Although it might be tempting to save some money by performing electrical work yourself, it’s crucial that you don’t. Performing electrical services without the proper license is against the law in Australia. Only qualified and licensed electricians are legally allowed to do work with electricity because of how dangerous it can be. Within Australia, the following electrical work can be done without a license:
- Changing a fuse
- Changing the faceplate of a switch or socket
- Changing light bulbs
- Changing the battery in a smoke detector
- Installing low-voltage garden lights
- Installing Christmas lights
- Installing pond pumps
- Cutting an opening for an air-conditioner (but not installing it)
- Installing an electric wall oven (but not connecting it)
As stated by the NSW Government, only qualified electricians are allowed to:
- wire any part of your home
- install, replace or move power points
- install, replace or move lights and switches
- install or replace ceiling fans
- carry out any electrical maintenance other than changing a light globe.
Changing a fuse
You can replace a blown or broken fuse within a switchboard. To do this, you’ll need to ensure the fuse is the correct size as stated in the switchboard’s specifications. While replacing a fuse, be sure not to exceed the given amperage rating and always remember to turn off the power.
Changing the faceplate of a switch or socket
Replacing the faceplate or cover of a switch or socket is relatively simple. All you’ll need to do is remove the screws from the existing plate in order to allow the faceplate to be removed. Most modern faceplates actually have no screws and can just be popped off using a flat-head screwdriver or something similar. Just to be safe, we recommend turning off the circuit breaker before performing any work on a faceplate with a tool.
Changing light bulbs
A license is not required to change light bulbs in a house. Just make sure you turn the light switch off before attempting to replace the bulb. To change the bulb, first, grab it and turn it slightly so that you release it from the socket. Then, twist in the replacement bulb.
Changing the battery in a smoke detector
It’s essential to ensure that the smoke detectors in your home are working correctly. This means regularly checking and changing the batteries when necessary. Unlike other electrical tasks, it’s perfectly safe and legal for homeowners to replace the batteries themselves.
Installing low-voltage garden lights
Low-voltage garden lights are a popular way to light up the outdoor areas of your home. Thanks to the low voltage, you won’t need a license to install them yourself. Just make sure the wiring is correct and sealed off against the elements before plugging the transformer into a power point.
Replacing a downlight transformer
If your downlights use a transformer that uses a standard plug to plug into a standard power socket, you can replace the transformer yourself without an electrician. If the transformer is hardwired, you’ll need a licensed electrician.
Installing Christmas lights
Christmas lights are a great way to decorate your home during the festive season. Luckily, you don’t need an electrical license to install them in and around your home as long as they’re 12 volts or less. Just be mindful not to plug too many into one socket to help stop them from tripping your circuit breaker.
Installing pond pumps
Pond pumps are great for preventing the water in your pond from becoming stagnant. While they require electricity to work, you don’t need a license to install them yourself. Just make sure that any wiring is done properly and safely before connecting the pump to a power point.
Cutting an opening for an air-conditioner (but not installing it)
If you’re planning on installing an air conditioner, you’ll need to cut a hole in the wall for the pipes. Luckily, this doesn’t require an electrical license. However, it is still important to take safety precautions when using power tools and be aware of any wires that may be behind the wall before cutting into it. You will need an electrician to connect the air-conditioner once installed.
Installing an electric wall oven (but not connecting it)
Installing an electric wall oven does not require a license, as long as you don’t connect it to the power source. An electrician will need to be called in order to make the necessary connections from the oven to the power point before use. It’s important that this is done by a qualified professional, as misconnecting it could lead to electrocution.
Why should you get electrical work done by an electrician?
No one should attempt to do electrical work without a license. It’s not only illegal, but it can also be very dangerous. Only qualified and licensed electricians are allowed to do electrical work because of the risks involved
Although the requirements do differ between Australian states, in most cases, homeowners must get a compliance certificate from an electrician who has finished any work that meets the relevant Australian Standards regulations. Within New South Wales, the NSW Fair Trading specifies “You need an electrical licence before you can do any electrical wiring work in NSW, regardless of the cost of the work and regardless of whether the work is residential, commercial or industrial.”
Electrical wiring work refers to the act of installing, repairing, altering or removing electrical wires or systems. This also includes supervising other workers who are completing these tasks. Electrical wiring work is defined as follows for licensing purposes: Schedule 1 of the Home Building Act 1989 as having the same meaning as it has in the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2017.
A CCEW, or Certificate of Compliance Electrical Work, is a document electricians provide customers that proves the job was done properly and meets all regulatory standards.
The electrician may need to provide a copy of the CCEW to the electricity network operator or NSW Fair Trading.
What are the penalties for DIY electrical work?
The electricity voltage in Australia is 240 volts, which is enough to kill a person if they come into contact with it. This contrasts the USA where the electricity voltage is only 110 volts.
According to NSW Fair Trading, if caught performing illegal electrical work, individuals face up to $22,000 in fines and businesses are looking at $110,000.
Unless a professional with an active license carries out the work, home and contents insurance will not cover any fire, damage, or faulty electricity in your household.
It’s essential to remember that if you’re not a qualified electrician, it’s best to keep your hands off the electricity and leave any electrical work to the professionals. If you don’t have an active license, then DIY electrical work is a big no-no in Australia.