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A shameless plug for your two-pin plug comments

Two-pin EU plug

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.

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 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?

Comments
Guest

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?

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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.

Guest

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

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

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.

Guest

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

Guest

I have just purchased a Liebherr freezer and fridge from the gas superstore.They came with an 85 mm adapter that means the appliances stick out 85mm past the worktops as the sockets are behind the appliances.I can no longer open my cupboard doors that are on a 90 degree angle to the fridge.1)is it legal for them to sell me these without telling me? 2) I have spoke to an electrician to see if a U.K plug could be put on. He said he was unsure and had been trying to find that out himself for a long time so would not do it till he knew for sure.

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Guest

As I understand it, any appliance supplied into the UK domestic market must be fitted with a compliant standard UK 13A three-pin plug. You should immediately inform The Gas Superstore that your fridge and freezer are not fit for purpose and reject them. The retailer is responsible for compliance and is the party committing the offence. Adaptors themselves are not always electrically satisfactory and in any case are not intended to be used for permanent installations. Even if you were able to put a short twin-socket extension lead into one of the sockets behind your appliances and find space to then plug the adaptors into the extension so that your fridge and freezer lined up with your worktop that would still be a potentially unsafe situation. Liebherr products are available with UK plugs – John Lewis sell them, so it makes you wonder where The Gas Superstore sources them. Liebherr appliances are generally premium-priced so you should not accept any compromises in the goods supplied by the retailer.

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Guest

John is absolutely right. Please will Which? pursue this matter because the longer than retailers continue to supply non-compliant products, the more difficult it will be to stop this practice.

Extension leads are not a good solution for kitchen appliances.

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Guest

Agreed Wavechange. Only a short-term work-around pending Len getting rectification from the retailer. Even a continental-to-UK extension lead would be a bad outcome.

Guest

I contacted Liebherr and this is their reply All Liebherr appliances purchased in the UK are supplied with a European plug adapted for use in the UK. I can confirm that this is both legal and safe in accordance with EU directives. If you do wish to change the plug to a standard 3-pin, as long as this work is carried out by a competent person, this will have no effect on the warranty supplied with the appliance.. Thanks to John and Waverchange for your replies.

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Guest

I hope Socketman is still keeping an eye on this Conversation as it would be interesting to get his reaction to Liebherr’s comments.

As a matter of interest, Len, was that response given in writing or over the phone?

Note that a “competent person” does not have to be a qualified electrician; best to get good quality plugs if you’re changing them yourself.

Guest

The reply was by Email from Liebherr.I also had another reply from the gas superstore saying they had been in contact with Liebherr “They also advised us that if this was the case and you wished to have an electrician change the plug to a 3 pin plug, it would not affect your warranty in any way”. I changed the plug myself and was surprised to see the wiring was the same as a UK plug,as the electrician I had spoken to told me there would be no earth wire in the cable.

Profile photo of wavechange
Guest

I expect that the plug you removed would be a Schuko plug, with two side contacts, which would be connected to the Earth wire. I’m no expert but I would expect fridges and freezers to be earthed.

Guest

Can I ask if this was definitely an adaptor not a conversion plug, I know there can be mix ups with the way they are worded. If it’s a conversion plug they are legal for the company to use as long as it can only be opened using a tool. If it is just an adaptor then this should not have been supplied.

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Guest

With the aid of Google I have found that it is common for Liebherr customers to complain about the very large plug, it is apparent from some reviews that what is supplied is indeed a German plug inside a British conversion plug, in other words, as Shell wrote above, it appears to be legal. (Although, very consumer unfriendly!) I do note that the Liebherr handbook for fridge freezers states that: “The socket must be fused with a 10 A fuse or higher, it must be away from the rear of the appliance and must be easily accessible.
Connect the appliance with a properly earthed fused plug and socket only.”
This is, of course, good advice, it is never wise to use any appliance which is connected to the mains in such a way that the plug cannot be easily removed, or the socket switched off.

Guest
chrissey says:
9 months 6 days ago

Hi am moving to France I was wondering if my fridge freezer will be ok if plug is changed to a two pin plug or do I need to use travel plug?
Kind regards
Chrissey

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Guest

Travel adaptors should never be used for permanent connection of electrical appliances. Since a fridge-freezer will have an earth connection, you will need to fit a Type E (French) CEE 7/6 plug to fit the CEE 7/5 wall socket. The plug has two pins and a hole and the socket has two holes and a pin.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AC_power_plugs_and_sockets

This is a better design than the Schuko plug used in Germany and elsewhere on the continent because, like the UK plug, it is polarised – it can only be fitted one way round. Unless you are sure how to connect the brown, blue and green/yellow wires and are confident about doing the job, it would be better to have plugs fitted professionally.

Guest

Hi,

I have bought an AEG gas hob from Germany and its arrived with a two pin plug. Does this need to be rewired before an engineer will fit it? Thanks for any help.
Claire

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Guest

A two-pin plug will not be compliant for use in the UK. Normally, a gas hob only requires a small amount of electric current to operate the ignition system and possibly some controls or indicators, but they are usually hard-wired into the cooker power supply circuit, not plugged into a wall socket. Without knowing exactly what specification the manufacturer has used it’s impossible to say whether a two-core cable or a two-core plus earth cable is required. You will have to arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to install the gas hob for you and he or she should be able to advise you on the correct method of connecting to the electrical supply, or possibly, if the hob is to be associated with an electric oven, connected to the oven’s electrical supply.

