Wiring regs history
1882, a 4 page document with 21 regulations. At this time bare exposed iron wire was the norm, and joints were made by a long carefully specified twist of the wires.
The initial impetus for these rules was the Phoenix insurance company, who were handling a lot of fire claims due to badly installed arc lights. The early rules were to reduce risk of fire, they did not address shock.
A scanned and OCRed version of it is available here
1934. Earthing required for the first time
1939. Revised to varying degrees in 1943, 45, 46 & 48.
Ring circuits introduced in 1947
1950. Supplement 1954
Trade body NECIEC formed around this time (1956). The regs document itself took a more formal tone with requirements worded in the form of mandatory and non mandatory "good practice" sections.
IIRC the 13th did away with a lot of outdated practices like dual pole fusing, non-EEBAD installs etc.
1966. Earthed lighting circuits required for the first time
Released in 1981, although concern in the installation industry that the scope of change may be too large, resulted in the implementation being delayed by the English and Scottish secretaries of state until January 1985
The Electric Lighting Act 1882 was finally repealed in 1989
Introduced in 1991, and coming into effect January 1993
1992 Saw the British Standards Institute (BSI) adopted the wiring regs making BS7671 a national standard for all electrical work in the UK.
Old material from the FAQ
By Andrew Gabriel 2/3/1998
Amendment 2 edition (1997) has a yellow cover (original 16th edition has a red cover; amendment 1 (1994) has a green cover). Also known as "Requirements for Electrical Installations" and "BS 7671:1992 Incorporating second amendment"
Reprinted a final time in 2004 incorporating amendments 1 & 2, with a brown cover.
290pp., 297 x 210mm, Soft covers version, ISBN 0 85296 927 9, 1997 UKP 42 / US$ 84
Ring-bound version, ISBN 0 85296 842 6, 1994 UKP 55 / US$ 110
Updates are available to bring a first amendment version up to the second amendment:
For soft covers version, ISBN 0 85296 926 0, 1997 UKP 12 / US$ 24
For ring-bound version, ISBN 0 85296 938 4, 1997 UKP 12 / US$ 24
Any bookshop should be able to order these if they don't stock them, or you can order from the IEE's web page above.
2008. Amended 2011
A summary of the (quite far reaching) changes
The 18th Edition was introduced in July 2018, and applies to any design work completed after Jan 2019. (Note that designs completed before the cutoff date can still be implemented after it).
The 18th edition adds a substantial number of new pages over those in amendment 3 of the 17th edition (560 pages vs 496)
Some key highlights of the changes are:
- All lighting circuits must now have 30mA trip RCD protection (this is now an explicit requirement, rather than the default one that usually followed from the 17th edition's requirement that buried cables be RCD protected).
- Sockets without RCD protection are now no longer permitted in a domestic setting (previously they were allowed with special risk assessment and labelling). They are however still permitted in commercial settings.
- There are new requirements for all wiring support to not fail as a result of fire (i.e. this no longer just in escape routes). So cables supported in plastic trunking or in plastic conduit will also need additional metal clips.
- Arc Fault Detection Devices (AFDD) are now permitted and described in the regs although are not required (yet)
- The rules on main equipotential bonding have been clarified to state the services which enter a building which have an insulated section, do not require bonding. Hence services from plastic supply pipes, or metal services connected to plastic installation pipes are excluded from the requirement to be bonded.
- New Isolation and Switching section (mainly bits moved from elsewhere, and quite similar to the section with the same name in the 16th edition)
- New requirements on Electric Vehicle charging circuits.
- New guidance on "in ground" luminaires.
Additional changes/sections with little impact for domestic installations:
- IT earthing
- Lightning protection
- The protective device response curves moved from 14 to Appendix 3
Things not included / included only as a recommendation:
- Contrary to expectations given by the draft version of the standard, there is not a requirement to add an earth electrode to all installations.
- New Energy Efficiency section has been introduced as a recommendation in an appendix rather than as requirements in section 8.