Electrical safety compliance
All suppliers and manufacturers of electrical products in New Zealand have to ensure those products are safe. This includes meeting essential standards, showing regulatory compliance marks, and conforming to other regulations.
Suppliers must make sure that their products are allowed to be sold in New Zealand, and meet fundamental safety requirements. Testing to make sure these requirements are met can be carried out either in local testing laboratories or in countries with whom New Zealand has an Electrical and Electronic Product Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Who must comply?
Everyone who manufactures, imports, supplies, retails and trades electrical appliances or fittings in New Zealand must ensure their products comply with New Zealand’s established regulatory framework. This applies whether the appliances or fittings are imported or domestically produced.
Importers or manufacturers of electrical and gas products must ensure those products meet the safety obligations. Suppliers should note that products supplied by both energy sources will have obligations under both the electricity and gas Regulations. For instance, a gas water heater that needs an electrical supply is both a gas appliance and an electrical appliance.
Who is a supplier?
- a New Zealand manufacturer who makes any electrical or gas product for supply in New Zealand
- an importer of electrical or gas product intended for supply in New Zealand
- a distributor, wholesaler, retailer or trader, including online, or private individual selling or offering for sale electrical or gas products in New Zealand
- an agent to New Zealand.
Distributors and retailers should check that compliance requirements have been met before offering products for sale.
It is illegal to sell gas and electrical appliances in an unsafe condition.
The Electricity Act 1992(external link) requires all electrical products to be of a high quality and standard, so that their construction and maintenance meet the safety requirements within the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010.
The regulations identify certain features within products that are unsafe. However there are other features that products may have that can also cause harm to persons or property that are therefore also unsafe.
The Act requires any person to take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent serious harm.
Essential safety requirements
New Zealand manufacturers or New Zealand importers, and anyone else who is in the New Zealand sales chain, who sells electrical and electronic products in New Zealand, including second-hand sales, is responsible for the safety of those products they sell. In order to mitigate risk they should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the product they are selling is safe. Not to take adequate steps may be considered reckless in the event of an accident caused by an unsafe electrical or electronic product that they had sold.
Compliance with recognised safety standards (normally NZS or AS/NZS), is necessary for a product to be recognised as being safe. These can be in the form of test reports from recognised testing laboratories.
Other alternative evidence of electrical product compliance is where New Zealand has negotiated any necessary controls within a trade agreement with another country. These are the New Zealand's Electrical and Electronic Product Mutual Recognition Agreements.
Alternatively, where due to innovation or the introduction of alternative materials, products cannot comply with the applicable standards; such products may be certified as complying with the “Essential safety requirements for electrical equipment” standard AS/NZS 3820.
Certain products are listed as high risk and medium risk. These require an approval and/or a Supplier Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) before being offered for sale or sold, offered for supply or supplied.
The provisions within the Electricity (Safety) Regulations also cover the supply of second hand appliances within New Zealand.
Electrical products, once in use, need to meet the requirements of operational safety.
Where instructions are required to safely install and/or use electrical products, these must be in English and provided by the supplier.
Specific electrical products that have been identified as being or potentially being unsafe, have been formally prohibited – these generally cannot be imported, sold, or used in New Zealand.
Old electrical products that were first sold in New Zealand and met the regulatory requirements at that time are not considered to be unsafe just because of changes in regulatory safety requirements. If a type of construction was subsequently considered to be unsafe, that specific type of construction would be formally prohibited.
International electrical MRAs
New Zealand has a number of Mutual Recognition Agreements or Arrangements (MRAs) with its trading partners for Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE).
Standards and testing
All electrical products sold in New Zealand are required to meet the fundamental safety provisions. For test reports to be recognised for compliance with New Zealand's Electrical Safety Standards, the test reports must have been produced by an accredited testing laboratory
Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)
The voluntary Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) is a mark that can be used on a product that has been shown to meet the applicable regulatory requirements for the legal sale of products under electrical safety and electromagnetic legislation, both in New Zealand and Australia. However, there are some differences between the regulatory requirements between New Zealand and Australia, which require both regimes to be complied with prior to the legal use of the RCM in both countries. (Note: at present there is other NZ legislation that might need to be addressed, outside the scope of the RCM, that currently only applies to safety and EMC regulatory requirements.)
Use of the RCM on a product for sale in New Zealand requires a company or organisation to be registered as a RCM user. A publicly available database of registered users of the RCM is available on the ERAC website.
