Home Improvement

What is PAT Testing – Portable Appliance Test Explained

PAT testing is a term that most people have heard of, or seen on quality check labels for electrical appliances, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually knows the in-depth nature of a PAT test. So what is a PAT test? An answer we hope to provide with this handy article, along with some of the legal requirements of PAT testing.

So if you:

  • Are wondering what PAT testing is;
  • Want to find out what appliances are tested;
  • Want to find out if you are legally obligated to carry one out;

Then this article is for you!

What is a PAT test?

PAT test stands for Portable Appliance Test. The first thing to understand is that the title is highly misleading, as the appliance doesn’t have to be portable. Instead, it refers to any electrical appliance that comes with its own plug and is powered from an external source.

As you’d imagine, this applies to basically every electrical appliance in the home, or in the business. That means even your biggest appliances, your ovens, TVs, computers would all be considered ‘portable’. Slightly baffling, we know.

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What goes into a PAT test

PAT testers will evaluate the safety of a given appliance through visual inspections and in-depth testing using specialist PAT equipment. The equipment tests an appliance’s electrical insulation, lead polarity and earth continuity.

  • Insulation – Relates to whether the electrics are properly insulated i.e wiring has been wrapped with PFTE so that someone doesn’t come into contact with an active current.
  • Lead polarity – Electrical potential at the poles of a circuit. Think of a battery where it has a positive pole and a negative pole (+/-). The test will measure whether electrons can properly pass through a circuit and that the electrical appliance will properly function.
  • Earth continuity – Whether the appliance can be properly grounded for safety and functionality purposes. Measures an appliance’s accessible earthed parts (like a metal chassis on a kitchen appliance) and the earth pins on plugs.

Are you legally required to do a PAT test?

Generally no. If you’re a homeowner, you won’t need to carry out any PAT tests. This also includes landlords. While you might be legally required to carry out an EICR and supply an EPC, you won’t need to provide a PAT test.

That being said, you are legally responsible for any and all electrical appliances in a property you rent out. If any tenant becomes hurt from malfunctioning appliances, you can be held responsible. To avoid such possibilities, carrying out a PAT test on older appliances once every few years could prevent such possibilities.

PAT testing for businesses

UK businesses have a legal obligation to make sure that all electrical appliances are safe to use and work properly. Again, while businesses aren’t bound by law to carry out PAT tests, they are the most effective way of testing electrical appliances.

Some businesses that specialise in the sales of electrical appliances will likely have their own PAT testers in-store or in the warehouse. All appliances have to be safe for employee and public use and if someone was hurt by a faulty electrical appliance, the company that sold it would be at fault.

PAT testing – Classes

Electrical appliances are divided into three classes. Class I, II and III. This not only determines the potential danger of a particular appliance but also what needs to be tested on the item. For instance, class I appliances will need to undergo a full PAT test, while those in class II will only need an electrical insulation test. This is because class I items solely rely on earthing in terms of safety.

Class II items on the other hand have extra electrical insulation and so doesn’t need to rely on earthing quite as much. Class III items on the other hand are usually low voltage items and generally the safest to use. For class III appliances, their chargers are the only part that might undergo PAT testing.

PAT testing – Class III appliances

  • Laptops
  • Mobile phones
  • Low energy lightbulbs
  • Cameras
  • Torches

PAT testing – Class II appliances

  • Desktop printers
  • Desktop computers
  • DVD & Blu-ray players
  • Hairdryers
  • Televisions

PAT testing – Class I appliances

  • Ovens
  • Dishwashers
  • Freestanding printers
  • Microwaves
  • Toasters

Business PAT testing

You might be wondering how often you might need a PAT test. Generally, this changes from workplace to workplace and depends on the appliances being used.

The working environment impacts the frequency of recommended PAT tests. For instance, if your business is based in an office space, you could get away with doing a PAT test every four years to determine whether everything is in working order.

If you work in a high-risk environment though, where there is more chance of human error (or somewhere where the public uses the electrical appliances i.e a gym), you should be much more regular in testing the equipment. In these environments, PAT testing should be carried out every 3-6 months.

Need a PAT test for your business or home?

Fantastic Services can help. We use NICEIC qualified electricians, who are armed with the experience and knowledge to test any circuit. Every appliance will be visually inspected and will undergo electrical testing, where the electrician can spot any problems with wiring installation etc.

Whether you are a business owner or a landlord, PAT testing can benefit you by ensuring that your electronics are safe to operate and are working properly. So what are you waiting for? Book an appointment today!

Need a PAT test?

Book an electrician today.

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Takeaways

  • PAT testing serves the purpose of evaluating the safety of an appliance through detailed testing and inspection.
  • While homeowners and landlords are not legally required to carry out PAT tests, older appliances can benefit from testing once every few years.
  • Businesses have to guarantee the safety of all electrical appliances in the workplace, so PAT tests can help discover issues.
  • When it comes to PAT testing, electrical appliances are divided into 3 classes.

Image source: Richard z / Shutterstock

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