Cooker Switches and Cooker Control Units

Finding the Right Recipe for Cooker Switches and Cooker Control Units

The installation of cooker switches or cooker control units is a useful alternative to the electrical installation of a cooking appliance via a plug and socket outlet. For cooker switches, electrical installations must comply with BS 3676, and for Cooker Control Units it is BS 4177.

Why Use Switches?

Both cooker control switches, and cooker control units (a cooker switch which incorporates a socket outlet) enable the:

  • isolation of the unit, enabling work such as electrical repairs to be carried out separately;
  • unit to be switched off, thereby preventing the appliance from being turned on accidentally, for example whilst cleaning;
  • interruption of the supply on load (if it is not already incorporated into the appliance), a requirement of Regulation 476–03–04, which applies to all fixed and stationary appliances that have the potential for being hazardous in use; and
  • control of two or more cooking appliances in the same room, providing the rating is sufficient.

Hazards of Cooker Control Units

The availability of a socket outlet in a cooker control unit encourages the use of portable equipment — which can lead to trailing cables which can be tripped over, or the portable equipment being used near or on hot surfaces. Therefore it may be better to discourage this by using just a cooker switch.

If the above dangers can be avoided due to the situation of the cooker control unit, then the unit will need an RCD for additional protection. However this can still be a problem as a nuisance tripping of the RCD could be caused by the protective conductor current of a cooker in everyday use.

What Rating is Required?

Most household cookers, consisting of four heating rings, a grill and an oven are supplied by a nominal rating of 230V, for which a current rating of 30 or 32A is usually suitable. A cooker with additional cooking facilities and/or a large capacity oven may need a higher rating. The maximum demand can be calculated by taking the first 10A of the rated current, adding 30% of the remaining current, plus 5A if a cooker control unit is fitted for its socket–outlet.

Where should it be fitted?

  • Wherever it is readily accessible, and not where the cooker would have to be reached over in order to get to it, and less than 2m horizontal distance away from the appliance so that the person operating it can keep control of both the cooker and the switch, for safety reasons.
  • In new dwellings it should be no higher than 1.2m above finished floor level so that it is low enough for those in wheelchairs or whose reach is limited.
  • Not in cupboards, where items stored may obstruct or restrict access, or onto the inside of cupboards which may later be moved.

For the best results, combine a simple cooker switch with the right rating, fix it directly to the building fabric, in the right location — and there you have the recipe for electrical safety.

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