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Two-pin plugs – it’s just not British

Two-pin plug

Have you ever been sent a household appliance with a two-pin plug – the type you’d find on mainland Europe? We’ve heard from a number of people who have – little do they know that this is against the law.

It’s actually illegal for UK retailers to sell most domestic electrical products (not for example shavers, electric toothbrushes or items with rcd plugs) with two-pin plugs under the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994. Most domestic appliances must be fitted with an approved three-pin British plug or an approved conversion plug.

Plugs – when two-pins aren’t enough

We wanted to dig deeper to see how widespread this problem was. So we surveyed 1,321 Which? members and found that one in 20 had bought a product online that came with an incorrect plug. A third of those were Amazon (including its Marketplace) customers.

We asked Amazon about this and it pointed us to its returns policy. And although this is fairly generous (30 days for any items sold by, or fulfilled by, Amazon), the policy doesn’t address the fact that sending these items in the first place is in breach of two sets of regulations. These are the Plugs regulations mentioned before and the Sale of Goods Act. If you receive an item with a two-pin plug, you can reject it as unfit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act. We’ll be taking this up with Amazon to find out what it’s planning to do to prevent this.

In the meantime, is this something that’s ever happened to you? What sort of appliance did you get with a two-pin plug, and did you have any luck getting it changed for a model with a three-pin British plug?

[UPDATE APRIL 2014] – due to the volume of comments made here we got in touch with Amazon to ask about the problem of products with two-pin plugs being sold on its website:

“At Amazon, we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience. All sellers on Amazon Marketplace must adhere to our selling guidelines. Any seller found to contravene those guidelines will be subject to action from Amazon including removal of product listings and their account. The Amazon A-to-z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from Amazon.co.uk’s third party Marketplace and if a customer received the item, but the item was defective, damaged, or not the item depicted in the seller’s description, we will refund or replace that item. For more information on our A-to-Z Guarantee please visit our website.”

Thomas says:
23 September 2020

It is now 2020 and the same problem still exists with Amazon. I ordered a coffee grinder and it came with a European plug. I tried calling the supplier but all I ever get is a message saying “The system is busy. Please try again later.” I’ve tried calling on-line chat with Amazon but I seem to be constantly chatting to a “bot”. The “bot” says “Sorry to hear there was a problem with this. Give me a minute to check on this” That’s as far as I ever get as I never hear from the “bot” again.

Hi Thomas – I suggest you send back the coffee grinder and get a full refund including postage. If you bought the product from the Amazon UK website it would be worth mentioning that the product does not comply with The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Please could you say if the product was sold by Amazon or one of the Marketplace traders.

Thomas, if this was bought from Amazon – not their market place which can flout all the rules – then it should be reported to Trading Standards (good luck with that) as they are acting illegally.

@jon-stricklin-coutinho, Jon, Which? will by now have a lot of examples of where Amazon have been involved in the supply of illegal 2-pin plugs from reports over the years on Convos. They can find out from the commenters whether they were bought directly through Amazon as opposed to their market place. Amazon are then responsible for selling an illegal product. Are Which? going to take any action to try to have Amazon prosecuted so this activity can, hopefully, be stopped?

Nofridge says:
30 September 2020

It’s not just Amazon. I got a Hotpoint fridge from Curry’s online and it came with a 2 pin EU plug. They’d already took my old fridge and left by the time I realised. It’s been a palava to sort out an exchange. They even suggested if I just want an adaptor sending out. No thanks Currys, it’s UK and I expect a UK compliant connection for my appliance.

Thanks for letting us know. Please report this to Trading Standards.

Helen says:
23 October 2020

I have just bought an inflatable hot tub with an EU 2 pin plug. Can you please advise if this is legal?

Hi Helen,

As stated in the above heading article:

“It’s actually illegal for UK retailers to sell most domestic electrical products (not for example shavers, electric toothbrushes or items with rcd plugs) with two-pin plugs under the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994. Most domestic appliances must be fitted with an approved three-pin British plug or an approved conversion plug.”

