Choosing a PAT tester - particularly for those new to the industry - can be a daunting process. With several models available, all with different capabilities and functions, how do you choose which one is right for you?

It's extremely important to consider your options before jumping in and buying a PAT tester. There's little point in buying a high-end professional and downloadable tester if you're only going to be testing a small amount of appliances. Likewise there's little point in buying a basic PAT checker if you're going to be testing thousands of items every year. Finding the right balance is important.

To help you get started, you should follow these quick tips.

1 - What Types Of Items/Equipment Will You Be Testing?

Consider your application. If you work in a charity shop, for example, you'll probably be testing basic electrical items such as shredders, office equipment, televisions and other equipment. If you're working on a construction site, you might be testing specialist equipment that runs at 110V, meaning you need a PAT tester that is suitable for testing at this threshold.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you be testing domestic equipment? This includes everyday household objects such as drills, hairdryers etc. All PAT testers will be suitable for this application, but a basic PAT checker will more than suffice for this purpose.
  • Will you be testing IT equipment? This requires a tester that performs an earth continuity test at 100 or 200mA. Not all testers have this ability, so choosing one that does is important.
  • Will you be testing industrial equipment? If this includes 110V equipment, you will need a tester with the ability to perform a leakage/touch current test at 110V. Many testers have dual voltage 240V/110V ability, but it is also possible to convert a 240V tester into a 110V tester by using the right 240/110V adapter.

2 - How Many Tests Will Be Performed Each Year?

How often will you be using your PAT tester? If you're using it once a year to check your items, there's not much need to purchase a higher-end model. If you're testing thousands of items regularly, it's a good idea to purchase a downloadable tester with integrated memory, keeping records of all of your testing data automatically.

PAT testers are generally defined in four categories:

  • PAT Checkers - basic, entry-level units that simply show if an appliance has passed or failed a test. Suitable for use with a small amount of items.
  • Basic PAT Testers - still easy to use, with full testing result display. Suitable for entry-level users and most suited for a smaller amount of items.
  • Mid-Range PAT Testers - with more testing procedures and several advanced functions, these testers are suitable for larger jobs.
  • Professional (Downloadable) PAT Testers - include memory storage for managing and viewing records. Can also be downloaded into PC. Most suited for use by professional PAT testing firms or for larger applications

If you're testing a small amount of items and don't want advanced functions, choose a PAT Checker or a Basic PAT Tester.

If you're testing a larger amount of items and want more testing functions, are working in a specialist area such as a construction site or want a product that includes memory, choose a Mid-Range or Professional PAT Tester.

3 - Mains or Battery Powered?

A PAT tester must gain its power from somewhere in order to operate. Depending on the model, it may gain power from a mains socket, or alternatively run on standard or rechargeable batteries.

Consider the following when answering this question:

  • Will you always be near to a plug socket? If not, a mains powered tester is unlikely to be suitable.
  • Do you need to perform an 110V leakage/touch current test on specialist equipment? Battery-operated testers are not suitable for this application.