By February 24, 2017 Read More →

Voltimum’s Ambassadors put Schneider Electric’s Easy9+ consumer unit to the test

Voltimum’s Ambassadors put Schneider Electric’s Easy9+ consumer unit to the test

Three Voltimum Ambassadors have put Schneider Electric’s Easy9+ consumer unit to the test on real-life applications. How did it stand up to scrutiny?

The latest in Voltimum’s Ambassadors programme has seen TG Electrical Services, ESDV Power and Philelectrics selected to try out Schneider Electric’s Easy9+ consumer unit on live projects.

The Easy9+ consumer unit boasts a number of innovative features, including a flexible split load option which ensures that a variety of applications can be catered for with just one consumer unit. Improved, clear label kits ensure that users can instantly understand control points throughout the home.

The unit is manufactured from a non-combustible material and is fully compliant with Amendment 3 of BS 7671. It employs a rigid metal busbar and increased cableways designed to offer cable space where it is needed most.

Barn conversion

TG Electrical Services has trialled the board on a £1.5 million barn conversion and farmhouse development in English Frankton, Shropshire. The six barns will be finished to an extremely high standard, and TG Electrical needed to install products that complement this approach.

“Coming from a commercial/industrial background, we have always specified and installed Schneider products as we believe it is a reliable and high-quality brand,” says TG Electrical’s Chris Lloyd. “We have been using the Easy9+ consumer units since their launch and cannot fault their ease of installation or design aesthetics. It feels slightly heavier than other consumer units we have fitted, but we feel this adds to the overall confidence we have in its build quality,” he says.

The modern aesthetic of the Easy9+ unit has drawn praise from Lloyd and the team at TG. “The bold design of the unit was something that we felt was perfect for the barn project due to its modern and contemporary look,” says Chris. “We particularly like the concept of the customisable magnetic front face which allows the consumer unit to either blend into its surroundings or create a personalised focal point.”

Chris Lloyd also cites ease of installation as a plus point. “Installation is a breeze due to the increased cabling space, which is much larger than some of the competitor’s consumer units currently on the market, and the depth of the unit allows for easy flush or semi-recessed installations,” he says.

Electrical upgrade

A complete rewire and extension of the existing electrical installation by EDSV Power at a 90-year-old, three-bedroom house has proved to be a perfect test bed for the Easy9+ consumer unit.

“The rewire involves the division of the existing eight circuits to 12,” explains EDSV Power’s Colin Goodchild. “This, in turn, means that the current location of the consumer unit, which as noted in the EICR as not compliant with BS7671 accessibility regulation 132.12, cannot accommodate a 12-way split-load unit.”

To maintain proximity to the service cut-out and metering installation, Colin devised a purpose-built cabinet situated in the vestibule as the new location.  “Another aspect of the decision to relocate the consumer unit is that circuits can be migrated from the existing unit to the new one in stages,” he says.

The original plan was to enclose the consumer unit in the cabinet. However, when the owner of the property saw the Schneider Electric Easy9+ unit, with its facility to be partially recessed and to have a customised front access cover, it was decided to mount the unit in the recessed form. “From the installer’s perspective, the Easy9+ gives very good access and space for wiring,” says Colin. “The ferrous metal case with radius corners is rigid and does not distort like some other units do. The back entry knock-outs give plenty of space for bringing cables in, but they need to be well dressed to allow the busbar barrier to be correctly fitted. The completed installation looks neat and more stylish than other units designed for compliance with the ferrous metal enclosure requirement of BS7671.”

Cottage refurbishment

“It’s a great board, definitely one of the better boards out there.” That’s the glowing verdict on the Easy9+ consumer unit from philelectrics’ Phil Epstein. Phil has been trialling the product at the refurbishment of a 1920s cottage in Harefield, in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

The new consumer unit was installed as part of a rewire of the property to modernise it, make it safe and bring it up to standard for the rental market. “The cottage had been partially rewired in the last 10 years, but not completed. I’ve rewired all the lights on the top floor, updated the sockets and put the new Easy9+ unit in,” explains Phil. The wiring to the lighting was the original cotton-covered cable from the 1920s.

So how did Phil rate the Easy9+ unit? “There are lots of really nice little touches,” he says. “Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the product when they were designing it.”

He cites ease of installation as being one of the key plus points. “It says on the box it’s an easy fit and it is. There’s loads of space to work with cables, which is exactly what you want. My only criticism would be that the unit is rather big – it is a big, heavy box. But you can’t have it both ways: you either have it so it is easy to work on, or you have it compact.”

Phil found that the metal unit, with its rounded edges, was stronger and less likely to warp than rival units. “That’s good because when you put the breakers in, they line up with the fascia of the box,” he says.

“With the RCBOs, you don’t have to force your screwdriver in to tighten them up,” says Phil. “Typically, you have the live screw near the front of the unit and on the neutral, you have to get your screwdriver in quite deep to tighten the screw. On the Easy9+ unit, the terminals are exactly the same depth. Again, the little touches have been thought about.” Phil also liked the unit’s ability to cater for a heavy duty earth cable if required.

Another positive feature was the comprehensive set of labels that comes with the box. “Normally, you have to go out and buy stickers, for example, to say that there are two types of cable colour coding used within the installation. Here, it’s all in the pack.”

Thumbs up?

The proof of the pudding with any product is whether or not you would use it again. “We are very proud to have been selected as Ambassadors for the Voltimum/Schneider campaign and as a result currently have 23 Easy9+ consumer units in stock ready for installation,” says TG’s Chris Lloyd.

Phil Epstein has already recommended the unit to two fellow electricians. “I would definitely use it again, 100%,” says Phil. After discussing the style and features of the Easy9+ unit with other electrical designers and installers, Colin Goodchild feels that it will be a serious contender where looks and accessibility are important features.

Try out the Easy9+ for yourself, and see if you agree.

Posted in: Latest from Voltimum