Electrical Safety Testing — What You Need to Know

woman-esting a circuit board on a computer

It's important to ensure you're protecting yourself and the projects you're working on by implementing proper safety testing procedures. It's not enough to build a circuit or a DIY kit — you need to ensure it functions properly and safely. This blog will cover the essential things you should know about electrical safety checks to ensure your projects are safe to operate and you're not at risk of electrocution or other electrical hazards.

Why is it Important?

Without proper electrical safety tests, a faulty wiring setup or an incomplete electrical system could lead to electric shock, fire, and other dangers caused by faulty equipment. Furthermore, most insurance companies require proof of electrical safety before covering any property-related damages caused by electrical safety issues. This makes it even more critical for you as a hobbyist to have proper electrical safety testing for your projects before using them in real-world applications.

What are the Different Types of Tests Used?

The most common types of electrical safety checks include:

  • Insulation resistance tests (measuring the resistance between conductors)
  • Earth continuity tests (measuring the resistance between a conductor and ground)
  • Polarity checks (ensuring the correct phase rotation
  • RCD tests (testing residual current devices)
  • Visual inspections (checking for loose connections and worn insulation)
  • Functional tests (to check if a device works as expected)

Depending on the complexity of the project you're testing, these test procedures may be supplemented by other tests specific to certain applications or environments. There are a variety of Test and Measurement Equipment available for all of your testing requirements.

How Do You Perform Electrical Safety Tests?

skeleton model of toy with electrical wires near laptop

When performing safety tests on an electronic project, it's essential to take the following steps:

  • First, turn off all power sources connected to the device
  • Disconnect any attached cables
  • Check for any loose connections
  • Perform your test according to its requirements
  • Reattach all cables once finished
  • Turn the power back on and confirm results are accurate before using the device again

What Do You Need to Keep in Mind When Performing Tests?

  • Understand Every Electrical Safety Testing Procedure — The purpose of every electrical safety check will vary depending on the application. So it's important to familiarize yourself with each procedure and its specific requirements. For example, testing for earthing continuity or functional earth leakage tests involves different techniques than testing electrical appliances.

  • Be Aware of Health & Safety Protocols — When performing electrical safety tests, you must adhere to health and safety protocols, such as wearing protective gear and using the correct test equipment. It is also important to ensure that the area you are testing has been cleared of any obstructions and is free from any potential hazards that may arise during testing.

  • Know Your Limits — Electrical safety tests can be complex, so you must know your limits when performing them. If you are not confident that you can adequately perform the tests, then it is best to consult a qualified electrician or technician.

  • Know Which Equipment Is Suitable For Testing — Different types of test equipment have different capabilities and limitations, so use the right device for the job. If in doubt, consult a manufacturer's specifications before choosing a tester. Remember: not all testing equipment is designed for every situation.

  • Maintain Test Equipment RegularlyElectrical safety testing equipment must be maintained regularly to ensure its accuracy and reliability. This includes checking for any faults and performing calibration checks to ensure that readings are accurate.

electrical engineer working on a circuit board

  • Learn How To Read Test Results And Interpret Them — When performing electrical safety checks, always pay close attention to the readings displayed on the test instruments. They should be taken as a guide rather than absolute values, as small discrepancies can make a big difference. Knowing what the results mean in terms of operational safety is also essential. Ensure you understand any warnings or advice given by the manufacturer before proceeding with repairs or adjustments based on these readings.

  • Keep Yourself Updated On Electrical Safety Testing Regulations — With advances in technology, you should expect periodic changes in safety regulations. It's important to stay informed about any changes that may affect how you use your equipment or how you perform safety tests on it. Professional certifications such as those available from UL® or CE® are good indicators that an item complies with relevant standards. Check manufacturer specifications carefully before buying new equipment.

Learn More at Jameco Electronics

Electrical safety testing is an essential part of any electronic hobbyist's toolkit — and one that shouldn't be overlooked. It’s critical for ensuring that your projects work as intended. At Jameco Electronics, we have the equipment to help you stay safe while working on your electronics projects and completing your electrical safety checks, no matter your skill level. We have over 30,000 products in stock and provide educational resources that can help you understand electrical safety better.