51 facts about PAT testing and electricity


Facts and stats about PAT testing and electricity

As you might be able to appreciate, we find PAT testing and electricity incredibly fascinating subjects!

With this in mind, we’ve put together some of our favourite facts and statistics. 

Keep checking this page as we plan to add to it over time.

PAT testing statistics

1. PAT testing is known by different names around the world 

For example, it’s called ‘test and tag’ in Australia and New Zealand. 

2. The first electrical equipment tests in the UK were carried out in the 1960s

PAT testing is still quite a recent development. The earliest testing was carried out in the 1960s across government buildings. The introduction of the Electricity at Work Regulations in the 1990s meant that PAT testing became more commonplace.

3. The correct name for testing is "In-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment" 

PAT testing has many different names, but the official one is the in-service inspection and testing of electrical equipment. It’s a bit of a mouthful!

4. The term portable appliance testing can be misleading

Button: PAT testing

This is because electrical items that aren’t portable need testing too. Think of equipment fixed to the wall (like heated towel rails) and equipment that is too bulky to move (like vending machines and fridge freezers)

5. The PAT testing and EICR laws are different depending on where in the UK you live 

If you have offices or rental properties in different parts of the country, the laws can vary.

For example, EICR inspections for privately rented properties are mandatory in Scotland and England, but not Wales or Northern Ireland (although this may change in the future).

6. PAT testing isn’t a legal requirement

Many people think that PAT testing has to be carried out by law, but this is not the case. 

However, as UK law states that electrical equipment has to be maintained in a safe condition, PAT testing is the most efficient way to do this.

More information about PAT testing and the law

7. British Standard BS 7671 (requirements for electrical installations) is also used in other countries

A good approach to safety is universal, and the British standard is also used in countries including Singapore, Cyprus, Mauritius and Sierra Leone.

8. PAT testing equipment needs PAT testing

PAT testing unit

This sounds unusual, but because PAT testing equipment plugs into the mains, it needs testing! At Hawkesworth, we test and recalibrate our equipment at least once a year.

More information about weird things that need PAT testing

9. PAT testing and PIN numbers have more in common than you think

PAT testing is short for ‘portable appliance testing’ testing and PIN number is short for ‘personal identification number’ number!

While the phrasing is a little redundant, we stick with PAT testing just as people are used to it and it is easy to say!

EICR statistics

10. EICR used to be called fixed wire testing

Button: EICR

Like PAT testing, EICR has had many different names in its time. Before EICR became the official term in 2012, it was often referred to as ‘fixed wire testing’. This is because electrical installations were ‘fixed’ inside properties.

11. The front of house and back of house of a cinema need EICR testing at different intervals

It is recommended that different types of buildings are tested at different times. Some buildings may need different testing periods for different areas! 

For example, the front of house of a cinema should be tested every year, while the back of house should be tested every three years.

More information about EICR frequency

12. A home went on the market in 2019 that had 320 plug sockets

The home in question was a five-bedroom home in Middlesex – there were enough sockets for everyone who lived in the street!

13. EICR inspections are a legal requirement if you are a landlord 

In 2019 and 2020 the law changed for private landlords in England, making it a mandatory requirement to carry out an EICR inspection every five years.

More information about EICR for landlords

14. Searches for 'EICR and landlords' increased by 300% over the last year

EICR became a legal requirement for landlords on 1 June 2020, and as a result, interest in the search term increased on search engines like Google and Bing.

Even though the deadline has now passed, searches for EICR are still high!

15. You can use thermal imaging cameras to identify faults in electrical installations

Example of thermal imaging

A thermal imaging camera identifies heat levels, meaning that they can be used to spot damage in electrical installations without opening them up.

16. You can tell the age of electrical installations in your home by how they look and where they are

For example, if you have light switches on the walls of your bathroom, chances are they were installed before the 1960s. Similarly, cables coated in fabric were commonplace before the 1960s too. 

