Electrical Equipment is subject to the Electrical Safety Regulations 1994. This requires that this electrical equipment must be safe to use. Although there is no statutory to carry out regular testing in the event of an accident a landlord will need to show that all reasonable steps were taken to ensure the equipment is safe. Portable Appliance Testing or inspection and testing of in service electrical equipment is intended to show compliance with the regulations.

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Portable appliance testing can be a misleading term as it includes all electrical equipment connected to the fixed wiring. This is not an alternative to but compliments the full periodic test and inspection of the full installation.

In the event of an appliance becoming faulty, it is the fixed wiring installation that will ensure the supply is automatically disconnected within the required safety parameters to avoid injury or death. A landlord is required to provide a tenant with an electrical installation in good condition and repair. (see Periodic test in left hand menu)

Equipment Types

British Standard 2377 defines various types of equipment and accessories that require testing and inspection.

1. portable equipment/appliances...these are items which are capable of easy movement whilst energised and/or in operation (such as toasters, kettles, chip fryers etc)

2. hand held equipment/appliances. These items are of a portable nature that require control/use by direct hand contact (such as drill, hair dryers, hedge trimmers etc)

3. movable equipment/appliances. Generally these items are 18kg or less may have wheels and/or are easily moved (such as tumble dryers, top loading washing machines and various kitchen equipment.)

4. stationary equipment/appliances. Equipment in excess of 18kg which is not intended to be moved about. (such as cookers, dish washers, washing machines etc.)

5. fixed equipment/appliances. These items are fixed or secured in place and immovable. (typically tube heaters, towl rails or any other fixed equipment connected to the fixed wiring installation by way of a flex.)

6. built in equipment/appliances. This refers to equipment that is built into a unit or recess. (such as ovens, fridges, freezers and electric fires etc.)

7. I.T. equipment. Generally business equipment/home office equipment (computers printers etc.)

8. extension leads. These include multi way sockets  as well as extension leads.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) also includes a requirement for the user to perform certain checks. This should include examining the appliance for damage, cracks signs of overheating and that the plug and lead are secure and in goods order. They should also ensure that it has a valid label indicating that it has been formally inspected prior to use. They should also decide if the item is suitable for the environment for which it will be used. Although no record of user checks is required any suspect appliances should be switched off, removed from the supply and reported.

Formal inspection and testing should only be carried out by competent persons qualified to City and Guilds BS2377.

The testing of each appliance under goes a preliminary and visual inspection, a continuity test, earth continuity test, insulation resistance test and a functional check to ensure the equipment is working to its full capacity.


The responsible person/landlord/manager should have an equipment register and a procedure to report and log any defects found. In addition to this a record of inspection and testing carried should also be kept.