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The Importance of Accessing Electrical Cables

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 30th November 2012

Yes, the title of todays blog screams common sence - all electrical jobs require access to cables.  Almost every electrician up and down the country will have a comical story to tell about their life as a domestic installer.

How many times have you been to a property to find at least a days worth of furniture removal before the job can commence or the people who don't want to have their newly decorated walls touched during a re-wire.  Electricians are used to such scenarios popping up on a regular basis and we hear many of these amusing stories relayed at our training centres here at Trade Skills 4 U.

However, it now seems that these crazy situations are now longer situated behind closed doors and are heading to a street near  you.  We have found a fun story about a bin that was fitted to a lamp post 7 feet up in the air!

Why you may ask?  and no its not a joke and it didn't happen in another country, it happened in a UK town called Stoke-on-Trent.  Now unless you happen to be a giant or quite like the challenge of aiming your rubbish at a bin located far above your head its going to be pretty useless to most people.

The reason it was installed 7 feet up a lamp post was to allow electricians access to the wiring when needed.  Members of the public thought the bin would be moved, but it stayed there.

Now this does beg the question of who decided to positon the bin there in the first place - moving it round to the other side of the post would have ensured relevant access was still available.  Or maybe its a fashion statement that we're missing out on here!

The bin apparently was later removed but we are wondering how much material and time wastage there was from this untrained installer.  We think a course in electrical design would be in order!


Why It’s Important to Take Your 17th Edition by April 2013

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 27th November 2012

17th edition wiring regulations courses are amongst the most popular in the UK for domestic and commercial electricians. The course itself covers all the relevant wiring regulations that the industry need to follow when carrying out any installation work.  17th edition courses are completely theoretical and are designed to be taken by those who already have practical hands on experience of electrical installation.


So why is there now a deadline to take this course?

There is only a deadline if you are looking to register as a domestic installer. If you are working with domestic electrics you must register with a competent person’s scheme such as the NICEIC, ELECSA and so on. However the rules governing who can register as a qualified supervisor are set to change on the 6th April 2013. Anyone registering from this date will need to have completed a new qualification designed specifically for domestic electricians. However no one currently knows how long this will be, who can actually take this qualification and if those who are already part qualified will be able to map in or will have to retake the whole course. In fact it is those who are already a qualified electrician or a part qualified domestic electrician that will benefit the most by taking their 17th edition course and registering by the 5th April 2013.

While there is still some confusion around the format of the new qualification what we do know is that you can still register as a domestic electrician up until and including the 5th April 2013 under the current rules. The minimum requirement to register by this date will be that you have passed your 17th edition wiring regulations and as long as you have registered by this date you will be governed by the current regulations and will be guaranteed to be assessed by the NICEIC or similar scheme provider.

This means generally that we are already seeing an increase in demand for 17th Edition Courses and this is only going to increase in the New Year. However the change not only impacts 17th edition courses it also means for many looking to qualify as a domestic installer there is more demand for the courses that contain the basic knowledge required as to be a domestic installer. Here are Trade Skills 4U this means our Bronze Course package which contains the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations, 2392 Inspection & Testing, 2393 Part and a 5 day practical workshop will also be in short supply come the new year.

Up until the start of this year experienced electricians who had taken their 16th edition wiring regulations could take a 1 day 17th edition update course. However due to a number of amendments to the 17th edition, this course has now been discontinued by City & Guilds and now everyone looking to pass it must take the full City & Guilds 2382-12 which is 3 days long.

So for now the message is simple. If you are intending to register as a domestic electrician in the New Year you should act now to make sure you are able to register by the April 2013 deadline.


Categories: wiring regulations, 17th edition

British Standard Electrician – something to be proud of?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 26th November 2012

In a word - Absolutely – and something we feel strongly about at Trade Skills 4U.  We are keen to uphold the integrity of a British Standard Electrician and acknowledge the hard work and training undertaken in order to achieve such a high standard.

