How Do You Choose The Right Portable Appliance Tester?

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How Do You Choose The Right Portable Appliance Tester?

Are you looking for a portable appliance tester PAT? before you go online to check the many options, it helps to define your requirement and prepare a features list for you to use in your search for a PAT that suits your needs. There is a vast array of models and brands that you can choose from- this might make the task more difficult than you would expect some PATS are also better than others paying more does not always mean better either.

So, whether you are running a professional test and tag business or just conducting small scale or random test and tag, it helps to know what you are buying and that it suits your requirements.

This will ensure that you buy the right PAT for your business or professional application avoiding ‘buyers regret’!

Your Requirements

If you are buying your first PAT or just upgrading your current tester there are some things you may want to consider before you make that all-important purchase:

1 What industry are you in and what will you be testing.

2 How many tests will you be conducting?

3 How much are you willing to spend.

4 What you intend to for Tagging and Recording of results.

5 Is your focus ‘safety testing’ or ‘compliance testing’, there is a big difference.

Your Industry

Firstly consider do you need to test everything, everywhere, if this is the case you will likely be a test and tag professional, so choose extra carefully, think 3 phase testing – most PATs won’t do the powered up testing required for 3 phase Leakage testing, think speed, (liability if you or your people get it wrong), consider the whole system, not just the PAT only, printing systems and scanners can make life much easier, sometimes it’s also little things like usability and how it is moved ie do you need to open lids or is it just ‘plug and go’.

Separate Printers seem to be common but having it ‘altogether’ works so much better and quicker, tiny, very small scanners are easily lost, big sometimes really is better!

Or maybe you are just wanting to test your office equipment this will not likely be frequent so unless you have lots of it, handwriting Tags or basic data entry will be fine.

If however you’re a multiple type environment with workshops, Labs, kitchens and offices etc a PAT that has a rated output test current and/or socket of 15Amp is essential if you’re going to avoid relay damage to your PAT and expensive repairs or the possibility there are many items you can’t test.

Number of Tests

This is a vital factor when you are considering buying your PAT. If you’re going to test appliances every once in a while there’s no need to buy a costly PAT with features you will likely never use now or in the future, the priority needs to be on making sure it does what it needs to do.

However, if you own a test and tag business or have hundreds if not thousands of tests to do, then you should go for a higher-end tester you will thank yourself later when you realise how useful some of those super features are to your business. More expensive testers will also help lighten your workload and improve business operations in the long run. Remember some features are more useful than others and do not forget the reasons why you are testing in the first place!

Your Budget

PAT prices tend to range from $900 to 9000 this likely highly impacts your decision so you should determine your actual budget so you’ll know what features you will get and more importantly what is essential for you that you must have.

PATs below $2,000 will work for many users wanting to test a basic range of equipment they are focused around compliance more than safety testing, data logs will often be by hand and these Users will generally have smaller volumes to test, meaning speed and efficiency aren’t as important, battery and Mains operation will now normally be available on these PATs also.

PATS above $2,000 like the cheaper PAT will have an RCD test as well as being able to easily store and retrieve data. More of these PATs are concerned with safety testing than mere compliance only testing, as compared to the cheaper ones, but there are still many popular and expensive PAT systems out there, that only enable compliance testing and not safety testing.

Something else to consider is 3phase testing, this could be a very big unexpected extra cost if you have not thought about it and then find that you have lots of 3 phase items that need testing.

Some PAT’s only require an additional leakage clamp to enable 3 phase testing allow $400 extra IF the PAT is designed to have the clamp attachment. (most are not).

High – end testers- will likely provide the complete solution( not necessarily 3phase or safety testing) and are perfect for those who operate a test and tag business or test and tag large appliance quantities in house and / or test high volumes. These testers often called SupaPATs will have printers and scanners in the complete package this enables you to re-test appliances and quickly gather information with minimal effort you also have the option to generate reports and automate retesting dates giving you more control over the data you collect another example of a great feature is on the new METROiPAT SupaPAT system this enables users to get different coloured tags from a single roll of material direct from the printer. This further enables a huge timesaving.

This PAT also has the ability to print a tag for the lead of the appliance when the lead is detachable from the appliance being tested and a second tag is required as per the requirements of ASNZS3760.

Another feature on a Seaward PAT is the inbuilt camera however whilst this could be handy on some occasions most users probably already have this function available via their mobile phone, an onboard 3 phase test function would probably have been more useful or better still the high current protective earth test which is also absent from this top of the range model from Seaward, it does however look very nice and can take your picture.

The above feature shows what some people’s priorities will be and maybe their lack of understanding in what testing is really about.

Recording Results

Writing your results by hand is good. However, this task will prove very difficult especially when you are testing hundreds of appliances and you need to keep track of each one. A PAT that comes with a scanner and printer is the wiser choice. The wisest option is a tester that stores your results which you can download later because it will save you much time, money, and effort in the future.

Auditability of the results is also desirable some systems allow users to change pass and fail settings this may sound good but it also allows for the pass /fail results to be compromised unchangeable locked in test codes are by far the most secure system. Any facilities manager contracting a test and tag provider will likely look for this type of security/ auditability and large ‘in-house’ testing managers to ensure the security/accuracy of the actual test results.

I do not think spending time or money on dodgy results is a good investment in safety.

Safety Focused or Compliance Focused

Here’s the thing if you choose the right PAT you can easily get speed, accuracy, auditability second to none… AND REAL SAFETY TESTING and all for no more (often less) than Compliance only box type ticking testing!

The very big difference is when the protective earth is tested to see if it’s safe it can be either tested at a very low test current ( likely way below what would happen in a dangerous fault situation ) or at a high realistic potential fault current.

So, what is the difference? Simply put the high current test proves the earth can successfully conduct a high current flow back to the ground effectively proving the protective earth works AND that someone holding on to the Appliance should not get

(a possibly) fatal electric shock.

Think of it this way would you rather wear a life jacket when out sailing that had been tested just to see if it floats …OR floats with a heavy weight attached!

Seems pretty obvious, I think.

Sonel metroEasi 10

  • Price: $2000
  • Earth test 200 milliamps and 10Amp
  • Most obvious pass/ fail testing displayed ( 4 methods)
  • Fail safe Pat  protection system( prevents damage to PAT  in case of incorrect lead input)
  • NO other handheld PAT currently has 10 amp protective earth test
  • Backlit LCD  display not ( Lignt up LCD )


  • Most advanced PAT TESTING SYSTEM
  • Large Full color touch screen
  • Always ready to go — simply plugin to a power socket ( no need to take out of bag or open lid
  • User has different test modes I including auditable test codes
  • 3 phase testing capable ( accessories clamp required )
  • High current (10 and 25 amp protective earth test) as well as 200 milliamp.
  • Full Portable and fixed RCD testing including Ramp test
  • Largest on board memory ( 1million items)
  • Printing system enables dual tag printing for detachable leads and multicolored tags as well as ‘full record tags’ and variable length
  • Multiple selectable onboard logo
  • Built for the REAL TESTING person .. no cameras just the most advanced Full testing system.
  • System designed by Pat testing professionals for those serious about testing.