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Thread: earth on light switches?

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    earth on light switches?

    Hi,

    My mother is in the process of purchasing my late gran's house, and had an electrician out today for a C.O.C. She was told all the light switches need to be replaced.
    So I purchased a couple of LEAR light switches from a big supplier in town and fitted them. But then I was told, "new legislation requires that all light switches be earthed."
    uhm, ok. These brand new LEAR switches have a plactic backing plate, and no seperate earth connection.
    The old switches, however, were all metal, with metal screws into the metal box. There's no dedicated earth cable though, but I'm sure the metal box + metal screws + metal backing plate was good enough earth, yet "they won't pass C.O.C"

    What now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Hi,

    My mother is in the process of purchasing my late gran's house, and had an electrician out today for a C.O.C. She was told all the light switches need to be replaced.
    So I purchased a couple of LEAR light switches from a big supplier in town and fitted them. But then I was told, "new legislation requires that all light switches be earthed."
    uhm, ok. These brand new LEAR switches have a plactic backing plate, and no seperate earth connection.
    The old switches, however, were all metal, with metal screws into the metal box. There's no dedicated earth cable though, but I'm sure the metal box + metal screws + metal backing plate was good enough earth, yet "they won't pass C.O.C"

    What now?
    Rudi,

    With all due respect to your electrician, although all metallic parts in an installation (for example the old switches) have to be bonded to earth, because your Lear switches are covered by plastic (ie are insulated from being able to become live), they do not have to be earthed and that is why they do not have the earth connection. Even if the box is metal, as long as there is no chance of touching any of the box or fastening screws because they are behind a plastic cover, bonding to earth is not an issue.

    You might want to get a second opinion.

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gobbleteller View Post
    Rudi,

    With all due respect to your electrician, although all metallic parts in an installation (for example the old switches) have to be bonded to earth, because your Lear switches are covered by plastic (ie are insulated from being able to become live), they do not have to be earthed and that is why they do not have the earth connection. Even if the box is metal, as long as there is no chance of touching any of the box or fastening screws because they are behind a plastic cover, bonding to earth is not an issue.

    You might want to get a second opinion.
    Thanx for the promtp reply. This is my 2nd opinion Being a Saterday night, I'll have to take my chances with what I get here. I know some good people "lurk" these forums

    So, what should happen, to be compliant?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Thanx for the promtp reply. This is my 2nd opinion Being a Saterday night, I'll have to take my chances with what I get here. I know some good people "lurk" these forums

    So, what should happen, to be compliant?
    Maybe its a case of there is no earth conductor and they were using the metal conduits as earth but because you have modified the circuit (changed fittings/switches) it needs to be bought to current standards and have an earth wire run with the live conductors. Even though they are plastic switches and they won't become live I think you electrician my be bringing up to current standard (you can't use wireways ie conduits as earth). If it was existing and nothing had been changed then you can (but wouldn't as I don't do domestics any more) sign it of as existing and reasonably safe. If the circuit changes it needs to be brought up to current standards.

    I don't know all the info but maybe that's what it is.

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    Ok, so I finally got the quote (no photos though...) and found some rather interesting stuff

    The whole job will cost R7.500! Among others, he's replacing 3x 20A circuit breakers, at R280! That's without the labour, which is quotes elsewhere.
    Replacing of PVC light switches. The sames ones I just brought and replaced.
    Removal of "cap tire and speaker wire for lights". It's for outside "security lights", connected to plugs - not directly. The cable probably was the accepted standard back when my grand father had them fitted. I know he made a big fuss about these. Surely this can't affect the C.O.C? What if I cutt-off the plugs myself?
    "Supply and install x1 plug top on garage motor" - the Garage motor is wired directly into the DB, inside the garage - is this wrong?
    He's charging R4000 labor + R350 "callout fee", on top of the R750 quote fee we had to pay last week. Sounds like we're paying for the nice new Prado his wife drove (she dropped off something later that day).

    No, the question is, can I fix these "problems" myself and get a C.O.C? I'm not a fool and electricity is no stranger to me, but I don't have a wireman's license.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Ok, so I finally got the quote (no photos though...) and found some rather interesting stuff

    The whole job will cost R7.500! Among others, he's replacing 3x 20A circuit breakers, at R280! That's without the labour, which is quotes elsewhere.
    Doesn't sound cheap but I'm always hesitant to comment on prices without seeing the job first.


    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Replacing of PVC light switches. The sames ones I just brought and replaced.
    Why??? If you've bought new switches and they're SABS approved then it shouldn't be necessary to replace again.


    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    Removal of "cap tire and speaker wire for lights". It's for outside "security lights", connected to plugs - not directly. The cable probably was the accepted standard back when my grand father had them fitted. I know he made a big fuss about these. Surely this can't affect the C.O.C? What if I cutt-off the plugs myself?
    Yep, just remove the offending cabling entirely yourself and the fittings for that matter.


