PAT Testing: What It is And What Should Be Tested?

A Portable Appliance Test (PAT) is a routine test of portable electrical appliances. PAT testing purpose is to ensure that the equipment is safe to use, therefore preventing electrical accidents in locations like workplaces, rented accommodation, and hotels.

This guide takes a detailed look at what a PAT test is and discusses what equipment should be tested.

What is A PAT Test?

Portable Appliance Testing involves a formal visual inspection of the appliance and a more in-depth test electrical using specialized equipment. During the testing procedure, the appliances are checked for: 

  • Lead Polarity
  • Earth Continuity
  • Insulation Resistance

To check the safety of your appliances, the tester will carry out a visual inspection of the appliance, including its plug and lead. Depending on the type of equipment being tested, they may also introduce a test signal into the cable and appliance.  

What Happens After The Test?

At the conclusion of the test, each appliance will be marked as passed or failed, and the results recorded. Included in the recording process are:

  • Test results for each appliance
  • A list of all failures and the reason for failure
  • An inventory that lists each appliance, its location, name, description
  • Each tested appliance is issued with a label that displays the test date, the due date of the next test, and whether it passed or failed.

Who Should Carry Out The Test?

For safety reasons, the test must be carried out by someone who has the necessary skills and knowledge. PAT testing should not be carried out by people who don’t understand the potential dangers of electricity.

Many registered electrical contractors will include PAT testing as part of their service.

What Equipment Should Be Tested?

The easiest way to know if an appliance needs testing is the presence of a flexible cable, plug, or socket. If an appliance satisfies any of those criteria, then it should be PAT tested.

Examples of appliances that require PAT testing include power tools, PCs, monitors, kettles, hairdryers, and printers. Also, larger appliances such as photocopiers, fridges, washing machines, and vending machines require testing.

Although items like cordless power tools, laptops, and mobile phones, do not need to be tested, their associated chargers/power supplies should be tested.

Other appliances that should be tested include larger devices that are not obviously portable such as built-in dishwashers, heated towel rails, and wall-mounted electric heaters.

Another category that requires testing is power cords and extension cables. Extension cables are tested as they are one of the most common sources of danger. Power cables are tested independently from their devices as they are covered by different standards.

All devices that should be tested will fall into one of three classes.

  1. Class 1

    These are earthed devices that also rely on the insulation of live components to provide protection. The insulation protects against accidental contact with live parts, and the earth wire allows the current from any fault to flow harmlessly to the earth, protecting the user.

    Common Class 1 appliances include kettles, electric heaters, and irons.

  2. Class 2

    Class 2 appliances don’t have an earth connection; instead, they rely on the insulation of the device to protect the user. The insulation used on Class 2 devices will be either double or reinforced type insulation.

    Examples of Class 2 appliances include TVs, computers, and hair dryers.

  3. Class 3

    These are lower voltage appliances such as mobile phones or laptops. Although the devices themselves don’t need to be tested, their chargers will likely fall into the Class 2 category and require testing.

PAT Testing is a simple, convenient, and cost-effective method of ensuring the safety of your employees, premises, and ultimately peace of mind. 

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