Selling Safe Second-Hand Electrical

This page details the responsibilities of the seller and the requirements of the electrical equipment for sale.

Your responsibilities

If you are in the business of selling any second-hand electrical goods, you should be aware that:

  • The goods must meet legal safety requirements;
  • If you sell unsafe goods, and the goods cause injury or damage, you may have to pay compensation.

If you are unsure whether the goods are safe, you are advised to have them checked by an expert before you sell them.

General Requirements

Be sure electrical equipment is safe

The equipment you sell must be safe. If it complies with an acceptable standard, e.g. a British/European Standard, it will normally meet safety requirements.

These safety requirements cover:

  • Labelling, construction, design, and manufacture;
  • Insulation and earthing;
  • Protection from electric shock;
  • Adequate guards for radiant heaters;
  • Preventing the generation of excessive heat, radiation, or toxic gases;
  • The need to provide instructions for safe use.

Particular requirements

Wiring colour codes

The wires of a 3-core mains flexible lead are usually coloured as follows:

Earth - green and yellow
Neutral - blue
Live - brown

The old red, black and green colours are undesirable as they may make the product unsafe and, therefore, illegal.

If you change a lead, have it checked by an electrician. Incorrect wiring may cause electrocution.

Plugs and sockets

Distributors and retailers, including second-hand dealers and auctions, must only sell appliances which are correctly fitted with an approved plug with sleeved neutral and live pins and the correct fuse.

All plugs must carry the name and reference number of the approval body, normally BSI or ASTA. The plug does not have to be moulded on but it must be fused.

Some appliances may be supplied without a standard plug - for instance, because the appliance is intended to be permanently connected to fixed wiring.

As British Standards are periodically revised and improved, we recommend that you fit appliances with new plugs which meet the latest specifications before sale, and dispose of the old ones.

You must provide clear wiring instructions for the plug if it is of the rewireable kind (e.g. manufacturers wiring card fitted over the pins).

All sockets (e.g. on mains extension flexible leads), adaptors and similar devices must meet British Standards.

Safe Fireguards for Electric Fires

Electric Fires for use in the home must have a fireguard which meets British Standards, or the European equivalent. The distance between the bars and the strength of the guard are laid down in these Standards.

The fire guard is satisfactory if any vertical bars are 5mm or less apart; otherwise the guard must satisfy one of the following:

  • If the horizontal bars are 12mm or less apart, the vertical bars must not be more than 125mm apart.
  • If the horizontal bars are 20mm or less apart, the vertical bars must not be more than 50mm apart.

Selling electric blankets

We advise you not to sell second-hand electric blankets, as their history, usage and condition may be unknown.