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What will the new Saudi building code change in load centers?



As it is known to many contractors that in 2021, It is the obligation for contractors to follow the new Saudi building code which was applied to all residential buildings. This prompted the question about understanding New Saudi Building Code and what it will change, what different changes will occur in the electrical distribution panels and what are the common mistakes contractors usually make?


One of the most important and most prominent radical changes is the obligation for contractors to use circuit breakers equipped with a Earth leakage protection unit, as Chapter 41 of the Saudi Building Code, which is concerned with protection against electric shock, stressed the importance of using circuit breakers equipped with a Earth leakage protection unit with a sensitivity of no more than 30 milliamps.

The code is a set of applications that must be protected from earth leakage, the most important of which is stipulated in (41-1.3.3), which requires the use of protection against earth leakage for all electrical sockets whose capacity does not exceed 32 amperes. The code mentioned a set of applications must be protected from earth leakage, including:

1- Washing machines

2- Desert Coolers

3- Heaters

4- Bathing places

5- Sauna rooms

6- Swimming pools

7- Agricultural places

8- Outdoor lamps less than 2.8 meters high


In addition to this, the Saudi Building Code will correct common mistakes which occurs in many projects, for example, but not limited to:

A - The use of a MCB for the load center does not correspond with the size of the wire, as many residential projects install the MCB with a capacity of 30 amps, while the wires used are of different sizes (6 mm, 4 mm, ...)

The correct way to install suitable MCB rated in relation with current carrying capacity of the wire, for example a 4 mm wire’s current carrying capacity is suitable for 20 amp breaker, and a 2.5 mm wire's current carrying capacity is suitable for 16 amp breaker..etc.

B – While choosing the location of installing the load center and not taking into account the degree of weather protection (IP), for example installing the load center rated for internal use to external walls of a villa.

Correct installation of this load center is inside covered area protected from rain, splash of water and dust.

C- Contractors install the chamber box product to distribute power to multiple load centers in a residential villa projects. The chamber box only contains a main circuit breaker without any feeder breakers, therefore, the cables coming out of the chamber box are not protected from overloading.

The correct way is to install an electrical distribution panel that contains a main breaker and branch breakers that are proportional to the sizes of the cables leaving the panel.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the new Saudi Building Code will increase the cost of construction and make the work of the electrical contractor more challenging, but in return our homes will be safer and electrical work on construction sites will be based on correct engineering principles and not subject to individual judgments.


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