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British overcurrent protection #132689
09/04/01 03:43 PM
09/04/01 03:43 PM
P
pauluk  Offline OP
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Well, you've all had time to get used to some other peculiarities of British wiring, so I reckon it's time to stir up some more controversy....

In residential panels, there are three types of overcurrent protection in use at the moment: Rewireable fuses, cartridge fuses, and miniature cct-breakers. It's the first of these I'll describe here.

Rewireable fuses consist of a plug-in porcelain carrier with two contacts, between which a short length of fuse wire (about 2 in.) is fastened with screw terminals. Some later types are a plastic carrier with a ceramic insert.

Just about every hardware store still sells cards of fuse wire: 5, 15, and 30A. Replacement means threading a new length of wire through the carrier. Crude? You bet!

The pre-war types generally had carriers all physically the same for any given model of fusebox, so a householder had to be very careful to check what size needed to be used.

The post-war designs for the then-new "consumer units," adopted marked carriers with different pin spaciing so that, for example, a 30A carrier could not be inserted into a 15A position. Manufacturers also adopted a standard color code for carriers: white=5A, blue=15A, red=30A.

All well & good, but of course that doesn't stop people re-fusing a 5A carrier with 30A fuse wire! I understand a common trick with your Edison-base fuses is to bridge them with a penny; bits of wire or opened out paperclips serve the same purpose on these fuses here.

You may think that these things are relics of early installations, but the rewireable fuse was still being installed in new homes until at least the late 1970s. One manufacturer still makes replacement carriers in 4 sizes (20A (yellow) was added in later years).

There are still MANY of these panels in service, although cartridge fuses or C/B are gradually taking over on rewires.

The IEE has suggested a move away ("deprecated" is their favorite word for this) from rewireable fuses since at least the 1955 edition, but still recognizes them
as acceptable.

Did you ever have crude fuses like these before the Edison-base type came along?

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Re: British overcurrent protection #132690
09/04/01 06:24 PM
09/04/01 06:24 PM
Bill Addiss  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,902
NY, USA
Paul,

I was going to ask about those fuses. That really sounds like something out of the early years of Electricity. I've never seen anything like that around here.


Bill

Re: British overcurrent protection #132691
09/04/01 06:36 PM
09/04/01 06:36 PM
P
pauluk  Offline OP
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
So far as I'm aware, Wylex is the only manufacturer still making them.

One good thing about the Wylex "Standard" range units is that that they've kept the same basic design for years (decades), so it's easy to change an older Wylex panel with these for cartridge or MCBs.

The IEE recognizes that the rewireable fuses take a lot more to blow, and requires lower ratings for cables fed by such fuses.

Re: British overcurrent protection #132692
09/04/01 08:10 PM
09/04/01 08:10 PM
D
Dallas  Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 151
North Salem, IN 46165
So Paul, has anyone ever thought of maybe using American style circuit breakers and residential loadcenters?

Just how many do-it-yourselfers do you lose a year there? How about fires from the overfusing with the fuse wires?

I'm being semi-serious here. D-I-Y's here in my area are often good for some head-shaking, or head scratching if you have to figure out what they did.

Re: British overcurrent protection #132693
09/04/01 11:17 PM
09/04/01 11:17 PM
sparky66wv  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Speaking of "fuse wire"...

In Point Pleasant, WV in a hotel called the "Lowe" there are load centers made of the most beautiful wood, with glass doors and copper busses and K&T wiring... And Fuse Wire for the OCPD...Still in use too!

I will get pics of these the next time I'm there... They really are beautiful works of art!

Tom, Max, (and anyone else) have you guys been there?

-Virgil


-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI
Re: British overcurrent protection #132694
09/05/01 06:18 AM
09/05/01 06:18 AM
S
sparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,360
We have replaceable 'fuse guts'for larger fuses....got some out in the shop [Linked Image]

Re: British overcurrent protection #132695
09/05/01 11:08 AM
09/05/01 11:08 AM
P
pauluk  Offline OP
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Cartridge fuses or miniature circuit breakers are now the norm for new work, but it's been a long time coming. Our equivalent to your "load centers" are a somewhat different design, in part because of the 240V 2-W service so we only need one hot busbar instead of two.

Cartridge fuses were used in some better residential installations in the past, and many manufacturers had both types available to fit the same panel for many years.

MEM (Midland Electrical Manufacturing) panels seem to have been very popular in this area in the 1950s-1970s period, and they had interchangeable fuse carriers, so some were upgraded in the 1960s/1970s.

Unfortunately, replacements are no longer available, but if I strip out one of these panels and it has cartridge fuses, I keep the plug-in carriers. That way at least I can sometimes upgrade an old MEM panel to cartridge fuses if the owner doesn't want the expense of a new panel.

Circuit breakers have been available for decades, but rarely used on domestic work until the last 15 years or so. When my father rewired an old pre-war house when I was a kid in 1970 he used breakers; it was probably the only house in the street to have them!

Re: British overcurrent protection #132696
09/05/01 11:12 AM
09/05/01 11:12 AM
P
pauluk  Offline OP
Member
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
Norfolk, England
Quote
Originally posted by Dallas:

Just how many do-it-yourselfers do you lose a year there? How about fires from the overfusing with the fuse wires?


Something I've been meaning to ramble on about. I'll start a separate topic on that one!


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