Learn about the electrical aspect of making light fittings safe for resale
8 March 2022by
Lampfix, Deryck Smith
- Which light fittings does this article cover?
- Do I need qualifications to test light fittings?
- How should I test light fittings for electrical safety?
- How much does testing equipment cost?
- Next Steps
So you’re starting a lighting business and you want to know how to make sure the fittings you have repaired are safe.
You want to find out if carrying out your testing is viable in your case. You want to be safe and legal without using a legal expert.
You may feel overwhelmed - and I don’t blame you! I found it hard to know what did and didn’t apply to me.
There is much information online but does it apply to smaller workshop businesses?
I have repaired light fittings here for 10 years. I want to help you on this journey.
In this article, you will:
Learn about the 2 types of light fittings we test
Learn some basic testing requirements
Learn some testing methods
Find out about instruments to use, and how much they cost.
Learn about UK regulations that relate to testing
Which light fittings does this article cover?
This article relates to domestic table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers, domestic wall lights. From now on I will call them fittings.
These fittings fall into 2 classes:
Class 1 Light Fittings
These light fittings have earth. The main wire connecting to the supply has a live, neutral and earth wire. All its conductive parts connect to the supply earth.
Class 2 Light Fittings
These fittings are double insulated and don’t need the earth. The supply cable has 2 wires: live and neutral. All accessible conductive parts are additionally insulated from the internal ‘live’ wiring.
Do I need qualifications to test light fittings?
A formal qualification is not required to test light fittings. It is advisable to attend a PAT course. Providers such as Plugtest Ltd or Trade Skills 4U, to name a couple, offer this service.
This is a good step to take to become competent at one-off testing. Also production testing (for UKCA standards.)
To do testing you need to:
have the right equipment
know how to use this equipment
understand test results.
All which this article will help you with.
How should I test light fittings for safety?
BS EN 60598 is the main product standard for lighting equipment in the UK.
The first part of this standard, 60598-1, covers testing requirements.
These are set out below for each class.
Step 1 Visual Inspection
Before you test either class of light fittings you will need to carry out a visual inspection. Check for any damage (including the cable) that would make the fitting unsafe.
Step 2 Electrical Test
The testers we use are; Clare A255 and Clare Q880526.
We start the test by connecting the fitting to the tester.
For fixed fittings connect the earth, live and neutral conductors into the safe block.
For portable fittings, insert the plug into the tester.
For class 1 fittings connect the earthing lead to the light fitting, using the crocodile clip.
For class 2 fittings we will use the earth probe instead, more on this later.
Step 3 Earth Bond Continuity Test
The first test we carry out is the 'Earth Bond Continuity Test'. Measure this with a test current of at least 10A.
This ensures the fitting has a safe earth connection and only applies to Class 1 fittings.
This test checks the resistance of the earth connection. The result should not exceed 0.1 ohms, although a reading of up to 0.3 ohms is usually acceptable.
Step 4 Electrical Insulation Test
The second test we carry out is the 'Electrical Insulation Test'.
This checks for damaged insulation, loose metal strands and live parts that are too close.
This applies a high voltage 'flash test.' The voltage applied is dependent on the class of the fitting.
1500V - Class 1 Fittings - Tested using the earth lead from the tester.
3750V - Class 2 Fittings - Tested using the earth probe on exposed metal parts.
Ensure any switches on the fitting are ON during this test.
The leakage current should not exceed 5mA. If the test fails, the alarm will sound and the voltage will switch off.
Do not hold or touch the fitting during this test as it is hazardous.
The final test we carry out is the 'Functional Load Test'. This checks the fitting is functional.
Not all testers have a flash test function. Those that do include
Martindale EasyPAT 2100
Martindale MicroPAT Plus
Megger PAT 450
Metrel OmegaPAT Plus
Seaward Supernova Elite
This list is not exhaustive. We recommend flash testing as it is a good one for production testing.
Step 5 Passing the test
If the fitting has passed all these tests the fitting is now good to go! You should now attach the PAT test sticker to the tested fitting, bearing the date and your initials.
How much does testing equipment cost?
There are several different tester options on the market. A couple of the best-known brands are Megger, Seaward (own ‘Clare testers’). Martindale, Metrel.
We have always got on well with Clare (seaward), but there’s nothing to stop you from using other reputable brands. Clare is good for production work.
For Megger testers, prices range from around £500 - £1000. Clare testers cost in the region £2000 - £3000 new.
You can buy second-hand testers for much less. Before you use it to test your fittings, you must get it calibrated.
Use a qualified provider such as DM Systems and Test Ltd. We use them but you can use someone similar, local to you.
Calibration costs are usually around £100. Recalibration is usually recommended once a year.
I hope this article has helped you to test your light fittings.
You may still have other questions about making and selling lamps. Stay tuned.
If you are making lights and would like a supplier to add to your list, contact us to create an online trade account.
This article is for information purposes only. We have made every effort to ensure that information is both accurate and current. We cannot guarantee its accuracy and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions. We do recommend you carry out your own research and get professional advice as necessary.