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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
Phil says:
2 April 2017

I recently started to refurbish 1960s Tape Recorders as a hobby. The ones I have up to now have all been UK models but I recently purchased a Grundig TK27L which unlike the other Grundigs I have, was made in Germany. It has a two pin plug with only two wires and no earth whereas a similar TK17L UK model has an earth wire connected to the chassis. I was thinking of replacing the two wires with a 3 wire flex and UK plug and connecting to the chasis as the TK17L. What do you think?

Guest

No problem Phil it has a mains transformer with a secondary output to valves-(2) EF86 (input ) -(2) ECC81-EM84 (magic eye ) -EL95 (output ) . In those days European plug regulations were different and 2 pin was common . Positive/live/ 230V AC is connected to the fused input to the transformer . earth should be connected ( for low hum ) near the input valves steel chassis . Very interested in this Phil ANY help you require -PLEASE let me know I have a room full of old valve equipment data and valves + VCM MK4 any questions just ask no matter how technical. If the tape recorder was built without a mains isolating transformer the valve line up would be different and it would be dangerous to work on without a 1:1 isolating transformer.

Guest

Hi Duncan and thanks for the reply. One question: On the TK27L with no earth there is a 1M ohm resistor between the chassis and the frame of the motor, this is not present on the TK17L with an earth. What’s that resistor for?

Guest

Hello Phil, its to stop direct interference from the motor affecting the audio reproduction , if its a carbon resistor change it for a modern metal one . In sensitive input circuits like the EF86 even small amounts of interference can be amplified and be heard att the output. Thats why I said put the earth near the chassis where the EF86 are as its only a short path to earth there . its very easy to create an earth loop so watch you dont create two earth paths , in high end amps the input earthing and output earthing is sometimes separated by a 10 ohm resistor for the same purpose but that is only possible in modern printed circuit design not in the old -all-in-one steel/aluminium chassis .

Guest
norman says:
28 April 2017

I have a blender supplied by Wellindal with a two pin plug. Unable to contact this firm as the phone is not answered and it is not posssible to contact them by email.

Guest
Ian Davis says:
20 July 2017

I recently used the Etihad rewards shop to order a Braun iron. The iron was provided by the merchant Qaez, based in Holland. I should have noticed the warning on the Etihad rewards shop pages but never thought anyone would be so stupid as to sell two pin plugged items to the UK market. Why would Etihad do this? They will either get no UK orders or lots of complaints.

Etihad have washed their hands of my complaint and say it is for me to talk to Qaez. Qaez did not even supply an adaptor/transformer. They say I can post the heavy iron back to Holland but I will have to pay the costs.

I know have a lovely iron that is completely useless to me and no idea what type of adaptor or transformer I need to use for it to safely work in the UK.

The selling of two pin items to the UK market should be illegal. At least, the ‘two pin’ aspect of these products should be highlighted in bold at the top of each product page and added to the item title/name.

I am disgusted with Etihad and Qaez but there is nothing I can do. Only to make sure I never use either company again and pass on my bad experiences.

Guest

The Schuko plug will fit into the three-pin socket and is perfectly safe as I have had them at home for over ten years. All you have to do is insert a screw-driver into the top hole of the socket and insert the Schuko plug and voilà. My intention is not to be pedantic but the two-pin plug is not called a European plug as there are various types of European plugs: British, Irish, Swiss, Italian, Schuko et al.

Guest

THIS IS DANGEROUS.

It will work but if there is a problem with the equipment you could set the house on fire. There is no fuse in a Schuko plug and also you could damage or overheat the socket.

Guest
bishbut says:
11 September 2017

Two pin plugs can be inserted either way so unless you appliance has a double pole switch in can still be live when switched off The switch could only switch the neutral side leaving all the appliance live but not working Dangerous things Two pin plugs were proposed and rejected by most electricians and their organisations when proposed to follow the EU in the eighties

Guest

A couple of days ago I had a look at a friend’s ancient Bamix hand-held blender, which was still working but produced smoke. As I had expected, the suppression capacitor had failed. I am not sure of the vintage but the blender cable has the modern brown and blue insulation on the conductors. Disappointingly the blue is connected to the single-pole mains switch. Naughty.