Electrician course

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by Truckcab79, Oct 28, 2021.

  1. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Appreciate this has been asked a thousand times but would like some advice specific to my situation.

    Most of my work is outside. Landscaping, pergola builds, but also interior decorating, kitchens, bathrooms etc for the colder months.

    I have no electrical qualifications at all and my knowledge is limited.

    Typically at the moment I might be building a patio and installing lighting in the slabs as I go. Armoured cable, waterproof gel-filled junction boxes etc. I might also be adding spike lights and spotlights around the garden. Installing the switches etc. My current set-up is that I do 90% of the install then while it’s still exposed my electrician will check and test, then run power outside if needed and commission it.

    I’ve no desire to not use my electrician but would like to be able to do more myself and more importantly would like to be able to test and fault-find if necessary. Be able to calculate loads as well would be useful. I’d also like to know that if a very minor fault occurred (replacing a duff fitting or switch say) that I could do so safely and legally without paying him for a days work or more importantly having to wait until he’s available.

    Is there a short course that could be recommended that would give me the above? I don’t want to go on a 5 or 10 day course to find out it teaches me even less than I already know.

    I’ve been looking at the various domestic installer courses. Even though these probably don’t cover exterior and bathroom / kitchen work, but if they cover enough of the fault-finding and basic theory then they may still be what I need to improve my knowledge as well as covering me for removing sockets and switches when doing decorating work inside.

    Many thanks in advance for the advice.
  2. Bazza-spark

    Bazza-spark Screwfix Select

    Although it will not earn you any qualifications, there is a raft of information on this site.


    Have a look at the testing procedures section, a multifunction meter is going to cost you big bucks, so if you can't get to grips with the info on the site at least you haven't wasted a wad of cash on courses etc.

    If after you have gone through the info here you still want to persue it then it is worth talking to your local colleges etc.
    tore81 and Truckcab79 like this.
  3. sparko69

    sparko69 Screwfix Select

    There is no short course that can teach you how to fault find. The only way is to actually get the practical knowledge and get the experience.
    Truckcab79 likes this.
  4. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Thanks both.
  5. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    So is there no value at all to these short courses for ‘domestic installers’?

    (At the risk of getting a whole load of replies telling me you’ve been a sparky for 100 years and anything less isn’t worthy of the title of course. :D)
  6. sparky steve

    sparky steve Screwfix Select

    Nothing wrong with wanting to improve your knowledge and understanding of electrics. However will it be worth the outlay for courses & testing equipment etc?
    How much actual electrical work will you be doing? Will it be cost effective if only removing odd socket when you are decorating etc. Suppose it depends how much electrical work you contemplate on doing wether or not it will be worhwhile?
  7. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Much as I’d outlined above really. I’m pretty much booked for months for my main trades so certainly no desire to start looking for electrical work in addition. It’s more the case that I’m naturally inclined to want to learn new stuff and more-so don’t really like not understanding stuff. I suppose a typical example would be taking down and replacing a ceiling rose (at my own home). My standard approach is to methodically photograph and label everything. Then put it back the way it came out. However if say I lost track or mis-labelled something I’d feel a bit stuck not knowing for certain what goes where.
    Likewise at work I’m more than happy taking off a socket and replacing it, and even then I’ll photograph it, but at the back of my mind it always nags me that I probably shouldn’t be doing it as I’m not an electrician. I thought that if I had a least taken a short formal course then I’d feel more comfortable doing so.
    sparky steve likes this.
  8. sparky steve

    sparky steve Screwfix Select

    We all have to start somewhere. So go for it:)
  9. Bazza-spark

    Bazza-spark Screwfix Select

    Have a word with your local technical college. They often do reasonably priced evening courses.
  10. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Cheers all. I’ll find something and add it to the thread and see what you think. I’m happy with basics, sockets, switches, I run miles of armoured for my patio lighting, make all the connections do all the junction boxes etc etc so I’m way of stumping up a grand for a course that so basic I spend 5 days being shown how to strip a wire and replace a plug.
  11. Bazza-spark

    Bazza-spark Screwfix Select

    As long as the corret swa glands are used and they are terminated correctly.