So what is a British Standard Electrician? This wonderfully 'unofficial' term to us means an electrician who has undertaken domestic electrician training and is registered as a Part P electrician.  In basic terms this means the electrician has undertaken electrician training in the UK and has obtained UK industry recognised qualifications.  Such qualifications include (but are not limited to) a City & Guilds (C&G) course, a 17th edition course or an electrical apprenticeship as well as being registered with a Part P body such as the NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA.

Unfortunately there will always be individuals who claim to understand home electrics who are neither qualified or registered.  By using these individuals you run the risk of your home being left in a dangerous condition and putting yourself and family members in danger – of course this is not a scenario you purposefully set up, but it is so easy to be influenced by cheaper prices by someone who sounds like a professional electrician.  We always say check qualifications and Part P registration first before agreeing to have any electrical work carried out in your home.

People fall into the hands of unregistered electricians easily – with the abundance of leaflets put through our letterboxes, all displaying very impressive logos, smart vans and uniforms, its easy to be taken in by good design and presentation without stopping to think it could be false advertising.  There is much publicity surrounding the use of unregistered tradespeople – unfortunately by using these individuals your work is neither insured or guaranteed.

When looking for a Part P Registered electrician, take your time and seek recommendations and references from the electrician and don't ever be tempted to use the services of a door to door trades person without checking their relevant credentials.  Many electricians use word of mouth recommendations from satisfied clients to gain their work.

It is a criminal offence nowadays to install home electrics that don't conform to Part P Regulations.  So if you have someone telling you that they know enough about electrics without attending any courses – do the sensible thing and walk away.  There are 2 routes that a qualified electrician or 'British Standard Electrician' will have taken to install electrics safely in your home.  These are either a C&G course with NVQ Assessment or a Part P Domestic Installer course.  Both of these routes are equally acceptable and commonplace within the electrical industry.

Being a British Standard electrician is certainly a title to be proud of.  They have the necessary skills and experiences to do a safe and certified job in your home.  Please use them and don't settle for anything less than our British high standards.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Domestic Installer Qualification Route Changing in APRIL 2013

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 21st November 2012

We did say in our last update that we were sure that the changes being made to the domestic installer qualification route would not be pushed back again and we were correct. However nobody expected the deadline to be brought forward to the 6th April 2013.

Find out more below!


So what does this mean for you?

Simply put if you are looking to register on a Part P scheme with NICEIC, ELECSA or a similar scheme provider under the current rules then you will need to ensure you have registered by the 5th April 2013. In order to register by this date you must have passed your 17th edition wiring regulations. If your registration is made on the 6th April 2013 it will be too late!

Looking to get qualified?

If you are looking to qualify under the current scheme you only have 4 ½ months to get trained and then register with a scheme provider. As long as you register before the 5th April 2012 the current qualification route will be valid and a course such as our Bronze or Silver package will suffice in terms of training requirements.

Already Part Qualified?

There are also lots of people out there who have some but not all of their required qualifications. The current requirements for Part P registration are as follows:

1. Installation Skills (Our MOD1 Course covers this)

2. Inspect & Testing Skills (Our C&G 2392 course covers this)

3. City & Guilds 2382-12 17th Edition Course passed

4. City & Guilds 2393 Part P Course passed

If you need one or a few of these quals then don’t delay and get in contact ASAP. The crucial one will be the 17th edition course, however you should meet all of the criteria above to register with someone like the NICEIC or ELECSA. If you don’t register by the 5th April then you may have to repeat some elements of your training in order to complete the new qualifications.

More information will be available shortly, however if you have any questions please call us on 01293 529777.

Download the press release from the IET here!


Categories: qualifications, domestic installer

The Trade Skills 4U Electrician's Playlist

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 20th November 2012

We have created the Top Electrical Themed Electricians Playlist!

