Electricity is generally one of the first things you want to get working in a squat. If you are lucky you can walk in and switch a light on. If this doesn't happen, don't despair it is often a fairly simple job to get it working again.

First of all you will need to locate the fuse box the meter and the company head, in that order. Often they are located in the basement or by the front door and are normally close together, though in more modern houses the meter and company head which are always next to each other) are located in a box on an outside wall.

  • Fuse box(called secondary fuse box above). Modern types of fuse boxes have a set of trip switches for each of the individual circuits in the building and one big red switch. Switch this one on, then check the individual trip switches (they are normally either on/off switches or have pop out buttons that need to be pushed in). With luck this is all you will need to do. N.B. If a trip-switch trips this means you've got got a problem (i.e. a short circuit)some-where in the building - don't ignore it. If the big red switch trips you've got a big problem. This could be caused by anything from a dodgy appliance to water leaking in and getting in to a circuit. If you are lucky the circuits will be labelled otherwise you will have to figure it out yourself. There will normally be two circuits per floor - one for the electricsockets the other for lights. In addition there will be a circuit for an electric cooker There maybe additional circuits for the freezer, heating etc. Is is beyond the scope of this node to tell you how to fix things.

    Older fuse boxes are like the newer types except that they have plug in ceramic fuse holders instead of trip switches. Note that ceramic bit refers to the inside, the outside will be black plastic or metal with colour coded spots on them (this refers to the amperage of fuse wire inside. Pull these out one by one and check the fuses - replace the wire if blown. Evil landlords sometimes sometimes remove these but they are easy enough to scavenge of failing that you can buy them at an electrical suppliers. Its wise to build up a stock of them if you can, as removal is quite common. These type of fuse boxes also have a big red switch (though its not always red] that you have to switch on.

  • Electric Meter If this is the key meter type you probably need to go and get the key charged up - but check the company head first. (you already checked the fuse box right?). If its the ordinary sort you should take a meter reading because if the cop turns up (see dealing with the police) they may try and use Abstracting Electricity (i.e. stealing it) as an excuse to nick you. Proving intention to pay is a defence in court.

  • Company Head(called primary fuse box in FelonyMPulse's write-up.) This is the main fuse contained in a plug in unit that sits in front of the meter and has a lead seal on it. If you are unlucky it has been removed by the landlord or by the Electric Company (its a standard way of disconnecting people. ) Landlords will generally remove the whole unit, electric companies tend to take the fuse out and put another seal on. You can't buy these fuses for love nor money, they only thing you can do is try to scavenge one from a derelict building.

By now, you hopefully have a working electric supply (if you don't you can sometimes get around it by running extension leads from a sympathetic neighbour). The next thing to consider is legal or not? A.S.S. (Advisory Service for Squatters) recommends legal and I would too as you could be cut-off or charged with Abstracting Electricity. Also some dodgy councils use this as an excuse for evicting you without going to court (Hackney Council cleared thousands of squats this way in the early 90's after the local courts stopped issuing eviction notices as the council was so bad at housing people) If you decide to go the illegal route see the write-up above. If you decide to go legal read on!.

. Take you meter reading to the local Electricity Board showroom and ask to sign up for an account. If you live in an area with lots of squatting try and go to a different area and tell them you had to go there because you are working. Ask for the forms and fill them out. DON'T tell them you are squatting tell them you live in a short-life housing co-operative instead (make up a name on the form.) You should request a key meter as they are much more likely to connect you, because they know they are going to get their money. They may ask for an up to date account at a previous address (another key meter at a previous squat should be OK. ) or alternatively as Tenancy Agreement (you could try telling them you don't have one only a license agreement) though hopefully if you ask for a key meter they won't be too fussy. Note however they have no obligation to supply you and in some areas are becoming increasingly reluctant to do so.