    Look at the C & G 2391 Test and inspect course. You may be able to do it without the exam, but it will take you through the requirements and procedures for testing and fault finding. The basics are in the link I posted for you earlier.
  12. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Many thanks. Will have a look at those.

    Armoured and underground junction boxes are about the only thing I’m completely confident of. The guy that does my electrics currently asked if he could watch me do them last time as he does them so rarely in comparison! If anything I over-compensate for my lack of knowledge and experience and over-engineer and earth everything to within an inch of its life. Funnily enough an example of what I get confused by. When I first started doing them I googled and got various sparky forums with answers from the SWA sheath doesn’t need to be earthed separately, to earth in every box, to just earth either end. I find the lack of agreement on stuff like that very confusing.

    Same for junction boxes. Some say you can bury, some don’t, so under patios I use Wiska 308 which are IP66, pack the glands with silicone as a short term fix until my guy does the check and test, then open them all back up and magic gel them. Anything more exposed to water I use Pratley boxes.
  13. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    Two very different situations, domestic and commercial. With commercial if you think you can do the work in a competent manor there is nothing stopping you from doing it. With domestic some work can be done without a problem, but some work which varies country to country has restrictions which means some one needs to inspect and inspect who is authorised to do it.

    So with domestic either you are a scheme member or your not, there is no half way, you qualify and pay fees, or you use LABC with what ever restrictions and fees they charge.

    So I can go to where I work, and do what ever is required in the building used for volunteers to live in while working on the heritage railway with no problem, but can't do work much work in my own house. There are a few things I can DIY, but even with C&G 2391 it is very limited at a reasonable price unless I am doing enough to be worth joining a scheme.

    So the big question is would you do enough domestic to be worth paying to be a scheme member? Forget learning how for moment, if you had all the qualifications would it be worth spending out for scheme membership?
  14. Bazza-spark

    Bazza-spark Screwfix Select

    You must ensure the armour is earthed along its length. Where you have a whiska box (or other) then you must maintain that earth between the armour on the different cables, even if the armour is not used as the earth for the circuit.

    Glands should be of the type that has a rubber compression ring that clamps over the cable outer insulation to prevent water ingress to the armour and its termination.

    I have found so many incorrectly terminated glands and internal glands fitted outside in industrial situations.
  15. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Almost certainly not. I’m not looking to take electrical work on per se, I’m looking for more confidence in my knowledge to do what I do now I suppose. Probably run the entire scheme in except final connection. Appreciate I can do that now but would like to do it with better knowledge of what I’m doing if that makes sense.
  16. Comlec

    Comlec Screwfix Select

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
    Truckcab79 likes this.
  17. Truckcab79

    Truckcab79 Screwfix Select

    Exactly what I use and I earth in every box to the armour sheath using a fly lead attached to the brass plate that is fixed to the gland, despite being told even by my own guy that it’s exceeding what’s required. Glands are the correct type you describe though even on the Wiska boxes I find that rubber compression isn’t enough in every eventuality having had small amounts of water get in on occasions when the box is exposed before the sparky checks it and I bury it. (Normally only in torrential rain that’s submerged them, way in excess of what they’re designed for) I now fill each gland from inside and each rubber boot with silicone. They when they’ve been checked I fill them with magic gel. All very time consuming but less so than digging up a patio. :D Armoured and my underground connections I’m 100% happy with. Especially now I’ve bought one of those pipe cutter type cutters for the sheath! Saves so much time.

    Interestingly I was watching a YouTube video a while back with a guy at some college showing how to correctly fit an external gland. Took about a foot of rubber insulation off. No way the compression ring was ever going to seal on it.

    Which again reinforces my confusion. I think when I read forums answers, current or older there seems to be more dispute amongst electricians about how to do a job than with any other trade. Odd when I would assume it would be the most regulated.
  18. sparky steve

    sparky steve Screwfix Select

    I don’t believe it is specific to just the electrcal trade. Just think it’s human nature. My way is better than your way! I’ve done it that way forever and never had a problem, etc, etc.

