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What is a Portable Appliance?

So your PAT testing is due, you’re in the process of getting quotes and you’ve been asked how many items you’ve got that require testing. How do you define what is a portable appliance, what isn’t and what needs testing?

A common myth is that the appliance has to be below 18kg in weight – this is incorrect and this only defines whether an appliance is classed as portable/movable (below 18kg) or stationary (equal or above 18kg). An example may be a fridge or washing machine – these would almost certainly be over 18kg, however are still appliances, still pose a risk to the user and are still ‘movable’ in the dictionary definition of the word. Due to the weight, and fact they are moved more infrequently compared to small appliances, they would be classed as stationary objects for PAT testing frequency reasons.

The easiest way to grasp what needs PAT testing and what doesn’t is to completely ignore the term PAT testing, especially the ‘Portable’ section of it. The IET are making moves to change the name to ‘in-service inspection & testing of electrical equipment’ which is a bit of a mouthful but more accurately describes the process. ‘Electrical equipment’, that is ‘in-service’ gets ‘inspected & tested’. The IET are using this phrase inconstantly in their documents and I personally don’t see it catching on – Electrical Appliance Testing or simply Appliance Testing might be a more suitable way of thinking about it.

Short answer – if it has a plug on it, test it!

Charlie McCluskey

I'm a fully qualified PAT test engineer based in Derby. While I'm travelling the country carrying out PAT testing for companies of all sizes, I comment on regular issues that I find along the way to help demystify portable appliance testing.

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