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ELECSA Still Accepting Domestic Installers After the 5th April

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 22nd March 2013

Due to the delay by many training organisations and colleges being unable to organise themselves to offer the new Qualified Supervisors qualification ELECSA have confirmed to us today that they will continue to offer the Domestic Installers Scheme to our Bronze Course students after the April 5th deadline.

Tradeskills4u being the leader in electrical training, unlike many of our competitors,  was able to offer the Qualified Supervisor Course as soon as it became available and in fact was the UK's first training company to do so.

So this is good news for those of you who want to register on a Domestic Installers Scheme and good news if you want to gain Qualified Supervisors qualification, so a win win for our customers.

Confused ? Don't be, give us a call on 01293 529777 and we'll explain.

Our advice for anyone thinking of training in the industry is that the knowledge gained and the qualifications required to be competent at installing domestic electrics has not changed. In fact our recently upgraded Bronze Course will be more than sufficient to get you to where you need to be to install and inspect and test your own domestic installations.

It is not always necessary to register on a Part P scheme as many students will often certify via building control once they have passed our courses until the volume of major installation work reaches such a point that registration on such a scheme become economically viable. However due to the changes to qualification route and the extra training that will be required in the future we have seen a recent rush by students to get qualified and get registered on a scheme with NICEIC, NAPIT and ELECSA.

If you are thinking of booking a course we still have courses running up right up until the summer months and beyond. Although there is no set deadline by ELECSA it is likely they will be accepting applicants well into the forseeable future.


Product Review: Vphase Voltage Optimisation

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 20th March 2013

If you could tell your customer they can make savings of up to 12% on their electricity bill without having to make any changes to their lifestyle, you will have their attention.  Saving energy is a hot topic at the moment, and whilst there are lots of small ways to save money on electricity, how can a significant saving of 12% - that is around 1 months worth of 'free' electricity be achieved?

The answer is within voltage optimisation.  The Vphase units work by reducing the voltage output to 220V (standard UK voltage is 245V.) Most electrical appliances carry on operating normally at this level thereby reducing the energy needed.  The great advantage to the Vphase models as against other types of voltage optimisation products is that they lower and regulate the voltage output whereas other products 'chop' the voltage supply.

Many electricians and domestic installers will be familiar with the original Vphase VX1 unit, which has been installed in many homes across the UK which is connected via the customers consumer unit.  Vphase has gained a respected name in innovative thinking on energy saving since its conception in 2007.  The VX1 continues to live up to its name for what is still a huge selling point for Vphase – a fit and forget solution.  Once installed there is absolutely no maintenance involved – not even annual checks which is great news and on top of that, there is a 5 year warranty which in most cases means the unit will have paid for both itself and the installation cost during that time.

The Vphase unit itself is white, very lightweight and unobtrusive with a silent operation.  It is ideal for new builds and retro builds.  The technology itself has been independently tested to show it can save up to 12% on electricity bills.  There is no need to inform the electricity supplier and there is no change of lifestyle required.

At the end of 2012, Vphase launched 2 new optimisation units – known as the VX2 and VX5.  The VX2 is essentially an updated version of the VX1 – it is a higher specification model with flexible connection options and fast installation.  This is a key development to the electrician or domestic installer responsible for the installation of the Vphase unit.  In the past, re-configuration of the consumer unit was often necessary in order to install the VX1 which could be fairly time consuming, however this has now been resolved.  The VX2 can now be be fitted to a split consumer unit for optimal energy saving or fitted directly between the meter tails and the consumer unit for ease of installation.  There is also a new power bar display which replaces the LED display on the VX1 as well as a fresh new look.  Both the VX1 and the VX2 are designed for homes with single phase installations of up to c. 10,000 kWh per annum.

The Vphase VX5 model is a great new addition to the offering from Vphase and will be well received by customers who have not been able to benefit from a Vphase optimisation unit in the past. These are those who have large homes and small businesses – the VX5 can manage loads of up to c. 30,000 kWh per annum thanks to a high capacity transformer that is able to handle greater loads.  The VX5 is the same style and size as the VX2 and has the same benefits.

