How long does a PAT test take?

This is a question we get asked often, so we thought we would run you through a general scenario or two

  • Scenario A

We are in an office environment and there is a work station that needs testing, now the general population think a work station is one item two at the most (although this is generally not the case).  the work station will generally consist of:

  • PC
  • IEC lead for the PC
  • Monitor
  • IEC lead for the monitor
  • Printer
  • IEC lead for the printer
  • Extension lead
  • Phone charger

This one or two items has now turned into 8 items (shock horror).

Each item has to be tested individually and are generally NOT all led out separately nice and neat, in this scenario the user has a quick email to finish off before sending, then there are 10 updates to do as the PC is never switched off, the leads are hidden and zip tied under a dusty desk covered in cobwebs, paper work, chewing gum and last weeks used tissues.

Before any testing can take place on these appliances they need to be un-clipped, briefly cleaned, routed out and made accessible.

After the search and rescue has been completed testing can finally commence

Each appliance needs a full visual inspection, which on a lead for example involves unscrewing the plug (if its not molded) and checking terminal tightness and fuse, examining the lead for splits, tape, cuts, exposed wires and checking general condition.

Next would be the actual appliance test which on a lead would consist of a an earth bond test, an insulation resistance test then a polarity test (each test takes a few seconds).

Next would be logging the appliance type, make, model and serial number (which isn’t as easy as texting your buddy).

After the lead has been tested the same would start again with the next appliance.

All in all for the test alone takes a minimum of 2 minutes, times this by 8 appliances = 16 minutes, add in the time to complete work, switch off, unplugging, routing out, cleaning = minimum 5 minutes and finally 2 more minutes to route wires again and switch back on leaves a total off 23 minutes to test 8 appliances…. on this basis a tester could test maximum 20 items an hour

  • Scenario B

We in the same office environment, with the same amount of appliances, except this time everything has been switched off, unplugged and ready to test

Simply put this would take 2 minutes a test as you cannot properly test an item quicker than this unless you are cutting corners. 8 items =16 minutes which would be 30 items an hour

  • Scenario C

We often go to previously tested premises and it could be either scenario A or B and the previous tester would have tested the whole office (100 items for example) in an hour, funnily enough they generally use their iPhone to test everything by flashing it over the appliance.


Testing an appliance every 6 seconds is impressive, It would possibly take most of the general population more than 6 seconds to shut down the screen of there PC, so its one hell of a magic trick.

The point of this post is

If your PAT tester is spending less than 30 seconds to test an appliance that is unplugged, molded plug, cleaned, lead out and completely accessible… Then alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear… At 30 seconds they would be setting some sort of record, with sweat running down their brows and fingers Jimmy Hendrix would be proud off.

Next time you are looking for “THE CHEAPEST QUOTE” think on and get a professional company such as PAT Testing Northwest as the responsibility of safety is on the business owner, not the person that did or did not test the equipment.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Richard Andrews
    January 10, 2019 20:38

    Yep! This is why I charge by the hour and average 10 -20 test per hour. I also inform managers they can use the cheapest provider if they wish, but they have a ‘Duty of Care’ and IF an employee or member of the public takes legal action over an unplanned occurrence it wouldn’t take a barrister more than 10 minutes to prove the manager’s chosen pat testers are taking short cuts… And, as the manager is responsible for employing the pat testers, they have failed to meet their obligatory ‘Duty of Care’ 😉

  • Barry Foster
    March 10, 2019 08:16

    Richard. I’m just starting up, and I don’t want to go in too cheap! I’ve come from a ‘service engineer’ background where my knowledge and expertise were paid for. Like you, I’d much rather get paid by the hour. I’ve been asked by three schools which are all next to each other to quote. They are currently paying 80p per appliance. They are interested in using me as they know my dedication to my work (and I think they’re willing to pay for that!). The thing is, how much should I be asking as a per-hour charge? If you can’t answer direct on here then maybe I can somehow get you my email address. Thanks.

  • Barry, A “company” charging £0.80 per item would be hard pushed to pay their employees a competitive wage never mind actually make a profit as a business. On the basis of testing 25 items an hour. Or an item every 2-3 minutes (by test I mean everything involved from unplugging, routing out, visual test, electrical test, label, logging, re-routing, plug in again) at £0.80 an item that would be £20.00 per hour, take away 20% tax, labels, fuel, travel time, insurance, business rates, possible delays. To pay an employee or yourself on this basis would not be very competitive at all.

    I would suggest you take all these factors into account along with the fact that PAT testing isn`t the easiest of jobs to carry out and charge what you would be happy with (bearing in mind a lot of electricians will turn down PAT testing jobs even though they will generally charge £35+ an hour) .

  • I’ve been pat testing 17 years for the same company and we have to do 130 a day if we do more we get an hours pay for every 20 extra we do which has been fine for years because we do a lot of food factory’s and travel an hour plus each way. But have just been sold to another company and numbers have gone up to 200 a day which is ok on easy jobs but hard work on factory floors with 2hours plus travelling. The company that has taken us over do 400 tests a day and want us to do the same for no extra money and have given the rest of the company a 2% annual pay rise but refused us one unless we do 30 extra tests a day.


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