The Cost To Supply & Fit a New Consumer Unit

All you need to know about the associated costs of replacing a fusebox with a consumer unit including materials, labour and time frames.

Fuse Box

What the job entails

There is actually no regulatory reason to have an old fuse box replaced with a new consumer unit. If an Electrical Installation Condition Report confirms it is safe and can function correctly, there is no compelling reason to change it. However, many will change the fuse box to a new consumer unit as a matter of course when upgrading a property, even if the fuse box passes the electrical inspection & test. Of course should the fuse box fail the inspection and testing, it needs to be changed immediately. Modern consumer units are safer in that they switch off power much quicker than a conventional fuse in the event of a problem, plus they are more convenient in the case of minor nuisance tripping faults.

If the property wiring is being upgraded and a new consumer unit is part of that work, then as well as changing the fuse box, the complete electrical installation also has to be tested to ensure everything is operating correctly and, depending on the number of electrical circuits and points, this testing can actually take longer than fitting the new unit. Any quote for changing the fuse box should include the labour and materials.

Once installed the new consumer unit (fuse box) test results will be recorded on an Electrical Installation Certificate and a copy will be given to the homeowner. The Part P electrician will also log the work with the Local Building Control and you should receive a letter from the relevant registered electrical body to confirm this. If the fuse box is being replaced as it is old and starting to fail, then it is likely that the rest of the wiring in the home is also coming to the end of its useful life, so for safety reasons consider completely rewiring at the same time.

Before any work is even started with regards to the fuse box, the electrician will need to check the earth/bonding and also the power distributors equipment where the meter is installed. Any problems with this will mean the work being postponed until they are fixed and safe. Fault finding on the electrical system should also be carried out before the new unit is installed, that way the electrician will find out if any extra work may be needed. After installing the new consumer unit the circuits will need to be tested again. This electrical testing is the most important part of the installation for safety reasons.

The Part "P" Regulations are very strict and certificates for both the electrical installation and for compliance with the Part "P" Regulations must be issued after completion. Modern consumer units are safer than old fashioned fuse boxes thanks to residual current devices (RCD). An RCD is a much quicker way of detecting a power surge and can cut the power much faster than fuse wire.

An RCD is now compulsory for all new electrical work but they can be very sensitive and trip whenever an appliance or light switch is used. This is fairly common and is normally solved by separating the circuits into at least an upstairs ring and a downstairs ring, though this will obviously involve extra wiring and cost. Using an experienced and competent electrician is crucial as they will be able to predict exactly how much extra work is involved.

The Cost To Replace a Fuse Box or Consumer Unit

The consumer unit and materials will cost around £100-£125, with the work to install and test taking around half a day assuming there are no problems and then there is also the paperwork to be completed. The average cost to replace a fuse box is between £300 and £500 which includes all labour, materials, testing and certificate.

This price assumes the replacement of an old fuse box with an RCD consumer unit on a regular 3-bedroom semi-detached house with 10 electrical circuits. The prices include testing and fixing any minor faults (most properties are likely to have at least one minor fault somewhere). The quotes exclude any additional earth bonding that may be required, any separating of circuits or any other substantial wiring work required.

Most electricians will charge around £150 a day in labour but will usually work in pairs so you can expect to pay around £250 per day. The job should take around half a day to complete but may take up to a day if any faults are identified with testing.

Below are some estimated costs of hiring an electrician to remove an old fuse box, supply & install a new consumer unit and carry out full testing:

Number of Circuits Avg. Cost Duration
6 £350 3-4 hours
10 £450 4-5 hours
12 £500 5-6 hours


Cost Breakdown

Individual costs for replacing a fuse box with a new consumer unit with 10 MCB's - Total Cost: £450

50%

Materials
£225

50%

Tradesmen
£225

0%

Waste Removal
£0

FAQ's

Both do the same job and most people in fact still refer to consumer units as fuse boxes anyway! They both cut off the power and disconnect the electricity from a circuit when a fault is detected for safety. A modern consumer unit contains a main switch, circuit breakers, and Residual Current Devices. Whereas a fuse box uses fuses with wire which melts and breaks the circuit in the event of an overload. Circuit Breakers are automatic protection devices that switch off a circuit if they detect a fault. They are similar in size to fuses, but give more precise protection.

Plus when they trip, you can simply reset them once the fault has been fixed, rather than having to get another fuse. In addition, it is immediately obvious when a circuit breaker has tripped as it moves into the “OFF” position and can be clearly seen, whereas if a fuse has gone you would need to remove it and test to verify. Circuit breakers and RCS’s offer better protection than fuses, cutting power in milliseconds to reduce the chance of a fatal electric shock or fire to an absolute minimum. Whether a fuse box or a consumer unit, it’s important that you know where it is in case you ever need to turn the electricity off in case of an emergency.
RCD’s help to protect you from electric shock and there are various types of RCD’s that can be used in and around the home to make sure you are always as safe as possible. But the RCD’s we are concerned with in this article are the fixed RCD’s which you find installed in the consumer unit to provide protection to circuits. A fixed RCD provides the highest level of protection as it protects all the wiring and the sockets and any connected appliances on a circuit. Not o be confused with portable or socket RCD’s, which are portable devices which are plugged into wall sockets/appliances.