Does The Power Need To Be Turned Off For An Electrical Safety Check? (Quick Answer)

As I go to plug my AirPods into charge, I am reminded that even my earphones now need power in order to operate. Although batteries have come a long way, we are more dependent than ever on the power in our homes to recharge those batteries. As an electrician, whenever I visit a customer’s home, there’s always a look of horror on the poor homeowner’s face when they realise that the power will need to be turned off!

Does the power need to be turned off for an EICR? is an important question to know the answer to in advance to help prepare for the upcoming electrical inspection. This brief post will explain the answer (spoiler alert; it’s a definite yes) but also provide a few helpful tips based on common errors I come across day to day.

The power will be turned off at source for an EICR
The power will be turned off at source for an EICR

Does The Power Need to be Turned off for an Electrical Safety Inspection?

Unfortunately for homeowners, the power does need to be switched off for the duration of the electrical safety inspection. This is certainly a cause of nuisance for homeowners, but a little preparation can make the time off grid a little more palpable.

When we carry out work on individual circuits (if changing a light fitting for example) we can isolate just that circuit and leave the other circuits powered and operational. Unfortunately, there is no such luck for homeowners when it comes to electrical safety inspections. The inspection covers the consumer unit and all circuits coming from it. In a nutshell, the power will be isolated at source to the whole property.

How Long Will the Power be Off for?

The length of time the power will need to be off during an electrical safety inspection varies on the size of the property, but a good estimation is between 3 and 4 hours. Although the power will come back on intermittently during the inspection it will not be usable as tests are being carried out. Plugging electrical equipment back in too early risks damaging the equipment.

I wrote a blog post regarding how long an electrical safety inspection is likely to take based on the size of your property, which I will link here. It’s safe to assume that the power will be out of use for the entire duration of the testing.

Will My Fridge Be Ok?

In my experience, the customer’s main concern when it comes to turning the power off is the worry regarding the fridge and freezer losing power. This shouldn’t be a huge concern as a freezer switched off but with the door kept closed can last for around 24 hours.

Something would have to go seriously wrong (and I mean catastrophic like a condemning of the entire system – which I have yet to ever see) for the power to not be back on that same day. If the electrician was still there testing after 8 hours then it’s safe to assume they have had a very bad day at the office. When the power is back on probably best to make them a nice cup of tea to cheer them up!

How Can I Prepare for the Power to be Turned off?

These tips are by no means rocket science, however, I often see homeowners fall foul of these issues where a little planning in advance could have saved some heartache.

  • Remember that the wifi router is going to get switched off. Working from home will be tricky without a strong hotspot signal.
  • Charge all devices well the night before. I’ve felt sorry for many poor customers who sit down with their laptops to discover they only have 50% battery left.
  • Don’t put the washing machine going. This is a pretty common one. The electrician will not be able to wait the hour or so while the machine finishes its cycle, so instead the power will be switched off mid-way through and the clothes will have to stay trapped in the machine for the duration.

That covers some of the most common preparation fails I see when it comes to the power being turned off. There are many other ways to prepare for an EICR so ill link to the dedicated article here for readers who are keen to see more.

Final Thoughts

Not only will the power need to be switched off for an EICR to be carried out, but the electrical appliances will all need to be unplugged as well. Unlike having small jobs done (such as changing a socket for example) where we can isolate just one circuit, an electrical safety check encompasses the entire electrical installation so turning the power off to the entire property is the only option to ensure a thorough test.

It still amazes me how much equipment runs on battery power these days, I even saw some battery-powered hair straighteners whilst out shopping last week. If homeowners do a little preparation in advance and get all the devices charged, they can usually sit there smug in the knowledge they haven’t been thrown from the 21st century due to the loss of power.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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