Further to what Derek has said, a converter plug must already be fitted (it encases the plug) and not supplied loose to comply with the regulations. There are reasons for this.

Helen, from whom did you buy the hot tub?

Intrigued by this, running off a power lead to a domestic socket, I wondered what the energy requirement was for a tub that only took a short while to be ready for use – but it was never quoted. Reviews estimated £7- £10 a week depending on use but then I noticed that it takes a good 24 hours to be ready to hop in. Setting it up is quick – around ten minutes to assemble and inflate; it then takes around an hour to fill with water [depending on capacity], and the rest of the time is spent waiting for the water to reach 40 degrees Celsius. The power supply has to provide the heating, the pump [for the spa experience] and any lighting in the hot tub, which is why a maximum 13 Amp supply will take so long to bring it up to working temperature from cold. Covering the tub and keeping it warm will reduce the time required for a daily dip. There are other expenses like water treatment chemicals, cocktails, and masseurs [optional]. My research did not include a user experience so I cannot vouch for its enjoyment or therapeutic potential.

Rob Wheaton says:
28 October 2020

Recently bought a Siemens dishwasher from John Lewis and it came with a European 2 pin plug. Contacted them and they told me to contact Siemens! No very impressed.

I suggest you contact JL in writing and say that as a retailer it is their responsibility to provide a product that meets the requirements of the current regulations. Manufacturers have no responsibility for sorting out problems except in the case of recalls.

Please let us know how you get on, Rob.

Rob – That is bad. Have you written to John Lewis to point out their error and ask for the incorrect power lead to be replaced? They are committing an offence.

Liviu says:
4 November 2020

I still don’t get what the problem is. European or british, they both got earth and which way you plug the line/neutral doesn’t matter. Unless your device has a fuse inside (like the uk plugs) then the fuse should go in the line

But from a UK perspective, our houses have ring mains not fused lines and European schuko plugs will fit into cheap British visitor adapters but that won’t give any earth connection. So you might have no earth and no fuse.

Liviu – UK BS 1363 plugs/sockets are polarised, which means that a single-pole switch in the appliance is always in the Live (Line) conductor, which is important for safety. A Schuko plug is not polarised, so that there is a 50% chance that the switch could be in the Neutral conductor.

Derek has mentioned the problem of adapters without an Earth connection and lack of a fuse. Without a fuse, the circuit will only be protected by a 32A circuit breaker or 30A fuse and in the case of appliances that use an Earth for safety, there is a risk of electrocution.

These are among the reasons why products sold for use in the UK should be fitted with the correct plug.

I’ve just been given a samsung tv but it’s got a 3 pin plug can I cut that off and put an English plug on it. Thank you annie.

Yes. Just ensure you put the right wires in the right places and wire it in accordance with good practice, particularly, if it has an earth wire, that it does not take the strain if the strain relief in the plug casing becomes insecure.

Hi Lee-Anne, If you have been GIVEN a TV, then the law that says you must not be SOLD one without a UK plug has not been broken.

You could fit a proper earthed converter plug adaptor like this example:-https://www.amazon.co.uk/CDL-Micro-Earthed-Schuko-Adapter-Black/dp/B01AU2RUK0/ref=sr_1_6?dchild=1&keywords=schuko+to+uk+plug&qid=1622283756&sr=8-6

NB – other retailers are available.

Or, if you have the right skills and knowledge (see:-https://www.flameport.com/electric/plugs/how_to_fit_plug.cs4 ), you could simply cut the old plug off and fit a proper UK one. PS – apologies if you are already a craft trained and certified electrician.

Wayfair have sold my parents a floor lamp, fitted with a 2 pin plug. Called “Ocho 13cm Floor Lamp” Very poorly constructed too, has a threaded rod that spins on assembly, which could easily pull the wires out of the screw connector.

Hi George – If your parents bought the lamp via Wayfair’s UK website it must comply with The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, so supplying it with a two pin plug is not legal. The flexible cable should be gripped securely to prevent wires pulling out of connections.

I suggest you contact Citizens Advice so that this can be reported to Trading Standards.

