DIY Stair Lighting Repair is Just Not Worth It

Stair Lighting Control Box

typical control box
typical control box

The image on the right is a typical Edinburgh stair lighting control box that houses the astro timer clock and fuses. If your thinking of accessing this box for your own safety please don’t. If your not a qualified electrician then basically you are putting yourself at risk and worse if you get hurt then there is a good chance any accident insurance you have may not cover you. Also if you make things worse then your fellow residents may insist that you pick up the bill to repair via last man free’s all mentality.

Accessing Light Fittings

damaged light fitting
damaged light fitting

The image on the right shows a damaged and normal stair light fitting. I cannot stress enough, it is just not safe to access these light fittings. Some have 24 hour supplies with exposed 240 volt live parts.

old control box


The image on the left was how a control box was found after “Joe Public” tried to fix leaving the stair in darkness and the residents with a bill to repair. As you can see there are exposed terminals with a couple being live. Not a safe way to leave a job

updated control box


The image on the right is the same control box tided up with a new astro timer clock along with the old fuses replaced by miniature circuit breakers fitted in a plastic Din box. No exposed live terminals just nice and safe.


  • Basically having a go with limited skills can be dangerous .
  • You could make it worse. I know as I have had to fix these jobs leaving the residents with a bigger bill.
  • Don’t put yourself at risk and get hurt leaving you with time off work without pay.
  • This is not house electrics and most control boxes are next to the 415 volt mains incomer that supplies the individual flats.
  • Most accident insurance companies may not cover you as stair lighting is classed as utility equipment.
  • Remember any costs are equally shared in the stair so don’t risk it.
  • AEW cannot give advise on how to work on stair lighting system.
  • AEW can do a free survey condition report with costs and options quickly.

Astro Clock Summer / Winter Time Changes

Edinburgh Stair Lighting Astro Timer Clock

In 2021 the EU have will stop the twice yearly daylight saving clock changes. Click here for more information. The UK parliament is also debating on the best way forward and will soon decide their response.

Will this affect Edinburgh stair astro timer clocks

original stair astro timer clocks
Digital astro timer clocks

The 2 clocks on the right are the original 1st generation astro timer clocks that are approximately 30 years old. The one on the left can be adjusted to drop the twice yearly clock changes. The one on the right has this function built in so cannot be changed.


What needs to be done if the UK changes

So far nothing needs to be done but if the government aligns UK time to Europe in 2021 then some stair lighting astro timer clocks will have to be replaced. The 2 digital clocks above have 30 year old technology and some are starting to fail. Also the older electro mechanical clocks are preset and will need changing. So, if you are the stair lighting organiser it would be wise to budget for this in the future.

Can AEWchange the  astro timer clocks settings

If the changes go ahead AEW installed timer clocks will be modified free of charge. If you have a clock that can be modified then as a courtesy there will be a nominal charge for this. If the clock cannot be modified then a free survey will take place and a quote forwarded to replace.

Extra information

Click this  link here to see the BBC video on why we change the the clocks





Shared Repairs in Edinburgh

Shared Repairs for flat owners in Edinburgh

EDC Shared repairs poster

Edinburgh District Council have realised that owners are having problems organising repairs to their communal areas. So, they have set up a help line to give free advice on this subject. You can contact them on 01315296778.

Update EDC wants to force flat owners to pay into a repair fund

As of the 20th of May 2019 Edinburgh District Council will be giving evidence to a Scottish Parliament working group to overhaul the national rules that would force tenement flat owners to pay into a common repair fund. My opinion is it would be better for the stair to organise these repairs on their own. Because of the previous problems with the old Edinburgh Statutory Notice system I can see EDC forcing a Factor on the stair to get repairs sorted. This can work out more costly with regards to stair lights where the average individual bill of £20-£30 every couple of years could be £70-£80 every year due to management fees.

Please click here for more information.

AEW created a contact details request form for stair lighting and the feedback from organisers has been good. They have highlighted that a generic form for shared repairs would be a great help. so, I have created a form to aid and assist the organiser communicate with the stair in order to get the relevant contact information and they can coordinate with  the other owners what work is required.

For a copy of shared repair contact request form please click here

For a copy of the stair lighting contact request form please click here

Edinburgh Stair Lighting Guide

Edinburgh Stair Lighting Guide

This is a blog to aid  residents who live in Edinburgh’s communal tenement  properties to organise and understand the process of maintaining their stair lighting system.