Registration can be completed via "Standards Australia", who administer the RCM and are the "RCM Registrar", on behalf of the New Zealand and Australian Regulators.
Declared articles are still required to be approved or covered by a recognised certification, although the marking of the approval / certification number that is normally a requirement of approval/certification process can be replaced by the use of the RCM (shown below).
Supplier declared equipment and general electrical equipment that is listed in AS/NZS 4417.2, will be required to be supported by recognised test reports listed in AS/NZS 4417.2 and AS/NZS 4417.3, for both safety and EMC, before the legal use of the RCM can be applied for.
Certain designs for products are not permitted to be sold in New Zealand:
- any electrical and electronic product intended to be used in domestic and similar situations, cannot be sold unless the product is rated and marked for use at the standard New Zealand mains supply 230 V (or 400 V multi-phase) 50 Hz.
(Note: Products available exclusively to industry for industry use, may be sold on the basis that the company user is responsible for taking all appropriate steps to ensure that the product can be used safely.)
- domestic and similar products fitted with a supply lead and plug for supply connection cannot be sold unless fitted with an appropriate plug for New Zealand.
(Note: Normally complying with AS/NZS 3112 for products intended to be connected to the majority of domestic socket-outlets; however there are other recognised plug standards for use in specific situations that are also allowed.)
- products fitted with a plug or supply cord that has a marked current rating that is less than the maximum current rating of the product cannot be sold.
(Note: Some products are marked with a power rating, as a guide marked 2300 W or 2.3 kW, or less can be fitted with a 10 A rated plug. Products marked 240 V at 2400 W or 2.4 kW, or less should also be within the current rating of a 10 A plug.)
- Class 0 and 01 appliances
(Note: These are appliance construction types where protection from the risk of electric shock relies only upon basic insulation, common in countries that have a 110-120 V 60 Hz mains supply, e.g. the USA, Japan, etc.)
- domestic and similar products supplied with or installation or user instructions and markings for the safe use of the product in a language other than English, unless an English version is also supplied.
(Note: Markings for operation can use internationally recognised symbols instead, that is acceptable).
Transition of regulations
The Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010(external link) began on April 1 2010, retains the previous three level risk based compliance regime for electrical appliances but alters the regime in two important aspects:
- Compliance with standards becomes more mandatory through a change in the performance based model used. The regime has changed from mandating fundamental safety and listing recognised standards to a new regime where compliance with standards is mandatory and a standard for fundamental safety assessment is listed as an alternative. This is accompanied by the listing of the recognised standards in regulations including many international (IEC) standards.
- For medium risk items (the old SDoC items) a test report is now required to be available to support the Declaration documentation. This test report is not required to be from an accredited test lab (however a fully accredited test report remains as the recognised authentic means of demonstrating compliance). There is some flexibility for the actual standards used. The test report must be produced within 10 days. The Declaration must also be available to a consumer or purchaser.
The Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010(external link) (Regulations 113 – 116) have provisions that allow products that were in New Zealand, or had been ordered prior to 1 April 2010, to continue to be marketable under the rules of the previous Electricity Regulations 1997.
The Regulations place the same obligations on all suppliers in the supply chain for products to be approved or covered by an SDoC.
The 1997 declared article regime - including the list of products - is essentially the same, and is now covered under the new regime by the Declared High Risk Articles and remains valid (Regulation 114).(external link)
The 1997 specified fittings and appliances regime under previous regulations, including the list of products which incorporated the old SDoC, remain valid under the new regime by the Declared Medium Risk Articles (Regulation 115).(external link)
New stock orders placed after 1 April 2010 must comply with the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010.
In addition the transitional provisions retain the validity of prohibitions, exemptions and other legislative “instruments” into the new regulatory environment.
Other regulatory requirements
There are other electrical safety obligations that importers or manufacturers are required to consider.
Radio Spectrum Management (RSM)
Electrical, electronic and radio products on sale or in use in New Zealand must comply with Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) standards, to minimise the risk of interference to the radio spectrum.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
Many products are covered by the Energy Efficiency (Energy Using Products) Regulations 2002 and must meet certain requirements before they can be legally sold.
There is a general legal requirement under the Consumer Guarantees Act that all products sold in New Zealand should be ‘safe’.
For more information visit the Consumer Protection website(external link).
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996(external link) - Some equipment used in the supply and use of gas falls under this act.
For more information, refer to the Environmental Protection Authority(external link).