This lamp looks spindly and seems to be manufactured by Bulb Attack in Spain. ” The Bulb Attack custom lighting concept has been developed by a group of creative people who believe in the power of simple and functional design. The Bulb Attack aim is to manufacture beautiful, hand-decorated and hand-assembled products capable of enhancing both modern and vintage interiors. Bulb Attack carefully select suppliers to make sure that fittings are safe and made from top-quality components of European origin.”. That probably explains the European plug that Wayfair should have not supplied.

Citizen’s Advice should pass it on to Trading Standards but they are unlikely to take action unless there are many complaints. You could send an email to the Office for Product Safety and Standards I would complain to Wayfair about the quality (it was not cheap) and point out they are breaking the law by failing to meet the Plug and socket regulations. I would also complain to Bulb Attack. Nothing lost by a couple of emails.

This illustrates the danger of buying unseen products online; had this been seen in a shop the quality would have been apparent. Just send this back would be my advice. It breaks the law and fails the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act by the sound of it.

I agree; I suggest your parents send it back while they can get a full refund.

It’s also not as described: “Overall height 13 cm”. Looking at the image I would suggest 130 cm is more likely.

This is an odd one, to be sure. From the Wayfair site::

“Overall Dimensions 13cm H x 31cm W x 31cm D
Shade 13cm H x 50cm W x 50cm D
Base 1cm H x 31cm W x 31cm D”

You certainly need to demand a full refund.

Errors on websites are quite common. For example the Which? website has for the past year shown the dimensions of my compact camera as:
Width 57 cm
Height 95 cm
Depth 24 cm

It’s important that potentially unsafe goods are reported and not just returned. I’ve seen online reviews that have identified dangerous electrical and given details of the problem but they have been given five star reviews and remained on sale. Many people do not spot the risks. I have only once seen mention of the Plugs & Sockets regulations in reviews of goods with the wrong plug.

Wow, that’s a big camera 🙂

Maybe it’s a Tardis camera.

I’ve just taken delivery of an electrical beauty product from Amazon that came with a 2-pin plug. I’m really cross about it but don’t want to send the item back because I can’t find it for sale anywhere else. I just want to be able to use it safely. Will it be safe if i plug it into an adaptor? I had never used Amazon before the lockdown and this has really put me off shopping in this way.

Hi PatChatte,

It is illegal for Amazon to sell products with a 2-pin plug and they will try and sort it out for you if you contact them although it might not be the solution you want. When products are unavailable in the UK, they get them sent from elsewhere in Europe without checking the electrics which is what the did to me when the only monitors available were in Italy with 2-pin plugs and I ended up with 2 Italian monitors.

Is the lead part of the beauty product or a separate lead that is plugged in? If the lead is separate, you could try talking to the manufacturer and asking them for a UK plug which is what I did.

Again, if the lead is separate, Amazon might tell you to buy one from their website and they will reimburse you as they suggested to me. I declined as that could invalidate the warranty to use the wrong lead with the product.

It also depends upon whether it was sold by Amazon or came through one of their market place traders. In the latter case, at the moment, Amazon have no legal responsibility.

PatChatte, do you know whether this was from Amazon direct and do you recognise whether a product comes through their market place with no Amazon responsibility? It would be interesting if Which? ran a survey to see how many knew the difference, and the implications. I might be on my own…..

Hi PatChatte – If you bought from Amazon UK, please return the product and make it clear that you are doing this because it does not comply with the requirements of The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Whether using an adapter is a safe solution would depend on both the product and the adapter, so it’s not worth taking the risk.

I suspect Alfa is right about why products intended for the European market land up in the UK, but many companies seem to comply with the regulations.

On the web site the “Sold By” is the company and the “Fulfilled by” is Amazon so I’m guessing that means the latter case, thereby absolving Amazon? Like I said, I’m a novice at internet shopping and although I know it’s worded like that for a reason, I don’t know what the reason is. So, yes, that survey might be worth running

“Fulfilled by” is explained on the Amazon website: “Items “Fulfilled by Amazon” are sold by a third party Seller, but dispatched to you from an Amazon Fulfilment Centre.” https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201910460

Which? has reported that online marketplaces including Amazon are selling dangerous and counterfeit products. Nevertheless, Amazon have an efficient returns service and I don’t think you will have difficulty in getting your money back.

