Your consumer unit (or fuse box as some people call it) is a very important piece of equipment. It not only controls the distribution of power throughout your home but also reduces the risk of electric shocks and fires caused by electrical faults.
The consumer unit is generally located near the point where the electrical supply enters your property and is usually tucked away out of sight, predominantly under the stairs or occasionally in a utility room or integrated garage.
Your consumer unit contains a row of circuit breakers. To the right of these you’ll see the main switch and at the end of each row there is a Residual Current Device (RCD).
Each circuit breaker controls the distribution of power to a different area of your home. If there is a problem, such as a faulty device or too many appliances plugged into the circuit, the circuit breaker will automatically ‘trip,’ cutting off the power supply in the immediate area.
As the name suggests, the main switch controls the supply of electricity from the mains to your home. Turning the main switch off will isolate your home from the grid, making it safe to carry out electrical repairs or alterations.
RCD’s are designed to protect you, or anyone working on your home, from electric shocks. If anyone touches a live wire, the associated RCD will immediately cut off the power supply. RCD’s also provide protection against fires caused by electrical faults.
If you lose power in one or more areas of your home, your consumer unit should be your first port of call. If the main switch, or one or more of the circuit breakers have tripped, switching them back to the on position will restore your power. If the switch immediately flips back to the off position see Troubleshooting for more details.