Hipot Tests A Must For Elevator Safety

9 December 2015
 Categories: Industrial & Manufacturing, Articles

Each year, elevators are responsible for roughly 27 deaths and 10,200 injuries in the United States. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of electrocution, caused by damaged electrical insulation, faulty wiring, and improper elevator installation. If your business or organization has a public elevator, it's time for you to schedule a hipot test.

What's A Hipot Test?

A single round elevator cable can have as many as 120 conductors, each enclosed in a protective insulating sheath. The insulation is meant to act as a barrier against electric shock and a hipot (high potential) test can measure its ability to do this. During the test, a high electrical voltage will be applied to the electrical conductors in your elevator. The voltage will be substantially stronger than that with which your elevator operates on a regular basis; in most cases, the tester will apply 1000 more volts than double the number of volts used in normal operation. The electric insulation will then be monitored for leakage current

A certain amount of current leakage can be expected from any electrical unit. If only a small amount of current leakage is detected during your elevator's test, it means that the insulation is structurally sound and those who use your elevator are safe from the risk of electric shock or electrocution. If a high amount of current leakage is detected, though, it means that your elevator's insulation is damaged or weakened in some way, and repair is necessary in order to ensure the safety of future elevator users.

Can You Perform Hipot Testing Yourself?

There are plenty of hipot testers on the market. You can buy them new or used, or rent them from some electrical supply stores. It's important to keep in mind, though, that running a hipot test can be dangerous for you and detrimental to your elevator if you don't know how to do so correctly.

A trained hipot tester will monitor the electrical energy both being delivered to your elevator and escaping through your elevator's electrical insulation carefully. If your equipment seems stressed, or if a dangerous level of current leakage is detected, the voltage to the elevator will be cut off immediately. A trained hipot tester will also employ a safety interlock system to the electrical components of your elevator during the test to guarantee that nobody comes in contact with the cables or wires while they are surging with the high voltage levels required for testing. 

If you don't have any experience with hipot testing of electrical motors, it's best to leave the job to a company that specializes in electric motor test systems

What Is The Process If Your Elevator Fails The Hipot Test?

If your elevator fails the hipot test, you'll need to contact a licensed electrician for guidance. The source of the problem could be damaged insulation, or it could be that you've got some stray wires in your elevator's electrical system that are not bundled in insulation. The problem could also be caused from corrosion around the elevator's electrical conductors allowing some of the current to escape, or improper terminal spacing as a result of poor elevator installation. Only a trained electrician will be able to isolate the problem and remedy it. 

If your business or organization has an elevator that the public uses, you're responsible for its upkeep. Make sure your elevator doesn't pose a risk of shock or electrocution by contacting an electric motor testing facility for a hipot test today. If your elevator fails its hipot test and current leakage is detected, don't risk it -- gate the elevator off and hang an out of service sign on it until you can have a certified electrician repair your electrical insulation leak.