Useful Tips to Understand Lighting Circuits

It’s a known fact that when it comes to electrics you need to know the basics. It’s also well known that many people are very in the dark when it comes to this particular topic. The important thing is to make sure you know a few simple tips to ensure safety but also help if a problem ever occurs.

So, lighting circuits are actually wired in two ways. Most houses have at least two lighting circuits, one upstairs and one downstairs. The lighting circuits are actually always of the ‘radial type’ which means that the cable runs from the consumer unit to each of the lighting outlets before finishing at the last fitting on the connection line. All electrical products installed in the home must actually match up to the local Building Regulations, so, if unsure it’s always best to have a qualified electrician oversee the work or just give it a once over to ensure all connections are safe and rules have been followed. Always remember when starting any electrical work to turn off the mains at the fuse box. This may go without saying, however many people begin work on their homes without following this simple step and the consequences can be very serious.

When it comes to the wiring of the lighting it can all become very confusing. This is where junction boxes come in. A junction box protects the connections from accidental damage and contains sparks and heat from a loose connection or short circuit. As lighting circuits are more complex than power circuits, as they need to be controlled by separate switches, having a junction box can provide an easier option for this. The cable from the light and the cable from the switch meet in the middle of the junction box and create a connection, cutting out the middle man if you like.

Next you need to remember the key wiring colours. The live and neutral cores in the cable have changed. For three-phase cables the phase colours are now brown, black and grey, whereas they were once red, yellow and blue. The neutral colour is now blue instead of black and the protective conductor can now be identified by the colours green and yellow. If you are ever unsure when it comes to this, you can always do some research before getting to work just to make sure you fully understand before going ahead.

Finally, bathroom lighting. This is an important thing to remember because this room creates a steamy, damp environment which as everyone knows, can therefore cause potential risks and dangers when it comes to the electrics. The bathroom has been split into three hazard zones by the Wiring Regulations, and this means that lighting fittings must be suitable for the correct zone. Here is a brief rundown of each zone

  • Zone 0 – inside the bath or shower, any fitting that is used here must be protected against immersion in water
  • Zone 1 – Above the bath or shower
  • Zone 2 – The area that stretches to (0.6m) outside the bath or shower
  • Outside Zones – Anywhere that lies outside of the above zones.

Now that you have a brief understanding when it comes to lighting circuits you can carry on with your electrical jobs. Remember however, if you are planning on making any changes to your current circuits you must inform your local authority’s Building Control Department before doing so.


From time to time we publish original guest articles. The above article was written and pictures provided by Jasmine Smith.


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