Electrical Contracting News (ECN) September 2016 - Page 41

SPECIAL FEATURE WIRING ACCESSORIES MOVING WITH THE TIMES There is much more to an electrician’s job than rewiring and Marie Parry of Scolmore Group looks at how in these times of economic uncertainty electricians are using the skills they already possess to broaden the work they undertake, to meet changing demands and secure a healthy future for their businesses. T he days when an electrical installer would spend most of his time on simple rewiring projects seems to be a thing of the past. With advances in technology continuing to drive the electrical contracting sector, and homeowners and business operators looking to add energy saving and security features to their premises, electrical installers are having to up their game to keep up with this demand, with home automation and security requirements high on the agenda. Modularity The whole area of wiring installations continues to evolve, with the key word today being modularity. It is no longer about new and exciting finishes, it’s about flexibility and functionality and incorporating multiple modules into one plate – media modules, USB ports, HDMI outlets – and ultimately being able to create bespoke installations to suit individual requirements. The concept of modular wiring accessories isn’t a new one – interchangeable cover plates and interchangeable switch modules have been available for years. What has changed is the development of technology and the desire by homeowners to have more ability to control the lighting and other electrical accessories. The huge growth in ownership of portable electronic devices – smartphones, tablets and e-readers – and the plethora of leads and adaptors required to keep these devices charged means that today’s technology is reliant on USB charging. This led initially to the development of USB charging modules and has now resulted in USB ports being integrated into one and two-gang electrical sockets – eliminating the need for bulky chargers, whilst freeing up plug sockets. With more complex charge management software and circuitry being built into tablet computers, smart phones and e-readers, for example, the amount of current that the device will accept is limited. A device will go into protection mode when it recognises fluctuations within the power supply, resulting in reduced charge or no charge at all. Supply fluctuations can occur for a number of reasons, including the plugging in of another device into a neighbouring port. Utilising a single USB option eliminates the potential for this problem to occur. Scolmore’s single USB outlet provides a constant charge rate and guarantees charge no matter what the device and has proven to reduce the recharge time of devices. These are ideal retrofit products, which have enormous application potential for homes, offices, schools, hotels, education, leisure outlets and transport interchanges. Of course housebuilders and developers are now fitting these as standard in all new builds. Modular wiring’s flexibility means that there is no minimum project size and it is easier for contractors to take on bigger projects than they might otherwise do. From single room solutions to the largest multi-million pound new build hospitals, systems can be either retrofitted or newly installed to provide users with safe, reliable and convenient power and lighting services. predict that home automation is set to become one of the fastest growing markets in the UK, predicted to be worth £210m by 2019, according to AMA Research. As such it presents a huge area for diversification and an extra income stream for those installers who are embracing the challenge. The largest sector for home automation is now retrofit, where homeowners are keen to add wireless security and energy “ saving features without having to alter the wiring or disrupt the decor. A system like the Click iNels Radio Frequency Wireless Control System is ideal for both refurbishment and new build projects and can be used by electricians to update an existing wiring system. Simple and flexible installation, significant energy savings and easy programming are the key attributes, and a one-touch centralised control panel IT IS VITAL FOR ELECTRICAL INSTALLERS TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST LEGISLATION, TECHNOLOGIES AND CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS. Energy efficiency The demand for environmentally friendly products continues to be a major issue, with both homeowners and business operators keen to use whatever means they can to improve the environmental credentials of their properties. For the installer, this can be as basic as replacing lamps with energy efficient LEDs, right through to the use of individual and central controls for lighting and other electrical products. Smart homes The huge growth in home automation is being driven by the rapid advance in technology which is bringing intelligent automation systems to a growing number of homes and work places, allowing control of everything from lighting, communications and entertainment. Although home automation technology has been available for many years, it is only recently that it has moved away from an upper market niche into a more mainstream market. With declining costs and complexity, plus greater awareness of system benefits, industry experts The largest sector for home automation is now retrofit. 41 40-42 Wiring Accessories – Scolmore.indd 41 10/08/2016 16:29