PASS, the independent test and measurement expert, has cross tabulated the functions of 32 PAT testers from nine different manufacturers to produce a three level ranking of their features and benefits according to 18 different attributes.

The nine manufacturers include Fluke, Megger, Seaward, Martindale, Metrel, Kewtech, Robin Amprobe, UNIT and First Stop Safety. The 18 attributes for the 32 PAT testers featured comprise characteristics like different types of test (earth bond, insulation test voltage, etc) and options like Bluetooth wireless communications, barcode scanning, and so on.

The choice between manual and downloadable PAT testers boils down to the number appliances which have to be tested. Manual PAT testers are entry level to mid-range products without memory, which means that results have to be written down manually in a logbook or other similar documentation. For large volume testing, downloadable PAT testers have built-in memory to store results for subsequent downloading to a PC.

Barry Atkins, managing director of PASS, explained, “You can expect to pay significantly more for a downloadable PAT tester than a manual one. This is because of the built-in memory and advanced functions of these units. If you do not need these extended functions, going for a manual PAT tester is much more cost-effective.

“At PASS we classify PAT testers into three specific categories – entry level, mid-range and professional. Depending on the PAT tester in question the overall abilities may change, but we follow some general rules for classification.”

The general rules are as follows – Entry level PAT testers are mainly non-downloadable, simple to use testers suitable for testing up to 350 appliances per job. They lack the extended functions of higher end testers, do not have memory and are best suited for small companies, low volume testing, schools, B&Bs, charity shops, care homes and any other low volume user.

Mid-range testers are made up of a mix of downloadable and manual testers with a wider suite of testing procedures and various additional functions such as Bluetooth connectivity, printer ports and configurable testing procedures. They are ideally suited for medium sized companies, schools, colleges, care homes and workshops.

Professional PAT testers are the best in the market, with large memory, full download ability and significantly improved additional functions. These testers are best suited for large companies, high volume testing, PAT businesses, contractors, universities, hotels and construction sites.