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IET Wiring Regulations and the evolution of digital publications

By: Steven Devine

In this forever evolving realm of the electrotechnical industry, staying updated with the latest regulations and guidance is not just a professional obligation but a fundamental aspect of ensuring safety and efficiency in electrical installations.

Among these regulations, BS 7671 holds a paramount position as the standard for electrical installations in the UK. However, with the advent of digitalization, there's a shift in how electricians, lecturers, and students access and utilize this crucial document and associated guidance, promising a multitude of benefits for competence improvement within the industry.

What is a digital subscription?

The IET offers a digital subscription service to BS 7671, the IET Wiring Regulations, and its associated guidance books. The digital packages available vary depending on the needs of the user including, single user, multi user and educational user packages ranging from Bronze to Gold.

More information on the subscriptions and packages available can be found on our Digital subscriptions to BS 7671 and IET guidance web page.

What are the benefits?

Accessibility and convenience

The transition from traditional hardcopy formats to digital access brings unparalleled convenience.

Electricians can now access BS 7671 on various devices, anytime and anywhere, eliminating the constraints of physical copies.

Lecturers can seamlessly integrate relevant sections into their teaching materials, enhancing the learning experience for students.

Moreover, students themselves can delve deeper into the regulations, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of electrical design and installations.

Real-time updates

Digital platform subscriptions from reliable sources, such as Vital Source, facilitate instantaneous updates to regulations and associated guidance. Electricians can stay abreast of amendments and revisions in real-time, so that the latest requirements can be complied with.

This dynamic nature of digital access prevents the dissemination of outdated information and enhances the safety and reliability of electrical installations.

What’s more is that as it is subscription based, there are no additional charges when the publications are updated.

Enhanced searchability and navigation

One of the most significant advantages of digital access is the ability to search and navigate through documents quickly and efficiently. Electricians can easily locate specific regulations and guidance pertinent to their projects, saving valuable time and effort.

This feature is particularly beneficial during on-site inspections or troubleshooting, where swift access to relevant information is paramount. Search results can also provide valuable insight to publications that may not have been previously known to the user.

The IET’s suite of publications authored by industry leading experts is vast. Any searches carried out by users can show results from the entire suite of publications available.

Interactive learning tools

Digital platforms offer opportunities for interactive learning through multimedia elements such as videos, animations and simulations.

Lecturers can incorporate these tools into their curriculum to elucidate complex concepts and enhance student engagement. Interactive learning not only improves comprehension but also fosters practical skills application, better preparing learners for real-world scenarios.

Durability and preservation

Digital publications offer significant advantages over their physical counterparts when it comes to durability and preservation.

Traditional books, magazines and documents are susceptible to physical wear and tear. They can be damaged by environmental factors such as moisture, fire, pests and mishandling.

In contrast, digital publications, stored electronically, are immune to these physical threats.

In addition to this, cloud storage can ensure that your digital content is preserved.           

Theft prevention and security

Theft is a constant concern for physical publications, particularly when it comes to colleges and training centres. Digital publications, however, can be protected through a variety of security measures.

Access to digital content can be restricted through passwords and encryption. This provides a system that offers complete control of the required publications to the colleges and training centres.

Many colleges are already experiencing the benefits of their subscription to the IET’s digital publications.

Cost-effective distribution

Digital publications significantly reduce the need for shipping and transportation, leading to multiple benefits. Unlike physical books and documents, which require substantial resources to print, package and transport, digital publications are delivered instantly over the internet.

This eliminates the environmental impact associated with the production and movement of physical goods, such as fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste.

Moreover, the reduction in shipping and transportation costs translates to savings for both publishers and consumers, making digital publications a more economical choice.

This streamlined distribution process not only makes content more accessible globally but also contributes to a more sustainable and efficient publishing industry.

So, with all these positive benefits, are there any disadvantages to using digital publications over physical ones? While I have encountered a few, they pale in comparison to the overwhelming advantages.



One of the potential drawbacks of digital publications is their reliance on battery-powered devices for access. Unlike physical books, which require no power to read, digital publications necessitate the use of electronic devices such as e-readers, tablets or smartphones.

These devices depend on batteries, which can deplete over time and may require recharging at inconvenient moments. In situations where access to electricity is limited or unavailable, such as during travel or in remote locations, this dependency can become a critical issue.

Personal preferences

Despite the numerous advantages of digital publications, some people simply prefer physical books, and this preference is largely a matter of personal choice.

For many, the experience of holding a physical book, turning its pages, and even the scent of the paper, creates a sense of ownership and substance that digital formats cannot replicate.

Ultimately, the choice between digital and physical publications often boils down to individual preferences and the unique experiences each format provides.


As with any new concept, it can take a while to adapt. During this transition, there will no doubt be some challenges to overcome. Longstanding, well-rehearsed teaching methods might not integrate well with the use of digital publications.

This will mean new methods for delivering educational content need to be adopted. This might seem like a burden in the short-term.

Adaptation of examinations

As digital access becomes prevalent, awarding organizations need to adapt their examinations to reflect this shift. Many traditional exams contain elements that are designed to determine that a learner can navigate through the relevant publications using contents and index pages.

With searchable content on digital platforms, questions that have been designed in this way will not be necessary.

Instead, exams need to be designed to assess candidates' understanding and how to apply the regulations when it comes to electrical design.

This shift encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, aligning with the demands of the modern industry. Not having to manually search through publications means that learners have the opportunity to spend more time gaining an understanding of the content that they are reading rather than looking for the content.

Industry advancement

Embracing digital access to BS 7671 and adapting examinations accordingly fosters a more competent workforce within the electrical engineering industry.

Competent electricians, equipped with digital subscriptions to IET publications, have access to up-to-date regulations and guidance, and contribute to safer and more efficient electrical installations.

Moreover, access to critical information promotes innovation and continuous improvement within the industry, driving progress and sustainability.


In conclusion, the transition to digital access of BS 7671 heralds a new era of competence improvement within the electrical engineering sector.

By embracing the benefits of accessibility, real-time updates, enhanced searchability and interactive learning, electricians, lecturers and students can elevate their proficiency and contribute to a safer and more efficient industry.

Additionally, the adaptation of examinations to accommodate digital access ensures that industry standards remain aligned with technological advancements, paving the way for continued growth and innovation.