What Is Portable Appliance Testing?

Professional Portable Appliance Tester

Portable appliance testing, also known as simply PAT or PAT Testing, is a type of inspection process used in the United Kingdom, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. During this process, electrical appliances are subject to routine testing or checking for safety. The industry specific term for the PAT inspection process is known as ‘in service inspection and testing of electrical equipment.’

Although PAT is used in the aforementioned countries, other countries use similar standards and procedures to conduct testing various electrical appliances.

Health and safety regulations advises PAT Testing of all electrical appliances to make sure that they’re ‘safe enough for use and will help prevent harm to workers.’

Several types of equipment generally require regular testing to ensure continual safety. These intervals of regular testing generally depend on the equipment being tested and its general environment. In addition to the equipment itself, any associated leads and/or plugs are tested as well.

All electric appliances that can be transported or are portable in nature require a safety check in the form of a PAT inspection.

This equipment generally includes:

  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Fans, table lamps and other ‘household appliances’
  • Detachable Power Cords & Extension leads
  • Computers, printers and associated equipment/peripherals
  • Handheld power tools

The PAT inspection process also affects certain work and industry-related premises, as per the 1989 Electricity At Work regulations. These premises include factories, offices, construction sites, schools, hotels and conference centers, community centers like churches, restaurants, rented properties and places where people handle and/or repair electrical appliances.

PAT standards require electrical equipment workers to get PAT testing performed for electrical equipment, especially in the case of allowing the public access to said electrical equipment. Equipment that’s brought onto premises, such as construction and audio-visual equipment, also need regular PAT testing.

Proper PAT testing must be arranged and performed by a competent PAT testing individual. Trained PAT professionals usually perform the following checks during a standard portable appliance testing process:

  • Checking the environmental suitability for equipment.
  • Checking for damage to equipment plugs or suspected loose cable retention.
  • Checking for damage to equipment cables and/or suspected bad cable joints.
  • Checking for signs of equipment overheating.
  • Checking correct equipment fuse rating and/or wiring inside its plug.
  • The identification and recording of all tested equipment units.

A standard PAT inspection is designed to ensure that any potentially unsafe equipment gets immediately removed from service. This helps companies, individuals and even customers remain protected from potential electrical hazards.