History of communal stair lighting

image of stair light
Stair Light

Edinburgh District Council managed and maintained the stair lighting in both council and private properties. The costs were included in the council tax and the system worked fine until time caught up with the equipment. EDC made the decision to stop maintaining the lights in private properties in June 2016. They also converted via a government grant their properties to LED greatly  cutting their maintenance and energy costs.

So, What happens now

The residents of the communal stair now have a legal responsibility to maintain the stair lighting for the safety of both residents and visitors. This means they have be proactive with regards to repair and maintenance.

How do you organise stair lighting repairs in Edinburgh

In an ideal world they have to get together and form a residents committee to organise plan and pay for the work required. In reality I have found that it is a lone resident who takes on this task of the organiser.  This is because stairs have a mix of residents and rentals and in this digital world you can create a virtual residents committee.

So, How do you go about it

First  of all read my AEW advise for organisers. Click here

Once your ready you need to contact the other residents to get their contact details. This may be the individual or the landlord or the letting agent. Download the AEW notification here. Then fill it in  requsting contact details then make copies and post them through the resdidents doors or mail boxes.

Tips on communications.

  • Put the property address in the email title ie (23 Main Road Stair lighting work) This will aid landlords and letting agents for their filing systems.
  • Repeat this when communicating with contractors.
  • Always check your spam or junk folders as some Gmail and Hotmail accounts can reject some contractors emails.
  • Once you get costs you will need to get a concensus of the preferred options .

Quotes not Estimates

The difference between a quote and estimate is a quote is a fixed price cost. An estimate is a rough cost and  there may be an extra charge. So, get quotes for the work required and make sure they are comparable.

Links you may find useful

  • For Edinburgh District Council’s advise on stair lighting click here
  • For Edinburgh District Council’s advise on shared repairs click here
  • Scottish Government  residents association advise  click here
  • AEW Electrical Twitter feed click here



Property Maintenance Companies

Property Maintenance Companies

When Edinburgh District Council ceased maintaining stair lighting a few property maintenance companies decided to get into the sector. There is nothing wrong with this as I believe the customer has the right to chose.

The thinking that anyone can change a bulb or tube sounds good until you hit a snag. So, I would advise that the customer gets comparable quotes that covers the whole stair lighting system. I have had to follow up on stairs that have been worked on by property maintenance companies and below are some examples of what I found.

Astro stair timer clock not working

Customer reports that the Astro clock is no longer bringing the lights on . I found  the clock memory was cleared  . The  clock had to be reprogramed then checked it for operation  leaving the customer with 2 bills.

Customer reported that the lights were coming on too late. I found the wrong date on the clock ie set for May instead of November.

Stair lights on 24 hours a day

Customer reports the stair lights are on 24/7 and was told it was not a problem as they did not have to pay for the power. So, if the clock is faulty why fix it ? below is the reasons why you should be concerned.

  • Lights on 24/7 means reducing the service life of the 30/40 year old fittings.
  • This reduces the life of the tubes so more frequant relamp costs.
  • If not fixed EDC could insist on a meter being fitted leaving the residents having to organise and pay for the power consumed.
  • Having the clock fixed means the property complies with EDC stair lighting specification but more importantly  puts less wear and tear on the system.

Faulty light fittings

One company could not get a light to work so subcontracted it to an electrical company . The bill for this was £190.00p. AEW repairs or replaces faulty light fittings free of charge on a relamp.

Customer reports that the shade was fixed back on with tape. AEW found the shade to be broken. AEW replaces broken shades free of charge on a relamp.

LED Replacement upgrade

Customer reports that the LED lights stopped working 6 months after the upgrade. AEW found that the original 50 year old astro clock was used. It had failed due to wear and tear. AEW supplies a new digital Astro clock with every LED upgrade.


As one customer said to me ” buy cheap spend double”

AEW offers you a no obligation free Edinburg stair lighting survey report that gives you the following

  • Present state of the stair lighting.
  • Cost to relamp the lights and clean the shades that include free light repairs.
  • Condition of Astro clock and protection devices.
  • Cost to replace / upgrade the Astro stair timer clock.
  • Cost to upgrade the stair to LED lighting as per EDC stair lighting specification
  • A new digital Astro clock is included in the LED upgrade quote.
  • Click here for a free no obligation survey report.