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Introduction to electrical installation and wiring regulations

Updated on October 14, 2009

Session 5

Introduction to electrical installation and wiring regulations


5.1    Applicable regulations

5.2    Electricity act

5.3    Wiring regulations

5.4    Standards


The aim of this lesson is to introduce you to the subject of electrical installations.

Specific Objectives

At the end of this session you will be able to:

(i)                 State what is meant by the term electrical installation.

(ii)               State why it is necessary to design an electrical installation.

(iii)             State the main legal enactment relating to electrical installations in Sri Lanka and some of its important aspects.

(iv)             State the relevant regulations applicable in Sri Lanka.


The title, “Electrical installations” may not at first mean any thing to you. Let us first try to see what this means.

An ‘Electrical installations’ according to the IEE Wiring Regulations, is ‘an Assembly of associated electrical equipment to fulfil a specific purpose and having certain Co-ordinated characteristics.’

If you look at this definition you will see a number of important words. Let us look at some of these words. For example the term ‘Electrical Equipment’ corresponds to ‘any item for such purpose as generation, conversion, transmission, distribution or utilization of electrical energy, such as machines, transformers, apparatus, measuring instruments, protective devices, wiring materials, accessories and appliances’. The term ‘Assembly’ indicates that the electrical equipment’s are not considered in isolation but as a complete set. Further this complete set has been assembled together for a specific purpose, and consists of equipment which has characteristics which are Co-ordinated with each other.

The term ‘Electrical Installation’ may now sound even more confusing after my explanation. I have elaborated on the term as it is important to understand what is meant by an “Electrical Installation”.

Let us now see, by considering some examples, the importance of some of the details I have just mentioned.


Is an electric light bulb an electrical installation?


No. An electric light bulb is a piece of electric equipment but not an assembly.


Is an assembly consisting of a light bulb, holder, wiring and a switch an electrical installation?


No. This would generally be considered as a single circuit of an installation if the wiring ended at the consumer’s distribution board or it could be just a part of a single circuit if other electrical equipment were present in the same wiring.


Could a single circuit consisting of one or more electric lamps, switches and associated wiring become an electric installation under any circumstance?


It is possible to have an electrical installation having just one circuit. However, this circuit must then end in a main switch incorporating a fuse (or other similar device) and connected to the supply. The characteristics of the devices used must also be Co-ordinated. For example, if the electric lamp has a rating corresponding to a current of 1A, the wire should be able to safely carry this current and the switch should be safely able to switch on or switch off this current Further the fuse in the main switch should be capable of continuously carrying the rated current of 1A without fusing but should fuse for currents somewhat in excess of the rating protecting the electrical equipment in the event of a fault occurring. The specific purpose in this example is lighting. An electric installation would generally consist of more than one circuit. For example, the electrical equipment in a house would generally be wired into a number of circuits but would be a single electric installation supplying the needs (such as lighting, heating and cooling) of the domestic consumer.

I am sure that by now you would have formed quite a good picture of what a simple installation is like.

Can you not simply select the equipment that you need and wire them, as is usually done by many electricians? No. although many ordinary people think that any electrician, given the number of points, can competently carry out an electrical installation on his own, it is not true. An electrician left on his own would only copies a system known to him without considering the requirements of the consumer and the various options available. In a small domestic installation the electrician would generally be able to get away using this method of what may be said to be hearsay requirements. However minimum use of material and adequate safety cannot be assured in this manner. Many fires and electrocutions have been attributed to faulty electrical installations. Only a properly designed installation would protect the consumer from the hazards of electricity.

Now that we have come to understand what “an Electrical Installation” is all about, let us see how the various organizations responsible for the Regulations have set about doing it.

5     Applicable regulations

5.1    Electricity act

What are the applicable regulations in Sri Lanka? The generation, transmission, conversion, distribution, supply and the use of electrical energy is presently regulated by the electricity Act No. 19 of 1950 and its amendments. One of the revisions is the Ceylon Electricity Board Act No.17 of 1969.

If the principal act by which electricity is regulated was enacted in 1950, does it mean that there were no legislative enactments in this regard before that? No. in fact the Electricity Act of 1950 replaced the original Electricity Ordinance of 1906.

In terms of the Electricity Act, unless a person has a license granted by the Minister shall:

(a)                Establish or maintain any installation for generation of electrical energy for the purpose  of transmitting or distributing such energy for use in any place which is not the property of that person, or

(b)               For any fee or reward supply electrical energy to any other person.

What do these 2 statements mean? Does it debar us from having a standby supply? Or does it debar a large factory from having its own distribution network? Does it debar the Electricity Board and similar organizations from transmitting and selling electrical energy to the consumers?

I have given a lot of questions together, not with an intention of expecting you to answer them, but as some points for discussion. If an individual consumer has a standby supply which is used only to supply his own requirements, then he does not violate either of the above conditions but he is not permitted to sell it to his neighbor or even to just supply it free to him.

