People have higher expectations when it comes to how things look, and wiring accessories is no exception. Building designers, product specifiers and installing contractors are just as interested in how wiring accessories look on the outside, as how easy they are to install and use. Soft curves, smooth lines and slim plates are some of the features that are desirable, but aesthetics no longer exist for the sole purpose of looking good. Innovative, modern and often minute external details make wiring accessories easier to use and improve safety; critical factors in the commercial buildings market. Success in this area can set an accessory apart from the rest in a competitive playing field.
Smooth and slimline
Visuals like soft curves on the plate may not be that unusual, but having a consistent single plate depth throughout a range should be a necessity. Adjacent accessories that don’t match one another aren’t an attractive proposition. A matching plate depth throughout the range is a stylish tick in the box, but it’s also a differentiator that ensures accessories fit naturally into any commercial environment. And, this style ethos should also be carried through into Part M wiring accessories, beyond simply contrasting colours with the background. Good aesthetics should make accessories easier to use, but there are other ways that the industry should be concentrating on to ensure functionality and aesthetics have the perfect split.
One such progressive detail is integrated LED indicators. Moving away from bulky red neon indicators that spoil the appearance, our Instinct range is the first commercial wiring accessory range to incorporate LED indicators into the rocker switch or the fuse drawer. This innovative feature creates a slick and modern appearance that maintains the look of the accessories. In addition, the orange on-off power indicator, which can be used in all applications including Part M, aids ease of use and visual clarity. This new feature, as well as other aesthetically polished details, is likely to have an increasing presence in new commercial builds.
In public installations, the variety of wiring accessories and colours that can be used are vast. in hospital applications especially, it has become more important than ever to distinguish a socket’s use through its appearance. Here, appearance has become important for reasons other than customer acceptance, in providing additional safety. For example, in the Instinct range, we offer specifiers and contractors the widest range of colours for differing hospital power uses. Sockets that are bright blue are reserved for ‘medical equipment only’, meanwhile those that feature green switches are reserved for cleaning apparatus. Meanwhile, laser printed marking also exists for permanent crisp clear circuit identity, that won’t smudge or rub away after use. This meets NHS Estates HTM 06-01 and avoids any confusion, ensuring important machinery isn’t unplugged by the public or staff in the building.
It’s clear aesthetic features exist for several reasons in the commercial market. It’s critical that a range exceeds the basic requirement of looking smart. However, the exterior isn’t the only thing that matters. To bring something new to market a range must offer the whole package of quality, aesthetic appeal, innovative internal benefits, quick and easy installation and extensive breadth of range. This is what helps specifiers and contractors to choose wiring accessories that fit the functionality and safety requirements, but also are something to admire in the wider context of a new commercial development.
By Jim Hutchison, National Sales Manager, Crabtree