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Posted By Topic: Interpretations

Jun 15 2017 01:59

I've been attempting to narrow my loose understandings of the rules ... finding at the beginning of both the Electricity Act 1992 and the Electrical Safety Regulations 2010 there is a section called Interpretation, where there is a list of terms that get defined.

First up is Works, Installations, Equipment, Appliances and Fittings.

If I've got it right, there is three partitions:
Works - provider of electricity.
Installations - consumer of electricity.
Appliances - electricity consuming machinery in an installation.

Fittings would appear to be whole lot broader than I expected. It seems to be all components (including cables) of works and installations but not appliances.

There is no definition of equipment but it seems to be all components of works, installations and appliances.


Jun 15 2017 02:00

Act interpretation link -

Jun 15 2017 02:00

Regs interpretation link -

Jun 15 2017 02:02

So, for example, a light bulb plugged into a ceiling fitting is an appliance and that ceiling light fitting is part of the installation.

Jun 15 2017 02:09

On the other hand a hot water cylinder is not a fitting but an appliance in its own right, with the heating cartridge being equipment within the appliance.


Jun 15 2017 08:40

You are on the right track.

However I think electrical appliances are also fittings (or made up of fittings).

The term in the act - definition of fittings "or use of electricity".

Jun 15 2017 08:48

You've identified one of the trickiest bits of interpretation; the split of our world into works, installations, and appliances as defined in the Act. These definitions also apply in ESRs, and ESR 4 adds some more.
Correct that "fittings" includes everything, including conductors. "Electrical equipment" will be similar to "fittings", ie it includes everything, but is not a defined term

The tricky bit is that while under the Act an "appliance" is anything that consumes electricity (including a lamp), the Standards (Wiring Rules" use a different definition (excluding lamps), and common usage can be different again (I suspect most would use "appliance" to cover both the lamp and the lampholder, or the entire luminaire (where there is one). Lamps are probably the worst case, for other types of appliance we don't have a similar difference.

The wiring rules are written using the definitions within them, and the Act & Regs are3 written using their own definitions. Where they are different, ESR 4 (2) & (3) say we have to use the definitions from the Act or ESRs. Which provides "legal clarity" but doesn't always align with what we might see as 'common sense' (ie what we think the world should believe). Luckily these differences don't often cause a real difficulty.

As electricians, want to know where the installation starts and finishes; in order to know
a) which bits need to comply with rules for installations; and
b) which bits need to be certified
Nice to be certain, but no harm is done if we do work to "installation" rules, or certify PEW that may be actually part of works, or an appliance.


Jun 16 2017 21:55

Since appliances don't have to be inside an installation I've thought up a better distinction between installation and appliance. How about this:
An installation contains operational occupancy space for personnel, an appliance does not.

Are any vehicles listed in the rules? They would be classed as an installation by this reasoning. Although I guess the lack of 230 Volts kind of limits the applicability.


Jun 17 2017 18:11

Vehicles can be either connectable installations or appliances depending on many factors.
Typically if it is occupied by people either working or sleeping it should be a connectable installation.
If it is a fire engine or bitumen tanker it can be an appliance.

I don't think that there is any special classification for electric cars but their charging systems are coming in for some special attention from the ESS, with 3 different PDFs covering different aspects.

Jun 17 2017 23:55

Is there a list somewhere that states those as electrical appliances? I wouldn't have thought them exceptional in that respect ... ah, unless all vehicles that are ELV only automatically become classed as appliances. That would divide off caravans and the likes that have 230 volt circuits into installations.


Jun 18 2017 08:04

Your idea of "occupancy space" is something I've used myself; but while it's a useful rule of thumb it doesn't work as a definition.

Electric vehicles are strange beasts, because electrically they sometimes operate as a load (similar to an appliance) and sometimes as an energy source / generation (ie as a battery).

Some might apply the Act's definition of "appliance" very closely, ie that only the actual components within a particular item of equipment are appliances (not including controls and wiring).
I think it can be applied closely or braodly to anything that is an assembly of fittings making up a coherent whole.
At the simplest, a lamp.., but for more complex equipment eg a range the entire range is an appliance.
Moving to industrial, take a refrigeration system; there are several parts that are clearly under the heading "appliance": the evaporator unit, the compressor & associated sump heater, and (assuming an air-condenser) that would be another. But less clear for the control panel. The wiring in between I believe should be treated as installation wiring. large boilers similar.
But if equipment is all assembled together, with just one point of supply (think air compressor or small boiler), then we can take the entire assembly as a single appliance.

Not sure that precisely distinguishing between "appliance" and "installation" is all that useful, except as a means to know when "installation" rules apply.

Same at the other end, between "works" & "installation".

Jun 18 2017 19:45

There is no list of what is what.

That is the beauty of the current system. We can use our interpretations to decide what we are looking at.

As long as we arrive at the correct decision and apply the correct rules for our interpretation all is good.
Unfortunately we are not the final arbiters in the matter. Being subject to audit in the event of a complaint our decisions may be picked over by several agencies who might come up with several different interpretations.

I would not get to concerned about electric / hybrid cars because it is unlikely that electricians will have to work on them (yet).

Just make sure that any charging systems that you install are correctly done and you will be fine.

The example of a bitumen tanker or truck being classified as an appliance is real. They are comprehensively inspected every 6 months and written records of all aspects of the testing, including function of safety systems and inspections are kept. They even get external contractors in to confirm calibration of Temperature sensors.

Jun 19 2017 09:08

Electric Vehicles (or cars) are outside of the Scope of the ESR 2010 reg 3 (b).