WHAT IS A LOOPED SERVICE?
Most modern domestic properties will have a single underground service cable or overhead conductor which provides a direct electricity connection to our network. There are however many older properties connected historically that share a single service, we call this a ‘looped service’. This is a perfectly acceptable arrangement for typical domestic electrical demand, however, a further increase in demand due to connection of low carbon technologies like electric vehicle chargers and heat pumps may result in the need to replace the looped service with a direct supply.
Looped service supplies are usually found in domestic properties, often in terraced or semi-detached houses. In most cases, a single direct service cable enters the first property in a row of terraces or semi-detached premises and then branches off from a mains underground cable or overhead conductor (see figure 1.)
An electricity cable then runs from the first meter into the second property via a service cable. The service cable is terminated near the meter at the ‘service head’ or ‘cut-out’ which contains the main fuse. Essentially, if you have a looped service, you share a length of cable with your neighbour.
Figure 1: Looped service
WHY SOME INSTALLERS MAY NEED TO ADVISE THE REMOVAL OF A LOOPED SERVICE
As we move towards adopting more low carbon technologies to help tackle climate change, more people are likely to want to install low carbon technologies like EV charge points and heat pumps in their homes. Customers who have looped services may find a looped service is a barrier to installing these new technologies.
Ultimately, it’s easier to control and increase the electricity load for low carbon technologies such as solar or heart pumps from a non-looped service.
In some instances, the installation of a load management system to restrict demand, including that of the low carbon technologies can allow a property to remain on a looped service and could avoid the need to de-loop the existing connection.
However in most cases, installers will advise the removal of a looped service if a customer needs to move their electricity meter or enable connection of low carbon technologies.
ADVICE FOR INSTALLERS
Firstly, advise your customer to speak to their neighbours, as we may have to replace the looped service in all properties or households that share the same cable and install new individual service cables from the mains (see figure 2). This would mean doing work that could impact on two or more properties, depending how many customers are supplied from the loop.
Figure 2: Non-looped direct service cable
If your customer who has asked us to modify the connection and it requires us to upgrade their termination equipment like existing fuses, then they may need to pay for the part of the work which impacts their premises, if we are also required to upgrade the termination equipment such as upgrading the existing fuse. We will pay for the part of the work needed in any other properties affected.
To install the new cable from the mains to the meter, please advise your customers that we may need to dig a trench through the driveway/front garden in “premises 2” as marked on the diagram above to get the job done. We will of course, fill in the trench when the work is finished. Sometimes the work can be more complex if there are many looped services. Each job is bespoke so letting us know about the requirements upfront helps us to plan and deliver the project accordingly.