You are right PatChatte. I wonder how many people realise that the shelter of UK regulations is then removed. It is a bad situation that must be changed.

As wavechange said you could try goodwill from Amazon but the other issue is whether you have bought a genuine product that you know to be safe, and from where it originated. If it is a genuine safe product from a reputable source then you could have a UK plug fitted.

Amazon provides advice on plugs for customers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202054860

With the exception of electric shavers and toothbrushes product, plugs must comply with BS 1363, which is the familiar UK three pin plug fitted with a fuse. There is an invitation to contact Amazon if you believe that a plug is unsafe or defective.

Until recently it was possible, when choosing products from the large number offered on the Amazon website, to select those that were “sold and dispatched by Amazon”. That filtering facility has now gone although the seller is still identified on the particular product page. It remains possible to narrow down the choice on the shop window pages by clicking on the box marked “Free UK delivery by Amazon” which eliminates all those where Amazon neither sells nor delivers the item, but that still leaves many where Amazon has no responsibility for the consumer’s rights in the event of a problem. To help select products for which Amazon is also the seller it can be useful to open any product page in the chosen category and scroll down to the “Compare with similar items” box which shows half a dozen similar products and gives the seller’s name in each case [together with the price and star rating]. Clicking on the seller’s name then shows the full business name and other details. This can help if you want to buy from a UK or EU supplier but don’t be fooled by trading names that incorporate “UK” or “EU” in the business name – look at the full details because they can still originate in the Far East.

Buying established UK or EU branded products can be a reliable means of getting good customer service as the manufacturer is in the background and might help if there is a denial of consumer rights, but this does not mean the items are made in Europe. Unfortunately, for many categories, it is difficult to find products that are not made in and sent from countries on the other side of the world, but if they carry a reputable brand name it is likely they will be well made and quality assured. Some brands from Asia do have a good reputation and can be bought with confidence if the product is a genuine, not counterfeit, article.

As Wavechange has said, while Amazon does not take responsibility for product quality – especially safety and compliance – it will help customers who have bought from one of their marketplace traders and wish to return a purchase.

It will be interesting to see how quickly trade returns to high street stores and other reputable on-line outlets when the present difficulties are behind us. Every time one major retailer collapses it does give some hope to the remainder still standing but the omens are not good.

Simon W says:
11 December 2020

I have recieved some bedside lamps from a UK lighting company with a euro 2 pin plug. There was no mention of this on their website so I queried.
They apologised and said they would send a replacement. I was expecting new UK lamps but instead received some adpapters. I emailed them asking if this was legal, and safe for me to add myself or is i needed an eletrician. The reply was;
”Please just unscrew the converter slightly and slot the two pin plug inside.
As you would expect from a company who has been in the industry for over 25 years our product conform to all the necessary legislation relating to electrical items.”

Is this correct?
Many thanks for any adivice

Hi Simon – Under The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, it is necessary to supply products with the normal UK fused plug or with a conversion plug already fitted. The conversion plug must contain an appropriate fuse (3 amp would be normal for a lamp) and not be removable without a tool. It is not permissible to provide a loose converter plug.

I suggest you reject the lamps as being not of satisfactory quality under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and ask for a full refund including carriage if that was in addition to the cost of the goods. Hopefully the company will learn from the experience.

I have just opened up a new TP-link Tapo wifi plug bought from Amazon. There are over 12000 reviews for these so they are selling well. It has no fuse or any other fault protection inside so could draw 32 amps if shorted. The other thing to note is that these are stated as being 13 amp yet the internal relay is only rated at 10 amp 240 vac. So, are these legal in the UK and would you trust leaving them plugged in when you go out?

Hi Brian, that 10A rating is mention here:-https://www.tp-link.com/uk/home-networking/smart-plug/tapo-p100/ under specifications together with an inconsistent claim for a maximim switched power of 2990W.

Have you contacted the manufacturer to query this?