Guest

Thank you for your help- much appreciated.

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Guest

Claire, as this is an EU product it must comply with EN safety requirements so, presumably, with a 2 pin plug the electrical equipment is class 2 (double insulated) that does not require an earth. It should have a symbol showing 2 concentric squares. The installation instructions should also show this. If it is to be plugged in to an electrical socket then it should be wired to a standard 3 pin plug, but just using Line and Neutral. That would be my understanding.

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Guest

It is NOT 2 pin, Its a german Schuko, sliding ground up the sides of the plug and possibly a hole off center for the French grounding pin!

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Guest

No responsible retailer should be supplying goods to the UK without either a standard UK plug or a ready-fitted conversion plug.

It is likely that the two-pin plug on Claire’s hob is a Schuko plug with side earth contacts.

A gas hob should not be wired directly to a cooker point intended for an electric cooker because this will be protected by a circuit breaker or fuse rated at 30 amps or more, giving inadequate protection in event of a fault.

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Guest

If you buy direct from another country – for example through amazon.de, then you can expect to get a product that is suitable for that country. It can be advantageous – my younger son bought a projector through amazon.de that was £150 cheaper than an identical one through amazon.uk. No delivery charge. Worth looking!

Guest
Chris Beney says:
10 hours 7 minutes ago

Yes good idea, but amazon.d products have to be compatible with UK plugs.

Guest
David Mann says:
6 months 24 days ago

Hi,

I purchased a Samsung flat screen TV via pixmania/Amazon and it turned up with the French two pin plug, I have been using it with a UK three pin adapter for a few months now and I am worried this is not what I should be doing. Is this a fire risk and if so what should I do to ensure the connection is safe?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Guest

You can get a proper plug adapter rather than a “shaver type” plug in adaptor – looks like a 3 pin plug inside which the 2 pin euro plug is slotted and clamped by the plug lid and screw.

However my Samsung TVs came with detachable mains leads – Fig 8 plug one end to go into TV; so if yours is the same just use any fig8 mains lead with a 3 pin UK plug on the other end preferably of the moulded on type should be fitted with 3 amp fuse.

Guest

I have just started a business supplying barbering products and equipment to barbershops. I have found the perfect distributor in the States as the offer great prices and good quality products, however, their electrical equipment does not come with the standard UK 3 Pin plug. Does anybody have advice on how to retail these products under the legitimate standards expected of me? I would think attaching adapters to every item would be a no go so what would I need to do. Some of these products are rare.to see in the UK so I’m very keen to bring them over.

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Guest

It might not just be a case of the plug not fitting in a UK socket, the appliances themselves might run at a different voltage to the UK standard and still pose a safety risk even if you replaced the American plugs with UK 13A plugs before selling the products on. You should get expert advice

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Guest

Tanya, as John says they will not necessarily be suitable for the UK/European electricity supply (230 volts 50 Hz). Furthermore they would need to be shown to comply with all the relevant European safety standards and carry a CE mark for them to be suitable for the European market.

Guest

Thank you. Looked into this further and they would not be compatible for UK use so I will have to look at an alternative UK distributor :( thanks anyway.

Guest

Hi. I want to purchase a hair styling item – some heated ceramic rollers. The UK price is £70 but on amazon.es (Spain) they are about £40. I realise that they would be supplied with a two pin plug ready for the Spanish market and have been looking as to whether I would be able to use them in the UK with an appropriate adapter. Is this OK? Thanks

Guest

I purchased a ‘Kenley’ ice crusher from Amazon. It arrived on Wednesday 29th July and upon opening the box I found it was fitted with a 2 pin European plug. I went onto Amazons unfriendly user email site and asked why and as there is absolutely no information as to where this appliance was manufactured where was it made. Amazon have to be the most difficult company I have ever dealt with. They had the cheek to suggest I purchase an adaptor and never answered my question of where it was manufactured. Not one for giving up I again went on their site and asked for a call back. I got a call and the chap was as useful as a chocolate fire guard. No replacement was offered and no disclosure as to the country of origin. I asked for customer services complaints department, he told me there is no complaints department !!! What a total disgrace Amason is. Any views please.

Guest
Kevin Paul Jeater says:
5 months 21 days ago

Nine times out of ten products of this nature are manufactured in China. I am not surprised at the lack of online support but would have thought such a large company would hold customer services paramount. There are big changes in E-commerce and hopefully chocolate teapot syndrome will be a thing of the past.

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Guest

Notify Trading Standards where you live and send the info to him. Let Amazon know you have put the matter in the hands of the TSO

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Guest

Rinfrance, in many areas Trading Standards do not have the resources it seems to deal with individuals. You need to go through CAB for them to collate data for TS.
This topic had been running a long time, exposing deficiencies in imported products. Who is there to take any action? We’ve criticised Amazon for not taking responsibility apparently for their “marketplace” but nothing happens………

Guest

Hi guys,
I’ve just bought and American fridge freezer Samsung one. But it’s come with a 2 pin plug!!! Shall I just buy any adaptor and plug it in? Or is this not a safe thing to do?
Any advice would be great

Thank you!