Similarly, a large factory can have its own distribution network, at whatever voltage it deems fit, provided it feed only within its own premises. Even the houses of employees located within the premises of the factory could be supplied from its own network provided the employee is not metered nor pay a direct charge for the electricity supplied. If the employee is to be charged for the electricity then it must be supplied by a licensed authority. The Electricity Board, Lanka Electricity Company Limited (LECO), local authorities and the like enjoy the powers conferred by the act in particular areas. Thus the Electricity Board is able to generate, transmit, convert, distribute and supply electrical energy, whereas  the other organizations mentioned are permitted to convert, distribute and supply electrical energy.


Do you think that a licensed supply authority can give a supply of electrical energy to any consumer, independent of the condition of the installation? Or that he can be compelled to give such a supply?


The supply authority cannot be compelled to give such a supply, as according to section 32 of the Electricity Act, “A Licenses shall not be compelled to give a supply of energy to any premises unless he is reasonably satisfied that the consumers lines, fitting and apparatus there in are in good order and condition, and are not likely to affect injuriously the use of energy by other persons or the supply thereof of the license”

Note I expected only, a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ type of answer from you, but I have given the relevant section of the regulation for your information.

You will notice that I will be asking questions from you as we go along. This is to get you involved in the session. You should briefly try to answer the question before proceeding.


Does the licensed supply authority have to give a supply to any consumer who desires it provided the electrical installation of the consumer is in satisfactory condition? Does this apply when the power lines are adjacent to the consumer’s location, or when they are very far away or both? What about the size of the supply?


The supply authority is required to give a supply if the origin of the installation at which the supply authority is to give the supply is within 150ft of the supply mains.

Section 33 of the Electricity Act which relates to this is as follows.

(1)               “A licensee shall, upon being required to do so by the owner or occupier of any premises situated within 150 ft from any distributing main of the licensee in which he is for the time being required to maintain or in maintaining a supply of energy for the purposes of general supply to private consumers, give and continue to give a supply of energy to those premises in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the regulations made thereunder, and he shall furnish and lay any service lines that may be necessary for the purpose of supplying the maximum power which may be required by such owner or occupier”.

(a)                The owner or occupier of the premises who requires a supply of energy from the licensee shall

(i)                 make a written application to the licensee specifying the point at which such energy is required to be supplied and the maximum power required to be supplied and the day upon which such supply is required to commence, not being an earlier date than is reasonable after the date of receipt of the application by the licensee, having regard to the situation of the point at which such supply is required to be given and to the length of line which has to be laid and plant which has to be erected fore affording such supply.

(ii)               If required by the licensee so to do, enter into a written contract with the licensee to continue for a period of at least five years, to receive and, subject to any prescribed rebate, pay for a supply of such an amount of energy that the payment to be made for the supply will be at least twenty per centum per annum on the outlay (excluding expenditure upon generating plant then already provided and any electric line then already placed) incurred by the licensee in making provision for the supply; and

(iii)             If required by the licensee to do so, defray the cost of the construction of the service line.

(b)               The wires, fitting and apparatus which are to be laid or installed by such owner or occupier upon his premises for the purpose of receiving, transforming or using the supply of energy shall be of the prescribed quality or not inferior thereto; they shall be laid or installed in the prescribed manner and they shall not be of any type or description prohibited by regulation on the ground of its being dangerous or on any similar ground”.

From the above, it is seen that the size of the supply is according to the requirements, of the consumer if the feeding point is with 150 ft. However the consumer would have to pay, in either capital or interest, for any expansion required to the existing system.

5.2       Wiring regulations

Several Regulations have been formed under the Electricity Act. One of these regulations, formed under section 60(2) (e) of the Act is very relevant here and in thus quoted below.

“A licensee shall not connect to his electric line the wires, fittings, apparatus and appliances on consumers’ premises unless he is satisfied that the requirements of these regulations and the Electrical Wiring Regulation have been complied with”.

The Regulations also specify that the Electrical Wiring Regulations, referred, to above, means the ‘IEE Wiring Regulation, which is the Regulations of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London for Electrical installations, subject to such additions or modifications to meet local conditions as may be made from time to time by the chief Electrical Inspector with the concurrence of the Minister and published in the Gazette. The Chief Electrical Inspector is the one who is empowered to administer the Act under the general direction and control of the Minister. He has not published any additions or modifications to the wiring Regulations, so that all Electrical Installations in Sri Lanka must Comply with the IEE Wiring Regulations. The 15th Edition published in 1981 and its subsequent amendments are the currently applicable Wiring Regulations. This is in the form of a design manual.

5.3       Standards

The Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) is the Organization responsible for standards in this Country. It has published a Code of practice for Electrical Installations-SLS 703:1985, to assist the user in the practice of the IEE Wiring Regulations. The code of practice does not replace the Wiring Regulations and conformity to this alone is not sufficient.

The SLSI has also produced a standard on the Graphical Symbols to be used in Electro technology: Architectural and Installation diagrams SLS 690:1986 Part I. This has been set out with an idea of making the diagrams uniform.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      very good explation but addition of more picture will be good

    • profile image

      budu Richard 

      3 years ago

      very good explainetion

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      good explanation


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