Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the inspection & testing of in-service electrical equipment to ensure compliance with the Electricity at Work Regulations. Many of you will be familiar with the ‘checked for electrical safety’ stickers applied to equipment used in the workplace where testing is often carried out anually. I offer this service both for commercial and domestic customers.
|Fully qualified to City and Guilds standards
Level 3 In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment
|Fully insured for public liability and professional indemnity|
|Certified calibrated test equipment|
|All certificates and insurance documents available for inspection upon request|
|My 'no unnecessary testing' guarantee|
|Repairs quoted for failed/faulty items
FREE retests for failed items repaired on the day
|Will beat any other genuine written like-for-like quotation
See terms & conditions
|Electronic (PDF) and/or paper delivery of results|
I've put together this question and answer page to explain more about the service I offer and to dispel some of the common myths about the PAT process.
What is the point of a PAT inspection?
It’s both a visual inspection and a series of tests for electrical appliances to ensure they are safe for continued use. It’s similar to the M.O.T. on your car, except this is for microwaves and irons! It usually applies to the workplace and came about as a result of The Electricity at Work Regulations (EAWR) requiring equipment to be maintained in a safe condition. Besides the EAWR, three other main sets of legislation covering inspection and testing of in-service electrical equipment are the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA), The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR). PAT inspections themselves are not a legal requirement, nor are the frequency of inspections specified in the regulations, however to exercise due diligence and demonstrate compliance with the above, most workplaces perform PAT inspections on office equipment every 12-24 months, while devices more prone to damage such as power tools used on a construction site may be inspected more frequently.
What appliances would need a PAT inspection?
The term Portable Appliance Testing is something of a misnomer as PAT inspections are applicable to any mains powered electrical devices including wall mounted items such as hand dryers or large items such as fridges and washing machines. Although bulky or affixed white-goods may be classed as 'moveable' or 'stationary' rather than portable, they're not part of the fixed wiring of the premises and should be PAT inspected. A battery powered device such as a portable drill would itself not require inspection, however its charger which plugs into the mains would be subject to testing. A basic rule of thumb is that anything which attaches to the mains via a standard plug or fused connection unit should be PAT inspected, so a TV, PC and kettle would require inspection and testing, whereas a ceiling light would not. The fixed electrical installation is itself subject to inspection and testing as part of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), formally known as a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) which is recommended at least every ten years for dwellings, or up to every five years for offices, shops and rented properties. The date of the last and next periodic inspection, if one has ever been carried out, should be on a label at or near to the fuse box/consumer unit. You can find more information on EICR's on this page of my website.
|ONLY equipment or cables which connect to 50V or higher (such as 230V AC appliances or 110V site equipment) should be PAT tested which means low voltage items such as laptops, battery drills and suchlike are exempt.
Many PAT test firms who charge by the item end up 'testing' exempt items just so they can increase their profits.
My No Unnecessary Testing Guarantee means you won't spend a single penny on false tests.
Why would I want I want a PAT inspection in my home?
You probably wouldn’t... normally. There is no legal requirement for PAT inspections to be performed anywhere and the Electricity at Work Regulations doesn't apply to domiciles, however there are occasions where it may be desired. You may want your home or the home of a vulnerable relative to be inspected for peace of mind, especially if you know old or worn electrical equipment is in use. If you are renting a furnished dwelling or letting out your home, then you should have any electrical goods supplied with the property tested to protect yourself from litigation should your tenant suffer a shock or injury through using a faulty item. As a landlord, if you can prove you took all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the household electrical appliances you’ve supplied, then you’re in a stronger position should a tenant take legal action as a result of damage or injury caused by an electrical malfunction. Similarly, if you are renting a furnished property and you believe the safety of the supplied electrical items may be dubious, I can perform a PAT inspection so you can present the results to your landlord.
Is a PAT inspection a guarantee of electrical safety for the future?