Based on the 10A ratings as revealed by your investigation and by that cryptic spec, I’d guess that these devices should only be used up to 2200VA.

I think it would be extremely unwise to use a smart plug or even a plug-in timer to control a heavy electrical load such as a heater. I agree with Derek about contacting the manufacturer.

Also, the fuse in a normal UK 3 pin plug cannot protect against internal short circuits inside the plug.

It will protect against short circuits in flex connections to appliances and in appliances them selves. That said, many appliances also incorporate internal fuses.

UK standard “plug transformers” (e.g. phone chargers) do not have to be fused. Apple 12W ones are though 🙂

I see in Which? News an item on smart kettles. Not so smart; they cannot fill themselves nor pour water into a tea pot but ……….you can switch it on without having to go into the kitchen! Personally, when I want a cuppa I generally put fresh water into the kettle, turn it on, put tea leaves in the tea pot or coffee in the cafetière, get out the cups and maybe some biscuits, and in no time the kettle has boiled and my task is complete, unaided by smart technology.
Maybe the Teasmade was a bit smarter.

Limescale stops me wasting money on a smart kettle.

Chargers and power supplies usually rely on non-replaceable internal fusing to provide protection in the event of a fault or overload. Sadly, there is no way of knowing if this is present.

All the Apple chargers for phones, tablets and laptops are provided with a clip-on adaptor incorporating a fuse, which provides further reassurance. I have seen a couple of counterfeit examples that lack a fuse. In one case there was a strip of metal where the fuse should have been. I would not be surprised if the charger itself had no internal fusing.

The case of the smart kettle shows how the ‘smart’ concept as applied to appliances is a case of reductio ab absurdum with knobs on. Time is precious and we shouldn’t waste it, but making out that we could save time we didn’t know we were wasting is a complete fallacy. I hope over time we can out-smart the smarty-pants on this earth using basic natural intelligence.

“Wasting time” is an interesting concept. Reading a novel, watching tv “entertainment”, looking round the darden, commuting to work, even – perish the thought- posting a comment like mine – might all be seen as unproductive and, thus, wasting time that could be spent working, ploughing the field, making some furniture……….
I am no fan in general of smart appliances. However I am all in favour, if I could afford it, of a real smart aid – a butler.

The French version of that TP link device is only rated for 2300W, see:-https://www.tp-link.com/fr/home-networking/smart-plug/tapo-p100/#specifications

I bought a Which? Best Buy DeLonghi Kettle about 2 years ago which was abandoned after about 2 weeks, due mainly to its heavy weight. It was even heavier after filling with water. The top filler gap was too small and the lid was difficult to put on and was inclined to stick when replacing.

It is now an ornament sitting in the kitchen looking very pretty as the design is its only positive attribute. It is currently only used when visitors arrive (a rarity at present due to lockdown) and I now use a small travel kettle that makes a single cup of tea or coffee, which is adequate for one person.

So my interpretation of ‘smart’ conjures up visions of something either clean, tidy and well dressed, having or showing a quick-witted intelligence or acumen, or a sharp stinging pain.

I wouldn’t categorise my DeLonghi kettle as any of the above, but it does a good job of enhancing the ambiance in the kitchen as we both patiently await the end of lockdown and the return of visitors to my home.

Brian S wrote – “I have just opened up a new TP-link Tapo wifi plug bought from Amazon. There are over 12000 reviews for these so they are selling well. It has no fuse or any other fault protection inside so could draw 32 amps if shorted. The other thing to note is that these are stated as being 13 amp yet the internal relay is only rated at 10 amp 240 vac.”

Hi Brian – I share your concern and wonder if the relay might incorporate a thin connection that could act as a fuse in the event of an overload. In electronic circuitry there are various ways of providing protection including thin tracks on circuit boards and very low value metal film resistors.

As as a reaction to Brian’s enquiry, I have just destructively dismantled a 1000W remote control socket that I no longer use. This one has no obvious fuse but does indeed contain a specific thin track on the live feed to its relay.

Thanks Derek. Sadly there is usually no way of knowing that small electrical items do contain a fuse or equivalent without destroying them.

