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Moulded Cables


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As an extension from the "can you rewire a plug" thread in the yoof forum, more of a question regarding the need to rewire plugs in this modern age.......


Given that 84%* of IEC's have moulded connectors at both ends and costs approx 25p each, why do these cables require PAT testing?


Personally I am not a fan of PAT testing cables, well nothing more than a visual check, and certainly feel that the pass/serial stickers make the cables look very untidy. Is it actually in the PAT regulations that cables are to be tested? And would this technically cover socapex cables, or motor control cables ?





*84% derived from a sample of 50 cables pulled at random from our IEC bin, with 42 out of 50 being moulded on various different gauges of cable.

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Unfortunately it's certainly not uncommon for these "correctly made" cables to be made incorrectly. I'm sure others will be along soon to tell their tales, but over the years in here I've seen examples of Earth/Neutral being swapped, Live/Neutral being swapped, some "fused" 13A cables actually having no fuse at all...


There's no guarantee that any peice of equipment, or cable, is correctly wired... unless you did it yourself of course ;)

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Our tutor made the point that this stuff is only batch tested at manufacture. IE. in the case of cables, maybe 1 in a 1000 would actually be tested. Were yours? Can you "ensure a safe system of work" if you have no idea whether the cable is correctly wired or the copper in the earth core runs out half way along the length?
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Not mentioned yet is that even though moulded, it is still possible for the connections within the moulded parts to become stressed and eventually fail. I had an IEC cable recently that although looked fine failed the earth bond test. It wasn't completely broken, just a reading that was too high. If used this cable would have compromised the earth of the appliance it was connected to.


To answer the original question, remember that it is not a legal requirement to do PAT testing, rather we do the testing to comply with the Electricty at Work Regulations 1989, which state:

"As may be necessary to prevent danger, all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far is reasonably practicable, such danger". (Regulation 4(2))

It is accepted that PAT testing in regard to portable appliances fulfils this responsibility. The guidelines for carrying out this testing is "The IEE Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment". Which says that you must test these cables.


With regards to testing Socapex and Motor control cables. My interpretation is that an unskilled (i.e. Non electrical qualification) competent person can carry out the inspection of standard "Portable" appliances as there should be no exposure to live parts. (The only part you unscrew will be the plug which will be disconnected from the mains to do this) Also a very simple L, N and E. Other installations should be tested at regular intervals by a qualified person to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations.


My interpretation. Hope it helps. ;)

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As others point out PAT testing is not in itself a legal requirement, but is a means of complying with other regulations as regards safe systems of work.


My personal view as regards IEC leads is that they should all be tested before first use in order to catch any manufacturing defects.

The frequency of subsequent testing should depend on the conditions of use, I would suggest for rack mounted IT equipment, and for PCs etc on office desks, that after five years use is often enough.

However for frequently moved equipment such as portable sound or lighting equipment at least yearly and perhaps more frequently would be desirable.

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I would suggest for rack mounted IT equipment, and for PCs etc on office desks, that after five years use is often enough.


No offence to Adam. Check the code of practice before determining your testing frequency. The recommendations are based on type of premises and type of equipment. IT equipment in Offices is recommended as 48 month combined inspection and testing and 24 month visual inspection. The schedule is set by the person performing the test, but I would stick to the recommended intervals as this will cover your ar** if something goes wrong.


If you haven't already got one, get a copy of the Code of practice mentioned in my earlier post.

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The COP from IEE / IET

"Appliance cord sets" (Note 15.8) states:


"Appliances with detachable power supply flexes (appliance couplers) should be tested with the cored set plugged into the appliance. It is recommended that the cord set be labeled, If the cord sets are tested separately from the appliance they should be tested as an appliance as follows:

3 core cord sets as a Class 1 appliance.

2 core cord sets as a Class 2 appliance.


The following tests are applicable:


Visual inspection,

Class 1 - Earth continuity, insulation & polarity

Class 2 - Insulation & polarity."


Just to make it clearer, as previous posters have said

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... but I would stick to the recommended intervals as this will cover your ar** if something goes wrong.


Unless, of course, your on-going assessment indicates that the initial intervals between inspections/tests is too long (more frequent usage & movement than initially thought, damage, harsher environment etc). Then you should reduce them (as outlined in the CoP, page 36).

Sticking to the initial recommended intervals in the IEE CoP wouldn't cover your ar** in this case.

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