We have been having a bit of fun in the office over the past few days. We were inspired by hearing the Electric Six song “Danger, High Voltage” on the radio and started brainstorming songs that we could add to an electricians playlist. All the songs had to be electrical themed and so far we have come up with 13 songs that fit the bill. You can listen to the songs below using our spotify playlist:


We have run out of ideas for now. However if you can think of any additions please let us know by using the comments box below. If we think the song is suitable we will add it to this playlist and over the coming year hope to have enough songs to keep a sparky happy for a few hours whilst on the job. So far we are quite impressed with the quality of the electrical related tunes.

So get your thinking hat on and let us know any additions. If you have Spotify click on the logo above to listen to the playlist!


Categories: playlist

Electrical Safety Register. Great news for the industry!

Posted by Carl Bennett on 19th November 2012

The Electrical Safety Register is finally here. It is a voluntary licensing system for electricians and a first step in the right direction.

At last the electrical industry is starting to get itself organised and probably not before time we hear you say, considering all the recent discussions on various forums and talk boards. 

A licensed system for electricians along the lines of what Gas safe is for gas engineers is something we have supported and in fact championed. The idea seems to carry favour with many Sparkies with whom we talk. An electrical safety register is a licencing system in all but name and is voluntary, which may not be what everyone wants but is certainly better than what we have at the moment.

Of course during times of austerity good businesses get better and focus on the important issues that concern them and this appears to be what has happened with the electrical industry. Something positive is being done and must be welcomed.  With big announcements from the big 3 in the industry the NICEIC, ELECSA and the ECA  this morning regarding their Electrical safety register, essentially a voluntary rather than mandatory licensing system is a first step but one that would be welcomed I assume, given the poll vote on the ECA Linked in discussion group forum.

As far as Tradeskills4U is concerned, anything that helps hard working men and women support their families is good with us and this initiative looks to do just that.

If you want to know for visit the NICEIC website: http://www.niceic.com/Contractor/Electrical-Safety-Register

Or check out the youtube video below:



Categories: electrical safety register

Is Your Home Electrically Safe?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 14th November 2012

We can safely say that almost everyone is aware that Electricity Kills.  Unfortunately the victims are often unaware that their electrical installation is dangerous or that they were carrying out dangerous workmanship for which they were unqualified.

The power of Electricity is underestimated.  Whilst we all take for granted the ability to switch on a light, turn on the TV, or boil a kettle all at the flick of a switch, it is easy to understand the frustration when an electrical appliance or fitting suddenly stops working.

The key point to bear in mind as a householder is when your lights trip off, or a fuse blows in an appliance you are using, it means there is a problem with your electrical installation.  This doesn't mean that you are now faced with a huge expense, in fact, if you call a registered electrician to take a look at this point, you will be saving yourself lots of money and more importantly you are protecting the safety of you and your family as well as your main asset – your home.

Out of 38,500 accidental fires in the UK, 20%  of these were electrical fires within the home.  This means that during 2010-11 there were in excess of 8000 electrical fires in peoples homes –  This horrific figure is set to rise every year according to NAPIT who claim that casualties related to electrical fires are on the increase.  So, how can you make sure you avoid next years statistics?

There is a lot you can do yourself as a householder to prevent an electrical fire and it doesn't matter whether you own or rent your home.  Always check cables and appliances for signs of wear and tear.  If you rent your home, has it been pat tested? it is recommended that the electrical equipment in your home is PAT tested on a regular basis.  Pat Testing should only be carried out by a person who has completed a pat testing course.  In addition, look out for burn marks or fizzing sounds from the sockets when in use.  Do your lights flicker when switched on?  These are all signs of poor wiring within your electrical installation.  Overtime, cable can become corroded, worn and even damaged – particularly if attempts have been made to repair an installation without success.

Older houses often contain outdated fuse boxes which contain no safety protection such as RCD's which leave members of the householder at risk from electric shock. So if you are already experiencing concerns with your electrics, you are putting yourself at huge risk of an electrical fire.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about the condition of your home electrics, it is essential that you consult a qualified Part P electrician without delay.  Please do not be tempted to make any repairs yourself particularly to fuse wires or by exceeding the fuse Amp shown on all plugs in order to make an appliance work.

