Kevin Smith, Test and Measurement Category Manager at Seaward, explains why fixed appliance testing should be an essential part of your electrical testing routine.
The lack of clarity on whether fixed appliance tests should be carried out with PAT tests, or when the fixed installation electrical installation condition report (EICR) is completed, means that the testing of fixed appliances is often overlooked altogether.
While PAT only covers individual items such as kettles, microwaves and computers, fixed appliance testing extends to any electrical equipment which is permanently wired into the building.
Fixed wiring complications
Unlike PAT tests on portable equipment, which are relatively quick and simple to carry out, fixed appliances such as hand dryers, storage heaters and cookers can pose a logistical challenge due to the installation’s fixed wiring.
But that doesn’t mean a simple visual inspection is enough – they should still be subjected to a full combined inspection at test intervals determined by a risk assessment.
It’s easy to take for granted that the fixed appliances that we use daily at work and home are safe, but just like any electrical item, they are subject to wear and tear. Many faults can’t be detected during a visual test, despite them being potentially very dangerous.
A loose connection or damaged wire can cause a serious fire, so we really can’t underestimate the importance of carrying out thorough testing on these items, just as we do with portable appliances.
What can you bear in mind?
Many people who are trained and qualified to undertake PAT testing are not competent to safely isolate the supply of fixed equipment. Unlike appliances which can simply be unplugged, fixed equipment must be fully isolated and locked off before being checked with a lock-off device.
It’s essential that fixed appliance and equipment testing is carried out by a competent person, in accordance with the specific tests for a particular class of equipment.
Seaward’s Apollo+ series PAT testers include programmed sequences for fixed appliance testing, making it an ideal choice for engineers who require point-to-point capabilities in their device.
Since its launch five years ago, the Apollo series has been a firm favourite among users, consistently outperforming the competition to secure its position as the best-selling downloadable PAT tester on the market.
The Apollo+ series builds on the success of its predecessor with a range of new features and improved functionality, including updated software designed to speed up testing times.
The Apollo+ series
The Apollo 500+ and 600+ both include built-in point-to-point functionality in addition to PAT options, making it an ideal solution for engineers who are qualified to carry out both PAT and fixed appliance testing.
The new Apollo+ models are also boosted by new accessories, including an external rechargeable battery pack – welcome news for high-volume users who will now be able to recharge their devices on the go, extending their operation time.
Users can also enjoy enhanced interface functionality, including customisable operator permissions, advanced search options and the ability to quickly navigate results.
As with the original series, Apollo+ devices can be used alongside Seaward’s easy-to-use health and safety reporting software, PATGuard 3.
How often fixed appliance tests are carried out will depend on the appliance – that’s why it’s so important to conduct a risk assessment as part of the testing process.
Apollo+ series devices include risk assessment and risk-based retest calculator features, allowing engineers to easily determine a risk-based suggested retest period in line with the IET 4th Edition Code of Practice.
Another new feature is Seaward’s QR code label format, supported by the Seaward QR Data Viewer App, which gives end users, such as facility managers, the ability to quickly access device data and appliance details during PAT audits.
For people who want to learn more about electrical testing, Seaward offers a range of free webinars aimed at helping engineers improve their skills and keep up-to-date with the latest information.
The on-demand sessions cover topics such as legal requirements, industry guidance and common practice, how to perform risk assessments, how test fixed appliances and how to improve safety standards.
We believe our customer care is second to none and this is just one of the ways we can help those working in the electrical testing industry. From helping them choose the right tester, to offering specific training for topics such as fixed appliance testing, our webinars are ultimately about sharing our knowledge to keep people safe – a responsibility we take very seriously.
We regularly update our PAT equipment and it is important that we give our customers a chance to keep up to date with the latest technology.
For more information on all products and services provided by Seaward, visit: http://www.seaward.co.uk/