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Disguising a fuse box
We have just had a new consumer unit installed. It is flush to the wall with the switches accessible under a raised panel. We're looking to disguise the unit as much as possible and I wondered if it is possible to paint the unit or wallpaper it, obviously not covering up the raised panel so that the switches are still accessible. Thanks.
2 Answers from MyBuilder Electricians
Suggest the best approach would be to have a look at the manufacturers instructions for the consumer unit (or download them from the CU manufacturers website).
If it was designed to be painted or wallpapered, it'll say so. I've never read a set of instructions yet that says so.
I always do what the manufacturer suggests, as they have tested and certified it as safe to that spec. Including the exterior condition of the box.
Painting or wallpapering may cause issues with the plastic, especially if there is any solvent content in the paint, and may make maintenance difficult if it gets in to the seals etc.
From next January, all new CU's have to be non combustible construction, (I.e. Metal), this was driven by a report by London Fire Brigade who reported on a number of fires that originated inside the CU, and reaffirms the important of the CU, and keeping the area around it clear, clean, and combustible material away from it.
My personal feeling is that electrical CUs are objects of beauty 😆 but that's professional bias. If my misses nagged me enough at home to cover it up, I'd get a chippy to enclose it in a cupboard, with plenty of access space all the way around for maintenance, and plenty of clearance to the box.
Answered 15th Jun 2015
I'm not going to say that painting or wall papering it will definately damage it but it doesn't sound like a great idea.
First of all consumer units should be easily identifiable to anyone incase of a fault or emergency. If it's a new unit then it is likely there are RCD's or another form of earth fault detection/protection and the outside of the unit should have informative stickers and warning labels to that affect, any paint would cover them up.
The best way to disguise a consumer unit is to put it in some kind housing, preferably made of fire resistant materials.
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