Electrical appliance testing

What is electrical appliance testing?

All electrical appliances have the potential to cause electrical shock or present a fire hazard. In the UK, 5 deaths and more than 500 injuries are caused annually by faulty electrical installations in the home. Electrical appliance testing ensures that electrical faults are identified, which means that potential hazards can be removed to ensure electrical safety in the home or workplace. Electrical appliance testing is commonly referred to as “portable appliance testing” or PAT, and differs from electrical installation testing, which concerns the fixed electrics in your home/place of work rather than individual, movable items of electrical equipment. A portable appliance can be defined as one which can be relocated between periods of use, and is connected via a cable to an electrical power supply.

While it's at the discretion of the homeowner whether to carry out electrical appliance testing, it is a requirement of the Health and Safety At Work Regulations that electrical appliances in the workplace comply with the requirements of The Electricity At Work Regulations 1989.

Why should I employ a professional to carry out the testing?

There are three good reasons to employ a professional:

Save time

A team of experienced electrical engineers will be able to carry out electrical appliance testing far quicker than you yourself. Just think how many appliances are in your home or office – PCs, telephones, printers, photo-copiers, kettles...the list goes on and on.

Peace of mind

By employing a professional to test your electrical appliances, you can be sure of knowing if these present any hazards. Should anything go wrong, you will have access to a formal complaints procedure.

Legal protection

A contractor should issue you with a guarantee, which provides proof that you have carried out electrical testing and therefore complied with Health and Safety regulations. This may be particularly useful in the event of an insurance claim.

When do I need to employ an electrical appliance tester?

The frequency of testing depends upon the appliance itself and the working environment in which it is used. Very high risk environments would include construction sites, while a domestic residence would be low risk. There is no legally defined schedule for testing. Frequency and intensity of use should also be taken into account when drawing up a testing schedule, which a PAT professional can help you with.

If you are a landlord, it is recommended that you test appliances each time the tenants change, following a change of use of the premises and when the property is first being prepared to be let out. If you are a tenant, be aware that your landlord is responsible for PAT in the property.