The Vphase unit is the perfect addition to any home or small business that is keen on energy efficiency – in fact the Vphase units work very happily alongside Solar PV.   Solar PV produces savings of around £895 a year with an 8.8% return on investment.  Adding a Vphase voltage optimisation unit for an extra £300 (after the £10,000 investment on solar PV) would see returns of a £955 saving per year and a 9.4% return on investment.  This increases the capacity for 'free' energy from the PV.

The Vphase voltage optimisation units must be installed by a qualified electrician or domestic installer and with its simple uncluttered design it is easy for the customer to tell that it is working as it should be – reducing energy use and saving money.

Categories: product reviews, reviews

What is the purpose of an EICR? (Electrical Installation Condition Report)

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 18th March 2013

An EICR is an Electrical Installation Condition Report. It is a formal document that is produced following an assessment of the electrical installation within a property.  It must be carried out by an experienced qualified electrician or approved contractor. Usuaully this means they will have taken a course covering peridoic inspection and testing and are regostered with the JIB or a scheme provider such as the NICEIC plus has a good working knowledge and experience of electrical installations.

There are many reasons why a householder might request an EICR and indeed they are highly recommended where proof may be required to show an electrical installation is safe.  One of the more common reasons an EICR is requested is in rented accommodation where an EICR is the most straightforward and least time consuming method of proving an electrical installation is safe.

An EICR is also recommended in all domestic homes every 10 years to check the condition of the electrical installation and ensure there is no deterioration, however there may be reasons why an EICR would need to be done more often.  Typical reasons include:

Age of the installation (the older the installation the more often an EICR should be carried out)

Type of property.  For example, if the property has a swimming pool, the recommended interval between an EICR is 1 year, however only the parts of the installation relating to the swimming pool would need to be assessed.

Environmental Conditions

Misuse of the installation such as vandalism

Change in usage of the domestic premises.  This could be change of occupancy in rental properties, or a property is being prepared to be sold, or the property is being purchased.  It is highly recommended that an EICR is carried out with each change of occupancy in rental properties to ensure the property remains electrically safe.  Equally, requesting an EICR on a property that is being purchased is the best way to find out if work needs to be carried out on the electrical system.

Any concerns the householder has about the condition of their electrical installation.

Whilst there is no legal requirement to have an EICR carried out in any situation, an EICR provides peace of mind that a home is electrically safe and they are not expensive to carry out.  In the same way as a boiler would be serviced every year, consider having an EICR carried out at the recommended intervals, the yearly cost of an EICR is extremely low when compared to the cost of an annual car service or annual boiler service but yet could save a sizeable sum of money as an EICR would pick up on a potential problem before it became a serious, costly issue.

During an EICR, an electrician may make a number of electrical observations and will give each one a recommendation code.  The observations describe a defect or omission within the electrical installation.  The electricians will code each observation according to the level of severity.  The observations will be written in a clear way and are not in any way a sales tool.  The customer would then be able to source competitive quotes for the works recommended should they wish to do so.

For an EICR to work most effectively, Trade Skills 4U recommend having an EICR at the recommended intervals as described by the 17th edition wiring regs and have the work carried out as recommended for the property to remain electrically safe.

National Apprenticeship Week – Take on a Trade Buddy?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 13th March 2013

So its national apprenticeship week so there has never been a better time to take on an apprentice and give something back to others trying to start out in your industry.  A recent survey by ConstructionSkills showed that the construction industry is going to need 50,000 more workers every year over the next few years. These workers will need to come into the industry and work their way up via apprenticeships.

However there is still a massive shortfall in the number of apprenticeship places with up to 70 applicants for each place. We get calls all the time from guys looking to do our 2357 course, however they need a job to complete the NVQ units. As such the majority of the students who train with us tend to take our City & Guilds 2365 Course. This course covers the same content as the 2357 and allows the trainees to get certified for the training they do. Most will then use this training to gain employment either during or after the course.

These students are prime candidates for an apprenticeship as essentially the come ready trained and have shown the drive and desire to make it in the industry. They have all taken a huge leap of faith investing much time and money to get qualified with no guarantees that they will find a job at the end of it. However this investment usually pays off and the majority of guys that complete the 2365 course find employment shortly after or during the course in a wide variety of industries. As well as the obvious construction companies we have had students also find work in film and stage productions as well as the growing renewable energy market.

