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Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If your still unsure give us a call to chat to one of our team. 07 3271 4588

Test and Tag Legislation

Electricity can kill. It can also injure, cause damage to property and equipment. Working with electricity and even just using electrical appliances or working around them presents a risk. Testing and inspection electrical equipment is one of many ways we can help reduce that risk. By testing and inspecting electrical equipment unsafe electrical equipment can be removed from service. Safety switches or RCDs are also considered to be electrical equipment which requires test and inspection.



Testing and tagging is a legal requirement in certain environments and under certain conditions. This can depend on many factors such as local state legislation and the reference to national standards. Where the testing and inspection of appliances is not specifically mandated by a state legislation, it may be still be necessary to meet the obligations of occupational health and safety law, codes of practice, general duties of care, mitigate the risk of litigation (in the event of an incident), or to meet insurance requirements. In some jurisdictions and environments, a risk assessment may be required to determine if testing and tagging is necessary.



The frequency requirements for the test and inspection of appliances depends on a number of factors. This frequency is mostly based on the expected hostility of the environment in which the equipment is used. The Australian Standard AS/NZS 3760 defines the specific requirements for the test and inspection of electrical equipment. This standard identifies the indicative test and inspection intervals based on various environments. However, retest frequency may also be defined in state legislation, related Australian Standards (such as AS3017 or 3551), or in organisational policy.



AS/NZS 3760 defines the methodology for the test and inspection of cord connected electrical equipment. Its purpose is not to define the requirements of portable appliance testers.
The AS/NZS 3760 mandates certain test types and methods (along with some required accuracies to satisfactorily meet those test requirements).
A range of different types of equipment can be used to meet the test requirements within the standard, and a portable appliance tester generally features a broad range (or in some cases all) of the functions required.
However, as not all appliance testers are capable of every test detailed in the standard, we would recommend you speak to one of our experts to ensure the equipment will meet your test requirements.



An appliance tester is a multifunction tester that combines the capabilities of several different types of test instrument. It applies predetermined thresholds to the test measurement results to provide the user with a pass or fail result. The tests undertaken are usually performed automatically, according to a preprogramed test sequence controlled by a microcontroller.
The functions typically include that of a low-ohm continuity tester, insulation tester, current leakage meter and wiring tester. Appliance testers will include additional functionality such as RCD testing and power measurement and may feature recording capabilities.



Low voltage portable hand-held equipment, stationary equipment, supply cords and extensions, inverters, flexible cords connected to fixed equipment and safety switches are all examples of equipment covered by AS/NZS3760. The requirements for testing can vary and will be detailed in state legislation, applied national standards, codes of practice, or organisational policy.



Appliance Testers

The best appliance tester to buy will be one that most closely meets the needs of the organisation using it. These needs will vary according to the volume of equipment to be tested, the required test methods, the environment, and the record keeping requirements. Speak to one of our experts to help assess your needs and determine the most appropriate options.



Appliance testers will vary in speed performance, but the speed of the tests performed will usually only vary by a few seconds. The speed of recording will also differ, depending on the method used. However, the biggest variable (by far) will be the efficiency of the operator and the accessibility of the equipment to be tested.



Appliance testers may be mains or battery operated. Some feature internal rechargeable batteries. However, for some tests such as current leakage testing or RCD testing, mains operation is a necessity. The term ‘portable appliance tester’ refers to the fact that appliance testers are designed to test portable electrical equipment – it’s not an indicator as to whether the tester itself is battery operated. Speak to our team to determine which type of tester will most suit your needs. 07 3271 4588



A fully portable system that recognises previously tested equipment will cost at least $3500. Of course you can spend less but low cost appliance tester can’t generally record data. Because printing a test tag requires certain information to be captured (such as test date and retest date), non-recording testers can’t connect to a label tag printer. Some very basic recording testers can print, but can’t record information such as descriptions. To record descriptions and have the capability to send information to a printer the testers will generally cost upward of $1300. A tester and printer will cost upward of $2000.



