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Is Portable Appliance Testing a legal requirement?

According to the law, electrical appliances in business premises must be safe for use (according to the Electricity at Work regulations 1989). Companies can meet this legal requirement with PAT testing. There is no legal obligation to perform PAT inspections at home, but it is always worth keeping electrical safety in mind. Landlords Electrical Certificate London is compulsory.

There are seven categories of devices that should qualify for PAT tests:

  • Fixed equipment
  • Stationary equipment
  • IT equipment
  • Mobile devices
  • Portable devices
  • Cables and chargers
  • Hand equipment

In this case, “movable” means something that is connected to a power outlet and that can be easily disconnected and moved. “Portable” means something designed for use on the road.

Most defects can be found by visual inspection, but some types can only be found by testing. Visual examination is still needed because some types of electrical safety defects cannot be detected by testing alone.

Visual inspection and testing by an authorized person may be required depending on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used.

How often do I have to test my electrical devices?

Some devices need to be tested more often, such as devices that are used properly, often beaten or easily damaged. It is recommended to perform regular risk assessments to determine how often each device must be tested and what type of test is required.

The frequency of inspection and testing depends on the type of equipment and the environment in which it is used. For example, an electric tool used on a construction site needs to be examined more often than a lamp in a hotel room.

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Registration and / or labeling can be a useful management tool for monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of the maintenance schedule – and for demonstrating that a schedule exists.

New equipment must be delivered in a safe condition and does not require formal inspection or testing of portable devices. However, a simple visual check is recommended to ensure that the item is not damaged.

What are the classes of electrical equipment?

Electrical appliances are generally classified in classes 1, 2 or 3, with class 1 being the most dangerous and class 3 the least dangerous. Class 1 devices require a full PAT inspection, Class 2 devices require an insulation test and Class 3 devices are safe enough not to require testing.

Class 1

This type of electrical equipment only has basic insulation and relies on an earth for protection. Examples of this are washing machines, tumble dryers, computers, kitchen appliances and extension cords.

Class 2

This type of electrical equipment has extra insulation and therefore does not rely on an earth for protection, which makes it safer. E.g. lawn mowers, televisions, drills, hair dryers and lamps.

Class 3

Class 3 devices, such as laptops, flares and cameras, are the safest class of electrical devices due to the low voltages. Their charging cables may need to be PAT tested.

How are portable device tests performed?

A level of knowledge and experience is needed to complete PAT testing. The right equipment is necessary, as well as the ability to properly understand the test results.

The required tests depend on the type of device and are subject to a risk assessment by the electrician to ensure that it can be tested safely.

The order in which the tests are carried out is important for the safety of the test employee. The order must always be:

  • Earth continuity test
  • Insulation resistance test
  • Protective conductor / touch current test or alternative / replacement leak test
  • Functional check

An insulation test must always be performed before attempting to perform a test that applies power to the tested equipment, as it can detect a dangerous insulation failure.

The recommendations of the IET Code of Practice for testing electrical equipment during use are as follows:

Class I devices

  • Earth continuity test
  • Insulation resistance test or earth conductor test or alternative / replacement leak test
  • Functional checks

Class II devices

  1. Insulation resistance test or touch current test or alternative / replacement leak test
  2. Functional checks


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