    Personally even tho i’ve been in the trade quite a number of years, i’m aware i can still learn and implement new ideas.

    Believe the discussions on the electricians talk get heated, when an op asks for eg: “I’ve done this blah blah, is it safe”? Then when the reply is No! Because blah, blah. The op does not hear the answer he/she was hoping for and so a heated debate ensues. Etc, etc.

    Only trying to help keep the ops and their families safe from possible fires and electrocution.

    Going back to my apprentice years, i still remember what my tutor said to me. “Electricity is a wonderful servant, but is a dangerous master”.
  19. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    There is nothing to stop you as a general maintenance man / decorator from undertaking small, basic works, such as swapping a light, changing a fitting or removing it/replacing it - so long as it within your competance to do so and you have the right tools.

    Coms suggestion to buy a used test set (preferably with calibration still to run, which means you can be more certain it will pass next time) and only do what you feel confident to do and can do within the scope of the law.

    The books quoted by com are a good start, don't bother with the regs book as its too complex to understand for you at this stage and not required if you follow what the more practical guides give.

    If you do the above you will be doing a lot more right than many other trades where we cross over.

    We all cross over from time to time, I put in a water heater last week, did the plumbing to go with it, I'm competant with copper and plastic pipework and can make a good job of that kind of work - I've never been on a plumbing course, and I'm not a plumber, and as such there is much I wouldn't do, but if it aids me to do such work then i'll do it if I'm confident it won't end up in a flood or breaking a water reg!!

    The old saying by Robert Greene from way back in 1591 is apt, and a compliment, not a slur (in full) "A Jack of all Trades is a Master of None, but often far better than a Master of One"
    Truckcab79 likes this.
  20. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    I still find it hard to work out what is acceptable, I would for example charge forklifts in a corner of a building upload_2021-10-29_17-40-44.jpeg so there is no through route, and unlikely anyone would trip on the cables, but today cables are found in car parks upload_2021-10-29_17-42-14.jpeg near to shop entrance, on a through route to shop, with public access. I would have never been allowed to charge forklifts like that.

    At some point some one will trip over the cables, and then it is a question of who is responsible, and it is the same with most things, does not matter if electrical or not.

    So we need insurance, so if some thing goes wrong, your not left with paying out for rest of your life. And when you read of a court case it is not always who you think who gets the blame.

    So in the main it is the insurance companies who tell us what we can do, and I had a problem with second seven crossing with that, I was employed to look after electro-mechanical plant, the straddle carrier had 24 volt and 230 volt to earth plus loads of mechanical air and oil so it was neither an electrical or mechanical unit but a mixture, and I was employed to maintain it, so they employed me as a fitter, but it was just a label, last job same firm I was employed as an electrician.

    All went well for a time, then the electrical superintendent changed, and the new guy realised insurance would not cover, so every time I went to do repairs I had to take an electrician with me so insurance covered. Often the guy had no idea how to repair it, he was just there to satisfy what the insurance required.

    Clearly it changes company to company, and we often sign to say we will do any job the foreman thinks we can do, idea is if no electrical work we can be told to clean the workshop. No longer can we just sit and sup tea. But the foreman must be able to show HSE and insurance we had the skill, which is why we do safety causes on things like mechanical handling.

    I had to do a course to get a card to show I could work safely on site, can't remember the name, but after getting it the firm found as an electrician I needed to complete a different course. I stopped work before I did the course so don't know name, but it seems the courses are always changing, so I was I seem to remember classed as an advanced electrician simply as I had worked as an electrician in the construction industry for 5 years or more.

    Other industry called it an approved electrician, suppose they needed to go to an approved school? But other than domestic it is down to insurance and HSE and any safety officer to decide what is required. My apprenticeship said I was a motor vehicle and bridge builder, guy taken on came apprenticeship a year latter had engineering craftsman on his deeds.

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