Portable Appliance Testing

Guidance on the procedures for inspecting and testing portable electrical equipment.

Portable Electrical Equipment is defined as equipment that is powered by being plugged into the electrical mains supply.

It is the responsibility of Heads of Schools / Service Directors to organise the periodic inspecting and testing of all Portable Electrical Equipment under their control in liaison with Estates and Campus Services, Property Management section, tel: 7096.

Arrangements for PAT to be carried out

Property Management has made arrangements with an electrical contractor to carry out this work and maintain a register of all equipment tested. To arrange a test, contact should be made with the Assistant Services Engineer (Tel 6821) who will ask for a full list of equipment to be tested and a budget code to which the cost of testing should be charged. An estimate for the cost of testing can be provided if required. The Assistant Services Engineer will liaise with the department contact to arrange a suitable time for the testing to be carried out. On completion of the testing, the Faculty / service directorate will be provided with a report of the testing and any remedial action required.


Around 95% of faults or damage on portable electric equipment can be found by carrying out a visual inspection of the item and associated plug and lead. A suitable formal inspection will include the following elements:

  1. Inspect appliance to ensure that:
    • The equipment is not physically damaged.
    • All covers etc. are in place.
    • Air is allowed to circulate freely around the appliance.
    • Air vents are not blocked.
  2. Inspect appliance lead to ensure that:
    • The lead is intact and without cracks or fraying.
    • There are no joins other than those made by the manufacturer.
    • There are no kinks in the lead.
    • The lead does not have to be stretched taught to reach the socket outlet.
    • All push in connections are firmly in place.
  3. Inspect the plug to ensure that:
    • There are no visible cracks or deterioration of the casing.
    • There are no visible scorch marks.
    • Pins are not loose or bent.
    • The cable clamp firmly grips the outer insulation of the cable.
    • The fuse is the correct rating for the appliance.


A suitably trained person should carry out the following tests.

  • Earth Bond Test
  • Insulation Test


The following table gives guidance on the frequency of formal inspections and tests. If electrical equipment is to be used in adverse conditions then the frequency of tests / inspections should be increased.

Guide to the frequency of inspection and testing of portable electrical equipment.
EquipmentUser checksFormal visual inspectionCombined inspection and testing
Battery operated: less than 20 volts No No No
Extra low voltage: less than 50 volts AC. e.g. telephone equipment, low voltage desk lights. No No No

Information technology: e.g. Desktop computers, VDU screens, printers, fax machines, photocopiers etc.

No Yes
3 years
No if double insulated - otherwise every 4 years

Double insulated equipment : NOT hand held. Moved occasionally, e.g. fans, table lamps, slide projectors.

No Yes
2 years
Double insulated equipment: HAND HELD e.g. Some floor cleaners and OHP’s Yes Yes
6 months
2 Years
Earthed equipment (class 1) e.g. Metal bodied kettles, irons, etc. Yes Yes
1 Year
2 Years
Cables (leads and plugs) and extension leads. Yes Yes
6 Months to 2 Years depending on usage.
1 to 3 Years depending on usage.