Please help me understand plug socket safety!(30 Posts)
Just had DP's parents to visit us in our new home. DP's dad was horrified by our plug socket set up. Bedroom as example (but other rooms similar): one double socket for the whole room - socket one: extension lead which is used for chargers (so not constantly); socket two: extension lead which has two lamps and then (shock horror!) another extension lead daisy-chained off that which has a TV plugged in and is also used for hairdryer and an electric fan (only one of these on at once).
All extension lead cables are clipped around the walls (mainly under bed etc.) so no trip hazard.
DP's dad thinks we should have a second socket put in as this will be safer. I don't understand this logic. It would be spurred from the existing socket so the load would still all be coming off the same place. Plus, it is not usual to fuse a single spur, so actually the extension leads have more protection because they have surge protection and the plugs are all fused!
He couldn't really justify himself and just kept saying 'it will be safer'.
He would probably like his DS to outlive him.
Get an electrician round, they will explain to you.
Your house insurance may not be valid with your current set-up (as it is dangerous)
Your current setup is horribly dangerous, especially running a hairdryer and electric fan off extension leads plugged into extension leads. You really need to have a proper socket installed.
We have a similar set-up by the PC. I know it’s not right to have one trailer off another & keep meaning to fix it - there actually is a spare socket I could use if I replaced the trailing trailer with one with a longer lead. This has given me the push to buy one, OP, so thanks for that!
Your FIL is right. Get 2 doubles installed while you’re about it
Are there really so few sockets that you resort to this?
I suggest getting an electrician in to give you quotes for a re-wire.
They must get so hot! That’s a big fire hazard!
For reference, I have an 8-socket wall-mounted one with trailing trailer, radio, small fan, desk lamp, charger, speakers & PC plugged in; then the trailing trailer has router, separate high-speed router (Plusnet didn’t give us a combined one for some reason ), cordless phone, printer, & Hive hub.
I think that’s all anyway...
Oh god, just noticed you said other rooms similar. How old is the wiring? You might be better getting a full rewire!
(Our house was rewired over 30 years ago; we installed 3 doubles in living rooms & 2 doubles in bedrooms & that was pretty standard then so 1 per room must be quite a bit older!)
Thanks for the replies. What I would like to understand is WHY it is dangerous. The links are useful reading (thanks!) but they are from the US, where plugs are not fused, so I understand why they are not safe, but all my plugs are fused. If I spur an extra socket spurred off the current one it will not be fused, so this 'feels' more dangerous to me! I am perfectly prepared to accept that my current set up is not safe, I would just like to understand why.
Are there really so few sockets that you resort to this?
Yep! Two doubles in the kitchen and one double in every other room.
Just to add, we would like to get the house rewired, but an electrical safety check said we are good for another 5-10 years, so we decided we can't justify the expense right now. Hence an additional socket would just be a spur.
I’ve been googling & can’t find out why either, but this site (which says not to do it but doesn’t explain) has some useful general information about socket use
Just checked my hairdryer & it’s 2kw, which is quite a load - certainly much more than all the other things you’re plugging in.
For now, can you plug that, at least, either directly into a wall socket or into the other trailer (the one you normally only use for chargers?)
Or else get new trailers, with more (switched) sockets in, & maybe a longer lead as well?
That sounds like my parent's bedroom was. How the whole lot didn't go up in smoke is beyond me. My Dad was fanatical about unplugging stuff at night in the living room but in their bedroom they had 101 gadgets plugged in to extension leads all running off 1 socket - including an electric blanket. Ditto in the kitchen where the kettle and washing machine shared a socket and you had to switch one off to use the other , otherwise the system blew! Rewiring was the only solution!
I had similar set up when i moved in to my property from my understanding is that each socket have a rating so plugging everything into one has more chance of a fire.(may be wrong here just what thought she said to me) we called a local electrical company called Ellies Electricians (please forgive me if i wasn't allowed to say their name as it might be seen as advertising)who sorted the issue and were very very reasonable also had couple of other things that needed done too and was sorted all for the cost built in i think i have 2 Double sockets (so thats 4) and 2 switches & 2 lights changed done for something like £150
Is always nice to have extra sockets especially with all these appliances nowadays and kids nintendo's
I can't get my head around how a spurred socket is any safer than my current set up (assuming my devices are not exceeding the rating for either extension lead or the original plug socket). I am now leaning towards getting the whole house rewired, but having literally just moved in, paid for everything house-purchase related, and painted all of downstairs, this makes me cry a little bit.
I am not an electrician am not qualified to answer this question, but this has always puzzled me too.
I believe the major risks with extension leads plugged into extension leads comes from the following factors:
1. Trip hazards.
2. Although the extension leads may be protected by a 13A fuse, these may allow more than 13A of current to be drawn. Other components of the extension lead (depending on the quality) may not truly be rated at a full 13A.
3. Related, at high currents, you run into problems with the heat generated which can potentially cause fires or dangerous failures on poor quality components.
There is a more detailed explanation on the IET forums here - post 9 especially:
@PigletJohn Can you explain please, especially why the hair dryer is a no-no. Thanks
It is quite a heavy load. Extension cables may not be rated for such a heavy load and you might have other things in the socket at the same time.
A kettle or toaster is only used for about 2 minutes at a time so the parts have a chance to cool down.
A spurred socket will usually be run in 2.5mm cable (sometimes 1.5mm). An extension flex may be 0.75mm or so and has lower current carrying capacity. A socket on a UK ring normally has 2 2.5mm cables. which can carry any anticipated load with ease.
the 13A fuse in the plug can carry a substantial overload for long enough to get quite hot before it blows. In time, the heat can damage the plug, and the socket it's in.
You could have new sockets on the ring and not spurs. That would be ideal and shouldn’t cost that much.
I certainly wouldn’t use a hairdryer off an extension lead off another extension lead.
It’s not about fuses it’s about fire risk.
From the an electrical engineer.
*In theory a good quality extension lead SHOULD be safe even if overloaded, as you point out the 13 amp fuse in the plug SHOULD blow before any harm results.
In practice though many extension leads are of very poor quality, with undersized cable and poor internal connections. They often get alarmingly hot and may fail even at 13 amps.
If loaded to 20 amps by a couple of heaters, then they may well catch fire before the fuse blows, remembering that a 13 amp fuse may pass 20 amps for a couple of hours before blowing.*
Also I think someone already mentioned that an extension lead is a much smaller cable than it should be for 13 amps.
In the short term, use the hairdryer plugged into the wall only.
In the kitchen do NOT use an extension lead for the washer or tumble dryer.
It may be a pain to have to unplug things but it’s better than a fire.
I’d also recommend you replace a couple of your existing sockets with ones with built in usbs, that’s a very cheap way to get rid of all the chargers on the extension leads.
Screwfix have them.
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