What Needs Testing
Portable Appliance Testing is a phrase that is a little confusing, as it makes people believe only portable appliances with a 3 pin plug need to be tested.
When in fact, PAT testing actually covers the inspection and testing of all electrical equipment and appliances that are connected or could be connected to the fixed electrical installation.
Most equipment will be connected via a standard 230v 13A plug, but this is not always the case. For example, some equipment may be permanently fixed via a fused spur, or use an industrial plug and socket arrangement.
Electrical equipment will be categorised into specific types and the distinctions between the types is mainly used to determine the inspection and test frequencies, but they also affect some of the tests and test limits used.
Appliance categories and details of each are set down in the 'The Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment', often shortened to The IET's Code of Practice.
A portable appliance is defined as are anything that is less than 18kg that is intended to be moved, or can easily be moved, whilst in operation.
So for example a kettle or a toaster is a portable appliance
Hand held appliances are designed to be held in the hand during normal use - for example a hair dryer.
A kettle, even though it has a handle and designed to be picked up, is not classed as hand held because it is not designed to be held in the hand whilst it is in use.
Hand held appliances are considered high risk. They are more likely to be dropped and damaged and the consequences of an electrical shock are likely to be severe
Moveable equipment is less than 18kg and not fixed, or has wheels or castors to allow easy movement from one place to another.
The distinction between portable and moveable equipment types is not always clear.
For example a toaster is portable, but a microwave that is not often, or easily moved, would be classed as moveable. Moveable equipment is sometimes also referred to as transportable.
Stationary Appliances include such equipment as fridges, washing machines, vending machines etc., that weigh more than 18kg and are not easily moved.
Stationary appliances are rarely moved, therefore they are less likely to suffer damage, so the frequency of testing required would normally be less than a hand held appliance for example.
Fixed equipment is securely fastened in place, for example a storage heater fixed to the wall.
Other equipment types can also be classed as fixed when they are permanently connected to the supply via a fuse spur. For example a kettle in a hotel room connected via a fuse spur, rather than a 13A plug.
Built-in - This equipment is often found in kitchens and is designed to be built into a cupboard.
e.g. a built in cooker. The appliance usually relies on the sides of the cupboard to provide additional protection against electric shock and should therefore not be used unless installed in a suitable recess.
IT equipment - Computers, printers NAS drives, Servers, modems, UPS etc..
Any equipment that is hired out places the onus of the safety equipment when initially provided to a customer, upon the company hiring the equipment, and once on hire the responsibility falls upon the hirer to ensure they use and maintain the equipment in the manner and environment for what it was intended
The following is the advice from the HSE
“It is strongly recommended that equipment suppliers formally inspect and test the equipment before each hire, in order to ensure it is safe to use. The person hiring the equipment should also take appropriate steps to ensure it remains safe to use throughout the hire period.”
Hired equipment, therefore has a more frequent testing regime due to the nature of business and equipment being potentially subject to less care and attention than equipment personally owned.