So we are trying to do our bit. We have set up www.trade-buddy.co.uk. The idea behind this website is for students to advertise themselves for apprenticeships, work placements or even low paid jobs that will allow them to put into practice what they have learnt. Remember all of these guys have been trained by us to the highest standards and have again invested a lot of time and effort into making a step on the path of a new career. So why not take a look at Trade Buddy and see if you can help any of these guys out.

At the end of the day you will get an extra pair of hands which will cost very little if not work for free just to get some experience. You never know, you may end up finding them so useful you could start to take on more work and earn more money, you may even end up working with them full time. Who knows?

I recently heard a saying “The future belongs to the few of us willing to get our hands dirty” and these guys are more than willing to do that!


Categories: trade buddy, apprentice

Trade Skills 4 U Celebrate National Apprenticeship Week

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 11th March 2013

National Apprenticeship week kicks off in style with the Prime Minister saying he wants to increase the uptake of Apprenticeships amongst school leavers to follow in the footsteps of Germany.

This is a very encouraging start for an important week which celebrates the value of apprenticeships.  Not only does the week promote how great an apprenticeship can be for learning a new trade, but also the benefits of taking on an apprenticeship to an employer.  Headline news this morning claims that Apprentices will contribute £3.4bn to the UK economy by 2022.

It goes without saying that Apprenticeships contribute to raising the skill levels amongst the UK workforce.  In turn this leads to increased productivity and a highly motivated workforce.  The average person who completes their Apprenticeship contributes an extra £214 per week in business productivity.

Hiring an Apprentice is truly a win win situation – better profits, better products, higher wages, lower prices.

Trade Skills 4 U have long been promoting the value of apprenticeships as a common sense solution and viable alternative to university – you can't get any better learning a trade, earning money and having a good chance at the end of a job – as well as getting qualified.  Electrician courses and Apprenticeships are at the very heart of what we do here and its great news to hear that the National Apprenticeship Week has kicked off in style all over the country with many colleges offering a packed week promoting the skills and diversity of apprenticeships as well as being backed and supported in parliament with coverage being shown on radio and television.

Apprenticeships have been around for many years.  In the past, apprenticeships would give their wage to the master craftsman who would give him his training and skills in return for their wage! They are certainly here to stay and of course, have moved with the times which stands testament to their value.

The theme for 2013 is “Apprenticeships Deliver” and forms part of a new era for Apprenticeships.  In particular the theme will demonstrate how apprenticeships can deliver for both employer and individual and how taking on an Apprentice will contribute to the on going success for the employer.   Unfortunately in recent years, the gloss has been taken off Apprenticeships leading to the loss of valuable people taking up an Apprenticeship.  The message this year is sounding out key values associated with Apprenticeships – quality, growth, pride and value. Using these key values will give Apprenticeships some much needed revitalisation and break down the barriers that have prevented uptake in recent years.

National Apprenticeship Week is now in its sixth year and this week is a chance to really make Apprenticeships shine and promote them to all those who have an interest – individuals, employers, teachers, parents and the media.  At Trade Skills 4 U, we will be getting involved in style and showing our Apprentices how proud we are of them and also what we can offer to any individual aged 16 or over who is looking to undertake an Electrician Apprenticeship where they can gain the invaluable work based experience and be professionally trained by Trade Skills 4U.


Categories: apprenticeship

How to Find A Reputable Electrician

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 8th March 2013

There are many horror stories around about unregistered people carrying out work which they are not qualified or registered to do. When planning electrical work in the home, it is important that the right person carries out the work. This isn't just looking at the bottom line price, it is about what you get for what you pay for and most importantly that the electrician carrying out the work is qualified and registered to do so.

The good electricians out there take pride in their work and have built up a solid reputation based on many years of hard work, there are also many keen electricians who are new to the industry who are anxious to make a good impression. Trade Skills 4U have put together some top tips to help find a reputable 17th edition electrician or domestic installer.

The first consideration is to know where to start looking. Many reputable electricians are found by word of mouth, so if a friend or neighbour has had work carried out on their own homes and they were happy this is a good start. If you do not have a reputable electrician in mind, a good starting point is to consult the Electrical Safety Register or ElectricSafe Register, which have been developed by the leading organisations in the electrical industry. All electricians on the registers have been assessed against rigorous standards for your reassurance.

