18th Edition Wiring Regulations: What Are They and Why Are They Important?
In 2018, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) released new regulations governing the erection and installation of electrical systems.
The 18th edition regs are designed to make electricity safer in the UK and harmonise existing electrical installations with EU standards.
Mastery of this qualification requires the candidate to show an understanding of the regulations and the proper safety procedures. This overview covers what you’ll need to know about the 18th edition.
18th Edition Wiring Regulations – Overview
Formally known as British Standard BS 7671: “Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations,” the 18th edition is more commonly known as “the wiring regs.”
These regulations have covered electrical installations and alterations since 1882 and are consistently being updated to provide industry-wide protection.
The 18th edition regulations apply to electrical wiring systems in commercial, industrial and domestic buildings.
These comprehensive guidelines also cover wiring installation in special zones like bathrooms, swimming pools, and fairgrounds.
On March 28, 2022, the 2nd Amendment to the 18th edition was published to clarify further and simplify existing rules.
What Is the Importance of the 18th Edition?
These new regulations are important to keep existing installations up-to-date and safe for the general public and any other electrician.
It’s vital to familiarise yourself with these guidelines if you’d like to work on electrical installations and install socket outlets safely.
Many agencies will typically only hire electricians with up-to-date knowledge of the existing guidelines.
Being familiar with these guidelines can also help anyone who wishes to register in a competent person scheme.
REMINDER: You are not cleared to work as an electrician by gaining an 18th-edition qualification.
Do All Electricians Need the 18th Edition?
It’s recommended that all practising electricians familiarise themselves with this latest regulation by taking an appropriate 18th-edition training course.
If you’re an electrician, we recommend taking a training course to earn this qualification, but other allied professionals can take these courses, too, like electrical engineers and consultants.
Candidates who complete the 18th edition course will find it easier to find employers and secure work. This new regulation is a worthwhile addition to any electrician’s qualifications.
Do You Need to Do the 18th Edition Course?
Homeowners who wish to modify or maintain an on-site installation don’t need to take a course, but electricians are strongly advised to complete the full course.
Professionals from other related trades, like contracts managers, can also earn this qualification by taking the relevant training.
Many 18th-edition modules are theory-based, but we suggest looking for courses that offer practical experience using the necessary equipment.
It’s highly recommended that any previously qualified electricians take this course to refresh and enhance their knowledge of electrical installations.
What Is the 18th Edition Exam Structure?
Examinees must take a final exam to prove understanding and familiarity with the latest guidelines. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within 2 hours.
The exam is an open-book test, so examinees may bring a hard copy of the 18th edition wiring regs when they answer.
In the event that test-takers feel unprepared to take the exam, they can take a mock exam. This can help them earn their qualification quickly.
What Are the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations?
The 18th edition regs and a few changes supersede the previously-published 17th edition regulations.
Previously, the 17th edition had detailed changes concerning solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and RCDs, or Residual Current Devices.
Anyone planning to work in the electrical industry must familiarise themselves with the most current IET wiring regulations.
These guidelines were introduced after the IET sought to harmonise UK electrical standards with that of CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization.)
NOTE: You are not legally required to comply with the changes outlined in this regulation, but any new electrical installation is highly recommended to comply with this regulation.
What Are the Key Changes in the 18th Edition?
Because the 18th edition outlines the latest British standards for electrical installations, there are several important changes and new chapters compared to the previous edition.
Here are some key changes included in this latest edition.
- Chapter 41, Regulation 411.3.4: Chapters 41 and 42 apply to thermal effects like an electric shock or fire caused by arc fault currents. It requires Arc fault detection devices (AFDDS) to be installed on sockets with a rated current of 32A. Residual Current Devices (RCDs) must also be installed to protect AC final circuits.
- Chapter 42, Regulation 421.1.7: This section of the regulations concerns how to protect against thermal effects like fire and the proper locations for installations. It recommends installing Arc Fault Detection Devices on socket outlets. These AFDDS will provide additional protection and must be supplemented with different safety measures. AFDDs are also recommended for AC final circuits with a current of 32A and below.
- Chapter 44: The latest edition also includes guidelines on properly protecting buildings from transient overvoltage, commonly known as “spikes.” Spikes may be caused by either lightning strikes or normal operations. Any consumer units must have surge protection devices (SPDs), especially if the voltage spikes may result in serious injuries or a loss of human life. This protection is also required if the voltage may interrupt public services or commercial and industrial activities.
- Chapter 52: Chapter 52 covers the proper erection of wiring systems, especially in fire-prone areas. In the event of a fire, cables require adequate protection to prevent a premature collapse. This protection previously only concerned escape routes, but now the entire installation must have proper protection and support.
- Section 772: Section 772 covers accommodating electric vehicles and using a PME supply. It also includes codes for external influences affecting an installation, like dust and water.
- Appendix 17: The new Appendix 17 includes recommendations for energy efficiency when designing and constructing new installations.
The 18th edition IET wiring regulations are a vital qualification for anyone interested in working in the electrical industry or with electrical equipment.
Anyone who wishes to make alterations to an electrical installation or accommodate an electric vehicle must properly protect the wiring system.
Holding an 18th-edition certificate will ensure that you can self-certify your work and that it complies with the latest British standard.