Multi-tenancy or communal electrical switchboards for strata complexes, often referred to strata/multi tenancy switchboards or distribution boards, are different to those that may be found in your home. The differences are primarily related to the unique needs and responsibilities of managing electrical systems throughout shared residential or commercial spaces.
Below we’ll go through some information about multi-tenancy/communal switchboards such as where they are most commonly used, why they’re different, tips around communal switchboard maintenance, and details on switchboard upgrades or replacements.
Where will you find multi-tenancy switchboards?
Multi-tenancy/Communal switchboards are often found in shared spaces where there are multiple tenants using the same electrical infrastructure. This could include places such as apartment buildings, office complexes, shopping centres, townhouses or units, and more.
Multi tenancy/strata switchboards are designed to manage and distribute electrical power to the multiple units within the strata, allowing for individual control and metering of electrical usage for each unit, dwelling, office, or tenancy.
Regular switchboards, such as the one in your home, typically only serve a single property.
Why are communal electrical switchboards different?
These larger electrical switchboards have a number of features that make them different to regular switchboards:
- Metering & Billing – Multi-tenancy switchboards often incorporate multiple electrical meters, one for each tenancy, to allow for precise measurement of each tenancy’s electricity consumption. This is important because it enables separate and accurate billing, meaning that tenants are only charged for their usage, rather than having to wear the cost of other tenants’ electricity usage, which may be higher than theirs.
- Share Common Areas – Strata properties usually have common areas and features such as hallways, parking garages, pools, security cameras, and elevators. A multi-tenancy switchboard should have a common meter install that is responsible for providing power to these common areas and features, and the cost for running this is then covered separately.
- Ownership – Strata properties can sometimes have complex ownership and management structures, and strata corporations or management committees are responsible for overseeing the electrical infrastructure and ensuring that it meets the needs of all tenants.
- Capacity & Load Balancing – Multi-tenancy switchboards are designed to handle the electrical load requirements of multiple units, using a panel isolator to ensure that overall capacity is not exceeded. This often involves load balancing to prevent overloading of an individual phase.
Multi-tenancy/Communal electrical switchboard maintenance
Regular maintenance of community switchboards is critical, because electrical switchboard failures can otherwise come seemingly without warning; be catastrophic and extremely costly.
We recommend regular switchboard inspections to ensure that the multi-tenancy /communal switchboard is compliant with the Australian Standards, and in good working order.
During a typical strata / multi-tenancy electrical switchboard inspection we will review:
- What is the overall state and condition of the switchboard?
- Is there a clear circuit and meter identification in place?
- Are the meters mounted on materials that meet compliance requirements?
- Is the grounding (earthing) system in adherence with safety regulations?
- Is the switchboard exhibiting any signs of damage?
- Does the electrical switchboard contain any asbestos components?
- Does the primary switch serve as an isolator only, or does it require overload protection?
- Is there any visible evidence of cable fusion or significant cable deterioration?
- Are the consumer mains experiencing any excessive loads.
We’ll also use a thermal imaging tool to help detect any temperature changes in the electrical components within the strata switchboard so we can see ‘behind the scenes’ and pre-empt bigger issues before they happen.
Multi-tenancy / communal switchboard upgrades and replacements
Your community electrical switchboard may need replacing or upgrading for a variety of reasons.
Upgrades often occur when the building has significant upgrades – i.e. new tenancies added, upgrades to communal areas – and also if there are any non-compliant or faulty components. Upgrades may include updating rewireable fuses to RCBO, installing safety switches (RCD), and or replacement of the entire board.
Replacement needs to happen if there is a switchboard failure or compliance issues, and this type of job can only be carried out by a licensed and experienced electrician. Coordination must occur between all stakeholders, including the organisation of SAPN and the relevant electricity retailers.
Need help with a multi-tenancy or communal electrical switchboard?
C & R All Spark Electrical are Adelaide’s multi-tenancy switchboard experts.
We have upgraded and replaced multi-tenancy electrical switchboards across Adelaide for many strata management companies, facilities managers, and more.
We know our way around the unique requirements within multiple tenancies, and the urgency for the professional completion of the works in a compliant manner.
Arrange a safety inspection:
If you are experiencing an emergency with the supply of power at your strata property and/or facility, we are available for contact 24/7. Please call us on 08 8311 2529 – if it is after hours, please leave a message with your name, your phone number, and a brief description of the issue you are having.
Please note that we have minimum callout fees for emergency work.