Things you don’t think of when buying a house: Power

So as a first-time buyer a few years back it never occurred to me to check the Amperage of the power into the house. Something I would do now.

I recently looked into taking advantage of the government scheme to cover 75% of the cost to install a home electric car charger:

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#electric-vehicle-homecharge-scheme

It was at this point, talking to one of the suppliers and having a few questions pitched at me. That I realised I only had 60A coming into the properly. Which to be fair is a lot of you have gas as well. This thing is new car fast chargers can do 32A and I don’t want to put in old tech to suit my current needs only.

With this, I put things on the back burner regarding the OELV / car charger.

Then my energy supplier Tonik contacted me about having a smart meter installed like most UK energy suppliers are doing presently. I had an engineer come out (actually a few) and they told me the backboard was not compliant and they could not do the work.

So I was wondering how do I resolve these issues.

Answer: UK Power Networks: Who’s site is pretty informative thankfully!

This image in particular:

Found here: https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/internet/en/our-services/upgrade-fuse/

The only blocker:  For the fuse upgrade, UK power networks need to know that the meter tails are upgraded to 25m(il?) (from 16). I had no idea about that… I called my supplier Tonik and neither did they. This is where I’m at. Looking for a response from their meter team as to a cost for the upgrade. Ironically if its too much and I’m not keen on doing it, they’ll stop me using more electricity and making them more profit… 😀

Updates to follow. Hopefully, I can get past all this and start looking at OLEV and solar again.

Boosting home cold water mains pressure.

So i’m no plumber but my father was so I know a little about plumbing.

What I actually didn’t know was that in the UK you can boost the inbound water mains to 12litres per minute (according to WRAS) directly off the mains. I thought any pump would have to be fed from the cold water storage tank.

So with a small amount of research I’ve found:

HomeBoostRan past the old man and he gave it the thumbs up and also found some decent YouTube videos on the product such as:

If you’ve got access to the right tools and feel comfortable with the install then its fairly straight forward. The main bit I would recommend before purchasing is to make sure your cold water stop tap works or check if you  have an external one (that potentially cuts supply to multiple residence). I actually had one that cut supply to about 10 houses. We tried to freeze the pipe before hand but it proved difficult with the inbound pipe being lead so we ended up giving notice to the other houses and cutting the supply to install the new stop tap. The best bit was the external stop tap was on someones drive with the opening flap being under their car so even more fun ensued..

So when I get a chance I think it’ll be time to grab one of these and give it a shot. Should give some much needed pressure to the electric shower so as to not give people cold shocks when the washing machine / dishwasher / kitchen tap is used! Plus you get a nice clean feeling when the shower has some omph to it!

Here a diagram to visualise the install with:

Link to purchase: http://amzn.to/2G4vToi

UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.

Have you turned it off and on again?

Only kidding… but seriously.. ISP telephone support will likely have you do that.. 

One of the major gripes users have is the “speed” of their broadband. In the UK there are three main ways of getting broadband. The OpenReach maintained network, the Virgin Media (Liberty Global) network and also via Mobile operators who offer a 4G based solution. There are other various providers outside of these but they are usually more limited in availability, a good example being: https://www.hyperoptic.com/

My main focus here will relate to the OpenReach based networks but I’ve had Virgin Media cable in recent years also, so will allude to any interesting differences. 

Generally speaking, when your looking at a speed issue, like most problems, it’s a process of elimination and understanding of the problem. 

Firstly there is a difference between the connection physically and logically to your ISP. 

Sync(hronisation):

This is the speed at which your modem (which might be built into your router) can connect to the equipment in the telephone exchange (Central Office for our American friends) or green box in the street (aka PCP). The determined synchronisation speed on the connection will be the maximum at which data can pass down the line and shouldn’t vary too much on each reboot of your modem / router. If it does then there is likely a problem or the ISPs dynamic line management (DLM) is trying to deal with the said problem or repeat reconnections. 

Things that can effect the sync connection rate are:

  • Attenuation – how far from the other end. 
  •  REIN – Repetitive Electrical Impulse Noise.
  • SHINE, – Single High-level Impulse Noise Event.
  • Extension wiring – further attenuation and susceptibility to further electric noise. 
  • Equipment issues – faults happen. 
  • Bridge taps – legacy telephone wiring. 
  • Poor cable shielding – causing some of the above. 
  • Engineer mistakes – Sky TV splitters in before the microfilters is a common one.
  • Capped profile settings by the ISPs DLM (whether intentional or not).
  • So all of the above might be good to the modem, now check to the device!

To check your sync rate as a customer, this will involve logging onto your home router (Seek ISP support or router support for instructions). Generally there is a status page on the interface that will give you the connection details such as sync rate downstream and upstream, uptime, and maybe more.  If this looks like to what was estimated when you had the service provisioned then all is good. 

Throughput:

The next “speed” we’re interested in is the throughput. A good metaphor for this would be a water pipe. If the sync mentioned above is the pipe its self, throughput is the water going through it. For the sake of the metaphor, the pressure is a constant in the water pipe! 

This is tricky to diagnose as as the issue can lie on the customers side as much as is can with the ISP or beyond depending on the endpoints of the testing and everything inbetween.

Various things that can effect this:

  • Fault with the sync speed – knock on effect.
  • The server being tested to not providing you with data fast enough.
  • Congestion on a network – not necessarily the ISP’s, could be beyond them.
  • Downloading on your connection while running speedtests – congesting your part of the network to give you slower, skewed results.
  • Connection to the router such as via wireless 

Generally an ISP, whether is OpenReach based or Virgin Media is eventually going to have you down to the bare minimum; a single PC, via a ethernet cable directly into the router, potentially with the WiFi disabled on the router (or they’ll be checking for other devices connected at the time of testing). Even then there are various checks as mentioned above; sync rate, ethernet rate, errors in the passing traffic, test locations for speed testers and so on.

By now though, the ISP should be close to narrowing down if the problem is on their side or on yours. It could be that your wireless was being strangled by too many other devices or that there were so many other noisy networks in close proximity. Then again it could be that your ISP has overwhelming demand in a particular exchange/area and can’t meet the bandwidth demands at peak times.. These things happen but it’s important to come to logical conclusions so they can be tackled. I..e ISPs have capacity planning teams and although they do their best to stay ahead of demand, it can sometimes outstrip supply. 

Continue reading “UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.”