How to test commercial electrics systems

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Commercial Electrics Systems

Can you imagine life without electricity? It seems impossible given how dependent we have become on it to function in our day-to-day lives.

From the smallest house to the biggest commercial property, electricity is one of the basic systems in a building’s design.

For that reason, it is very important to not only have a property’s electrical system properly installed but also regularly maintained to ensure that it keeps on working smoothly, especially in commercial properties such as businesses where even a few minutes of downtime might cost the business owners a lot of money.

At times, due to the size and type of the commercial property, it may become difficult to notice an electrical issue until it has turned into a serious problem.

This can become very dangerous, very fast, and may lead to not only property damage but also loss of life, making it is essential to have the electrical systems in your commercial property tested regularly.

Read on to find out how to test commercial electrics systems, why regular inspection is so important, and who to contact for a thorough check that helps you stay compliant with the law:


The best way to test the electrical system in your commercial property is through periodic electrical testing, which must be carried out only by competent individuals, such as registered electricians, to check the current electrics against BS 7671, the UK standard for the safety of electrical installations.

Periodic inspections are carried out to check for defective electrical work, circuit or equipment overloading, potential electric shock risks and fire hazards, and a lack of earthing or bonding.

In addition to checking the wiring and electrical installations, they are also done to check the fixed electrical equipment to ensure that they are safe to use.

A periodic electrical test thoroughly checks your commercial property’s electrical installations for any faults that are difficult to identify with a simple visual assessment.

A number of faults could occur, such as electrical circuits overloading or overheating, all of which could happen due to improper installation and lack of testing and maintenance.

These issues, if left unchecked over a long period of time, could lead to potential accidents, injuries, or even death due to fire and shock hazards.

As a business or commercial space, you are required under the Electricity of Work Act 1989 to conduct periodic inspections every 3 to 5 years to make sure that the electrical installations on your property are deemed safe for use by your employees and the public.

A periodic inspection consists of:

  • A visual assessment
  • A detailed assessment
  • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT).


A visual assessment, as the name suggests, is a visual check of the property carried out by a trained electrician.

Some common signs to look for in a visual assessment include damaged light switches and sockets, frayed and broken cables, scorch marks, flickering lights, the circuit breaker overtripping, and any visible signs of wear and tear.

Complete access is given to the electrician to check every area of the commercial property, making sure any obstructions are cleared and they have easy access to the wiring and installations.

Depending on the size of your commercial property, the inspection may take around 1 hour or more to complete, at the end of which a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) is issued.

The VIR details all the findings of the inspection including the number of observations and recommendations, and an overall summary of the condition of the electrical installations.


Following the visual inspection, a more detailed inspection is carried out by the trained professionals where, at the end of it all, an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) is issued.

An EICR is more detailed than a VIR and allows the electricians to identify any hidden issues that could not be identified during a visual inspection and that have the potential to turn into safety hazards.

The purpose of the EICR is to determine whether the current electrical installations are satisfactory for continued use or not and, depending on the size of your property and the number of circuits to be tested, it could take around 3 to 4 hours to complete.

To make these inspections easier and more efficient, trained NICEIC approved electrical contractors use commercial electrical inspection checklists (CEIC) as a guide to determine whether the current installations comply with safety regulations or not.

The EICR outlines any damages and deterioration in your commercial electrical system, along with anything that doesn’t align with the current safety standards, that could put people and property at risk.

If the periodic testing and inspection come out negative, which means that the electrical installations are unsatisfactory and not at par with the current regulations, it is reflected in the EICR and you are required to remove all risks.

To make it clearer, the report indicates which areas failed the test by classifying them using three codes: C1, C2, and C3.

C1 means that there is danger present and there is a likely risk of an accident or injury if immediate action is not taken.

C2 means that there is potential danger and remedial action needs to be taken urgently. C3 indicates improvements to the electrical system and is the only code that may appear on the EICR and still allow you to pass the test.

Once your commercial property has fully passed the testing and inspection and any urgent remedial work has been completed, you will be issued an EICR Certificate of Safety by your certified electrician to be used as proof of the electrics being safe and compliant with the law.


Portable appliance testing (PAT) includes both a visual inspection and an in-depth check using special PAT testing equipment to test the appliances and equipment that are not part of the fixed wiring and do not fall under the electrical testing of the premises.

Similar to visual inspections and EICRs, PAT testing is also carried out by competent and registered professionals who possess in-depth knowledge about electrical appliances and safety standards.

Although there is no legal requirement to carry out the tests, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises all commercial property owners to conduct them every 3 to 12 months, depending on the type and use of the appliance.

According to the current UK legislation, all commercial property owners have a legal responsibility to make sure their electrical system and equipment remains safe to use.

The penalty for not upholding this responsibility can be as high as 2 years imprisonment and unlimited fines, depending on the severity of the situation.

