Best Practices for a flexible and functional residential electrical installation

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Over the years, the demand for flexible and functional electrical installations for houses and apartments has grown on a daily basis. Changing living conditions and habits, evolving housing needs, the availability of new technologies and the awareness of the importance of efficient energy use provide the impetus for an in-depth analysis of the electrical installation.

Classic electrical installations are no longer the world standard. They no longer provide a satisfactory answer to the multitude of demands from end users for flexibility and functionality. An installation that can adapt at any time to the changing needs of the residents, expanded with customized functions that can lead to, among other things, lower energy consumption and greater ease of use, safety and care components, is now the obvious choice.

Housing construction experienced a similar revolution several decades ago with the switch from individual coal or gas heaters to central heating. Today, a central heating system is the accepted standard for a house or apartment. New and renovated homes deserve a similar switch for the electrical installation. Integrated installations with greater flexibility and functionality must now become the norm to ensure that installations do not become obsolete within a few years.

This Application Note with Good Practices does not provide you as an installer with practical tips on how to lay conduits, install distribution boards, make connections or program an integrated system. We assume you are sufficiently well versed in the technical field. It does, however, point the way towards installations with added value; installations where the customer is both the focal point and the starting point. Reflecting on what an installation should be capable of for a particular building and its residents is the central theme in the text that follows. Installing high-tech material that only offers functions that are comparable to those of a classic installation is no longer desirable. We have to adopt a more rational approach to the use of many modern technical possibilities and involve the user appropriately in this process.

This document aims for Good Practices in an ideal situation and for an ideal installation. In daily practice, it will not always be easy or even possible to follow all of the suggestions included here. We do, however, hope that the installer will follow and implement as much of the advice and suggestions as possible. This will satisfy the customer, the architect and the installer.

This Application Note is based on several interviews with installers within the housing construction industry, interviews with representatives of manufacturers, and five workshops on flexibility and functionality in the home. The workshops, organized and run by the European Copper Institute (ECI), were attended by manufacturers (ABB, Abitana, Legrand Group, Niko, Siemens) and several organizations active within the housing construction industry or the installation world (Tecnolec, Enter v.z.w., CeDuBo [i]). We would like to thank all these people, organizations and manufacturers for their cooperation.

[i] Tecnolec vzw is a Belgian Knowledge Centre for employers and employees in the electricity installer business. Enter vzw is a Belgian Centre of Expertise specialized in ergonomic design, especially for persons with disabilities and/or advanced age. CeDuBo is a Flemish Information and Coordination Centre promoting sustainable construction.