If an international standard requires a fuse and that standard is a regulatory requirement in the UK then non-compliant products should be removed from sale and the distributor fined. The consumer’s answer would be to buy from a reputable manufacturer and not from an unknown source.

The primary purpose of a fused plug to BS 1363 is to protect the power socket and wiring from an over-current exceeding 13A (or lower if you correctly downrate the cartridge fuse to 3A), which could damage the insulation and potentially cause a fire. It is a misconception to assume that the fuse is there to protect the appliance itself from an internal fault.

Where an adaptor or remore control socket only provides for a single in-out 13A connection, I don’t believe there is a requirement for that adaptor to have an additional fuse, since the fused 13A plug itself provides the necessary overcurrent protection.

Problems can arise with unfused multi-way cube adaptors, since it would be possible to connect two or more appliances, which in combination draw more than 13A, thus overheating the 13A socket pins and/or a 2.5 mm T&E spur supplying the socket.

Similarly, with a multi-way remote control socket, there must be an appropriate fuse to prevent the combined loads exceeding 13A at any point.

Brian has said that the Tapo device did not contain a fuse and is well aware of the need. I have found that fuses are not always obvious, so I would reserve judgement, though the under-rated relay is clearly cause for concern. I had not heard of Tapo because I have yet to buy any smart devices but Tapo products are available from well known retailers including Amazon and AO.

The well established system for ensuring that goods offered for sale are safe and compliant with the relevant standards cannot be relied on now that it has become so easy to import dangerous and counterfeit goods.

Edit: Em makes a good point about the plug used in the outlet of the WiFi plug providing protection – and also when this might not be enough. Why on earth is it still possible to buy unfused adaptors. 🙁

I believe current regulations require fuses on all adapters with 3 or more outlets.

If so, that leads to 2 way adapters being able to draw up to 26A via a single socket.

Unfused 2 way apapters do seem to be widely available. I did note that one retailer was offering them subject to the caveat that they should be user limited to a maximum load of 13 A.

I once found two 2kW heaters plugged in via an unfused two way adapter. I’m not sure why because it was plugged into a double socket.

I have two fused adaptors but they are fitted with three amp fuses because they are used for small loads.

We have no adapters in any of our sockets because our house has plenty of double sockets in all the places where they might be needed, but many properties are deficient and cannot easily be upgraded to suit modern needs – especially tenanted properties. It is not unusual for people to have an ‘entertainment centre’ in their living room needing a number of power outlets to serve the different boxes.

In such a situation faced with a need to plug three low power devices into one socket I would get [or make] a short three-way extension lead with a 13A fused plug which would then protect the circuit. A lower rated fuse could be used if the overall maximum current demand was small.

I should add that one of my adapters is for temporary use, for example to plug in Christmas lights and the other is in the six-way trailing socket mounted behind the TV.

Long ago at Fenland Polytechnic, some of our rooms had 5A 3 pin sockets with round pins.

These were intended for desk lamps and low powered appliances. As you can guess, some students were skilled enough to convert their kettles to the 5A 3 plugs to fit those sockets, but not wise enough to know why they should not have done that.

I also use fused extension leads (socket boards). Despite, when I wired the house 30 or so years ago, being generous with double sockets, or so I thought, I had not foreseen all the little gadgets that would need power. Tv, dvd, video player (still got some tapes), Apple tv, freesat, lamp all in one corner for example, and chargers for a couple of phones, iPads, lamp, fan heater, near the settee. I wonder when we will see power connections without wires?

I currently use 3 extension leads around the house, although each room has its own sockets (the kitchen has 3 doubles) and I often question whether the size and extent of power draw of each of the appliances are within the safety regulations for each lead.

For example, the one in the lounge services my electric recliner chair, a table light. computer charger and iPad charger, although not all at the same time, but the lead is permanently switched on during the day.

@malcolm_r – I did the same when I wired my new house in the 80s. The builders thought I was crazy installing 4 double sockets per bedroom and 6 doubles per living area on two ring circuits. Then fused spurs for all the kitchen appliances, plus as many sockets again for toaster/kettle/mixer/etc on a dedicated third ring main.