Profile photo of alfa
Guest

Hi Jaz,
I am not an electrician and I’m sure other people will reply soon, but if your fridge freezer is 110V you will need a converter not an adapter for 240V in the UK. There are different ratings so you really need to get expert advice before plugging in.

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Guest

Also check to see if it’s double-insulated or needs to be earthed through the wall socket.

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Guest

If you have purchased the item in the UK then I am guessing that it has a German / french plug on it and it was a special order. The plug emphaticly is NOT two pin. Look down the sides and you will see that there are metal contacts either side recessed slightly. Do not use the machine until inspected by an electrician of note or cut the plug off, contact the seller and inform him that under health and safety you have cut the plug off, and can he send someone around to put a proper plug on it!.
However, most Samsung units have a proper supplied adapter with integral fuse etc. Has it been thrown out with the packing, was it not supplied. The delivery people should have installed it anyway.

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Guest

Too much guesswork and speculation here. The fact is that the fridge/freezer should, by law, have been fitted with a UK standard plug before retail in this country. The retailer is at fault and should put it right either by replacing the appliance or professionally fitting a correct and compliant plug. There is no ‘adaptor’ on sale in the UK that is compliant. A compliant converter could be used but it is a bulky and unsatisfactory way of dealing with the retailer’s disobedience and not recommended as a long-term solution for a permanently running machine like a fridge/freezer. The more that people use work-arounds to deal with these abuses of the law the more difficult it is to get the industry to act responsibly.

Guest

DLE -17430-Schuko 2 Pin to UK 3 Pin Plug
DLE – 17431 -TRAVEL ADAPTOR PLUG 2 PIN W
DLE – 17432 -2 Pin To 3Pin SHAVER TOOTHB
DLE – 17434 -French electrical plug prod
DLE – 17310 -POWER CABLE

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Guest

It is now almost THREE YEARS since Which? first published the original article “Two-pin plugs – it’s just not British”, and that article now has 1275 comments! (In addition to over 400 more here).

Trading Standards have a role of “Home Authority Officer” (google that term for details), basically that relates to a formal arrangement between large companies and their local trading standards teams. There is normally a designated Home Authority Officer (HAO) who acts as a single point of contact dealing with complaints from other trading standards authorities across the UK. The HAO would then, if they thought it appropriate, take this up with the company they were acting for.

I recently learned from a knowledgeable Trading Standards officer that that there is no longer a “Home Authority Officer” for Amazon, this is because of Amazon’s refusal to adhere to advice.

Please Which?, tells us what you are doing to address this issue?

Guest

For information the supply of an adapter is well within the law. the law actully states that the plug, the bit that fits into the socket, must comply with BS1363/A If the adapter does then so does the appliance. if one wants to be pedantic, having a kettle type 3 prong or the computer 3 prong (the difference is in the slot to prevent computer leads being used on a kettle) also does not therefore comply. However some do not. If the schuko plug has a grounding slide and or a sleeved ground as per the French and the adapter does not have these then the appliance is illegal. If the adapter has no fuse, then again it is illegal, if the fuse is in the wrong sense on the machine, or if the appliance can be plugged in so that the fuse is in the wrong sense again it is illegal. One cannot there say that the appliance is or not illegal carte blanche. me personally use French grounded socket extensions with a UK plug. Oh I now live in France and as french stuff falls out of walls, is poor to connect, fails etc we have changed most to British.

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Guest

Roger, please do not make things up, and spread misinformation! The regulations require a plug to BS 1363, it does NOT need to be a plug to BS 1363/A (which is a plug for rough use). It is absolutely NOT permitted to supply an adaptor with a non-BS 1363 plug, if the appliance is fitted with a non-BS 1363 plug then only the fitting of a conversion plug which cannot be removed without the use of a tool will make the supply legal. Here are the relevant paragraphs from the guidance notes to the Plugs and Sockets regulations:

“Part II applies to electrical appliances ordinarily intended for domestic use, designed to operate at a voltage no less than 200 volts with a maximum rated input of no more than 13 amperes, and intended to be connected to a socket outlet made to the dimensions of BS1363, but excluding the appliances described in Schedule 3 (regulation 11). Schedule 3 of the Regulations is reproduced in Annex C of this guidance.”

