A shameless plug for your two-pin plug comments

by , Conversation Editor Energy & Home 31 January 2013
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Two-pin plugs. Who would have thought such a topic would inspire so many comments. It seems being sent an electrical item without a UK plug turns most people off. Let’s have a look at some of your comments.

Two-pin EU plug

Most electricals should be delivered with a UK three-pin plug (some are exempt, like shavers and toothbrushes). The fact that some online retailers don’t do this started a lively debate.

There were loads of comments to choose from (more than 300 in fact), so I’m sorry if I’ve missed any of you out. Anyway, here’s Socketman to launch this round-up:

‘It is quite appalling that online sellers think it is OK to ignore UK law. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Trading Standards is organised on a local basis and find it difficult to tackle multi-national companies like Amazon.’

Amazon – let’s socket to them

Amazon was mentioned in a number of your comments, with third-party Amazon Marketplace sellers often posting out electricals with EU plugs. Alan bought a wireless adapter:

‘It came with a two-pin plug and extra adapter to connect up to a UK socket. Quite a cumbersome bit of kit. When I queried it with the supplier they said these were imported from Europe and they added the adapter for UK markets.’

It’s important to note that sending out an adapter isn’t good enough – any two-pin plugged appliance must be fitted with a conversion plug. Boglost bought a scanner:

‘It had a two-pin plug transformer on its cable. I didn’t realise that this type of plug was illegal in the UK and just considered it an inconvenience to use a two-pin adapter.’

Philip123 was also delivered a scanner with the wrong plug, but had a better experience:

‘I ordered a scanner in the summer and, finding it had a two-pin plug I returned it at [Amazon’s] request, for a refund. After a number of emails between us, in which they specifically claimed their stock had been checked at the warehouse and was now UK, not EU, I re-ordered. Same problem. As I really wanted the scanner I suggested they send me a £5 adapter or a credit note towards one. To my surprise they decided to give me 15% discount to keep the scanner and obtain my own adapter.’

Pulling the plug on two-pin plugs

Goodfoodie has had a bit of trouble with Argos:

‘I was bought a Kodak printer as a Christmas present, only to find the cable had a two-pin plug attached. Contacted Argos who offered to send me an adapter, which I declined stating that they had illegally supplied an item. I declined a refund as I want the item. Eventually I was put through to a supervisor and after several conversations […] they are posting me a correct cable.’

Not everyone was critical of two-pin plugged appliances. Sumbloke just fits UK plugs himself:

‘I buy most of my aquarium equipment online as there are massive savings to be had compared to buying from local aquatic dealers. Most of the equipment – heaters, filters and lighting come with two-pin plugs attached and a three-pin adapter is supplied for UK plug sockets. I just chop off the two-pin plug and install a three-pin plug. This is not an issue for me and I will certainly continue to support my favourite online dealers.’

If you, like Sumbloke, are happy to replace a two-pin plug with a its three-pinned cousin, make sure you know how to change a plug safely. But, of course, you really shouldn’t have to. Have you ever ordered electrical goods online just for it to arrive with a two-pin plug?


Add your comments



I have just had an Italian, stainless steel, cooker hood delivered; it has a two wire power cable for mains connection. I don’t see how wiring that to a three-pin plug makes it safe – it can never be earthed. Do I have to run a separate earth from the metal hood back to the earth terminal on the supply?


John Ward

In a word, Yes. The best way would be to replace the two-core cable with a three-core cable but you need to examine carefully where you will terminate the earth core inside the hood, in the event that it does not have a triple terminal block or an earthing point, in order to ensure that there is full electrical continuity to all parts.



This may be a Class II appliance that is intended for use without an earth. If so, it will be marked with the standard symbol – a pair of concentric squares.

As John says, an earthed appliance should have all accessible parts earth-bonded.



I have brought a swedish electrolux washing machine back to UK. It has been working fine with an adaptor. Now it has fused .I have cut the wire & it has 3 core-brown blue & yellow/green. Can I wire this to a 3 pin plug



There should not be a problem providing that the job is done correctly.

What do you mean that the adaptor has fused? If it has overheated, there is a possibility that it could have damaged the wall socket, in which case that would need to be replaced.



thank you for your reply
the wall socket is still working ok

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