There are many European standards and guidance notes regarding portable appliances and equipment, though they do not establish a common and specific definition of such equipment. Even so, there does seem to be a consensus of opinion that such equipment is either hand held whilst being connected to the supply, or is intended to be moved whilst connected to the supply, or is capable of being moved without undue difficulty whilst connected to the supply.
It is usual for this equipment to be connected to the supply via a plug and socket, however this is not a requirement for electrical equipment to be deemed portable or transportable. It is common to define a portable appliance by saying that it is 'anything with a plug top on the end of it'. This is a mistake as it may mean that there are some appliances in the system that are never tested.
The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (napit) define a portable appliance as 'any electrical item which can or is intended, to be moved whilst connected to an electrical supply.'
The IEE Code of Practice gives guidance on the various equipment types:
An appliance of less than 18kg in mass that is intended to be moved whilst in operation or an appliance which can easily be moved from one place to another, e.g. vacuum cleaner, toaster, food mixer, etc.
Movable equipment (transportable)
This equipment is either:
18 kg or less in mass and not fixed, e.g. electric fire.
Equipment with wheels, castors or other means to facilitate movement by the operator as required to perform its intended use, e.g. air conditioning unit
Hand Held equipment or appliances
This is portable equipment intended to be held in the hand during normal use, e.g. hair dryer Stationary equipment or appliances
This equipment has a mass exceeding 18kg and is not provided with a carrying handle, e.g. refrigerator
This equipment or an appliance which is fastened to a support or otherwise secured in a specific location, e.g. bathroom heater
Appliances/equipment for building in
This equipment id intended to be installed in a prepared recess such as a cupboard or similar. In general, equipment for building in does not have exposure on all sides because one or more of the sides, additional protection against electrical shock is provided by the surroundings, e.g. built in electric cooker
Information technology equipment
Information technology equipment includes electrical business equipment such as computers and mains powered telecommunications equipment, and other equipment for general business use, such as mail processing machines, VDU's photo-copiers