The Complete Guide to Portable Appliance Testers

Every year, there are thousands of accidents at workplaces that involve electric shocks and burns as a direct result of electrical faults. About a few dozen of them are fatal. Workplaces such as offices, shops, hotels and care homes need to remain low-risk environments, and the right maintenance of electrical appliances and equipment is the only way to ensure this. In order to ensure that, though, you need special equipment, such as the PAT testing machine.

What is PAT?

PAT testing machine

PAT, which stands for portable appliance testing, is the examination of electrical appliances and equipment and confirms they’re safe to use. Many defects that play a role in the safety of the equipment are visible to the naked eye, but some defects can only be spotted with the help of a PAT testing machine. That being said, with a PAT machine, you won’t have to do any visual inspection, as the tester will troubleshoot all issues by itself. Portable appliance testing is considered a common-sense safety regulation, and it’s necessary to ensure that workers, people or tenants who use the appliance or equipment aren’t at risk of electrical shocks and burns.

There are work regulations that require all systems to be constructed in such a manner as to prevent danger as much as reasonably practicable. Moreover, they also need to be maintained as much as reasonably practicable to prevent such danger. Portable appliance testing is one of the maintenance practices suitable for all types of organisations – from small offices to large corporations. A certified and competent portable appliance testing professional is recommended to test appliances for signs of wear or faults.

What Equipment Requires Testing?

PAT testing machine on a monitor

Deciding what equipment requires testing is relatively straightforward. As the name implies, all appliances and equipment that aren’t part of a fixed installation can be tested. If the equipment or appliance uses a plug and socket or flexible cable, it’s a portable appliance. Examples of such equipment are:

  • Printers
  • Monitors
  • Drills
  • Kettles
  • Vending Machines
  • Battery Packs
  • Power Cords
  • Cable Extensions

As you can see, sometimes the appliances are tested, whereas other times, it’s parts of the appliance. For instance, you can test the entire cordless power tool, or just its battery packs. Simply put, maintaining portable electrical equipment, even in low-risk environments, is key to keeping residential homes and workspaces safe. Portable appliance testing isn’t extensive or extortionate and it should be performed regularly to provide peace of mind.

How Often Should You Perform Tests?

While it’s not specified how often portable appliance testing needs to be done, how frequently or by who, most experts would tell you that you should test appliances once or twice annually. However, it’s up to you to choose precautions that are appropriate to the risk. Having precautions imposed that aren’t relevant to the work or appliances is counterproductive. 

Being aware of the standards and quality of your equipment and appliances will help you decide how often testing needs to be done. The more you test your equipment, the more peace of mind you’ll have. Moreover, the more you test, the better you can maintain your equipment and prolong its longevity. A decent level of safety can be achieved by the right selection and use of the equipment and its cables and connectors. Lasting safety, however, is achieved by proper and regular maintenance. 

How Much Do Portable Appliance Tests Cost?

The cost of portable appliance testing can vary, but most businesses that provide such services cost a couple of dollars per appliance. However, they may require a minimum number of appliances and equipment to be tested in order to cover their cost. Most of the time, though, you’ll be testing all of your appliances and equipment at a time. Alternatively, you can get a portable appliance tester yourself, which won’t cost you more than $200-300 and perform the tests yourself. There are countless guides on buying a PAT online, and how to use one.

Who Can Perform a PAT?

Man testing electricity with PAT testing machine

The laws only state that the person performing a portable appliance test should be competent. It’s best that the person performing the tests is qualified, as people’s lives are at risk. Records of previous tests should be kept in order to review the state of the devices and you should have a pre-set period of when tests are to be performed. If you’re a business owner, you should have a dedicated person who’s trained to run the tests and look for signs of danger. Loose wiring, cracks or burns can all pose a threat. 


Portable appliance testing is performed to inspect and maintain the state of all electrical appliances and equipment in residential and commercial settings. It should be performed at least once a year, by a competent tester, someone who is ideally qualified for the job. Portable appliance testers are relatively affordable. Alternatively, you can hire a business that specialises in PAT testing to perform tests for you, which is also affordable. Safety should be your number one priority as both a homeowner and business owner, so you shouldn’t shy away from making sure all your electrical devices are in proper working condition.

Author: Michael Hobbs

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