What Is an Electrical Equipment? Definition, Meaning, Examples, Classification

Electrical equipment: item used for generation, conversion, transmission, distribution, or utilization of electric energy (source: IEC 60445:2021).

NOTE. In the Russian Federation, the term “electrical equipment” is defined differently: item intended for generation, transmission, and variation of characteristics of electric energy, change its characteristics, and also for convert electric energy into another form of energy.

Examples of such items are electric machines, transformers, switchgear and controlgear, measuring instruments, protective devices, wiring systems, and current-using equipment.

Example electrical equipment
Example electrical equipment

Electrical equipment used in the electrical installations of buildings is usually designed to convert electrical energy into mechanical, thermal, and light energy, that is, it is current-using equipment.


By the type of electricity required to power electrical equipment.

Depending on the type of electricity required to power electrical equipment, it can be DC or AC electrical equipment. In the electrical installations of buildings, AC electrical equipment is usually used, which is usually single-phase or three-phase electrical equipment.

Single-phase electrical equipment should be considered electrical equipment that usually has two leads and is designed to be connected to a phase conductor, a neutral conductor, or two-phase conductors. Single-phase electrical equipment may also have three terminals to which two-phase conductors of one phase and a neutral conductor are connected. Such electrical equipment is used in single-phase three-wire electrical systems.

Three-phase electrical equipment with three or four terminals are connected to either three-phase conductors or three-phase conductors and a neutral conductor.

According to the methods of protection against electric shock.

Protection is achieved by a combination of the constructional arrangements for the equipment and devices, together with the method of installation. Technical committees are recommended to use the protective measures described in Clause 6 [1].

Current-using equipment shall be classified in accordance with the classes of 0, I, II, and III. The use of protective provisions in the several classes of equipment is described in 7. 2 to 7. 5 [1] (see also Table 3).

If it is not appropriate to classify equipment and devices in this way, technical committees shall then specify the relevant methods of installation for their products.

For some equipment, compliance with the classification can be achieved only after installation, e.g. where the installation prevents access to live parts. In this case, suitable instructions shall be provided by the manufacturer or responsible vendor.

[Table 3 [1]] — Application of equipment in a low-voltage installation
Class of equipment Equipment marking or instructions Symbol Conditions for connection of the equipment to the installation
Class I Marking of the protective bonding terminal with graphical symbol IEC 6041 7-501 9: 2006-08, or letters PE, or colour combination green-yellow IEC-60417-5019-2006-08 Connect this terminal to the protective-equipotential-bonding system of the installation
Class II Marking with the graphical symbol IEC 60417-5172:2003-02 (double square) double square IEC 60417-5172:2003-02 No reliance on installation protective measures
Class III Marking with the graphical symbol IEC 60417-5180:2003-02 (roman numeral III in a diamond) roman numeral III in a diamond IEC 60417-5180:2003-02 Connect only to SELV or PELV systems

Classification according to the operating characteristics of electrical equipment and its preferred field of application.

According to the operating features, all electrical equipment is divided into two groups. The first group includes electrical equipment that should be inaccessible to the general public. It must be operated by instructed and electrically skilled person. The second group includes electrical equipment of household and similar purposes, which can be operated by ordinary persons. The standard IEC 61326-1-2020 [2] defines two terms that divide all electrical equipment into two groups according to the area of its preferred use:

  • class A equipment: equipment suitable for use in all locations other than those allocated in residential environments and those directly connected to a low-voltage power supply network which supplies buildings used for household purposes.
  • class B equipment: equipment suitable for use in locations in residential environments and in establishments directly connected to a low-voltage power supply network which supplies buildings used for household purposes.

Classification of electrical equipment by connection method.

In the electrical installations of buildings, electrical equipment is connected to the conductors of electrical circuits by means of various clamps and similar connecting devices that ensure its permanent connection or by means of plugs and socket-outlets that allow connections as required. According to the method of connection, IEC standards and other documents divide electrical equipment into permanently connected electrical equipment and pluggable electrical equipment.

By degree of mobility.

Y.V. Kharechko, based on the analysis of regulatory documentation in his book [4], finalizes how to divide electrical equipment by degree of mobility:

« Depending on the degree of mobility of electrical equipment that can be realized during its operation, IEC subdivides all electrical equipment into fixed, stationary, mobile, and hand-held electrical equipment. IEC standards additionally distinguish portable, movable, and moveable electrical equipment, as well as its specific types, for example – household appliances, lamps, and equipment, characterized by a certain degree of mobility. »


  1. IEC 60445:2021
  2. IEC 61326-1-2020
  3. Kharechko Y.V. Concise Terminological Dictionary of Low Voltage Electrical Installations. Part 2 // Appendix to the journal “Library of the safety engineer”. – 2012. – № 4. – 160 c. Personal English translation by the author of this article.

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