a high current flow, it will melt; disconnecting the circuit.
The breaking of the circuit should prevent shock or injury, though it is not a reliable a method as a circuit breaker.
When should I replace a fusebox?
If your consumer unit has a wooden back, cast iron switches or fuses in place of circuit breakers, it’s time for an upgrade. For one thing, a wooden back is fire hazard.
If you don’t have RCD then you should definitely upgrade to ensure the best protection for yourself, your family, or the residents of your property.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and taking advantage of the latest technologies and systems in domestic electrical installations is a smart idea.
What about the regulation?
Regulation has been in place since 2016 requiring new installations of consumer units to be metal.
However, this should not be misinterpreted: if you have a plastic, but modern, consumer unit, it does not necessarily need to be changed to metal now.
To avoid unnecessary expense, always get advice from a reliable, trustworthy, and qualified electrician.
How much does it cost to replace a fuse box?
As with everything, the cost of upgrading or replacing a fusebox varies depends on a few factors, such as the type of consumer unit needed, how many circuits are required, and how old the existing installation is and its condition. A reputable and honest electrician should be able to provide you with a free quote for the work.
Typical costs range from £350 - £600. You should be wary of any cheaper quotes, as the electrician could be looking to make up the money from you in unnecessary remedial works.
Who can replace my fusebox?
This job is best undertaken by a qualified electrician who can provide the physical parts as well as the NICEIC Electrical installation certificate and part P notification to building control.
How long does it take to upgrade my fusebox?
The length of time taken to upgrade or replace a fusebox or consumer unit depends according to the size of the property and the existing condition of the wiring and electrical systems. Typically, you can expect it to take around half a day, though your electrician can be more specific when they have more information about your property.