How To Identify An Old Consumer Unit

Buying a new property requires that you get to understand whether the consumer unit is up to date or needs an upgrade. In such a case, various things have to be checked to determine the consumer unit age properly.

Of course, the assistance of a professional electrician will come in handy. However, it’s also essential that you also have a look at the unit. Older consumer units are easily identified as these units were not made using the same materials. Older units were frequently made using Bakelite which is not suitable for modern fuse boxes.

While having an old fuse box is not considered illegal, it’s always wise and advisable to upgrade them. So how do you identify old consumer units from the upgraded ones?

The Appearance

New or upgraded consumer units will have a plain white or grey casing, a row of switches, and a red isolation switch. The other switches are black and are linked to the electrical circuits within the house. The upgraded unit should also feature at least two RCDs.

While the consumer unit appearance will certainly help you determine if the fuse box is outdated, you can also lookout for the following signs:

  1. A fuse box made from a light-grade metal or from Bakelite.
  2. Metal pin connectors that have been pushed into the board.
  3. Very old units will have a wooden back. Well, these date way back in the 50s and will undoubtedly need a replacement.
  4. The unit will have no RCD protection. The modern model will feature a test button that is normally marked with a ‘T’ while the old model lacks this.

What Dangers Exist with Older Consumer Unit Models?

One of the significant dangers of an old consumer unit is the fact that it lacks an RCD. Residual current devices have vital importance as they are the differentiating factor between a safer use of a fuse box and potentially life-threatening situations.

Older units may also contain exposed cables and wires, a situation where electric shocks can be of significant threat. Once you notice any loose wires, you need to call a professional immediately.

Some of the outdated units may also have fitted wires that are not standard or up to the task. In most cases, electricians have had to report call-outs that led to the identifications of older fuse boxes with such wires, and it’s just unbelievable that no one was injured or even killed.

While the modern consumer units also feature certain issues, older ones are much worse with the possibility of frequent trips. If you notice such an occurrence in your property, then once again, it’s wise that you enlist the services of a skilled electrician. The professional will advise you on the right consumer units to use for better results.


Consumer units also referred to as fuse boxes, have an essential part in the electrical system of a home. Without such a unit, you will not have a functioning circuit. Having an old consumer unit will therefore bear high electrical risks and should be replaced immediately.

At Electrical Discounted Supplies, we have modern consumer units that just stand out. Feel free to reach out and get the best advice from our experienced professionals.