“Regulation 12 contains a prohibition on the supply of appliances referred to in regulation 11 unless they are fitted with a standard plug (see definitions and compliance requirement in Part I) which is fitted with a fuse link conforming to BS1362 and which is suitably rated. Where suitably rated shall be as specified by the appliance manufacturer or in accordance with table 2 of BS1363. ”

“Alternatively regulation 12 recognizes the use of a conversion plug where the appliance is fitted with a plug not intended for use in the UK. For this option the plug must comply with its own standard, as specified in IEC 884-1 and the conversion plug must comply with the requirements laid down in regulation 12(3). Regulation 12(3) requires that the conversion plug be approved by a notified body and that it is intended for a non-UK plug, and that the combination provides a level of safety equivalent to that of a standard plug complying with the requirements of regulation 8. ”

“A conversion plug is not an adaptor; see definitions as set out in regulation 3. Regulation 12(2)(b) requires the conversion plug to be fitted to the electrical equipment, so as to enclose the non-UK plug and to be designed so that it may only be removed by use of a tool. “

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Guest

I put the /A on as many plugs have this and most people look at the salient part. You are wrong in saying that the fixed item has to be conforming, if that were the case then bye bye nearly all garden machines that come with a 2 pin waterproof plug at about 3 feet and a long extension lead. If the adapter is correct for the item and the polarization is correct then the connection is solid. There is not any regulation that deems that a correct adapter fitted properly and conforming to CEE is illegal.
In fact you even stated the relevant act yourself, :-
“Alternatively regulation 12 recognizes the use of a conversion plug where the appliance is fitted with a plug not intended for use in the UK. For this option the plug must comply with its own standard, as specified in IEC 884-1 and the conversion plug must comply with the requirements laid down in regulation 12(3). Regulation 12(3) requires that the conversion plug be approved by a notified body and that it is intended for a non-UK plug, and that the combination provides a level of safety equivalent to that of a standard plug complying with the requirements of regulation 8. ”

“A conversion plug is not an adaptor; see definitions as set out in regulation 3. Regulation 12(2)(b)

The difference between the two is as I defined is purely one of how you want to define the thing. To me an adapter is something that converts one to another. Exactly that which I said.
Certainly many suppliers send out illegal shaver adapters, for for example wall warts. One cannot though say carte blanche that all supplied adapters (however you wish to categorize them) are illegal.
The thing fitted onto the fridge is an approved type of adapter that basically extends the schuko plug into a 1363 fitting. It conforms to that which you said,. Further, under EEC regulations this type of conversion is obligatory. For example a manufacturer selling in all countries in the EU cannot be expected to have for a small turnover different kit for all so these type of units were developed.
However personally I get hold of an extension lead of the country of origin and cut of the foreign plug and put on a 1363 stroke A or not.
Frankly the movement has got to be a standardization. The whole situation is wrong, the UK for example has MCB’s that only break the “Live” and not the neutral as do France Belgium etc. Especially with the UK stance on PME that the rest of the world has deemed illegal and dangerous. Or for example Germany where you have 115V to earth each side of the earth and double pole MCB’s and 230V at the Schuko socket. This problem is exacerbated by ring mains which also need to be stopped (I last installed one of these horrors circa 1992 along with being forced by the local authority to install PME. The following day the gas board arrived, totally invalidated the PME and ruined the integrity of the ring main. I notified the Authority, got a shrug of the shoulders and as far as I know that dangerous situation exists today.)
It is not a five minute sort out and the “Converter” to you and the adapter to me is an answer, however for the meantime each adapter needs to be evaluated on the machine it is intended for and sale willy nilly of generic adapters stopped.
EG Never use a French purchased adapter, reason often the live and neutral are transposed, They do not conform to CEE. A certain French manufacture even makes twin French sockets where the live and neutral are illegally transposed. Hence the reason

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Guest

As the intro to this Conversation says, electrical equipment imported into the UK must have a standard 3-pin UK plug fitted. There is an acceptance for a conversion plug to be fitted enclosing the non-UK plug. A plug adaptor is not compliant and there are no compliant plug adaptors on sale in the UK.

I shall leave it to Socketman, the acknowledged expert on the relevant electrical regulations, to give you chapter and verse on this. Suggesting that people should compromise on safety is irresponsible.

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Guest

May I presume that Rinfrance is the same person as Roger?
You wrote: “You are wrong in saying that the fixed item has to be conforming”, well you are wrong to claim that is what I said! The regulations include the definition ” “plug” means a device other than a cable connector or an appliance coupler” (a cable connector is what you are writing about when you mention garden tools). You seem to think that you can bandy incorrect or inappropriate terms with impunity, that if a term has a certain meaning to you, then others should accept that meaning! The law requires strict definitions on words, and does not conform to your ideas. the Plugs and Sockets Regulations are quite specific, an adaptor is an adaptor, and a conversion plug is a conversion plug. Only a conversion plug is acceptable as an alternative to a BS 1363 plug on the power cord of an appliance sold, or offered for sale, to UK consumers.

The standard for a conversion plugs is BS 1363-5:2008 ” Specification for fused conversion plugs”. The standard applicable to adaptors is BS 1363-3;1995 +A4:2012 “Specification for adaptors”. BS 1363 Plugs, and BS 1363 conversion plugs are both subject to a requirement for specific approval by a notified body, unlike sockets and adaptors.

John Ward is right, “Suggesting that people should compromise on safety is irresponsible.”