Electrical equipment and appliance statistics

17. The electrical household appliance industry is worth an incredible amount. In 2020, the market worldwide was worth $420 billion!

It is set to grow to $500 billion by the year 2023.

18. According to a YouGov poll, the four most popular home appliance brands in the UK are Bosch, Philips, Dyson and Russell Hobbs

We all have our favourite brands, and these four are the most commonly found across homes in the UK.

19. One in eight house fires is caused by faulty electrical equipment

This harrowing statistic means that it is important to regularly check any electrical equipment for issues. If an appliance is dented, has scorch marks or a damaged cable, don’t use it.

20. Plugs have only had fuses in them since WW2

Interestingly, this came down to a shortage of copper. Originally fuses were placed outside the plug, but a lack of copper during the war meant that fuses were installed inside instead. As this made appliances safer and the plugs easier to repair, it was agreed to keep the new design as is!

21. One in three electrical fires that result in a fatality involves a portable electric heater

Although electric heaters are great for spot-heating cold rooms, they can be dangerous. This is often down to the fact that they are used too close to flammable materials, or are left unattended.

More information about using portable electric heaters safely

22. 2% of shoppers have knowingly bought a fake electrical product, with many more unwittingly buying them

Examples of counterfeit electrical products

Some people will willingly take their chances on a fake piece of electrical equipment, as it can be cheaper and easier to obtain than the genuine article. 

However, fake electrical equipment is often made in countries where health and safety rules are less stringent, meaning that it is more likely to be dangerous.

23. A counterfeit electrical product is usually lighter than its genuine counterpart

This is because a fake product has fewer electrical components in it, increasing the risk of shock and fire.

A genuine phone charger contains over 60 individual components while a counterfeit charger contains about 25!

24. The top five faulty appliances that are most likely to cause a fire are washing machine, tumble drier, cooker, fridge/freezer and dishwasher

These appliances are more likely to have faulty components that are likely to overheat and start a fire. It’s important to keep them well-maintained.

25. The average person in the UK spends the equivalent of £2.90 a week on household appliances

The under 30s are most likely to splurge on electrical equipment, with spending rising to £4.10 a week in this category. 

26. Over 600 electrical products in the UK have been recalled since 2007 – from extension leads to ceiling fans

Electrical products are recalled if they are found to be dangerous. If you buy electrical equipment, registering it means that the manufacturer can easily get in touch with you if it is recalled.

Register your electrical equipment with ‘register my appliance'

27. 1 in 12 people leave their phone charging under their pillow

We carried out a survey that found that one in every 12 people left their phone charging under their pillow while they slept. This is dangerous as this can cause phones to overheat and set fire to the bedding. 

28. A kettle uses twenty times more power than a fridge does

Not all appliances use the same amount of power. This means that you could potentially overload your sockets if you plug in appliances that exceed their rating. 

29. Approximately one in three electric blankets fail inspection

Electic blankets may keep you warm and cosy on a cold night but they are a a fire risk, especially if they were manufactured several decades ago.

It's recommended that you have your blanket tested every year before you start using it in the winter. Many council trading standard departments provide free testing.

30. Electric fans are rarely used in South Korea

There is a belief that running an electric fan in a closed room will cause death. Even though there has not been any evidence to prove this theory, many Koreans will not use fans in a room with the doors and windows closed.

31. Microwaves use more electricity to power its digital clock than they do to heat food

Microwaves often consume more energy to power its display than the actual heating process.

Think about that while you wait for your dinner to ping!

Electric vehicle statistics

32. There are over 23,000 public electric vehicle charging devices in the UK

This statistics is true as of April 2021. The figure is only set to grow over time as more people purchase electric vehicles ahead of the UK Government ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars in 2030.

33. Electric vehicles have to make a noise by law

Although EVs can be silent, in 2019 the EU stated that all cars sold had to make an artificial noise so they could be heard by pedestrians and cyclists.

