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What is 'PAT' ?

What is 'PAT Testing'?

It is actually an abbreviation of 'Portable Appliance Testing'. This is the practice of testing electrical equipment in the workplace.

PAT Testing starts with what is known as a formal visual inspection. This would entail checking the cable is not trapped under anything sharp or heavy and likely to cause damage.The PAT Tester would then check the integrity of the cable. Making sure the sleeve is completely intact and there are no nicks or cuts. Having done this the appliance itself would be inspected to make sure the case is intact and there are no obvious faults.


The next stage would be to examine the plug. Is the cable secure in the grip? Is it wired correctly and carrying a fuse of the correct rating? Is the plugtop complete? PAT Testing is really just common sense.

Visual Inspection complete, a series of electrical tests follow depending on what type of appliance is involved these could include

1) Earth continuity

2) Insulation resistence

3) Earth leakage

4) Polarity

PAT Testing also includes the labelling of each appliance and the provision of an Inventory of equipment tested along with a schedule for re-testing.

Within the average workplace there are various types of electrical appliances and they vary in the recommended intervals for re-testing. For example, whilst the IET code of Practice for the In Service Testing of electrical equipment in the workplace, says non IT equipment such as desk fans, lamps and fan heaters should be 'PAT Tested' annually.

IT equipment can in many cases go 2-3 years between PAT Testing.


Many companies are completely unaware this is the case and therefore have all their electrical equipment PAT Tested annually thus spending more money than they  might ordinarily need to.


PAT Testing of 'Hand Held' equipment such as drills etc on a building site or in a factory setting may need to be done on a much more regular
basis. Often every 1 to 3 months.


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