The time has come to replace your electric cooker, whether it’s because your appliance is dead after years of use or simply because you want to modernise your kitchen. And that’s great, but…
You are probably reading this article because your local electrician quoted you around £80 for what seems like a simple wiring job.
And while a professional electric cooker installation itself is not an easy task to carry out yourself, there are legalities you should be aware of first before you roll up your sleeves and plunge into the DIY territory.
Electrical Regulations and What They Mean for You
Let us start by saying that if your new cooker model is more powerful than what you previously owned, chances are that you will need to install a new circuit in order to power the appliance. However, cooker circuit installation can only be done by a Part P certified electrician!
With that said, if you are able to use your current circuit and cooker control unit, then you are free to wire your new purchase, but you need to know what you are doing as this procedure can be fatal if you are not careful.
Even if you do know what you are doing, you will still need to hire a qualified electrician to inspect your work and issue you a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate. Failure to do so can void your property insurance and you will have a harder time selling your home.
If, after reading this, you still wish to perform a DIY installation, proceed to the 6 steps below.
Step #1: Check If Your Home Meets the Power Requirements.
Electric cookers require lots of power to operate since they generate intense amounts of heat. This means that you need to get at least a 13 amp fuse, although newer models will most likely require a 32 amp fuse (read your product’s specifications to check its exact amp rating).
Since you need a separate fuse for your appliance, you will also need to fit your cooker on a separate circuit. This isolated system will ensure that your cooking appliance is drawing sufficient amounts of power at all times and that it is perfectly safe to work with.
Step #2: Purchase and Install a Double Pole Isolating Switch.
As mentioned earlier, cookers are power-hungry machines. And because of that, they need to be “supervised” by a double pole isolating switches. But what do these gadgets do, exactly?
Essentially, this type of isolating switch ensures that, in the event of a short circuit, the cooker’s wiring (neutral wire included) is no longer carrying electrical current. This also means that you won’t get shocked if you happened to touch your appliance after the event.
Notice that we said a double pole isolating switch and not just a “switch” or a “single switch”, which is also available on the market. There is a reason for that. Single switches can only de-energize the live wire, but cookers draw so much power that they can energise even the neutral wire. Double pole switches, on the other hand, shut both wires off for complete safety.
Step #3: Mind the Positioning of Your Cooker Control Unit.
Your appliance needs to be connected via a thick cable to the so-called cooker control unit. However, make sure that your cooker is positioned within two metres of the unit, but never directly below it to prevent a potential fire hazard situation.
If your cooker control unit is a more recent model, it will likely have neon lights installed on it. These will signify when the unit is turned on and whether any current is flowing through it.
Step #4: Pick the Right Cable for Your Cooking Needs.
If you just bought a new electric cooker, you should have a cable included in the packaging. However, if that is not the case, here are some general guidelines to help you pick the right one:
- You need a cable with sufficient thickness. For most domestic scenarios, a 2.5mm heat-resistant cable will usually do the job just fine.
- The cable needs to have several wires. Some of the more commonly sold varieties come with three wires – blue wire for neutral current, brown wire for live current, and an exposed wire that takes the residual current to the earth below. The cable is usually named as a “2 core and earth” or a “twin and earth”.
If you are still not certain what is the right type and size of cable for your appliance, always make sure to read the official manual and to consult a professional technician!
Step #5: Take the “Hot Zone” of Your Appliance Into Account.
The cooker’s hot zone is essentially the area that is located directly above your appliance. So, before installing the cooker at your desired location, free it from any materials that are even remotely flammable, such as wood, wallpaper, overhanging boiler, etc.
There should also be a gap of at least 300mm between your appliance and any other items installed in your kitchen. This is crucial when you’ve just done a thorough property renovation, including fresh kitchen fitting, mounting sinks, a fridge-freezer installation, or installation of any other appliances such as washing machine or dishwasher fitting. The only exception is countertops – everything else should remain at a respectable distance from your cooker.
Step #6: Connect Your Cooker to Your Home’s Power Grid.
Now that you know all requirements by heart and have taken all necessary safety precautions, it’s time to wire your appliance. Here is what you need to do to ensure a successful installation.
Connect the cable to the back of your cooker
- Locate the terminal outlet box on the back of your appliance and unscrew the plate.
- Connect the live (brown), neutral (blue), and earth (green-yellow) wires into their appropriate slots (neutral goes to the left, live – to the right, earth – to the centre).
- Tighten the screws to secure the wires in place and re-apply the back plate.
Connect the cooker to your cooker control unit.
- Check if the cooker cable is securely attached to your appliance.
- Lock the cooker circuit on your fuse box with a small padlock to prevent anyone from accidentally flipping the switch while you are wiring your appliance.
- Turn the double pole isolator switch on to completely de-energise your cooker.
- Place a scrap piece of vinyl or other protective covering underneath your appliance before moving it into position to avoid scratching your kitchen flooring.
- Use a voltage tester to ensure that your cooker control unit is completely dead and safe to work with, then remove the screws inside the connections.
- Gently push the wires into their corresponding slots, then place the screws back. When doing so, be careful not to cross-thread the screws, i.e. screw them at an angle.
- Finally, screw the insulation bit under the wiring to firmly secure the wires in place.
If you followed all our instructions closely, you are probably already cooking your favourite meals as we speak. As you can see, even minor electrical jobs require lots of patience, research and preparation, but it is doable if you work with extreme care and with the right mindset.
If, however, you had as much as a tiny grain of doubt about any part of the cooker installation process, we urge you to hire a certified professional to do the job for you. Yes, you will pay a bit more to have your cooker wired, but we can all agree that safety doesn’t have a price, right?