What does Class I and Class II mean when it comes to PAT Testing?

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Date: Wed 09 Mar 2016

Businesses know that carrying out PAT Testing is a requirement but what's the difference between Class 1 and Class 2?

Businesses generally know that carrying out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing) on their equipment is a requirement. However businesses can fail to recognise what constitutes a portable appliance, how often it should be tested, and the differences between a Class 1 and Class 2 appliance.

Electrical safety can be viewed in exactly the same way as any other type of building maintenance and it is a company's responsibility to see that it is carried out regularly and thoroughly. As a guide, a portable appliance can be classified as any appliance that is hand-held or can be moved while connected to an electricity supply, via a lead and a plug. This encompasses everything from a toaster to a photocopier, a hair-dryer to a vacuum cleaner. But what's the difference between Class 1 and Class 2 appliances and how often should they be tested?

All electrical appliances using mains voltage have to provide at least two levels of protection to the end user. You could see this as a back-up, if one protection layer fails then the second layer back-up is still in place. This makes electrical equipment safe to use. Protection for the user means there are two different types of portable appliance, Class 1 and Class 2. When carrying out Portable Appliance Testing it is important to differentiate the two as they are tested differently.

Class 1 Appliances

In Class 1 appliances the user is protected by a combination of basic insulation and the provision of an earth connection, thus providing two levels of protection. When PAT Testing Class 1 appliances, the Earth Continuity and Insulation Resistance tests are carried out. So in summary:

- If there is a fuse in the plug, then it must be a Class 1 appliance
- If it is made of metal it must be a Class 1 appliance
- If it has a three core cable it must be a Class 1 appliance
- If the plug has a metal Earth pin it must be a Class 1 appliance

Class 2 Appliances

In Class 2 appliances, the user is protected by at least two layers of insulation. For this reason, Class 2 appliances are also known as Double Insulated. They do not require an earth connection. When PAT Testing Class 2 appliances, just the Insulation Resistance test is carried out. So in summary:

- If the case is plastic it must be a Class 2 appliance
- If there is a double box symbol on the rating plate it must be a Class 2 appliance

Intersafe are experts in Essential Electrical Testing, having safeguarded organisations for over 20 years. They provide specialist services in PAT Testing, Fixed Wire Testing and Thermal Imaging. For more information call 02380 610101 or email info@intersafe.co.uk