The Essential Guide to Wiring an RCD in Your Garage Consumer Unit

A Garage Consumer Unit, also known as a mini consumer unit or distribution board, is a device utilized to provide electricity to external buildings such as workshops, sheds, or other outdoor installations in the garage by extending the power supply. It is ideal for powering a few load circuits, typically 2-5 units, requiring minimal load points to operate. Hence, instead of installing larger consumer units, Garage Consumer Units are the perfect alternative for outbuildings.

Garage fuse boxes are known for their straightforward design, making them simple to install, troubleshoot, and repair. They are equipped with a top hinged door and typically include a 40A, 2-Pole RCD (Residual Current Device), and other related circuit breakers like 6A, 16A, and 32A MCBs (Miniature Circuit Breakers) based on the system specifications.

In this tutorial, we will demonstrate how to install a single-phase Garage Consumer Unit for 230V with RCDs according to IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards. The IEC wiring color codes apply to various countries, making them widely applicable.

Wiring a Garage Consumer Unit

Click on the image to enlarge.

Components required:

  • - Garage Consumer Unit
  • - Two-Pole 63A RCD (Residual Current Device)
  • - Three Single-Pole MCBs - 6A, 16A, and 32A
  • - Cables and wires
  • - Pliers, Screwdriver, and other relevant tools
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  • Wiring a Garage Consumer Unit
  • To connect the rated MCBs and RCD in the Garage Consumer Unit to specific appliances, follow these simple steps:
  • - Turn off the main switch or related MCB breaker in the main distribution board or consumer unit and ensure the primary supply is turned off.
  • - Mount all three MCBs (6A, 16A, and 32A, respectively) and the two-pole 63A RCD in the built-in din rail in the Garage CU.

- Connect the Neutral wire "N" (blue color) to the input "N" terminal of the RCD. The output "N" terminal of the RCD must be connected to the Neutral busbar terminal in the consumer unit.

- Similarly, connect the Phase or Live wire "L" (brown color) to the live terminal of the RCD. The output live terminal of the RCD should be bonded to other MCBs via a common copper busbar segment terminal.

- Finally, connect the incoming earth/ground wire, which is in Green with a Yellow Stripe color (from the main earthing system), to the earth busbar terminal in the Garage Consumer Unit.

Enlarge the image by clicking on it.

Once you have completed wiring the electrical appliances, you can connect them to the newly installed consumer unit and its miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) using three wires: Brown which functions as "Live" (L), Blue as "Neutral" (N), and protective earth (E) which is represented by green with a yellow stripe.

How to Wire a Garage Consumer Unit

Turn ON the main switch or the related circuit breaker in the consumer unit to restore power supply and test if the setup is working perfectly.

If you want to connect a single-phase 230V AC load circuit to the garage consumer unit you just installed, ensure that Live is connected from the output terminals of the MCB, while Neutral and Earth are connected from the Neutral and Earth Busbar terminals in the CU, respectively.

In case you need to use Residual Current Breaker with Overcurrent (RCBO) and/or Residual Current Devices (RCDs) instead of single pole MCBs, go ahead. Also, avoid connecting your lighting points and three-pin sockets to the same MCB so that lighting points will remain powered even if a fault occurs on the three-pin socket, causing it to trip.

For instance, connect lighting points to the 6A MCB while the dual socket (for immersion heaters or dedicated freezer circuits) should connect to the 16A MCB. Similarly, you can use the 32A breaker for electric ranges, electric showers, and other high-power devices.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Note that, according to wiring regulations by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, all consumer units must have RCD protection except for smoke and burglar alarms systems.

Wiring Load Circuits in the Garage Consumer Unit

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    Wiring color codes are essential to observe. They vary depending on the country. Please pay close attention to IEC & UK wiring color codes to ensure safety.

    Additionally, it is crucial to take necessary precautions when conducting electrical work. Make sure to disconnect the power supply, turn off the main switch in the main consumer unit or distribution board before installing, repairing, or servicing electrical equipment. Never stand or touch wet metal parts when working on an electrical project. Please also read carefully and adhere to all instructions while following this tutorial or any other practical work related to electrical works.

    Ensure you are using the correct cable and wire sizes, appropriate outlets and switches, and the right size circuit breakers. You can use the Wire and Cable Size Calculator to determine the correct gauge size.

    Under no circumstances should you attempt to manipulate electricity, as it poses a serious risk and may even prove fatal, unless you are knowledgeable and take proper precautions. Always enlist the help of experienced professionals who possess extensive expertise and adhere to best practices when it comes to installation and repair work involving electricity.

    Carrying out electrical work yourself is not only hazardous but is also illegal in some cases. Reach out to a licensed electrician or your electric power supplier before adjusting/modifying any electrical wiring connections whatsoever.

    Ensure that the distribution board is not mounted higher than 2.2 meters from the floor, is protected against corrosion, and is distanced from areas that are prone to moisture. Moreover, all wires ought to be adequately contained in the panel board and should not protrude from it. Lastly, there must be a cautionary sign visible near the distribution board.

    Remember, the author shall not be held responsible for any losses, injuries, or damages incurred as a result of the display or application of this information or manipulating circuits improperly. Thus, please stay vigilant as electricity is an immensely perilous resource.

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