The TNT-EL is currently the lowest cost appliance tester that can perform the required electrical tests including current leakage testing. Whilst a great tester, instruments in this price range won’t feature RCD testing capability, battery operation, record or be compatible with test tag printers.

Wavecom TNT EL


Appliance testers are a combination of various test instruments designed into one single device that perform tests automatically and provide a pass or fail result. They need to measure accurately and consistently. Purchasing separate test instruments that perform the same test to the same accuracy would be both more costly, less practical, and less efficient. They’re also manufactured in much smaller volumes than other every day electronic equipment.



Most appliance testers costing around $1k upwards will have RCD testing facilities and will also feature isolation to prevent fixed RCD’s from tripping. Appliance testers can also sometimes test fixed RCD’s from an outlet socket. However, as appliance testers are CATII rated instruments they are not suitable for connection to a switchboard.



An insulation and continuity meter has two functions (low-ohm continuity measurement and insulation resistance measurement) and provides measured values. The user interprets these values to decide if the result should be a pass or fail. Test functions are manually selected and the user connects equipment using two probes or crocodile clips according to each test function.
A portable appliance tester typically also features these same two functions, but also performs additional current leakage and wiring checking tests. Some also perform RCD tests. Appliance testers deliver pass or fail result to the user. Test functions are automatically carried out during a programmed test sequence and relays configure the connections appropriately for each test from an outlet socket and single test lead.





How to Test and Tag

No – not according to state regulation or the AS/NZS3760. However, some institutions and businesses prefer values to be recorded for internal reasons. It can also be useful to know how close the measured value was to the PASS/FAIL threshold. Most appliance testers now provide values in addition to PASS/FAIL result.



A Class I appliance is a protectively earthed appliance. Competent users of appliance testers (usually after completing test and tag competency training) correctly identify equipment classes to determine the appropriate test sequences to perform in accordance with AS/NZS3760 to establish if the equipment is electrically safe.



A Class 2 appliance is a double insulated appliance. Competent users of appliance testers (usually following formal competency training) correctly identify equipment classes to determine the appropriate test sequences to perform in accordance with AS/NZS3760 to establish if the equipment is electrically safe.



These test leads serve two purposes. For earthed appliance tests, the earth return lead is used to provide a return path for the earth continuity test. For double insulated appliances, the earth return lead is used to provide a return path for the insulation resistance test. Neither test can be correctly performed without the use of the earth return lead.
Either a crocodile clip or a test probe can be used – whatever is most appropriate for the job.
Remember - for double insulated appliance tests, if you don’t use the earth return test lead, you’re not testing anything – even if you get a pass result!



A current leakage test is required if the equipment under test must be powered to operate switching devices. This is because appliances must be in the ‘on’ position in order to test insulation correctly. If the equipment cannot be in the ‘on’ position without being powered (for example a microwave oven), then a current leakage test must be performed. Australian standards also recommend a leakage test to be performed for single phase equipment with motors.



No – this is because various brands and models of electrical equipment maybe manufactured differently. Competent users of appliance testers must identify equipment classes to determine the appropriate test sequences to perform in accordance with AS/NZS3760. This is not always straightforward as equipment build and labelling varies so much. It may require experience or knowledge of the equipment’s construction and design.



Not always. An appliance tester is generally only designed to check the electrical safety aspects of equipment. These are conditions that present a risk to a person’s safety. An appliance tester cannot identify functional faults relating to the appliance. Additionally, an appliance tester may not be able to identify other conditions such a short-circuit within the appliance (An electrical condition that present a risk to property). Visual inspections and experience of electrical equipment and testing are an integral component of a test and tag technicians’ competency.





