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My recently-built house (~2010, UK) has this slightly odd placement for its consumer unit – eg. low to the ground in the corner of the front room of the house. Everywhere else I've lived has usually had these located in a more out-of-reach location. I guess it's handy for access, but less so when you have multiple kids running around...

Consumer unit mounted low on a wall

I want to box this thing off so it's less accessible to my kids, eg. mount a wall cupboard around it with a door that I can put some kind of child lock on. It would also be good spot for me to hide the PS4 (again, out of reach of the kids)...

My question: what's the best/safest way of doing this? As you can see in the photo, there's no real access to the left of the unit (eg. to mount the side of a cupboard frame), and obviously this thing is going to be surrounded by wires so drilling above/below/alongside it doesn't feel great either. I can put up shelves and do basic DIY tasks but I'm not sure about attempting this one given that context.

I know Amazon sells some wall-mountable covers for these units which would at least remove it from direct view, but I was hoping for something a little more tasteful which could also include some storage. Any suggestions on how to attempt this?

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  • However you child-proof your consumer unit, I would suggest considering how you would access it in the event of an emergency. If there's a fire, if it's possible to shut off the main switch as you leave without putting yourself in danger, that could make a big difference depending on the circumstances. You don't want to be fighting to unlock your child lock at that time. (I'm not saying don't child-proof it - it's just something to think about.)
    – Keiji
    May 10, 2023 at 7:27
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    It's a modern installation and I think I can see an earth-leakage breaker on each set of MCBs. In which case it will shut off power as soon as an unsafe condition arises. In a fire, just get out. Don't waste time trying to cut the electricity. It will probably cut itself and otherwise it's a problem for the fire brigade.
    – nigel222
    May 10, 2023 at 10:31
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    However, you DO want easy access so you can reset the earth leakage breakers after they get tripped by a faulty appliance, water leakage, or a thunderstorm. Think about how to un-do the child-proofing in the dark. the answer may be a torch stored next to the consumer unit, or a battery-backed emergency light nearby.
    – nigel222
    May 10, 2023 at 10:35
  • That can't be up to code... Guess I am used to America where the circuit breakers are in a lockable pannel that is installed inside of the wall (and usually placed somewhere out of sight for better aesthetics
    – Questor
    May 10, 2023 at 16:30
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    @Questor Here in the UK, I've only ever seen them placed high up so a child can't reach. I've never seen them locked but the first thing that makes me think it isn't up to code is the box looks about head height for a toddler. May 11, 2023 at 8:58

4 Answers 4

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If you measurements are right, most floor base, free standing cupboards should not lose enough strength if you cut a notch on the side and back board a bit bigger than the unit.

Should then be able to slide the cupboard right over the unit, with no nails/screws to worry about.

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  • Thank you – makes sense. Might still need to mount it somehow (eg. to prevent a kid pulling it down on top of them) but I could perhaps fix it to the wall to the left of the unit which should be a safer drilling location than above the unit itself). May 9, 2023 at 13:47
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The other answer about a freestanding cabinet with a hole in the back sounds good. Pick one which has legs which are set in slightly from the faces, so you can push it up to the wall without the legs hitting the skirting.

You probably will want to screw it to the wall with e.g. a small L-bracket. The UK rules for where cables should be are known as "safe zones". Note that the zones are the places it is safe to put wires, not where it is safe to drill. All wires should be in one of the following:

  • The top 150mm of a wall, below the join with the ceiling
  • A vertical strip 150mm wide either side of a corner where two walls meet (so cables could be in the wall to the left of the CU in your photo)
  • Running horizontally or vertically from the CU or a socket, lightswitch, or other mains accessory.
  • If the wall is thin (100mm or less), then zones on the far side are copied onto the near side too.

So if there are no sockets out of shot or on the far side of the wall which would put a zone there, the area above and right of the top right corner of the CU should be safe to drill. I don't always trust older houses to be wired right, but newbuilds should be.

You could also use a plastic plasterboard fitting like these https://www.screwfix.com/p/easyfix-self-drill-plasterboard-fixings-nylon-32mm-100-pack/3685h (not a recommendation, just an example) to reduce the risk if there is a cable back there. The screw does come out the back of the plastic when done up, but they tend to push cables aside rather than damage them.

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I would buy a cable tracer if I didn't already have one. I would expect that the cables run vertically up and down the back wall, not in the side wall. (I think that's a wiring regulations requirement, but I can't quote chapter and verse. Any electricians reading this? Diagonal wiring is quite definitely forbidden).

If so, I could mount or build a vertical partition to the right, and shelves between the wall on the left and that partition. This way there's no problem with obstruction of the circuit-breaker cover by a new vertical structure to the left. Also a floor-to-ceiling fit looks neater.

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I'd get it raised. It's been installed ludicrously low down. NHBC guide 1350-1450mm https://www.nhbc.co.uk/binaries/content/assets/nhbc/tech-zone/nhbc-standards/tech-guidance/8.1/mounting-height-consumer-units-new-october-2018.pdf#:~:text=n%09%09%09The%09,eration.

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    May 11, 2023 at 13:14

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