Most people do not check that their electrician is qualified. This is fundamental to ensure your electrician is who they say they are. All reputable electricians are happy to show you the qualifications they hold. Typically qualifications are either C&G or NVQ detailing the extent of the qualifications and when they were issued. Don’t be put off if your electrician is newly qualified, remember their skills and regulation knowledge will be well up to date.

Secondly, a reputable electrician will be happy to tell you about their Part P registration and which electrical governing body they are registered with. The 3 most common are the NICEIC, NAPIT and ELECSA. Trade Skills 4U recommend that you check directly with the governing body that your electrician is registered. Normally this is possible to do on line on the respective websites. Always look up the information independently to ensure the information you are looking at is genuine.

Before agreeing to have work carried out in your home, Trade Skills 4U recommend obtaining at least 3 quotations from reputable electricians. This will give you a good idea of the approximate costs of the electrical work. Ensure the quotation details the work the electrician will be undertaking and the cost of materials. Many people unwittingly accept a cheap quotation to find that materials are not included or there are 'extras' to pay for afterwards in order to deem the job complete i.e. certification.

Do not be afraid to ask the electrician questions. Many electricians will have a portfolio of work to show you or work done for past customers they are happy to show you. Also check on first impressions, does their work wear display their company logo? This shows pride. Do they turn up on time when they say to carry out the quotation? Do they have a sign written van, if not this could mean they are carrying out work for several different 'trades' for which they are not qualified. Remember a reputable electrician will want to tell as many people as possible they are an electrician, not trying to hide it! If something doesn’t feel right or you feel pushed into having the work done, it will be best to walk away.

Know exactly what you are paying for before accepting a quotation, such as what kind of guarantee the work will have. Most work is covered by a guarantee issued by the electrical governing body the electrician is registered with. This means that if a problem develops in the future and you cannot contact the electrician who carried out the work, you can go to the governing body directly and they will find an electrician to carry out the work on your behalf. Other questions to ask is whether the price includes VAT. If it doesn't, it can make the price appear cheaper when actually it may work out more expensive when adding the VAT onto the cost. Finally, always check the electrician has insurance, this is your peace of mind that should a mistake or error occur (and it can happen) that the insurance is valid and a claim can be made.

Spending some time choosing the right electrician for your electrical job can save you a lot of stress and expense. Householders who have been on the receiving end of an unscrupulous trades person always wish they'd done more research before hand.


Construction Materials now turning Eco with Recovinyl

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 6th March 2013

Mentioning the word Eco to most people and you are likely to find their ears pricking. Eco products and the depleting of the worlds resources are hot topics at the moment.

When planning home improvements, selecting Eco products has always been at huge expense in the past. PVC-U windows may have been a poor environmental choice, the same with guttering and fascias but is this still the case? At Trade Skills 4U we wonder how many construction industry workers such as electricians, double glaziers, plumbers and builders are aware of Recovinyl?

Recovinyl is an initiative of the European PVC industry. Set up in 2003, as the Vinyl 2010 Voluntary Commitment, its aim is to stimulate and encourage the use of recycled PVC. Vinyl 2010 was a huge success with Europe now recycling over 240,000 tonnes of PVC every year.

In 2011, Recovinyl became Recovinyl Plus and redefined its role to ensure that not only is more PVC recycled each year, but also a new focus initiated to build relationships between the recyclers and converters to ensure that products made using the recyclate will serve an Eco friendly market. A certification scheme was launched which reassures customers that the Eco friendly product they are buying contains the right amount of recyclate.

Converters who are part of the Recovinyl Plus scheme will carry a unique ID number on their products where customers can find out the percentage of recyclate used in the product and what sources were used.

To date, in excess of 48,000 tonnes of PVC-U has been recycled in the UK including over 1 million window frames. This has been made into cladding, roof line products and doors.

Is Recrovinyl more than just PVC?

Following on from the huge success of PVC recycling, the great news is that other regulated waste streams will now be included in the scheme. Products from the automotive, electric and electronic plus their packaging are all included. This is a great idea and is encouraging demand for recycled goods within the construction industry which in turn feeds the growing customer demand for Eco friendly goods which won't cost the earth (quite literally!)

This is great news for parts of the construction industry who have already made huge progress by effectively dealing with PVC-U waste. It is now a chance for the whole construction industry to become involved by creating a more sustainable environment and potentially seeing all products partly or wholly made from recycled materials.