Many times, when using electrical equipment, some of the safety parameters the product manufacturer built in end up being compromised. However, knowing when safety violations have happened and their extent may not be possible without the help of the appropriate instruments. Portable appliance testers (PAT) are designed to test any appliance that is fitted with a plug top.
What are PAT Testers?
PAT testers are basically equipment that help in portable appliance testing. This refers to the examination of electrical appliances to ensure they are safe to use. Physical examination can help detect some of the defects but others can only be detected through the help of a tester. This is where you need the best PAT tester for the job.
Much like any other products, PAT testers are available at different levels from basic or entry level all the way to advanced models. The following are the main types of PAT testers.
1. Pass/Fail PAT Testers
These entry level models are usually small in size and light in weight. They have no ability to auto record test results. When taking a reading from these PAT testers, the technician has to record in a test logbook the results displayed on the screen.
The testers in this category only tell you if your appliance has passed or failed the test. Because of this reason, they are best suited for quick and basic testing.
They are cheaper, give clear pass/fail readings, and pretty easy to use. On the downside, their tests are not configurable and they do not display the full results.
2. PAT Testers Displaying Results
These testers show you the specific results of your appliance test. They not only give you the pass/fail values, but also provide you with the actual full test result.
The advantage with these testers is that they are cheap, have a simple interface, and display full results. On the downside, they cannot perform all the tests and the test parameters cannot be configured.
3. Manual PAT Testers
These appliance testers lie between the high-end models and basic PAT testers. These testers require an understanding on the part of the user of the entire PAT testing cycle and logic. Some of the manual testers can display pass/fail values, but most importantly, is that they allow you to configure the appliance test results. They have a clear LCD display from where you can read and interpret the results.
4. Downloadable PAT Testers
These are the best PAT testers. They are capable of automatically recording the test results inside their firmware memory. From here, you can transfer the results electronically to a PAT software to enable you create an asset register. They are connected to qwerty keyboard and can connect to PCs.
How suitable a PAT tester is to you totally depends on the equipment quantities and their voltages. Manufacturers of PAT testers have designed them in such a way that they do not damage the portable equipment when testing.
The test technician first inspects the appliance visually and then plugs the appliance so that it can be tested. The testing procedure is guided by the IEE Code of Practice that outlines how each of the electrical safety tests are to be conducted.
- Read also: Best Socket Tester Reviews
Frequency of Appliance Testing
There is a general requirement that any electrical equipment having the potential to cause injury be maintained in a safe environment and condition. The question of how frequent you should test your appliances for safety has been left to personal decision.
The type of equipment and the environment in which you use it are some of the factors that determine the frequency of inspection. For instance, if you have a power tool that you use in a construction site, you should examine it more compared to a hotel bedroom lamp.
New equipment is expected to be in a safe condition and therefore no need for a formal appliance test or inspection. However, you can do a simple visual check to verify if the item is in a workable condition and not damaged.
Legally, it is not stated that you should label your equipment following a test or inspection. The law doesn’t also put it clearly that you need to keep records of your inspection activities. However, for internal management monitoring of the effectiveness of equipment, you may want to maintain such a record.
What to Look for When Buying PAT Testers
Whether you have been PAT testing for sometime or you have just learnt how to do appliance testing and you want to purchase the best PAT tester, the process of choosing the right one can be quite tricky. There are key factors and major decision points you have to go through before you finally purchase a tester. Some of the quick pointers include:
- Your budget
- The number of tests you want to carry out
- How you want to record the appliance test results
If you just want to test a few items say 200 and below, spending a fortune on a PAT tester is not advisable. However, if you are going into PAT testing business, then you need to make a real investment.
PAT Testing Results
You have the option to automatically record your results or read them off the display and manually note them in your logbook. For automatic recording especially when working with a lot of equipment, go for a downloadable tester. For fewer equipment, say 20 and below, go for manual testers.
Earth Bond Testing
All earthed appliances are supposed to be tested for earth bond. Different test currents are used to perform this test. If you want to use your PAT tester for this, ensure you choose the correct ampere rating. For instance, testing of IT equipment should be done with a tester that is either a 100mA or 200mA test current.
If you are testing 110 volts equipment, in addition to buying the PAT tester, you will also have to buy an adapter to handle the magnitude of the testing exercise.
The Best PAT Tester Reviews
1. Kewtech KT71 Manual Tester
This is one of the best PAT tester with LCD and LED displays for clear pass/fail indications. It has amazingly fast automatic test sequences and this means you can be able to test a large number of appliances within a short time period. Below are some of the key features:
- The ability to perform earth bond tests at 200mA for IT appliances and for the other appliances a high current 20A.
- It can handle insulation tests at voltage ranges of 250V/500V.
- A memory to handle test lead resistance compensation.
- The ability to carry out extension lead test which includes polarity.
This tester complies with IT Code of Practice and can automatically check if the appliance is on or off.
2. Martindale MARHPAT500 PAT Tester
This is a tester you can rely on for appliance testing in all locations. It is a simple to use and battery-powered tester that you can comfortably hold in your hand. In terms of the cost of ownership, it is comparatively low and you can use the tester while you are recharging on the other end to ensure there is no downtime.
- It has a simple one button testing that activates a lead test, full class I or class II test without the need for further interaction.
- The display is clear and indicates all the pass/fail results on the screen.
- The case body shows connection diagrams which makes it easier for you to begin testing right away.
It can test both 110V and 240V appliances and it is IT safe at a test current of 200mA DC.
3. Seaward 344A910 PrimeTest 100 Tester
This is a manual tester with 3 operational modes. It is ideal for anyone looking for an easy to use, but electrically safe tester. When you push the button, you get the option to choose the PAT test mode whether power socket, IEC lead test, or Class I and II tests.
- It has a large LCD display which shows both pass/fail indication and test results values.
- It is battery powered and light in weight to give you an efficient and quick appliance testing
For maintenance purposes, you should clean it with a dry cloth and before any test, you should check the battery voltage.
4. Megger 1003-064 PAT150 Full Functionality PAT Tester
This tester has a very short learning curve. It is portable and ideal for all testing environments. The manufacturer designed them with rubber armored cases and scratch proof glass and this makes them exceptionally tough.
- It complies with IT Code of Practice
- It is battery powered and you can carry it around with ease
- This tester comes with 250V insulation testing which is excellent for surge-protected extension leads
- It has automatic test sequences for extension/power leads, Class I and Class II
It can carry out a number of tests including continuity test, substitute leakage test, touch current test, portable RCD test, and mains supply test.
5. Fluke 6500-2 PAT Tester + DMS 0702/PAT Software
As one of the best PAT tester in the market, it is customized for the needs of modern appliance testing technicians. It is ideal for large application users as it gives you a wide range of features for comprehensive PAT testing. It comes with a fully downloadable memory that allows you to interact with the testing data.
- It includes 250V DC insulation testing
- RCD testing
- A full color display for test results
- A USB port for data transfer and printing
- A compatible adapter to test 110V appliances
The software allows you to plug in to a PC and interact with the stored data. You can export the test data directly to excel or test formats for further analysis.