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Guest

I never once stated that people should compromise on safety, however the UK is a complete compromise on safety. See PME see ring mains etc. Let alone grounding etc. As stated I would prefer to use a proper country of origin socket and a UK plug on the end, that complies as the item then becomes as one, but the bit of kit fitted to the gas company appliance completely complies. I cannot say for all “adapters”. I stick to the rule that states there needs to be a converter plug with a fuse link integral (that incidentally will never “blow” on a modern installation not even a 30A MCB so very little use is the fuse link!)
Frankly the whole situation is for suppliers and consumers alike confusing. The attachment that the person commented about on the fridge is a compliant item. Yet people on here saying it is not.
The inrush for an MCB even a 30A one will trip the MCB everytime, even an overload to some 20A for 2-3 minutes will not blow a 13A fuse yet it will knock out the MCB. The times I went out and found those scenarios are many.
Further the 13A fuse is to protect the cable only, not the machine, that should have its own fuse!!!!! Actually the law stated that the plug on the machine was approved by country of origin eg the FPA, the Underwriters laboratory, and the like with an approved conversion unit affixed for the 1947 and 1953 years electricity approvals. This called for the bit to be plugged into the UK socket to conform to BS1363 and to accept correctly the plug conforming to the country of origin and approved by such.
Now whatever one says to me anything that changes from one system to another is an adapter. Incidentally also it is possibly illegal to use outside the UK the old 2 pin shaver plug! Anyway, providing the converter is connected to the machine on purchase, or supplied as an attachment for the installer then it complies. I had this discussion many years ago and got confirmation from the then department of energy whose comment was “Electrical safety was sorted in 1953 and the connection so used if compliant with the home countries approval and approval of the UK (then BEAB) then the appliance complied.
I had exactly the attitudes of others however I was overruled, the DofE stated the object was to preclude people installing their own plugs. I personally attended 3 fatal s caused by consumers fitting their own kit.
To say that after all this time the same old things are floating around is, in a way sickly funny.
I taught for many years, had many arguments over safety and EVERY so called PAT tester that I was asked to follow up was a con to get money out of companies. This ranged from not realising that generators were wrongly wired, to the ubiquitous nail. So I really think that after possibly a lifetime of seeing infractions in Electricty.
So how many of the so called Electricians realise that THEY are responsible for the TOTAL PME system when they accept PME. How many people know that if they have no RCCB in their house that no appliance can be taken outside. Been there done that. So please, go and really look at what the person is complaining about. Many wall warts CAN have 2 pins plugged into a shaver adapter, but many do not comply as the clearances inside are inadequate for a switchmode voltage converter.
Frankly, if the converter, adapter, etc is supplied then it is probable that the supplier has done his home work, not always, true, I am in discussion at present with a Chinese supplier! So we know not always.
There also are for example a three prong plugs for plugging into UPS units, Is a computer supplied with one of those wrong. I could go on, however if in doubt then get someone qualified to check.

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Guest

Rinfrance, your lengthy thoughts, using very imprecise language, on subjects other than the illegal supply of incorrect plugs do nothing to help consumers to understand the issue at hand. You are way off topic. Please just accept that whatever your personal thoughts, this is about the straightforward issue of what can be done to ensure that the existing law is enforced.

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Guest

@rinfrance Rinfrance: perhaps you could expand a little on your own background in electrical engineering and teaching. I appreciate most are reluctant to put too much in their profiles, but given the highly technical nature of this particular discussion in might be helpful to assist those of us not technically assured as to who is saying what.

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Guest

OK the plug thing was debated decades ago by the then department of energy. I got it in the neck when I said that French, German, Us Plugs whatever had to be cut off at point of sale and a 1363 (/A for portable appliances) put on by a qualified electrician or a suitably trained person. I was told NO emphatically that (and they called it this) an adapter so designed that it was of such that the country of origin plug became in effect part of a 1363 plug unit. Nothing at that point stated about it being “encompassing” nor removable. It was also stated that the country of origin had to certify these adapters which to me left the barn door open! However, I was ruled down by the then DOE! Now the whole can of worms was then opened, they stated that small current appliances of less than 1A COULD be used with a non standard UK plug through an adapter. When pushed they even used the word adapter for larger appliances BUT that the adapter for larger appliances had to securely hold the home country’s plug. This then pulled out the thing about PME. Why because many appliances MAY be unsafe on a supply of that type using a converter from the home country/ country of origin.
This then opened an even bigger can of worms about appliances, PME, plugs etc.
For example a wall wart actually MUST NOT be used on a 30A fused ring main! As they do not need an internal fuse! Now hopefully you can see where the whole thing is going.
Frankly the whole scenario is a mess. The plug converter assembly on the Fridge is almost certainly a legal item, wall warts can use a EU 5 A type pin plug IF they are less than the I think it is now 500mA total current but THAT requirement was done before the advent of Switch mode power supplies which in my opinion are for wall warts are often dangerous due to too small clearances between mains and the low voltage.
So to sum up quickly, safety, as the DoE originally said, is an ongoing thing, however, danger only comes about when it is actually observed to be so by someone who is so qualified.
To me the safety is something that can be learnt, not necessarily to rectify or even do, but to be able to spot it!

