Improving fire safety one device at a time. How landlords can help prevent electrical fires.

January 29th 2020

Many people and organisations, including landlords & tenants themselves are responsible for checking and improving fire safety in residential properties says Dave Enefer, Product Manager for Electrium.

While tenants are responsible for ensuring that they don’t create a fire hazard in their homes, landlords of residential buildings have a legal duty to ensure that a fire risk assessment is carried out so that any fire risks and hazards are removed, or reduced as far as possible.

One of the ways this can be achieved is by adding an extra layer of protection against electrical fires. Over the past five years, in England alone, there have been over 65,000 fires from an electrical origin, but across the UK the figure is even higher.

One of the sources of these electrical fires is the hidden but highly dangerous arc faults. Electrical fires caused by arc faults typically occur at, poorly made or loosening connections that overheat, in damaged leads and cables, or through old, weak and failing cable insulation.

Dave Enefer, Product Manager (Crabtree) at Electrium, comments: “The wiring regulations (BS7671) sets out requirements for electrical installations in the UK, including requirements for protection of persons, livestock and property against the risk from fires that may be generated and propagated in electrical installations. Requirements include protecting against fire caused by insulation faults, high temperature and sparks and arcs.”

Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDDs), can reduce the likelihood of electrical fires from these conditions by detecting the arcing conditions before the overheating and ignition of flammable materials occurs. Specifiers & installers can now improve electrical safety, without any extra effort by using the Starbreaker combined AFDD-RCBO.

This innovative new product integrates arc fault detection with RCD and MCB capability in a revolutionary single DIN module, delivering maximum safety in the minimum footprint. Fully catering for the requirements and recommendations of the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations and improving fire safety standards for landlords and tenants.

Starbreaker Mini AFDDs provides an extra layer of protection for, people and property, while also helping future-proof installations against ever-changing regulations. Recognised as a ‘significant risk’ in the 18th Edition IET Wiring Regulations, arcing is typically caused by poorly made or failing connections or failing insulation in AC 230V final circuits. While RCDs and MCBs protect against overcurrent, short circuit and earth leakage protection, they’re unable to detect arcing, this leaves a gap in the safety provision.

Until recently installers have had no way of closing that gap, i.e. no access to AFDDs. Early models were two modules wide and took up too much space to fit in the already crowded consumer unit – which limited uptake. The new Starbreaker Mini AFDD overcomes these barriers by combining all three layers of protection in one DIN module,

Using digital technology to constantly monitor circuit conditions, the Starbreaker Mini AFDD is able to distinguish between ‘operational sparking”- for example, in washing machines and vacuum cleaner motors - and abnormal activity that could denote a potentially dangerous event.  Complying fully with the requirements of BS7671, this single module AFDD is a two-pole switching device which will totally isolate any faulty circuit or appliance, ensuring complete peace of mind for installers, homeowners and investors.

As an additional benefit, the new Starbreaker Mini AFDD-RCBO is an easy to fit ‘plug and play’ option that can be installed into any appropriate Starbreaker consumer unit, without the need for special assembly or new busbars. Explains Dave Enefer, Devices Product Manager at Crabtree. “Whatever the age of the Starbreaker unit, the new Mini AFDD slots easily into place, so it’s equally suitable for new builds, upgrades and retrofits to provide additional protection.”

Bringing three levels of safety in one easy-fit single module, Crabtree’s Starbreaker Mini AFDD represents a major step forward in electrical safety.

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