Why replace a fuse box with a consumer unit?
Fuse boxes and consumer units are essential when it comes to you and your family’s safety, whilst also being integral to your electrical circuit. Anytime a fault or issue occurs, your fuse box or consumer unit will cut the buildings’ power in order to prevent fires and electrical damage.
Originally fuse boxes were widely used, but are quickly being replaced with consumer units. You may choose to replace your fuse box with a newer consumer unit when your fuse box breaks down. This is a wise choice, as consumer units are safer, easier to use and comply with building regulations.
Finally, you may wish to upgrade your fuse box or consumer unit to a larger capacity model, more able to cope with extra demand if you are extending your home.
Read on to discover more about fuse boxes and consumer units, essential factors to consider and the cost of replacing a fuse box with a consumer unit.
Cost of replacing fuse box with consumer unit
|Fuse box replacement costs||Cost + VAT |
(Range low - high)
|Cost of consumer unit||£50 - £450||£250|
|Cost of fuse box||£100 - £500||£300|
|Cost to install consumer unit||£300 - £1,000||£650|
|Cost to replace circuit breaker||£45 - £60||£52.50|
|Cost to remove a fuse box or consumer unit||£150 - £200||£175|
|Electrical inspection||£120 - £300||£210|
|Electrician hourly rate||£45|
For a breakdown of each cost we spoke to the online estimators at My Build Estimate – a professional estimating company monitored by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This guide features the various costs associated with replacing fuse boxes and consumer units that they provided.
When calculating the following prices, we have made the below considerations:
- These costs include replacing a consumer unit or fuse board in the current location.
- They do not cover moving a consumer unit or fuse board (this work is a lot more complex).
- These costs do not cover moving the incoming supplies.
In order to estimate the overall amount of a replacement let’s break down the various prices involved. There’s the average cost to remove a fuse box (£175), the cost of a consumer unit (£250), and the cost to install the consumer unit (£650).
The average cost of replacing a fuse box with a consumer unit is £1,075.
Difference between fuse box and consumer unit
As we are discussing the two terms ‘fuse box’ and ‘consumer unit’, it can be confusing what these actually mean. Below we have summarised both:
Fuse box: Historically, fuse boxes were the most common electrical safety device. They contain fuses that melt and cut the power whenever an issue with the electrical circuit occurs. Unfortunately, it can take a couple of seconds for the fuse to melt and break the electrical circuit, this may seem insignificant, but it greatly increases the risk of fires and electrical damage.
Consumer unit: Newer and safer, consumer units also break the electrical circuit if the power in the home rises too highly. The difference is that consumer units can detect electrical faults and instantly turn off the power, making them much safer. After the power is cut, the circuit breakers do not need to be replaced like fuses – just flipped back on.
Find a local electrician
Consumer units are made up of three main parts. Your electrician will use the following terms:
- Main switch: This switch controls the flow of electricity into your home. If you have an emergency or quickly need to cut power, flipping the manual main switch allows you to do this.
- Circuit breakers: Each circuit breaker is assigned to a certain area of your home electrics, e.g. the upstairs lighting. When the circuit is overloaded (too many electrical items are connected) or if the current reaches excessive heights, the circuit breaker cuts the power to prevent electrical fires.
- Residual Current Devices (RCD): Like circuit breaker supervisors (CBS), RCDs typically cover half of your home each and will also cut out the electricity if the current rises too high.
Type of consumer unit
Every consumer unit functions differently and there are numerous different types to choose from. This includes:
- Split load consumer unit
- Full loaded consumer unit
- Garage consumer unit
- Shower consumer unit
- RCD dual split consumer unit
- Domestic switch fuse
- High integrity consumer unit
Factors affecting the cost to replace a fuse box or consumer unit
In order to correctly calculate the total cost of the replacement, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Size of home: Larger homes have more electrical items and will, therefore, require a higher capacity box or unit which in turn are more expensive.
- Type of consumer unit: As we discovered in the previous section, there are a wide variety of different types of consumer unit, each priced differently.
- Condition of old unit: When replacing a fuse box or consumer unit you may be charged a fee to remove the old unit. This charge may increase if the old unit is in poor condition.
- Electrical inspection: If you need an electrical inspection to be conducted to check the safety of your current wiring this will cost between £120 – £300.
- Any new sockets, lighting or wiring: When installing a new fuse box or consumer unit you may also wish to add new sockets, lighting or wiring, which will all incur an extra cost. The average hourly rate for an electrician is £45.
The breaker panel is the part of a consumer unit that contains the circuit breakers. It isn’t possible to replace a fuse box with just a breaker panel (you need the entire unit) so the cost to replace a fuse box with a breaker panel is similar to replacing one with a consumer unit costing on average £1,075.
Cost of replacing fuse box with circuit breaker
Most modern fuse boxes contain circuit breakers. it is possible to replace an old-style fuse box with a newer, safer version. The average cost of replacing a fuse box with a circuit breaker is £175 to remove the old fuse box, £300 for the new fuse box and £650 for labour. Alternatively, if your box or unit already has a circuit breaker that is broken, simply replacing the circuit breaker costs on average £52.50.
Can I replace a fuse box or consumer unit myself?
Only a qualified electrician can replace a fuse box or consumer unit. This is a legal requirement due to the dangers involved. If you do attempt to do this on your own, you put yourself, your family and your home at risk of injury, fire and damage.
To find a local, reputable, tradesperson in your area and get a personalised fuse box and consumer unit replacement cost use our free search feature.
Do I need an electrical inspection?
It is a good idea to have an electrical inspection if the wiring in your home is old or you have specific concerns over whether it is safe or damaged.
What is the cost of replacing an electrical consumer unit?
Replacing a consumer unit is a very similar process to replacing a fuse box with a consumer unit. As such a rough estimate of this cost is £1,075.
Useful fuse box or consumer unit replacement checklist
- Fuse boxes and consumer units have similar roles as electrical safety devices.
- Consumer units are a newer and much safer alternative to older fuse boxes.
- The larger your home is, the higher capacity consumer unit or fuse box you will need.
- You may require an electrical inspection to ensure your wiring is safe.
- It is a legal requirement that only qualified electricians can replace fuse boxes or consumer units.
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