The Internal House Wiring Regulations 2016, which came into effect from January 1 this year, is expected to ensure safety in electrical wiring, electrical appliances installations, operation, and maintenance of internal house wiring.

The regulation aims to achieve a minimum technical, materials and workmanship standards involved in internal house wiring. The regulation enforces all users, owners and electricity suppliers to comply with the principles specified in the Bhutan Building Rules 2002 to achieve required technical standards for electrical wiring.

The regulation states that all materials, equipment, and installations should be in accordance with the relevant standards or codes prescribed by the relevant agency and the installation complied with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Bhutan Standard Bureau (BSB) has 14 categories of approved mandatory electrical products used in electrical wiring.

However, officials from BSB during the first stakeholders meeting held in Thimphu on January 9 said the organisation faces difficulty in enforcing the standards in private constructions. “The approved product category is mandatory only for government construction. The regulation should try to reach the standard across all boards.”

The regulation also requires only electricians certified by a competent authority to execute all works involving internal house wiring, repair or installation of electrical connections, and requires earthing to be carried out as per the prescribed standards.

Chief at BEA’s Monitoring Division, Thukten Wangmo said that currently installation, connection and testing works of electrical wiring are done by those with field experience without proper certification from a relevant agency. “The electrical wiring and testing are not taken seriously and most persons involved in electrical wiring are not certified. We expect the regulation to phase out all these irregularities.”

The regulation mandates owners to design, install and maintain all electrical installation to provide protection against overload, short circuits, and associated electrical hazards.

Thukten Wangmo said there were no routine inspections and testing of installation of electrical appliances before. “The inspection was done at an initial stage at the time of service release. Now, the power supplier would do routine inspection. This is for the safety aspects and to reduce fire hazards,” she said.

According to the regulation, every new installation, alteration, extension or modification on completion and before being energised, should be inspected, tested and certified by the electricity supplier.

Routine inspection and testing that include Polarity Test of Switch, Earth Continuity Test, and Earth Electrode Resistance Test, which was initially inspected once would be done in routine.

The regulation also states that insulation resistance test and polarity test of the switch should be inspected, tested and certified at least once every ten years. Earth continuity test and earth electrode resistance test, inspection, testing, and certification should be carried out at least once every four years.

The Electricity Act 2001 mandates the authority to adopt the internal house wiring regulations. The regulation does not apply to large-scale industries. “We encourage owners and hardware vendors to use and supply approved electrical products,” she said.

Meanwhile, during a Thimphu thromde committee meeting last year, 19 fire cases were reported due to the faulty electrical system in 2015. The cases increased to 24 in 2016. Home heating appliances, juvenile setting a fire, kitchen fire while cooking and butter lamps were reported causes of fire incidents.