As you say, no-one had forseen the explosition in electronics and home computers. But it was as much about convenience, being able to find a socket outlet not covered by furniture for the vacuum cleaner and not having trailing leads all over the place.

But even today, I am swapping 2 gang outlets for the same with integrated USB charger ports to free up 13A socket outlets in the kitchen. And since my walls are all timber-framed plasterboard, it is easy and cheap to add extra outlets in the office and living room entertainment area. Assuming you have the necessary skills and competence, it is cheaper and safer than adding adaptors and extension leads.

The reason I use a trailing socket mounted behind my TV is to avoid having a collection of untidy leads – just one plug to remove and the stand can be pulled out for cleaning.

Em – do you know if there are any wall sockets incorporating USB charger ports where the electronic circuitry is switched off when not in use?

@Beryl – A very simple to use and visually-appealing socket overload calculator can be found here:


There is lots of other advice, including appliance recalls.

Mods – There is a better link you can use to embed this application in a web page. Or maybe invite this charity to do a guest convo?

Beryl, as long as you used a fused plug on the extension lead you are protected. The 30A ring main is also protected in the distribution box. As long as the appliance leads themselves have not been replaced they should amply match the current they carry.

Beryl wrote: “….I often question whether the size and extent of power draw of each of the appliances are within the safety regulations for each lead.”

Other than in the kitchen/utility room, most electrical items do not use much power. The common exceptions are electric heaters and vacuum cleaners, which are best plugged into a wall socket rather than an extension. If you add up the amount of power used by each item the total load must not exceed the capabilities of the extension lead.

We have 6 extension leads and a 3-way multi-plug just in our living room, all running off 4 double sockets on 2 ring mains and all with some smallish degree of surge protection that deteriorates over time.

I have also wondered if they are over-loaded but as they were all chosen with consideration of use, we have a new consumer unit that is quite touchy and are free from power failures presume it is being handled.

You got me wondering Beryl, so I have just counted and find we now have 39 sockets in the room with 26 of them occupied but not all in use . They are all switchable – some individually, and if they can’t be switched off and are not in use the plugs are pulled out like the recliners on our sofa that seemed a good idea at the time but in reality are never used !!!

One day, the room will get rewired and plugs installed better suited to this century.

You’ve a long way to go yet, alfa.
https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/03/house-worth-1350000-enough-plug-sockets-everyone-street-11033568/ A five-bedroom detached house on the market in Eastcote, Middlesex, has gone viral for having around 320 sockets dotted along its walls.

@wavechange wrote: Do you know if there are any wall sockets incorporating USB charger ports where the electronic circuitry is switched off when not in use?

Honeywell MK make a dedicated K5837WHI USB charging module with two shuttered USB ports. This is designed to clip into a Euro “letterbox” wall plate along with other custom modules – maybe a power outlet / TV aerial – the sort of thing you might find at a hotel room desk or lab bench. Because the ports have shuttered switches, the module has a zero standby power drain, as long as you unplug the cable.

However, it is very expensive – probably £40 or so with the mounting plate, compared to £20 for the MK Logic 2 gang socket outlet with USB ports. This draws 150mW on standby, so less than 2kWh per year (30p) to run.

Cheaper alternatives may be available. MK is just my gold standard for quality electrical fittings.

A five-bedroom detached house on the market in Eastcote, Middlesex, …

No, that’s the local electrical wholesaler’s showroom.

Thanks Em. I’m quite happy using my USB chargers but the point about the electronics remaining powered continuously sometimes raises cause for concern. I had not seen the MK charging module that does switch off when not in use and hope that the same feature is incorporated into their standard sockets soon. Mind you, I wonder how many people will remember to remove the charging lead when not in use.

Never mind Alfa. There are no questions to follow. 🙂

An excellent care home for retired sparkies Malcolm 🙂

Many thanks for all the advice. I will add a complete check of all electric connections to my ‘to do’ list. I have just had to replace the LED candle bulbs on the ceiling lights in the lounge as I was sold non dimmers which are way to bright when all three on each are switched on.