No. Passing a PAT inspection means that the item has passed a specific set of tests on a certain date, but it is no guarantee that a fault won’t occur in the future. For most workplaces, a PASS result is considered as valid for twelve months, just as a car M.O.T. is valid for twelve months, but as you know from your car M.O.T., a pass result does not mean there is no possibility of a breakdown or reduction in safety before the next test is due. A PAT pass means no issues have been found at the time of inspection and the device should be safe for continued normal operation. If an item is subsequently misused, dropped, damaged or exhibits a fault at a later time, then it should be withdrawn from use and either retested, repaired by a competent person or replaced.
What form does a PAT inspection take?
A PAT inspection is non-invasive, i.e. I don’t get out the screwdrivers and start dismantling any casing or popping any panels with the exception of checking inside an appliance's plug to ensure the correct wiring and fuse rating. The purpose of the test is to verify a device is safe for normal operation. First, there is a visual inspection to ensure the casing has no cracks, holes or missing panels that may expose live parts. The supply cable, plug and fuse are also inspected along with the suitability of the equipment for the environment it's being used in (e.g. electrical equipment being used in a bathroom). If there are any issues discovered by the visual inspection then, the item is marked as FAILED and further testing on it is aborted. Assuming it passes the visual inspection, specialist equipment is then used to apply a number of tests depending on the type and class of the item. Earth leakage, insulation, polarity and load tests are all performed as appropriate to check for correct operation.
What do I get from a PAT inspection?
Items that pass the inspection will be labelled with a PASS sticker containing a unique test number, test date and the identity of who undertook the test. Failed items will be marked in the same way with a FAILED sticker. The outcome of all tests will be noted on a results sheet provided to you electronically or in paper form for your records. Since the third edition of the IEE Code of Practice for PAT testing in 2012, retest dates have not been on the stickers as rogue firms were recommending retests too frequently. Instead, the duty holder, i.e. the person who is responsible for the items under test such as a facilities manager or landlord, is responsible for deciding how frequently testing should occur as it's their equipment in their environment subject to their risk assessments and insurances. Beware of any PAT test firm who insist testing is due/expired/is mandatory etc. as they may just be out to line their own pockets.
What happens if an item fails a PAT inspection?
The reason for the failure will be noted and a course of suggestive corrective action will be provided. I can fix most failures while on site as common issues are simple loose wires, missing cord grips, broken plugs and incorrect fuses. Where a fault is more complicated, specialist repair or replacement will be required unless it is decided the item should be disposed of. On-site repairs will be chargeable. You can choose not to have items repaired by me or to seek alternative quotes for repair in which case failed items will simply be marked as such on the final report and labelled accordingly.
How much does a PAT inspection cost?
The cost shown on my Pricing page is charged per item and is levied whether the item passes or fails and if testing is aborted after failing a visual inspection. Payment will be due upon presentation of the invoice and cannot be deferred to a third party, for example if you have asked me to test items in rented furnished accommodation/offices, you will need to reclaim costs from the landlord as I will be unable to send an invoice to persons or organisations who didn't book the work.
Beware of cheap imitations!
Some companies offer cheap headline prices per item. While this may look like a bargain, they'll be looking to make up the money in other ways. They may have high hidden costs for extra work such as changing plugs or fuses, they may charge for slapping stickers on items that are exempt from the PAT process such as battery powered or low voltage DC equipment, or they may not employ proper qualified testers to perform the tests adequately, preferring instead to slap a PASS label on any item they can without following proper process or being able to correctly interpret the test results. My prices are very reasonable and I don't cut corners.
How many items need testing?
Anything that sucks up over 50V should be tested if the inspection is to be thorough and complete, but PAT inspections are not a legal requirement. You can choose to only have certain items inspected if you want to keep costs down, although any omissions from the process are at your own risk. You will need to bear in mind that multiple tests may apply to a single ‘item’. A desk lamp with a non-removable cord would be a single item, however an electric kettle is usually made up of two parts, the kettle itself and the base or cord which plugs in to the wall. Both of these parts directly connect to 230V mains, both come into contact with the end user and both may be subject to malfunction, potentially delivering a lethal shock to that end user, so each of the two parts would be treated as separate, chargeable tests. In another example, a laptop computer usually has three parts, the laptop itself, the charger and the mains cable. In this case, the laptop would not be subject to inspection as it's rated at less than 50V DC, however the mains cable and power supply each connect to 230V AC mains and would be treated as two separate, chargeable tests. Beware of some companies who charge for everything or you could end up paying for low voltage items that don’t actually need testing. It happens - a lot! My No Unnecessary Testing Guarantee is my promise to you that a chargeable test won't be applied to any item of equipment that is exempt from the PAT process unless you specifically request otherwise.
