Until relatively recently, when a new electrical appliance was purchased, you had to buy a plug to fit on it. Today, most new portable electrical appliances are fitted with a plug that conforms to British Standards BS 1363. If you need to replace a plug at any time, make sure it conforms to this standard.
Square-pin plugs have a small cartridge fuse in them to protect the appliance: the most common in domestic use are 3 amp (red) for appliances up to 720W or 13 amp (brown) for those from 720-3000W.
While the plug fitted to the appliance is approved for safety, good practice often stops when consumers plug the appliance into a socket. Always remember to turn off the appliance before plugging or unplugging into a socket. A socket, which itself can be switched on and off – these are preferable to unswitched ones – should be turned off when plugging in or unplugging an appliance. Socket adaptors – where two or three appliances can be plugged into a single socket – can be dangerous as it is difficult to know which plug belongs to which appliance. A multi-way trailing socket is ideal for hi-fi equipment and computer systems: buy one with a neon light indicator, and preferably with a surge control. If you have to use adaptors, flex connectors (which extend the length of flex on an appliance) or extension leads, then the problem really is that you don’t have enough sockets or the ones you have are in the wrong place.
- Never over-extend a flex to a socket: these can cause trip hazards and damage your appliance.
- Never extend a flex by twisting the wires together to join two pieces – even if you use insulating tape.
- Make sure that the correct rating of fuse is used in the plug to suit the appliance.
- Over-long flexes or trailing extensions are dangerous.The best type of extension lead is the type wound on a drum that can be wound up when not in use.This comes in 5 amp and 13 amp versions – buy the latter so that you can run a wider range of appliances and tools without overloading it. However, this type of lead must be unwound from the drum before use. Keeping the lead coiled tightly inside can cause it to overheat.