Em, I have made a note of the safety first website address for future reference.

@Beryl – Thank you.

No electric recliner chairs, but this would only draw current very intermittent. You don’t need to worry about that, provided the extension cable is rated sufficiently to operate the chair in isolation. Most are run via a transformer (“power brick”) for safety, so no worries at all. About the same as a laptop computer.

The idea of an electric chair does not appeal to me. Could be dangerous if it came with the wrong plug.

Derek says:
7 January 2021

I have also just received a Fender Acoustic 100 Amplifier for my guitar, this was also purchased via Amazon at £350 and this also arrived with only one power lead, which was obviously a two pin plug.
It’s crazy that purchasing goods from a UK site leads to this situation. I have reported this via Amazon, who will contact the seller but now the wait begins, whilst I should be enjoying the use of my purchase.

Guy says:
23 April 2021

Is it actually illegal to receive a product from a UK supplier (Currys/PC World) With a two pin plug? Just received my sons Acer gaming monitor which is only supplied with such a lead

Yes it is illegal to sell such items in the UK.

Currys has a reputation for poor customer service but I believe that this is the first report of them selling a product with a non-compliant mains plug. If no action is taken against retailers then the problem will not go away. 🙁

Guy – As mentioned in the introduction the relevant legislation is the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1994. It is only permissible to supply a product with a non-compliant plug if the plug is inside a ‘converter plug’ that is already fitted, not just loose in the box. It would be interesting to hear what Currys has to say.

Here is information about a recent recall for a product with the wrong plug and supplied with an adapter: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/2021/05/make-life-better-slice-3-in-1-sandwich-maker-kj-302/ The “Make Life Better” sandwich maker could electrocute the user.

It’s encouraging to see reference to the regulations in this warning by Electrical Safety First.

According to this, the product was intercepted by Local Trading Standards at the border and destroyed. The two other products listed that day as failing because they were dangerous were removed at the border by OPSS and TS, both destined for Amazon Marketplace. It will be worth looking to see how often such products are found before they can cause harm, and who was importing them.

Just purchased a german garden vacuum /blower from Amazon. The vacuum has a short connecting lead with a female connector. Need to purchase a 2 pin lead to fit approx 20 feet with a 13 amp plug .

Cannot not seem to find anything on line.



Jack – Since Amazon has supplied a non-compliant plug for use in the UK I suggest you contact their customer services and ask them to provide a safe and compliant lead to connect the blower to a 13A mains socket.

It is not clear from your comment exactly what set-up Amazon has supplied and what you would need in order to make a safe and reliable connexion to your electricity supply, bearing in mind that this is a garden product.

Without more detailed information I do not think it would be appropriate to recommend a particular solution.

There is a common problem with non-compliant adapters (I am an electrical engineer). For use in the UK, a 3 pin adaptor should at least contain a fuse. If the device requires an earth, then there should be a metal earth pin (not a plastic one), and the line and neutral pins should be partly sleeved and far enough from the edge to reduce the chance of fingers touching a live supply.

Apart from the shock hazard, there can also be a fire risk. Most 13A sockets are supplied from a 32A breaker (or 30A fuse on older systems) back at the consumer unit. Attaching an unfused appliance could result in excessive current flowing in the case of a fault, with a potential to melt cables and/or start a fire.

On a lighter note (dangerous as well as funny), this video item is educational.
Don’t try this at home, folks!

Just purchased a document scanner from Amazon US off Amazon.co.uk. I asked Amazon customer services (via live chat/bot) to confirm that it came with a UK plug. Eventually they confirmed that it did come with a UK plug and was told not to worry as I was buying from Amazon.

Low and behold, when the scanner arrived yesterday it came with a US plug. Also, I asked for a VAT receipt which Amazon said I wouldn’t get. Not sure how Amazon can get away with this!

I am returning the product, but they are purposefully misleading consumers like me and wasting my time. I really think Amazon do not care or respect local laws, they just care about profits and getting Mr.Bezos a nice new rocket. Very frustrated.