A salient problem, I was teaching at a council, electrical safety, to a mixed group from secretary’s to gardeners. I was asked to pick an area to examine and I picked the garage, where incidentally they inspected Taxis for a certificate, I was told that they had been PAT tested the day before. Magic, says I and off the secretary’s, cleaners etc go.
A welder, 2 years of PAT test labels, yet it was a 1363/a cut to get cord in and a piece of nail, no fuse no cord clamp and 4mm 3 core cable! Next a hand lamp with Yellow lead, same plug as previous, 13A fuse 0.75 flex 240v Edison screw lamp not protected! And so on. The council stopped the £3000 check to the Norfolk based PAT testing company. So I could go on. Teaching yes, Big multi nationals, Military, government agencies, and had my own business.
Safety is of necessity of observance. I was injured due to a building failure that I could not have easily foreseen, and something that technical people do everyday, to wit climbing into areas where electrical stuff is put. It does not stop or start at a plug. Nor does legal requirements.
For hole pickers. Todays supply is 230V +/- 5% that colours are Brown live, blue Neutral, and Green /yellow ground.
If an appliance from abroad is not supplied with the correct coloured leads then it must not be used, for example US Green ground, Black Neutral, White Hot or live, old French Red or latterly Green and yellow Ground, many different options from Black to purple and Brown Live Neutral Blue and so on. The convention now seems to be that looking at a power point the right bottom is live, the left bottom is neutral, and the single pin or hole is Ground normally also a different shape or size. (Dont rely on that today in France as many double sockets with NF on them are illegal)

Yes I think I have been around. I had articles published in about 1980’s on this sort of thing and it seems we have got…..oh yes …….nowhere.

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Guest

But that is all still off topic, and nothing you have written changes the situation regarding the law prohibiting the supply of non-UK plugs (unless fitted with a fused conversion plug).

Let us also be clear, the plugs and sockets regulations do not apply to power supplies with included power pins (slang term “wall warts”), these are NOT classified as plugs and are specifically excluded. Is it a good thing that such things are unregulated? Clearly not, but that is how it is.

Again, I must ask that contributors to this discussion stick to the topic, to do otherwise serves the best interests of nobody.

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Hello @socketman, if you are ever concerned about a comment being off-topic, please report it to let me know.

I don’t think it’s too far off topic to talk about electricals in general. I know it’s a bit different, but I think when there’s nowhere else really to talk about them on Convo, there’s no real harm in veering a little bit off the strict nature of the discussion.

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Thanks for that. All seems a bit of a minefield in electrical safety terms.

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It is Ian and the plug thing is so a minefield. Any way the plug converter so fitted almost certainly complies. Do not worry unduly. If you are really concerned then get someone qualified to remove the offending article and replace with a quality plug.
Incidentally, today I met up with an Asda adapter that nullified the ground, had a hole for a grounding pin but no schuko slider, was not approved, had nothing on it at all except Asda and 13A and 1363. Nothing else anywhere!

Thank you Patrick. At least others know how bad the minefield is. It is soo bad that failure to report something dangerous to the relevant people is now criminal. As a former Engineer, teacher etc, if I say go into council offices and see something and say for example “that does not look too good” about an electric lead or what have you to one of the staff I have failed in the eyes of the law and should have reported it further up the chain. The fridge, if it was illegal I am supposed to put a statement on it that it is illegal. Irrespective of the fact that I am just a client!
Minefield, that is just the half of it. Most electricians are not aware of their responsibilities. Let alone sales staff!

(Anyone who knowingly encounters an infraction of the laws applicable to electrical safety and does not take sufficient action to prevent an accident may be liable to prosecution!(does that mean cut the plug off a machine in a store!))

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Could you please tell us which law(s) state that “failure to report something dangerous to the relevant people is now criminal” and “Anyone who knowingly encounters an infraction of the laws applicable to electrical safety and does not take sufficient action to prevent an accident may be liable to prosecution”?

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From Wikpedia: Under section 7 of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 all employees have a duty while at work to:
1)Take reasonable care for the health and safety of him/herself and of other persons who may be affected by his/her acts or omissions at work; and
2) Co-operate with employers or other persons so far as is necessary to enable them to perform their duties or requirements under the Act.

Hence all employees have a duty to ensure their safety and the safety of everyone else.

As a former Senior Authorised Person (Electrical) I do also believe that, whilst prosecutions under this law are relatively rare, for anyone charged with an offence, an adequate defence requires the demonstration that all reasonable steps to ensure safety had been taken.

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Sure, I know there are (quite rightly) responsibilities under legislation which applies to employees, but what about ordinary members of the public as suggested by Rinfrance? eg: ” As a former Engineer, teacher etc, if I say go into council offices and see something and say for example “that does not look too good” about an electric lead or what have you to one of the staff I have failed in the eyes of the law and should have reported it further up the chain.” and “I am supposed to put a statement on it that it is illegal. Irrespective of the fact that I am just a client!” I want to know why Rinfrance makes those claims!

While I happen to believe that we all have a moral duty to raise issues about obvious safety infractions (and I spend a significant amount of my time doing just that), the suggestion was made that, as members of the public, we have a duty of care to unspecified others to raise such issues.

