What Tests Are Carried Out During PAT Testing? A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to electrical safety in workplaces, a common question asked is, “What tests are carried out during PAT Testing?”

Understanding the procedures involved in Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is crucial for ensuring the safety and compliance of electrical equipment.

This article will outline the key tests performed during PAT Testing, as specified in the 5th Edition of the IET Code of Practice for In-Service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

Before delving into these tests, it’s important to emphasize the critical role of visual inspection and the necessity for the work to be conducted by an experienced and competent person, in line with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

The Importance of Visual Inspection

The first and perhaps most crucial step in PAT Testing is the visual inspection.

This preliminary examination is conducted to identify any obvious defects that might not be detected through electrical testing alone.

It includes checking the condition of the plug, the cable, and the appliance itself for any signs of damage, wear, or misuse.

This step is fundamental and requires a keen eye and experience, as many common faults can be identified visually.

Competence of the Tester

PAT Testing should be performed by individuals who are competent and trained, as outlined in the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

This ensures that the person conducting the tests has the necessary skills, understanding, and experience to recognize potential hazards and make informed decisions during the testing process.

Tests Conducted During PAT Testing

Following the visual inspection, a series of tests are conducted as per the guidelines in the 5th Edition of the IET Code of Practice. These tests include:

  1. Earth Continuity Test: This test is essential for Class I appliances (those with an earth connection). It involves checking the effectiveness of the protective earth conductor in the appliance.
  2. Insulation Resistance Test: This test checks the quality of the insulation within the appliance and its cable. It helps in detecting any breakdown in insulation that could lead to dangerous electrical leaks.
  3. Polarity Test: Applicable to plugs and extension leads, this test checks that connections are correctly wired and in the right sequence.
  4. Functional Check: A basic test to ensure that the appliance is functioning as intended. This is not just about electrical safety but also about verifying that the appliance is fit for purpose.
  5. Leakage Test: This involves measuring the current leaking from the appliance during normal operation. It’s particularly important for detecting potential electric shock risks.

Understanding what tests are carried out during PAT Testing

Additional Tests for Specific Appliances

Some appliances may require additional or specialized tests based on their nature and usage.

For instance, portable RCDs (Residual Current Devices) require a trip time test to ensure they react quickly enough in case of a fault.

Record Keeping

Accurate record-keeping is an integral part of PAT Testing.

It involves documenting the details of each appliance tested, the tests carried out, and the test results.

This documentation is crucial for compliance, insurance requirements and future reference.


In conclusion, understanding “what tests are carried out during PAT Testing” is key to ensuring the safety and compliance of electrical appliances in any workplace.

Starting with a thorough visual inspection by a competent individual and followed by a series of electrical tests as per the IET Code of Practice, PAT Testing is a comprehensive process.

It’s not just a regulatory requirement but a crucial practice for maintaining a safe working environment.

Remember, effective PAT Testing is an investment in safety, and choosing the right professionals with the right skills and knowledge is essential for its successful implementation.