What people commonly think of as an “appliance,” such as a dishwasher, freezer, or clothes dryer, may be regulated differently depending on where it is and how it gets power. If an “appliance” is in a home or in a business, there are different rules that will apply when someone is installing and replacing, or repairing it.

All electrical equipment installed in a home or business must meet electrical safety standards of an accredited product-testing laboratory (see WAC 296-46B-999). Accredited product testing laboratories can perform field evaluations of equipment not meeting this requirement.

Homeowners: Plug-in appliances

What is an appliance?

Under Washington state law, the terms “appliance” or “household appliance” do not apply to businesses. While the equipment may be similar or even identical, it is regulated differently. At a business, these items are considered “small electric utilization equipment.”

Note: This section does not apply to “appliances” or “household appliances” that are installed in a business. See the business owner section for the correct information.

A plug-in household appliance has a power cord that plugs into a standard electrical outlet. The power cord must be:

  • Already installed by the manufacturer.
  • Designed to be installed by the consumer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, such as a 3- or 4-prong cord for a clothes dryer or range.
Homeowners: Plug-in appliances Electrical permit and inspection required? Electrical contractor required to install, replace, or repair?
Installing a new appliance No No. Homeowner can install.
Replacing an existing appliance No No. Homeowner can replace.
Repairing an appliance No No. Homeowner can repair.
Homeowners: Hard-wired household appliances

A hard-wired appliance has a power connection wired directly to the home’s electrical system. You may need to hire a general or specialty contractor for the plumbing or mechanical portion of an installation.

Equipment that connects to water, sewer, or gas systems may need additional permits and inspections (building permits, plumbing inspections, etc.). Contact your local city or county building department for more information.

Homeowners: Hard-wired appliances Electrical permit and inspection required? Electrical contractor required to install, replace, or repair?
Installing a new appliance Yes Yes — unless homeowner is installing on their own property.
Replacing an existing appliance Yes, if doing more than one "like-in-kind" replacement Yes1 — unless homeowner is replacing on their own property.
Repairing an appliance Yes — unless repair is Class A electrical work.2
A manufacturer's authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation without permits and inspections.3
Yes1 — unless homeowner is repairing on their own property.
A manufacturer's authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation.3

Footnotes:
1When replacing or repairing a household appliance has both plumbing and electrical connections, contractors and their plumbers and electricians can do each other's work.
2See WAC 296-46B-901(7)(b) for a list of Class A basic electrical work.
3See WAC 296-46B-925(22) for more information.

Business owners: Plug-in small electric utilization equipment

Under Washington state law, the terms “appliance” or “household appliance” do not apply to businesses. While the equipment may be similar or even identical, it is regulated differently. At your business, these items are considered “small electric utilization equipment.”

Plug-in small electric utilization equipment has a power cord that plugs into a standard electrical outlet.
The power cord must be:

  • Already installed by the manufacturer.
  • Designed to be installed by the consumer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, such as a 3- or 4-prong cord for a clothes dryer or range.
Business owners: Plug-in small electric utilization equipment Electrical permit and inspection required? Electrical contractor required to install, assemble, replace, or repair?
Installing new equipment No — unless it requires electrical assembly. Yes, if it requires electrical assembly.
— unless the property owner,4 business owner,5 or qualified employee6 is installing.
Assembling equipment Yes, if it requires assembly of electrical wires and parts. Yes, if it requires assembly of electrical wires and parts.
unless the property owner,4 business owner,5 or qualified employee6 is assembling.
Replacing existing equipment No unless it requires electrical assembly. No unless it requires electrical assembly.
Repairing equipment Yes1 — unless repair is Class A electrical work.
A manufacturer’s authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation without permits and inspections.3
Yes1
unless the property owner,4 business owner,5 or qualified employee6 is repairing.
A manufacturer’s authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation.3

Footnotes:
1 Equipment that is repaired in an off-site repair facility is exempt from permits, inspections, and licensing requirements.
2 See WAC 296-46B-901 (7)(b) for a list of Class A basic electrical work.
3 See WAC 296-46B-925 (22) for more information.
Definitions:
4 Property owner – owns property, land, buildings, etc. where a business is operated.
5 Business owner – owns or leases property where they operate their business.
6 Qualified employee – a regularly paid employee of a property or business owner who has proper training to safely perform installations, assembly, replacement, or repair of equipment.

Business owners: Hard-wired small electric utilization equipment

Hard-wired small electric utilization equipment has a power connection wired directly to a building’s electrical system. You may need to hire a general or specialty contractor for the plumbing or mechanical portion of an installation.

Equipment that connects to water, sewer, or gas systems may need additional permits and inspections (building permits, plumbing inspections, etc.). Contact your local city or county building department for more information.

Business owners:
Hard-wired small electric utilization equipment
Electrical permit and inspection required? Electrical contractor required to install, replace, or repair?
Installing new equipment Yes Yes —
unless the property owner,4 or their qualified employee6 is installing.
Business owner,5 or their qualified employee can install if allowed by lease agreement.


Replacing equipment Yes Yes —
unless the property owner,4 or their qualified employee6 is replacing.
Business owner,5 or their qualified employee can replace if allowed by lease agreement.
Repairing equipment Yes1 — unless repair is Class A electrical work.2
A manufacturer's authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation without permits and inspections.3
Yes1
unless the property owner,4 business owner,5 or qualified employee6 is repairing.
A manufacturer’s authorized factory-trained technician can do certain warranty repairs up to one year after installation.3

Footnotes:
1 Equipment that is repaired in an off-site repair facility is exempt from permits, inspections, and licensing requirements.
2 See WAC 296-46B-901 (7)(b) for a list of Class A basic electrical work.
3 See WAC 296-46B-925 (22) for more information.
Definitions:
4 Property owner — owns property, land, buildings, etc. where a business is operated.
5 Business owner — owns or leases property where they operate their business.
6 Qualified employee — a regularly paid employee of a property or business owner who has proper training to safely perform installations, assembly, replacement, or repair of equipment.

Related Resources

Contact Us

  • ElectricalProgram@Lni.wa.gov
  • 360-902-5249

Mailing address

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Electrical Program
P.O. Box 44460
Olympia WA 98504-4460