Test Tags

Any colours can be used for test tags. However, Red, Green, Blue and Yellow are generally used within the construction industry as recommended in AS/NZS3017. Black is often used for annual testing. See our colour guide

  Red Dec-Feb
  Green Mar-May
  Blue Jun-Aug
  Yellow Sep-Nov
  Orange Jan-Jun
  White Jul-Dec
  Black Yearly
  Burgundy 5 Yearly


There are many different types of test tag and every type has benefits and drawbacks – whether it be durability or price. As a guide:
Budget tags - best for light duty or office use, great pricing
Self laminating test tags - great all-round tagging needs
Wrap around test tags - general purpose low surface area tag
Flag test tags - heavy duty
Mastertag - extra heavy duty



No test tags are completely UV resistant – the sun can damage all tags regardless of the type. Manufactured self laminating test tags generally offer good UV stability. For printable tags, try to avoid direct thermal tags in high UV exposure areas unless the material is specifically designed to better tolerate these conditions (such as Zebra Thermalock or XL type tags).





Calibration

Manufacturers typically recommend annual traceable calibration to ensure the accuracy of instruments are maintained. More frequent verification checks by the user are recommended to identify any issues that may arise between formal calibration periods. Periodic inspection of instruments to ensure suitability and accuracy is normally mandated state legislation and or national standards.
More information on calibration can be found here.



Calibration costs vary according to the charges applied by the calibration laboratory chosen. Typical costs for appliance tester vary from around $120.00 + GST for the most basic testers to around $300.00 + GST for the more advanced testers.
Popular tester calibration options can be found here with pricing Calibration



Manufacturers are not required to issue a calibration certificate with new instruments. However, most equipment manufacturers will either issue a calibration certificate (which includes measured values) or a certificate of conformity. These are post-production tests carried out by the manufacturer. As values can change over time due to transit movement, environment and other factors post sale calibration or verification is sometimes organised by end users.



Many electrical calibration laboratories across Australia such as Test and Tag Supplies, can perform traceable calibrations on a wide range of appliance tester models. The calibration cost does not necessarily include adjustments to the equipment and does not include repairs. Check with the laboratory prior to calibration to confirm if adjustments are included in the cost of calibration.
In most instances only authorised representatives or the test instruments can perform adjustments, repairs or reset calibration reminder reset messages.
Test and Tag Supplies can perform calibration on a wide range of appliance tester models. We can perform adjustments, reset calibration reminder messages, and carry out repairs on a selection of models.
Contact us for more information.





Test and Tag Training

Yes - AS/NZS3760:2010 states that testing must be carried out by a ‘competent person’. That person should be able to use test equipment safely and effectively, must have an understanding of the construction of the equipment, the requirements of the standard, the dangers of electricity and the legislative requirements among other criteria. We strongly recommend that full training is provided to those intending to ‘test and tag’ unless they already possess the necessary skills, training, and experience.
For more information on our one day Test and Tag Training course, Click Here.



'Competency' is the required level of attainment required for test and tagging. As competency is not a formal license or qualification, an individual's skills and knowledge can vary over time - as also can the legislative requirements. We would recommend that anybody that intends to Test and Tag reviews their skills and knowledge regularly and attends or re-attends a test and tag training course if they have any doubt.



Test and Tag training course typically last one day but can vary according to training provider. For accredited test and tag courses, a pre-requisite of completion of a specific workplace health and safety training module is required.
Some training providers now offer online or remote based training. Where possible we would recommend face-to-face training.
In Queensland, if you intend to Test and Tag professionally (as a service to others) your organisation will require a restricted or full contractor's license. Obtaining this license will require attendance and completion of a nationally accredited test and tag training course delivered by an RTO, additional business training courses, along with extra insurance requirements.



The content varies according to training provider, but core components will generally include:

Applicable standards and regulating including occupational health and safety.
An introduction to electricity including the basic principles of electricity.
Safety awareness around electricity.
Equipment types and construction.
Testing to the requirements of ASNZS3760.
Testing single phase and three phase electrical equipment*..
Using test equipment including portable appliance testers and RCD testers.
Documentary requirements.
Practical exercise and testing.
*Testing of 3-phase equipment is sometimes included in additional course training - contact your training provider to learn more.
Training courses will include theory and practical assessment. As 'competency' can vary over time and is not a formal qualification or license, the outcome of a competency course will usually be a Certificate of Attainment or Certificate of Attendance.



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