At Trade Skills 4U we understand the importance of electrical safety in the home and the huge problem faced in the UK of the shortage of domestic installers to carry out the work.  Our trainees are trained extensively in identifying electrical fire risks and putting them right as part of their electrical training and it is our aim to reduce the number of electrical accidents in the UK by offering future and present electricians access to the UK's premier electrical training courses.

We also hope to educate the public about the dangers of using unregistered electricians and urges anyone concerned to seek out qualifications and check registration.

Categories: safety

At Last! - A No Cost, Hassle Free way for Tradespeople to take payment by card

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 13th November 2012

Launched last week the iZettle mini chip card readers enable small business owners to accept payment by debit or credit card by simply plugging the reader into an Iphone or tablet.

This is fantastic news for electricians who have long awaited a low cost, hassle free method of accepting cards as payment rather than relying on cheques or the risk of carrying large sums of cash around.

A survey carried out on electricians recently revealed that 70% were owed more than £5000 in unpaid bills or late payments.  This equates to lost revenue of £283m as well as the time taken in chasing outstanding payments.

74% of electricians surveyed said they would welcome a method of accepting card payments that were low cost and hassle free to use - so what are the costs and how do you go about getting an iZettle card reader?

The iZettle card reader costs £20 and comes with a £20 voucher to use against transaction fees.  The transaction fee is 2.75% for each payment taken.  The great news is that there are no monthly fees, no set up fees and no minimum spends.  The sign up process is also very quick too.   We are excited by this gadget at Trade Skills 4U and we find it encouraging that finally someone is listening to the trade people of today and addressing their long awaited need for a gadget of this kind.  Initially the iZettle is free as a voucher offered with the iZettle will pay the first £20 of transaction fees, meaning the electrician will be keeping 100% of their money to begin with.  After this spend the iZettle will charge 2.75%. The big question is whether or not this fee is acceptable to most sparkies. As such we wanted to do our own poll.

We think in this day and age simply relying on a cheque to clear in 2012 is far outdated. Cheques are not accepted anywhere on the High Street these days and banks still charge to clear them in a business account plus if a cheque bounces further charges can be incurred.  Accepting a card payment is both professional and fair in terms of cost and customer confidence - 82% of customers would like the option of paying their electrician by card.

iZettle is totally secure and takes seconds to process a transaction.  It has been tested by 4,000 UK users over the last 6 months and there are already 75,000 iZettle users in six countries.

Trade Skills 4U looks forward to watching the iZettle develop in the UK and will be watching closely at the effect this has on the working life of an electrician.  There will be no more waiting around for the cash to arrive, no remembering to pick up the cheque book......it is a fact that everyone carries their cards around with them.  On many jobs, the person paying the bill isn't around very much and payment suddenly becomes an awkward issue.  Payment by card takes seconds and will save the electrican a lot of time in waiting for payment and be more convenient for the customer.


Categories: izettle, card payment

The Shocking Revelations of Electricity

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 7th November 2012

The National Grid will be celebrating its 77th birthday on the 16th November 2012 - we can all agree that the birth of the National Grid was an iconc moment which changed lifes forever and today our reliance on electricity grows on a daily basis with almost every item of technology relying on electricity to maintain power.

Of course things have moved on hugely and electrcity safety is treated very seriously nowadays.  Old electricity practices involved some very dangerous risks which today we would never dream of taking.  For example, you would not think about plugging your iron into your light pendant using a 2 pin bayonet plug!

Many householders no longer rely on the National Grid for all their electrical needs thanks to the technologies of solar power and wind turbines.  It is not uncommon nowadays to find solar pv panels on houses and wind turbines are popping up in several locations.

However, the principals of electricity remain the same.

The UK now has one of the safest electrical systems in the world thanks to the invention of the 3 pronged plug which vitally contains the Earth prong! This greatly reduces the chance of receiving an electric shock when plugging an appliance in.