Therefore, to make sure everything remains safe to use, in addition to getting the fixed wiring and installations checked, commercial property owners also need to get the portable appliances, such as the computers, refrigerators, freezers, and electric heaters properly checked as well.


Commercial electrical testing and maintenance need to be done on a regular basis to ensure all the electrical installations and equipment are working as they should and are safe to use.

Here are all the reasons why you need to test commercial electrics systems:

It ensures safety

As a commercial property owner, one of your biggest responsibilities includes making your property safe for your employees, customers, clients, and tenants.

In addition to keeping it safe from threats such as intrusions and break-ins, you also need to make sure that the basic systems, including the electrical systems, are safe to use and receive regular maintenance.

Issues with the electrical system can lead to major safety hazards, including electrical fires, all of which can cause loss to not only property but a serious threat to human life as well.

It ensures equipment reliability

Electrical equipment is very important for a commercial property’s operations on a daily basis. Most setups are so dependent on electricity that even a few minutes of downtime can incur huge losses for them.

Therefore, to make sure that there are no safety mishaps and the electrical equipment always remains reliable, you need to have both the fixed electrics as well as the portable appliances regularly checked.

These tests not only help you pinpoint any faults and potential issues but also help extend the lifespan of your fixed wiring and electrical equipment.

It prevents major electrical problems

Even if your electrical system seems to be working fine, there might be underlying issues that are developing that could lead to major electrical problems.

If left unfixed for a long time, they could turn into serious safety hazards and could jeopardise the safety of everyone on the premises.

During regular inspection and testing, trained electricians are able to identify both big and small problems before they become major issues, allowing them to repair and prevent them from posing any sort of danger to anyone.

It reduces costs

Most people consider electrical testing and maintenance an unnecessary expense, while in reality, it actually helps you save money both in terms of your commercial property’s energy costs and repairs in the future.

You might not even realise it but faults in your commercial property’s electrics systems may be the reason your equipment is using more energy than is required for it to operate. This not only puts an added burden on your energy provider but also results in huge electricity bills.

Through routine electrical testing and maintenance, you can eliminate these issues and save money in the long run. Also, your electrician will be able to help make your commercial property more energy-efficient by making simple changes such as switching to LED lights and automating the premises.

Also, if the electrical system receives regular maintenance, it will significantly reduce the chances of any issues arising and will require far fewer repairs, helping you save money at the end of it all.


Commercial electrical inspection and maintenance is an important part of a property’s safety and must be carried out responsibly.

To ensure that all areas are covered in the testing process and they meet the current safety regulations, you must choose a reliable and registered commercial electrician who has the relevant experience and is trained to carry out the inspection.

Some people may opt for uncertified and untrained electricians to save a bit of money on the testing process which ends up costing them even more due to their lack of expertise and experience.

Also, if you think about it, electrical testing must not be considered a cost at all. Instead, it should be considered an investment that not only guarantees safety but also helps you save money in the long run.

The benefits of choosing a professional commercial electrician to carry out the electrical work on your premises include:

  • The necessary training and expertise over the years, along with lots of experience working in the field, including commercial buildings such as offices, restaurants, shopping centres, and retail stores.
  • Peace of mind that everything will be done while keeping everyone’s safety in mind,
  • Quick troubleshooting due to their deep understanding of the systems that help you save both time and money,
  • Fully insured work, which means that you won’t have to worry about any damages or accidents during the testing process,
  • Provision of commercial electrical certificates that are relied on by business owners, landlords, and building control authorities to determine the electrical safety of a property.

With so many individuals and companies claiming to be legitimate and fully certified, it may become difficult for you to select the right people to get your commercial electrics systems tested.

Here’s how you can choose the best commercial electrician for your electrical installations, maintenance, and inspections:

  • Go to the Competent Persons Register – a database of the Competent Person Schemes (CPS) – and run a search using the name of the person or business you’re looking for. Try typing “Calder Electrical” and you’ll see it listed under the NICEIC registered businesses.
  • Weigh your options and do your research. Read online reviews, ask around and see what other people in your area are opting for, compare alternative options, and choose the best professional for your requirements.
  • Always have a detailed discussion prior to beginning the work. It is always best to get a written document with clear outlines of the scope of work, along with the services included in the quotation, to avoid any miscommunication and misunderstandings.
  • Make sure that the electrician working on your property is insured and holds liability for any damages or unexpected incidents happening during the inspection.

As is with any product bought or service rendered, make sure you get a written confirmation in the form of a receipt after you’ve made the payment. This protects you from any kind of disputes that might arise.


We have been providing electrical services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties for over 40 years and are specialists in all aspects of electrical installations, maintenance, and testing.

All our work is fully insured and we work to meet the standards set by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.

If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call out service to rectify and solve any problems such as circuits tripping, loss of power, broken items that need repairing, or to check if you feel something is unsafe or a potential hazard.

Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.

We can also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to get in touch with our professional electricians and make your commercial property safe from all kinds of electricals risks and threats.

Photo by Carter Yocham on Unsplash