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QuestionIs it essential to have an earth on my lighting circuit? (I am planning to rent the property out)

8 Answers

Best Answer

Current regulations require an cpc on the lighting circuit. This is not retrospective and means that you do not need to have one on an existing lighting circuit. This does mean that no lighting or other electrical device that requires connection to earth cannot be used on the lighting circuit. So warnings should be given as such. This generally means no metal switches, no metal lamp fittings. So the answer is no you do not need one.

Lighthouse Electrical 6th Jun, 2011

The regulations allow a consumer unit to be upgraded even if the cpc (circuit protective conductor) is absent providing that a number of point are followed. The main one being that NO metal accessories are installed on that particular circuit. Class 2 double insulated fittings or pvc pendants or battens are acceptable.

It would be then your responsibility to ensure that the guidelines are followed and issue a warning letter to the client. Normally the electrician would provide this. The circuit or circuits without cpc must be clearly identified at the consumer unit.

It is by far the safest and best option to have the circuit upgraded so that it conforms to today’s wiring regulations.

Whichever way you go, get a full Periodic Inspection on the property before letting it out.

Hope this helps.


Secelec UK 6th Jun, 2011

no you do not need a earth in a lighting circuit, but you can not have any metal fittings {switches are lights] they must all be plastic.

ian parker
i parker electricals

I Parker electricals 6th Jun, 2011

Hi Nicola,

Quite a tricky question as the answer can be very open ended. As a landlord you have a legal duty to ensure that the installation is adequately maintained. As such a Periodic Inspection & Report would highlight the above problem. To leave it with no earth would require a label on the consumer unit advising that this circuit has no earth, the fittings should ideally also be class 2 fittings, if the switches have metal backboxes they should also either have screwcaps fitted or use nylon screws. The circuit itself will be old ( 1960`s or 70`s ) and that itself would mean an insulation test and depending on the outcome may then lead to the circuit being protected by an RCBO.
Another alternative may be to install an cpc ( earth ) to be run alongside the circuit, this have to be a minimum of 4mm in diameter.

Above is the technical answer. If I was your electrician I would do none of the above but simply bite that bullet and rewire the circuit. Renting is a long term gain and the only long term practical solution is to outlay some cash, eradicate potential problems and then hopefully sit back and watch the rents coming in.

Rewire it Nicola regardless to the disruption of decoration. Hope this helps and my answer does not seem too harsh. I have seen too many tenants take down ordinary lighting drops and put up fancy chrome lights. If you have not provided adequate maintainence and warning notcies as mentioned above you could be liable if there was an accident even though technically the tenant should not have changed the fitting.

NJM Electrical 6th Jun, 2011

although it is not compulsory to have a cpc if the original wiring was to the regulations of that at the time it was installed,
you would most definatly not be able to have any metal fittings ie swtiches pendands or wall light fittings, also theres should be a warning notice present ,
ig you are to rent the property it is your duty of care to make sure that the propert is fit for purpose,
iwould recomend on a periodic normaly that the curcuit was iether upgraded with a cpc or a new circuit was installed completely,

oaktree building services 7th Jun, 2011

Yes it is to meet current regulations you would require and earth.

Grant Mac 6th Jun, 2011

Lighting circuits installed before 1966 often did not include a circuit protective conductor (cpc).
There is no legal requirement, and no regulation in BS 7671, requiring and existing lighting circuit to be rewired or otherwise upgraded to current standards.

Furthermore, it is permissible to extend or alter and existing lighting circuit having no cpc. However, the new work must be carried out in accordance with the current edition of BS 7671, and the safety of the existing installation must not be impaired.
If Class I equipment, such as a metal luminair (lighting fitting) switchplate or the like is subsequently installed, the addition of a circuit protective conductor is essential

Without a cpc, there will be a risk of electric shock under fault conditions
There is no legal requirement, and no regulation in BS 7671, requiring and existing lighting circuit to be rewired or otherwise upgraded to current standards.

The following are some of the main requirements of BS 7671 that must be taken into account where an existing lighting circuit without cpc is to be extended or altered.
No alteration or addition may be made to an existing installation unless it has been ascertained that the rating and condition of any existing equipment, including that of the distributor, which will have to carry the additional load is adequate for the altered circumstances and the earthing and bonding on which the alteration or addition will rely for safety is adequate (Regulation 131.8 refers). Amongst other things, the adequacy of the cross-sectional-area (csa) of the existing circuit conductors and the type and rating of the protective device must be established.

it is advisable that a cpc should be connected to any existing Class I equipment connected to the circuit if this equipment is not already satisfactorily earthed. Advice on dealing with existing Class I equipment that may not be earthed is given in a best practice guide entitled Replacing a consumer Unit in Domestic Premises Where Lighting Circuits Have No Protective Conductor, published by the Electrical Safety Council. This may be downloaded from NICEIC Group Ltd at www.niceicgroup.com

KB Home improvements 6th Jun, 2011

An earth (Circuit Protective Conductor) has been an essential regulation since 1998. If your wiring doesn't contain an earth if would be a good idea to rewire those circuit. It would be essential if you were to rent your property out. A Periodic Inspection Report on the property would be a first step to see what condition the installation is in.

Matthew Biggs 6th Jun, 2011

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