34. Electric cars were around in the 19th century

The first electric taxi cab was found in London in 1897! Known as the Bersey Electric Cab or 'hummingbird', the vehicle used an electric battery to move around.

Unfortunately the vehicles were easily damaged and were withdrawn from use two years later.

Electricity statistics

35. One of the leading proponents of electricity in the UK was Caroline Haslett

Caroline Haslett was an electrical engineer who pushed for the promotion of electrical appliances in the home. This was so women could liberate themselves from household chores and pursue their ambitions.

Caroline was so dedicated to electricity that her will requested that she was cremated using it.

36. One single bolt of lightning can create enough electricity to power 200,000 homes

However, bear in mind that if you want to run your home on lightning alone, it would need to be struck more than 40 times a year!

37. You often find electrical surges during advertising breaks

This phenomenon is called ‘TV pickup’. It leads to large surges in electricity use as people take advantage of the ad break to make themselves a cup of tea or coffee!

The largest TV pickup recorded in the UK was during the 1990 World Cup after the England vs West Germany penalty shootout, the equivalent of 1.1 million kettles being turned on at once!

38. There are over 90,000 electrical pylons in the UK

These pylons cover over 7,000km across the country.

39. There is a website dedicated to people's favourite pylons!

You can see what the pylon of the month is here!

40. China consumes the most electricity of any country

China is closely followed by the US and India  - the UK doesn't even make the top ten.

41. The word 'electricity' comes from the Greek word for 'amber' - 'elektron'

The ancient Greeks found that when they rubbed amber against light objects like wool or straw, they would stick to the fossilised sap - static electricity!

42. The first street in the world let by electric light bulbs was in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Mosley Street in Newcastle was initially lit by gas lamps, but these were replaced with brand new electric lights in 1879.

43. In 2017, 13 people in England died as a result of electric shock.

This may sound like a lot, but was less than 2001, when 38 people died in this way.

Miscellaneous statistics

44. 70% of businesses say they will need to adapt their workplace after lockdown

We have all had to make changes after the pandemic, with 7 out of 10 offices saying that they have had to alter the way they function. This can be anything from offering home working, to changing office workflow and improving air quality. 

The future of the workplace – what will change?

45. 7 out of 10 people get their Christmas decorations up on or around the 1st of December

Christmas lights

We carried out a survey in 2020 and found that 70% of people we asked wanted to get their Christmas tree and lights up on or close to the start of December as possible. 16% of people were keen to get started as early as November!

46. Christmas lights weren't commonly used before the 1930s

Before Christmas tree lights were invented, people used to illuminate their trees with candles, either using lanterns or by sticking the candles to the tree with wax!

Although electric lights were used in the late 19th century, they were too expensive for people to buy to put on their trees.

47. Former electricians and electrical engineers include comedian Rowan Atkinson, film director Alfred Hitchcock and Elvis Presley

Many famous people started their careers as electricians and electrical engineers. In fact, Elvis started as an electrician and six months later, recorded his first hit song!

48. There is a French power plant that produces energy using cheese. 

The power plant uses whey left over from making cheese. It’s left to ferment and then heated to create the steam that generates electricity!

49. The electric plug emoji looks different depending on which operating system you use

Electric plug emoji

This emoji was introduced in 2015. If you use it on Apple or WhatsApp you will see a North American plug, while if you use Google or Samsung, you will see a European plug.

Currently, no operating systems show a UK 3-pin plug.

50. The ancient Egyptians used electric fish to cure aches and pains

The electric catfish can produce an electric shock of up to 350 volts, which it uses to stun predators.

The Egyptians were claimed to harvest the fish and use them to relieve arthritis!

51. The platypus uses electricity to hunt for food

This unusual creature has receptor cells in its bill that it uses to identify electric fields produced by insects and seafood.

The echidna also uses electricity to hunt for food, but doesn't have as many receptor cells.


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