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Have you heard of the Calcard?

Posted by Michaela Elcoat on 28th September 2016

The Calcard was introduced in September 2009 to regularly check the accuracy of an electricians multi-functional test instrument. The card is useful for those working on electrical equipment and installations where inspecting and testing is performed on a regular basis.

Its approval by the NICEIC and NAPIT just to name a few, means electricians can test up to five insulation resistance values themselves including: 0.5MΩ, 1MΩ, 2MΩ, 10MΩ and 20MΩ, which are all tested to 500V. It can also be used to verify five continuity tests including; 0.25Ω, 0.5Ω, 1Ω, 2Ω and 5Ω.

It’s recommended these tests are performed once a month and figures are recorded for your own reassurance. As this card has a three year guarantee it is accepted between formal calibration periods of the test instrument. The periodic check results should be kept for a minimum period of three years.

 

The Calcard is a great size, around the same as a credit card. It also displays the readings you should be seeing when you test the meter and probes. It’s made from laminated glass and fibre which ensures it doesn’t break or bend when carrying it around with you. The pads shown below enable you to test the probes without removing the tips from instrument probes, again making it easier to perform your monthly tests. It also comes with a unique serial number, identifying it to your meter. 

Although the Calcard has been highly recommended and considered value for money by electrical bodies, it will only confirm resistances in respect of low ohms reading testing and insulation resistance testing. The full calibration tests will still need to be conducted annually by your local electrical provider.

So the question is, are they worth the money and do they add value? There’s been mixed reviews on forums about Calcards and if people find them useful or not. Theiet.org forum have praised the Calcard for:

Ease of use

The prompt it gives to check the meter monthly

Providing peace of mind to those who are concerned for the accuracy of their meters

Those who purchased the card on tester.co.uk have also responded positively, saying the card provides accurate readings and state it’s fit for purpose.

Others have argued the Calcard isn’t worth the money, users from the Electricians Forum have said:

The 12 month calibration test covers all basis

They don’t believe the Calcard extends the life of the multi-functional meter as stated

Due to not being able to test all functions means it’s pointless, and electricians should just wait for the 12 month annual calibration test.

The only benefit they believe the Calcard has is if you happen to drop your meter and you’re concerned about its post accuracy, some also say if the temperature can effect the readings for example if a metre has been left in a cold or hot place overnight.

So there’s slightly mixed reviews regarding the Calcard, but we believe it does have many uses, especially if you are newly qualified and want to ensure your meter always produces the correct readings. It’s also important to consider why companies including; NICEIC, IET, NAPIT and ECA are promoting the benefits of the card if they didn’t believe it was worthwhile.

We think it’s a great product to invest in, the affordability combined with the verification of the meter and probes definitely means it’s worthwhile for an electrician. If you would like to order a Calcard click here

Categories: electrician, calcard, multi-function tester, product review

Trade Apprenticeships on the Rise. How Does Each Trade Compare?

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 23rd September 2016

The number of people registering to become an electrical apprentice is increasing each year due to the government actively investing and promoting apprenticeships across the UK. When we look at the data below we can see a significant increase over the last year and data for 2016 which is yeat to be finalised suggest this will incre\ase further. 

So what happened in 2008?

Electrical apprenticeships increased to a peak of 6520 starts in 2008. The increase was driven by a booming construction sector. In order to complete an apprenticeship it is essential to have a job or apprenticeship placement. As such apprenticeships can be a good indicator of the strength of an industry and it’s employment prospects.

So when the crash happened in 2007 we saw overall starts for electrical apprenticeships decline in the following years. They have been a little up and down since then but have finally hit their stride over the last couple of years getting close to pre-2007 levels. Data for the period August 2015 - April 2016 is still to be completed but total starts for that period is almost equal to the year before already with 5480 apprentices starting. 

Whats going to happen in coming years?

Well there is a major shift coming in the next few years. Apprenticeships as a whole are set to become more common across all industries. The reason for this is that the government is going to be enforcing an apprenticeship levy on all employers who have a wage bill of £2M or more. This means that those employers will have to spend 0.5% of their wage bill on apprentices. If they don’t that money will get paid into a pot and then be used to facilitate more apprenticeships. Essentially it will be a use or lose it approach so most employers are likely to use it.