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Yes, but so far as I am aware that duty does not extend to someone unconnected with the business going into a workplace [e.g a shop] and seeing something wrong being required to report it, which is what Rinfrance was talking about. It is good practice to bring it to a responsible person’s attention but not a legal requirement and there is no sanction for not doing so. The duty rests with the firm and its employees, but even that is not absolute; a shop assistant might not be competent to assess whether an electrical fault exists, which is why electrical appliances and systems in workplaces are required to be inspected and tested periodically by competent persons.

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I agree that I am not aware of any UK legal requirements for members of the public to report any safety issues like these. Unless, of course, one is a self-employed “busy-body” !!

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It is looking as though Rinfrance does not wish to back up his inventive claims about “failure to report something dangerous to the relevant people is now criminal”. We do need to separate opinion from fact!

Guest

Hello would be grateful for advice. Having misplaced the AC adapter for a music turntable, the company’s accessories supplier have sold me a two pin EU style replacement at £44. Having queried this with the manufacturer they are nw sending an adapter for the UK mains. Is this legal, safe, commercially responsible ? Thanks Mark

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Hi Mark,
The regulations apply to actual plugs, not power supplies with fitted plug pins which I suspect is what you are referring to. That is not consumer friendly, but it is the law! Sometimes there is not a suitable power supply with British pins fitted, but in this case I presume that the one which you lost did directly fit a British socket, so it is hard to understand why they would not be able to provide a proper replacement. So, while the company is not being helpful, they are not actually breaking the law (assuming that the power supply meets the applicable European regulations for such devices). When you get the adaptor you should check that it is of the type that has a recess and provides sufficient support for the two pin power supply. I will post some links to give you guidance.

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Take a look at this convo: http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/counterfeit-electricals-plugs-travel-adaptors-amazon-marketplace-ebay/
The two adaptors illustrated in the picture at upper left have recessed sockets suitable for continental two pin power supplies, the grooves at the side provide appropriate support to carry the weight of the adaptor. The other adaptors shown have flat faces which provide no support.

If you take a look at this page you will see a variety of non-compliant adaptors: http://www.bs1363.org.uk/html/adaptors.html – none of these is appropriate. If you do not get a suitable adaptor, complain!

Guest

Hi, I’ve just had a battery charger (for AA and AAA batteries) delivered from 7DayShop.com, a company I’ve used a few times over the years. In the box were the charger, a lead with USB sockets on either end and a three-pin plug. The latter is of the moulded type but doesn’t appear to be fused. There’s no ‘door’ for a fuse. Is this legal? The info on the plug says ‘Ktec AC Adaptor’ and the model no. is ‘KSUFB0500080W1UK’. Output is 5.0V. I won’t be using it until I’ve heard from you guys. Thanks in advance! Rob

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Rob, what you describe is a power supply with integrated plug pins, not a ‘plug’. The fuse in a UK plug is there for the purpose of protecting the flexible mains cord between the plug and the appliance, but there is no flexible mains cord in this case. The international standards which apply to power supplies such as the one you have bought do include safety requirements to prevent overheating of the power supply, but you will not be able to see them without opening the supply case which would effectively destroy the product.

Guest

What is the issue? Just buy an adaptor plug! It is just that the UK, Ireland and Switzerland are not in synch with the international plug. Of course, the UK is not in synch with most of the modern-day countries.

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There are no fully conforming adaptors on sale in the UK; most of them work but the interfaces can be weak leading to loose connexions and being prone to detaching from the socket too easily. There is no standard “international plug”; even within Europe there are several variations on two pin-plugs and they are not all inter-compatible [which is why UK-to-Continental adaptors have such generous tolerances since they are all compromises]. The UK modernised its electrical plugs and sockets in the late 1940’s and the rest of Europe has never caught up.

Guest

I have a hair curling tool from Germany that has been supplied with a 2 pin plug (the same as the shavers and toothbrushes are supplied with, it has no metal bits on the side etc) it says on it 250v can I change this and put a UK 3 pin plug on it? If so what amp fuse will I need? And if not can someone please recommend a decent adapter that will hold the lead in securely and not wobble about and fall out of, like they usually do. Thank you.

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It sounds as though you are describing a Europlug, if so, and you bought a product which was being offered to UK consumers, then the supplier has committed a crime and you should contact them for a replacement, as well as reporting this to your local trading standards.

if this is a product which was not purchased in the UK and you imported it yourself, then you should change the plug and fit a 3A fuse (the Europlug is only rated at 2.5A), or, if you prefer, use a plug converter which fits securely around the Europlug and incorporates a 3A or 5A fuse (note, not an adaptor! adaptors are intended only for temporary use while travelling).
Here is one source:
http://www.kenable.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=5236&gclid=CNigv5eHlckCFQeNaQod0UoCGg

Guest

I’m in the UK and just starting an online shop and the European version of an item (a Braun hair shaver) is around 40% cheaper than the UK version. The plug is worldwide voltage but is a 2 pin European style plug. Would it be illegal to supply this to a UK customer even if we include this kind of adapter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Travel-Adaptor-Plug-Worldwide-European/dp/B000P0FIUM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1447880886&sr=8-2&keywords=uk+eu+adapter

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Shavers and toothbrushes may legally be supplied in UK with either UK shaver plugs or Europlugs. Other appliances require to be fitted with a BS 1363 plug. Supplying a travel adaptor such as the one you mention (a device which is only intended for temporary use by visitors) with an appliance fitted with a UK plug is not a legitimate option, although a fitted conversion plug, such as the one I mentioned above, is.