    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    "Supply and install x1 plug top on garage motor" - the Garage motor is wired directly into the DB, inside the garage - is this wrong?
    It might be non compliant, it depends. If there's an existing socket nearby then just putting a plug on the garage door motor is a half hour job even if it needs a trailing cable fitted as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    He's charging R4000 labor + R350 "callout fee", on top of the R750 quote fee we had to pay last week. Sounds like we're paying for the nice new Prado his wife drove (she dropped off something later that day).
    Hmmm, I'm still hesitant to comment on prices but I'd love to know where he gets the 4K labour price from. I get the feeling I might not be doing the electrical business thing right, R750.00 for a quote....damn, hell, bugger I nearly broke my first rule and commented on the price.

    Are you sure it was his wife? I'm guessing at those rates it could well be a mistress.....

    Quote Originally Posted by SoftDux-Rudi View Post
    No, the question is, can I fix these "problems" myself and get a C.O.C? I'm not a fool and electricity is no stranger to me, but I don't have a wireman's license.
    Honestly I'd suggest you get another couple of quotes first (and preferrably quotes that don't cost R750.00). Even if you do some of the remedial work you're going to have to get a sparky to do the testing and certification which puts you somewhere between a rock and a hard place. The guy with the mistress is going to financially punish for the retest even you even if you do most of the remedial graft and if you get another sparky in to do the certificate he's going to start the inspection and testing from scratch and may well find other issues that mistress-boy didn't.
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    Looks to me like you just got screwed.

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    Rudi, I have to agree with Andy on most of the comments... and ians definitely

    With respect to the security lights, I agree that it would be non-compliant using these types of cables as they don't have an earth wire. Lights are usually not fed through the earth leakage relay, and not having a path for earth fault currents to flow through is really dangerous. As soon as you touch a faulty light, you become the conductor to earth.
    As Andy says, if you don't intend using the lights remove them and the cabling. To keep using the lights feed them from a socket outlet. Remember anything feeding from a socket outlet will then be supplied through an earth leakage relay and this means if it rains and water enters the light fitting, you will experience unnecessary blackouts.

    For the garage motor, if the motor is fed from its own dedicated circuit breaker, I don't understand why it would be seen as non-compliant. But if you do have a socket outlet nearby, supply the motor from it by fitting a plug it's cable.

    I had a look on LEAR's website to see if their products are SABS approved but I couldn't find any information. They are a big company, so I don't understand why they wouldn't be SABS approved, but have a look on the site and give them a buzz. If their switches are compliant, there's no need to change them.

    Surely these boys aren't the only electricians in town. Get another few quotes and save yourself some money.

    Good luck

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    Platinum Member SilverNodashi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post
    Doesn't sound cheap but I'm always hesitant to comment on prices without seeing the job first.


    Why??? If you've bought new switches and they're SABS approved then it shouldn't be necessary to replace again.
    Apparently, they won't comply with the "new act", or something like that. They need to be isolated.
    I spoke to LEAR about this as well and they recon that since the switches cover the whole box (i.e. you can't accidently touch an open wire inside) it should be fine, but then the boxes need to be earthed. The house is old and it might have metal pipes from the light boxes up into the ceilings, I don't know, haven't had time to go look yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post

    Yep, just remove the offending cabling entirely yourself and the fittings for that matter.
    I was just ranting a bit about this one, but will replace the cables with 3core cable soon, so all the lights have an earth cable as well. I know they were installed by some "security" company, when my grand had an automated gate and garage fitted as well, many year ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post

    It might be non compliant, it depends. If there's an existing socket nearby then just putting a plug on the garage door motor is a half hour job even if it needs a trailing cable fitted as well.
    There is no existing nearby socket available, and I almost want to think the garage motor has a CB of it's own in the DB, can't remember.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post


    Hmmm, I'm still hesitant to comment on prices but I'd love to know where he gets the 4K labour price from. I get the feeling I might not be doing the electrical business thing right, R750.00 for a quote....damn, hell, bugger I nearly broke my first rule and commented on the price.
    I sometimes think I'm in the wrong industry as well. I guess these guys take advantage of the fact that most home owners are too gullible to question their prices

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post
    Are you sure it was his wife? I'm guessing at those rates it could well be a mistress.....
    She introduced herself as such. By change, he was in the same school as I was, about 12 years after me. Still a "snotkop" but they both drive nice big cars. He drives a new Ford Ranger 4x4


    Quote Originally Posted by AndyD View Post
    Honestly I'd suggest you get another couple of quotes first (and preferrably quotes that don't cost R750.00). Even if you do some of the remedial work you're going to have to get a sparky to do the testing and certification which puts you somewhere between a rock and a hard place. The guy with the mistress is going to financially punish for the retest even you even if you do most of the remedial graft and if you get another sparky in to do the certificate he's going to start the inspection and testing from scratch and may well find other issues that mistress-boy didn't.
    We'll get someone else next week, when my mom isn't working, to come and check it out and give another quote or two.
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    The Lear products seem to be sold by most hardware stores around here, I have found the sockets (S2000) ware out very quickly, I only use Crabtree and LeGrande unless the client wants to supply his own gear.
    As for the CoC, if you want a second opinion don't use an AIA or you will end up rewiring the entire installation.
    Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.

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