Unfortunately its not all rose tinted and a survey carried out in 2011 by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) revealed dangerous levels of ignorance towards electrical safety in the UK with many householders not taking any safety precautions when using electricity in the home.  The electrical blunders ranged from attempting repairs to appliances when plugged in and switched on to knowingly using faulty plugs and sockets and ignoring  burning smells coming from sockets when in use.

These revelations are concerning for dispite electrical safety becoming safer in the UK, it seems that people are still living in 1935!

At least 1 person dies in the UK each week from electric accident and more than 1000 are injured in an electrical accident every day, many are due to electrical blunders cited above.  It seems that UK residents are taking for granted the safety offered by their electricity supply and are more concerned about beng involved in a plane crash or being struck by lightning!

Naturally, electrical safety is a matter very close to our hearts at Trade Skills 4U.  We would always advice against undertaking any electrical repairs yourself in your home and call upon the services of a qualified Part P electrician - always ensure they have completed appropriate electrical training before starting work.

Another great option is to download the Home Electrical Safety Check free  to use on any iPhone or Android phone by going to App Store or Android Marketplace and searching for 'Home Electrical Safety Check'  Its a great tool for homeowners and landlords who want to ensure the electrical safety of their families or tenants, as well as for anyone considering buying or renting a home.

Finally, please don't ignore burning or faulty electrical appliances or sockets.  If you have any concerns about your electricity please consult a qualified domestic installer.


Categories: electricity

The Power of Renewable Energy - Reduce your bills to £3 per month

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 1st November 2012

If you are still sceptical about the real benefits of renewble energy, then you should keep reading.

Amidst all the gloom of rising energy prices, there are increasing numbers of people who are actually paying reduced energy bills as their reliance on renewable energy strengthens.

Take Dan and Jane Fish who pay around £3 per month on energy.  They consider themselves over 90% carbon free - and they're not sitting in the cold wearing extra jumpers and they haven't resorted to candle light as yet, and chances are they never will!

So what are they doing that the rest of us aren't?  Well for a start they are embracing renewable energy.  Their whole home is heated by solar power.  They have a solar hot water system and solar panels.  The couple claim that they produce more electricity than they use.

With increasing numbers of people now getting tired of paying increasing energy costs, it won't be long before we see other households following the growing trend of renewable energy useage in the home.

The Fish couple hope to inspire other people to follow a reduced carbon lifestyle and claim there is extra satisfaction in taking a shower in water that has been heated by the sun alone.  The Fishes will be using a solar thermal hot water system in their home installed by a solar thermal professional who has undertaken solar thermal training.  The water heated by the sun by solar panels on the roof will then be stored in energy efficient hot water tanks ready for use even on a cold morning.

Their green lifestyle will continue with their solar panels - the couple will be well ahead of their game here, and already will be seeing a huge return on their investment - who wouldn't be at only £3 per month energy? (incidentially the £3 is payment for use of gas to run their stove and includes the energy use of a holiday annexe they rent out to holidaymakers.) Their panels will be Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Panels which will have been installed by a solar panel installer who has undertaken a solar pv course.  Solar is an exciting new industry which is taking the UK by storm.  Solar PV is now a common term that virtually every household in the UK has some awareness of.  It is now being taken seriously and many households are now opting for renewable energy as part of a greener, cheaper lifestyle.

So what else are Mr & Mrs Fish doing to achieve this amazing energy saving?  Well they have a solar powered car which is powered solely from electricity produced by their solar panels - impressive!  They also grow their own fruit and vegetables and have in the past reared their own animals for meat.

Mr & Mrs Fish have certainly inspired us at Trade Skills 4U to think about greener, renewable energy more than ever before but don't worry we're not going to suggest taking your next holiday on board a cargo ship or using 55 year old pans to do your cooking but we're certainly giving a huge thumbs up to solar PV and solar thermal coming soon to a house near you.....


Categories: renewable energy