This electric kettle is made up of two parts, each with a 230V connection and each requiring a separate PAT test.
Devices under 50V DC do not need to be tested, so items such as mobile phones and laptops would not be subject to testing although the power supply and supply cable for charging/powering such devices would be treated as separate items each requiring their own test. For peace of mind, sub-50V items can be given a visual inspection if requested, but this would itself be treated as a separate, chargeable test.
How often is a PAT inspection/test required?
There is no law specifying how often testing should be performed. For a business or a landlord to show due diligence, there are guidelines for the frequency of formal inspections and tests which vary depending on the type of equipment and its environment. For example, Class I handheld equipment in offices & shops are recommended to be formally inspected and tested annually, but moveable equipment such as a laser printer would only need checking every 24 months, and stationary equipment such as a hand dryer can go 48 months between formal tests. Equipment on a construction site should be formally inspected and tested every three months according to the guidelines because it is in a more hazardous environment. Most low-risk commercial organisations such as offices, shops and nursing homes simply book a full inspection and test to be performed every 12-24 months for all equipment, however the frequency of testing is down to the duty holder responsible for the equipment and the environment it is used in and they should draw up their own risk assessment.
Does new equipment need to be PAT inspected?
Electrical equipment which is less than 12 months old can be exempted from testing because it's reasonable to assume the manufacturer has carried out appropriate chceks to ensure it met their quality control and safety standards before it left the factory.
Can anyone perform a PAT inspection?
You need the tools, the training, the insurance and the certificates to prove competancy, accountability and equipment suitability, especially as the results of a PAT inspection may be used in a court of law following a shock injury or electrical fire. You do not need to be a qualified electrician to undertake PAT inspections, however anyone performing inspection and testing must be competent to undertake such work.
I have the City & Guilds qualification for In-Service Inspection & Testing, full insurance, and the calibrated specialist equipment to allow me to perform the tests properly for your peace of mind and satisfaction. You're welcome to view all my certificates relating to these matters before I start.
Remember, anyone can perform the most important part of a PAT test: the visual inspection. If you have electrical goods you know to be suspect with chafed cables, broken casings, exposed parts, sooty/blackened/discoloured plugs, fizzing noises, smoke or any other signs of malfunction then TURN IT OFF and take it out of use. There’s no device that’s too important to be left running in a known poor condition, and besides, who wants to die for the sake of making a cup of darjeeling with that broken kettle they never got around to replacing?
How do I go about booking a PAT inspection?
Please contact me for more information or to arrange a booking.
Where can I watch a feature-length video full of swearing about the PAT process?
Why, right here on my daft YouTube channel. Thanks for asking:
Terms and conditions
Lower quotations from rival firms must be provided in writing, must include any cost extras not included in their per-item fee, and evidence of their competence must be provided in the form of copies of insurance certificates, City & Guilds (or equivalant) qualifications for the actual inspector(s) performing the work and calibration certificate(s) for equipment to be used. Any company failing to provide these documents cannot be considered as legitimate competition or be trusted to perform a proper test.
My No Unnecessary Testing Guarantee ensures no bogus tests will be carried out on sub 50V (Class III) electrical equipment unless you specifically ask for a visual inspection of such equipment to take place and be formally recorded, in which case per-item charging would apply.
Items failing the PAT process and which are repairable will be highlighted to you before any chargable repair work is undertaken. You have the right to refuse repairs and to seek alternative quotes.
Items repaired by David Savery Electrical Services Ltd. after failing the PAT process will be retested at no extra charge.
The per-item charge applies to each test regardless of whether the electrical item passes or fails.