Guest

hi.
a machine with a touch screen computer for its control pad.it is 240v
this computer is powered from the internal electrical panel of the machine and connected using a type f plug and socket
the socket is sited in the machine under a removable side panel
legal or not?

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The regulations apply to “all electrical equipment generally intended for domestic use placed on the market in the UK”. Am I right in assuming that your “machine with a touch screen computer for its control pad” is NOT intended for domestic use?

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I should be interested to read what Socketman thinks of this:

I bought a new Pure DAB/FM radio recently and was most surprised to find that the plug is basically a transformer unit to which has been fitted a detachable small plastic plate with the three pins corresponding to a UK socket. An alternative two-pin plate has also been supplied and there is a slide clip on the transformer to retain the relevant plate in position. There are two male terminal prongs on the transformer that engage with female openings on the plate. The whole assembly is a bit flimsy, and the plastic plate has a loose feel on the transformer. The sole function of the ‘earth’ pin on the three-pin plate is to open the shutters for the two current-carrying pins so it is entirely plastic, but it does not appear to be quite the same length as on a normal three-pin plug although I have not measured it yet. My main concern from a safety viewpoint is that when inserted in a socket the combined transformer/plug is upside down and top-heavy with the flex emerging upwards above the transformer/plug. Apart from looking ugly, it appears to lean away from the vertical and, given the lack of tightness in the connexion between the plate and the transformer body and its retention by a ‘soft’ slide clip, it might be possible for the transformer to be pulled away from the plate by accident exposing to access the two live openings for the transformer’s prongs. It is an ingenious attempt at producing a dual-standard plug by having a changeable socket pin plate but in my opinion it is no good and potentially hazardous. The next time I am in John Lewis I shall discuss it with them and see what they say, but since the transformer is fitted with a detachable socket pin plate I am not optimistic of a solution. I can’t even fit a compliant plug on the flex as the transformer housing is a sealed unit and the two exposed prongs would become live if one were to find a way of rewiring it in line between the plug and the radio. Thankfully this is virtually impossible.

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John, that kind of arrangement is quite common now. The plugs and sockets regulations do not apply to power supplies with integrated plug pins, quoting from the guidance notes: “The Regulations are applicable only to certain products contained in the exclusion “Plugs and sockets outlets for domestic use” from Schedule 2 of the “Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994” (SI 1994 No. 3260). Therefore products containing components (other than a fuse link, switch or indicator light) are not considered as plugs and sockets but considered to be electrical equipment and covered by the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No. 3260)”

Amongst other things this means that power supplies such as the one you describe must conform to the Low Voltage Directive and are required to have CE marking (whereas CE marking is illegal on domestic plugs and sockets). For the manufacturer to have satisfied themselves that the power supply is compliant with the Low Voltage Directive they will presumably have tested it to the relevant standard for switched mode power supplies.

Any investigation into whether the device is safe would also refer to BS 1363 as to pin dimensions, although the device itself is not within the scope of BS 1363. An investigator would pay attention to whether the detachable plastic plate exposed live parts when not attached, in the past power supply products which failed that have been recalled and banned from the market.

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Thank you Socketman. I thought the power supply would probably be compliant in some way, or at least not non-compliant. I can’t say I like the arrangement, however, and prefer the method used by manufacturers of certain other low voltage products whereby the heavy transformer is in line part way along the cable between the plug that goes in the wall socket and the unit, usually at a distance that allows the transformer to rest on the floor so as not to exert any strain on the plug’s connexion with the socket. In my experience things that function well usually look right too and the converse is usually true as well.

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Guest

I bought a bosch jigsaw online from a .co.uk website. This arrived with a moulded Euro plug. Nowhere in the description for the item did it say it would come with an Euro plug. Looking into it this is an international company based in europe but of course I didn’t notice that when I purchased the item as it was a UK domain with what appeared to be good ratings. There was no Euro conversion plug supplied but given that most of the ones I’ve seen online are 2 or 5amp and power tools are 13amp don’t think this would have been of any use had they sent one? The voltage is shown as 220v to 230v as opposed to UK voltage of 230v to 240v. It was made in Hungary looking at the label. The Euro plug does show an earth symbol so I think it does have earth wire inside. Can I safely cut the plug off and put a UK 13amp 250v plug on this? This company appear to be a big company with a high turnover but CS is practically nondescript. To return the item means sending it to a London address at my expense with my bank details which I do not feel comfortable doing given the poor Customer Service. They also double charged me for it (sytem glitch on their side I think) and I’m still trying to get that acknowledged by them and refunded. I purchased through paypal.

I don’t know quite what to do now to make the best out of a bad situation. The jigsaw is unusable as is. It sounds like (from what I have read here and other research) that what they have done in selling power tools with euro plugs from a UK domain to the UK market is illegal. Can I reject this item as unfit for purpose under the sale of goods act and get a refund? Or should I just put a UK plug on it if that is safe to do and try and make do.

Thank you