We expect that overall apprenticeships will rise but also there will be an increase in demand for mature apprentices who can enter the industry. This also will mean an increase in demand for students who have self-funded their training and maybe need an employer to sponsor an NVQ.

How are other trades performing?

It’s no surprise that apart from general construction skills plumbing comes second in terms of the number of apprenticeship starts over the last few years. We can also see a similar pattern in terms of a peak in 2007 and then a lull before things start to improve in the last few years.

Why it makes sense to hire an apprentice?

The current government and private education sectors have recently been encouraging employers to consider taking on apprentices because they’re generally easier to train and mould and are also cost-effective for the business. Another added benefit which GOV.UK recently reported is that 89% of employers who hired an apprentice saw their business improve the quality of their product or service.

There’s also many long term benefits for employers and apprentices, as GOV.UK also published statistics stating that 90% of apprentices will stay in employment with 71% staying with the same employer.

What’s clear is that apprenticeships and trade based careers are seeing a resurgence of interest over the last few years. With the rise in university tuition fees and the ability to get earning much quicker in many trades it is no surprise to see a large number of younger and older students choosing to ditch the books and pick up the tools.

 

 

Categories: apprenticeships

Funny Apprentice Stories

Posted by Michaela Elcoat on 5th September 2016

 

We asked people to send in their funny apprentice stories for a chance to win a Megger Multimeter courtesy of YESSS Electrical.

Our winner was Brett Dawkins who made a mistake during one of his first jobs. Well done Brett, let’s hope you learnt from this!

When I was an apprentice I was left alone to finish off connecting the new kitchen sockets because the electrician's partner had gone into labour. I cross connected the lives and the earths on a fused spur which was feeding the pump to the customer's outside fish pond. Luckily, the fish were at the same potential as the water and didn't fry, but the lady who lived there couldn't work out why she was getting a crack up her arm every time she fed the fish! Flowers and chocolates were sent her way.

We also researched other stories to give you a giggle!

Wake Up Call

I was scheduled to work on a Saturday, the electrician and the foreman came to pick me up at 6am to work in London somewhere, I did not know what time it was (or even what day).

On the Monday he said to me I was outside your house beeping the horn, everyone on your street woke up, where were you?

I said my bedroom was at the back of the house.

You only wake up late once, now it does not matter what time I need to be at work, I always get there early!

A Lesson Learnt!

On one of my first jobs as a trainee I had to change a light switch in the kitchen where the board was, I thought I'd do the clever thing and check that the circuit I was preparing to work on was off. When I looked at the breaker it was on green, obviously I thought that this meant on so I flipped it over to the red, thinking that meant off, just like my telly or something, then I proceeded to remove the switch and started twisting the live and the neutral simultaneously with each hand and got a nasty belt! Learnt my lesson that day.

Take Caution

My electrical team was finishing a job on a bank refit, along with the ceiling fixers who were packing up they're tools. Meanwhile, our apprentice was wobbling on the top step of the smallest pair on site, unscrews a temporary fitting off the slab above the ceiling, when he removes the last screw it pulled him off balance and he belly flopped onto the ceiling grid bringing down 20% of it!

I was laughing until the ceiling lads calmed down!

We found this story was the funniest, but was not our winner.

When I was an electrician I had a naive apprentice. I told him to go to the wholesaler and gave him a list. In the middle of the list I wrote "1 set of fallopian tubes" after a plumber mate of mine had done the same thing to his apprentice.

Off he went to the wholesaler, meanwhile I had told pretty much everyone on the building site we were working at what I had written.

About 30 minutes later he came back with two bags full of gear and him shaking his head. Most of the building site had stopped to see what he had to say.

I said "what’s wrong?" He replied: "well I asked for the F&*%ing fallopian tubes, didn’t I"

I said "Yeah did they have any?"

He says "The guy behind the counter said they had none in stock, but a lady upstairs may have some but he was unsure if they were for sale!"

 

We hoped you liked the stories, if you have any you would like to share visit our Facebook page

Categories: apprenticeship, funny stories, electrical training