The new Wiring Rules
Preview of main changes
SAI Global has released a summary of a selected summary of the major changes in the new Wiring Rules prepared by the Chairman of Committee EL-001. The Committee ballot to approve the new draft is expected in February 2018. A publication date for the new Wiring Rules has not yet been announced but will follow the ballot later in 2018.
Some significant changes include:
- Section 1 includes many new definitions to provide clarity for the wording of clauses in Sections 2-8.
- Examples include: ‘arc fault detection device’, ‘electric vehicle’, ‘protective earth neutral’, ‘adjacent’, ‘outbuildings’, ‘alteration’, ‘repairs’ and several others.
- New ‘Accessible’ and revised ‘Readily Accessible’ definitions provide clarity for installers, especially in medical installations and when mounting electrical equipment.
- Previously in residences, all final sub-circuits supplying socket outlets and lights had to be protected with 30mA RCDs. In future, all final sub-circuits in residential dwellings must be RCD protected. No exceptions.
- For non-residential, final sub-circuits up to 32A capacity supplying socket outlets must be 30mA RCD protected. Hard-wired equipment circuits of this capacity should be.
- All lighting final sub-circuits must be RCD protected.
- Alterations requiring a change to a circuit configuration trigger the requirement for 30mA RCD protection for that circuit. Like-for-like repairs do not.
- Where all protection devices are replaced in a switchboard, all final sub-circuits must be RCD protected.
- Emergency egress requirements have been improved.
- Clearances of 1m from accessible faces of closed switchboards and 600mm from open doors or racked-out equipment are required.
- Switch room door heights and widths have been increased to 2.2m and 0.9m respectively.
- Two emergency exit paths are required if a switchboard exceeds 800A or is more than 3m in length.
- Main switches must be manually operated and not controlled by electronic devices.
- A zone has been created to clarify the IP rating required for electrical equipment mounted on external walls. The zone extends downward at a 30 degree angle from the edge of a veranda or eve to the wall.
- Equipment mounted in this triangular zone does not require an IP rating. Equipment outside the triangle needs IP33 as a minimum, except for meter boxes which historically have been IP23 rated.
- Equipment mounted inside meter boxes does not require an IP rating.
Kitchens, downlights, outbuildings and generators
- A 150mm zone either side of cooktops and extending upward to the range hood, ceiling or 2.4m will apply, where switches and socket outlets must not be installed, removing the need to reach across hot surfaces.
- Classifications of downlights must be marked on the light and the packaging to indicate where they may be installed. No classification means they must not be installed. ‘IC’ or ‘IC-4’ lights may be installed anywhere in an installation.
- Outbuildings separated by a land area are renamed ‘individual outbuilding’ and ‘combined building’ will refer to more than one structure on a common slab (eg several residential units on a single slab).
- Generators and network operators’ equipment must not be installed within the zones around swimming pools, spas and water features. Generator systems must comply with the new version of AS/NZS 3010.
- Lifts used for routine movements of people and goods are considered electrical equipment and are covered in Section 4.
- Requirements for designated emergency lifts are set out in Section 7 – Safety Services.
- This section also deals with supply systems, main switchboard, main switches, fire pumps, fire and smoke detectors and alarms, air handling equipment.
- Requirements for installing arc fault detection devices are new addition. These two-pole devices detect and isolate circuits experiencing small arcing caused by broken conductor strands in damaged flexible cords and fixed wiring or poor terminations. While the currents generally are small they can lead to fires.
- These devices are not mandatory at this time but provide protection additional to circuit breakers and RCD. They are fitted after MCBs and RCDs on final sub-circuits.
- Appendix O provides details about how to install them.
- Appendix E provides details of building classifications taken from the National Construction Code.
- Appendix K covers the extended range of switchboard standards adopted in Australia. It includes several guidelines for switchboard manufacture and verification.
- Appendix M concerns supply reliability, especially as it affects aged and infirm accommodation.
- Appendix N has information about conduit marking standards internationally and in Australia.
- Appendix Q deals with control and protection of DC circuits. DC operates much of the equipment in data centres and is becoming very prevalent in domestic installations with solar panels and storage batteries.
- Electric vehicle charging stations increasingly are being included in electrical installations. They are high-current equipment and merit special attention.
- Appendix P provides guidance on vehicle types and charging stations.
Wiring Rules videos
The Queensland Government has released a series of videos explaining the changes to the new Wiring Rules.
These videos are available to view on the Workplace Health and Safety website.
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