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Care of your Portable Appliance Tester

The following information provides some useful advice on care of your equipment, to help ensure your unit provides a long and reliable service for you and your organisation.

General Care

Like all test and measurement instruments Portable Appliance Testers are sensitive items of electronic equipment. Portable Appliance Testers should be cared for with respect and handled and stored in a manner which will help ensure they provide reliable and accurate service.

Portable Appliance Testers are microprocessor controlled and are built with high quality, sensitive components, some of which are moving parts. The following advice will help ensure the equipment stays in good condition.

  • Always use your appliance tester in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
  • Never use your appliance tester for any uses it’s not specifically designed for
  • Wherever possible, keep your appliance tester away from dirty and dusty environments
  • Keep your appliance tester clean, and surface clean the unit regularly
  • Avoid moisture and liquid penetrating the appliance tester
  • Avoid dropping or exposing the equipment to physical shocks wherever possible
  • Remove batteries during periods of storage to avoid battery leakage
  • If battery operated, always ensure the correct battery types are used
  • Never use alkaline batteries in equipment with recharging facilities
  • During transit, keep the appliance tester secure and avoid excessive vibration.

Appropriate use and safety

It is always important to consider appropriate use of your appliance tester. If you are unsure of any particular application or usage, please consult with the user manual, contact us, or the manufacturer to confirm before proceeding. If necessary seek professional assistance.

Electricity can be dangerous and incorrect use of test equipment can lead to a lethal electric shock. Additionally faults or damage which has resulted from misuse won’t be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Instrument repairs can be costly. It’s therefore important to be aware of your instruments capabilities and your own experience and competency. Appliance Testers are typically rated as CATII test instruments (IEC 61010), meaning they’re typically designed to be used only from a power outlet. Connection directly to fixed wiring and switchboard elements of an installation should always be limited to CATIII and CATIV rated test instruments designed specifically for that purpose - such as Installation Testers.

Servicing and Calibration

Test Equipment should be regularly calibrated to ensure the equipment is working correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

All of our appliance testers are calibrated at the time of manufacture and are supplied complete with either a certificate of conformity or certificate of calibration, dated at the time of manufacture. Regular routine calibration will help ensure your equipment is providing correct and accurate results.

It is important that your Portable Appliance Tester is calibrated at regular intervals, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally appliance testers should be calibrated at least once a year to meet manufacturer guidelines. Some manufacturers will also extend warranty periods if calibration is performed in accordance with the manufacturers stated periods. Check with your retailer or manufacturer to confirm if this applies to your instrument. Local electrical or safety regulation or your own organisation policy may specify that test equipment is calibrated or tested more frequently than once a year.

Additionally, the Code of Practice from SafeWork Australia - Managing Electrical Risks in the Workplace provides some guidance on test instrument maintenace. States and Territories which have adopted this Code of Practice may enforce these recommendations.

What happens during calibration?

All test equipment is sold with published specifications. During calibration an instrument is checked to ensure it meets the published accuracy and specifications of the manufacturer. Additionally manufacturers and authorised calibration agents may perform additional unpublished checks to ensure equipment is working correctly.

When test equipment is calibrated, it is checked to ensure it is operating within certain tolerances. These tolerances vary according to the manufacturers specifications - an example would be that a specific instrument function must be able to measure a specified value within at least a 5% accuracy. Multiple checks are made on the instrument at various ‘reference points’. It would not be unusual for approximately 40 individual tests to be performed on a Portable Appliance Tester during a laboratory calibration.

Adjustments during calibration

Often, a calibration laboratory might not be required to make any adjustments to the equipment being checked - if the equipment is found to be operating within the manufactures tolerances, no adjustments will be made. If adjustments are required, the calibration laboratory may charge extra. Therefore it is important to establish prior to submitting a tester for calibration whether the calibration includes adjustments. Additionally, if an instrument is working outside its specifications, a repair may be required. Generally calibration costs do not include repair work (if it is required).

Authorised calibrations

If equipment is being calibrated by a non-authorised calibration agent and faults or adjustments are required, the laboratory might not be able to adjust or repair the instrument.

There are several benefits in seeking an authorised calibration agent for your equipment:

  • The calibration may be more thorough or detailed
  • Adjustments during calibration might be made which would otherwise not be possible
  • The operating firmware of the instrument maybe updated
  • Important hardware changes may be required
  • Calibration reminder messages maybe reset or removed
  • The calibration will be ‘traceable’ – meaning the calibration agent uses equipment calibrated to internationally recognised standards (such as NATA accredited) and adopts quality assurance processes and management systems.

     

    There are many calibration agents across Australia who can provide professional and accurate calibration services. Professional calibration agents will verify that your equipment is working to traceable nationally recognised standards. Check with your local agent that they can perform verification on your type of portable appliance tester, before submitting it to them. Test and Tag Supplies recommends that authorised repair agents be the preferred choice for any calibration or repair. Contact us if you are unsure as to which laboratory to send your instrument to.

    After calibration and periodic testing

    A calibration is only a verification that the instrument is working correctly within the manufactures specified tolerances at the actual time the calibration is performed. A calibration does not provide assurances or any guarantee that the instrument will continue to operate within those tolerances or correctly into the future or over the following months or next year or two. If a test instrument has a fault, or develops one after calibration, it might fail or provide incorrect measurements at any given time. Environmental factors can also affect measurements and reliability.

    Generally, calibration laboratories will not cover the cost of any repairs required to an instrument if it fails shortly after or at any point following calibration. Even if repairs have been undertaken during a service, if a repair agent provides a warranty for the work carried out, it will generally only cover the specific components replaced during that work – it will not cover other aspects of the instruments operation or unrelated components.

    We therefore recommend that any test instrument undergoes a frequent periodic user check to ensure that the instrument continues to work reliably throughout the year. These checks can be more basic are unlikely to be traceable (unlike a laboratory calibration), but should indicate if the instrument is at least performing consistently.

    Resistor check boxes such as the Test and Tag Supplies ITC8 can assist users in performing these checks. Combined with a basic multimeter, users can check basic operation of functions such as:

  • Earth continuity resistance
  • Insulation resistance
  • Insulation test voltage

Those with suitable qualifications and experience, users may also be able to periodically check:

  • Differential current leakage measurement values
  • Touch leakage measurement values

RCD tester verification is more complex to routinely check, but basic indication can still be achieved by regularly testing a known properly functioning RCD reserved for test use and checking the consistency of the trip time and operation.

Summary

Taking appropriate care of your appliance tester, seeking regular calibration, and periodically checking your instrument will both ensure it is working correctly and should prolong the life of your test instrument. If you would like to organise a calibration of your test instrument, please contact us to arrange a calibration. Providing us with notification prior to dispatch can help speed up the calibration process, and will let us to know to expect its arrival. We can also provide an estimated cost of calibration or repair.

We can perform a traceable calibration to manufacturer’s guidelines on many instruments in-house, whilst a proportion we will outsource to external laboratories. Please can contact if you’d like to confirm prior to your instruments submission to us. If sending your instrument to us, please send it to the following address.

Test and Tag Supplies Pty Ltd
4/2 Industrial Ave
Wacol QLD 4076
Phone 07 3271 4588
sales@testandtagsupplies.com.au

Shipping Safely

Please always use a trackable freight method to ensure your instrument arrives safely and always pack your tester safely and securely to avoid damage during transit. Remember to include a cover note or contact details with the instrument.

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