Socket Adaptors can be a fire risk if you overload them

If you are going to use a socket adaptor use a fused versionThe socket adaptor; common in every home and workplace throughout the North East, but do you know how to use them?

Safe Use of the Socket Adaptor

Check out this video to tell you more:

Do you know how to use a socket adaptor correctly?

You’ll probably think I’m mad to ask that question, but if I had a pound for every one I’d seen being used incorrectly I’d be a rich man.

You see the socket adaptor has a purpose but it’s not magical – the socket it’s plugged in to has a maximum capacity of 13 Amps, and thus so does the adaptor, so when you connect two appliances, each with a 13 Amp fuse rating (as the image shows), you are overloading!

13 + 13 = 26

The maximum load is 13 amps so connecting 2 13 amp plugs is too much.

As you can see from the top right, the code is BS 1363, which is a British Standard, which specifies the most common type of single-phase AC power plugs and sockets that are used in the United Kingdom. The red plastic area conceals the fuse housing;  a fuse is standard in 3-way adaptors, but rare on 2-ways. If you’re interested to know more check out the wikipedia page on BS1363

The socket adaptor is not magical, it can’t double the load capacity of the socket it’s plugged in to, it’s designed to make your life easier so you can plug more into one socket on the wall, but you must make sure you don’t overload it.

The socket  adaptor has a maximum load of 13 Amps; they all tell you this, and so do all extension leads (they’ll have different capacities) but because they’re hidden on the bit concealed when it’s plugged in, no body realises.

So, either plug in only appliances with say a 5 amp rating, and there’s 2 then it’s fine to use the adaptor. On a 3 way adaptor, using 2 5 Amp appliances, and 1 3 amp is completely fine; as that’s what the socket adaptor is designed for.

Plug the 13 Amp plug directly into the wall.

So, remember; if you overload a socket you’re risking the adaptor, socket or an attached plug will overheat and that leads to fires; don’t take that risk please.

These risks are often only discovered when PAT testing is being carried out, because the PAT Tester has a sixth sense and spots normal things everyone else doesn’t. We notice overloaded sockets; and we clear them.

Do you want to test the capacity of a socket adaptor? This nifty tool from the electrical safety council will teach you about overloading the sockets, just click on the image to be taken to the ESC’s website.


By |2020-01-20T20:30:07+00:00August 23rd, 2013|PAT Testing Info|Comments Off on Socket Adaptors can be a fire risk if you overload them

About the Author:

I am Richard Ayre; editor for this site, owner of the site and the business, and a PAT testing engineer with over 10 years experience. I consider myself an expert in testing IT equipment in office environments; I have worked in many different industries for hundreds of different clients testing all kinds of electrical equipment. I am also Operations Director for the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association As well as being the business owner I am also an employer; based in Wallsend near Newcastle upon Tyne. I am also involved in the running of the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association as Operations Director and joint founder. "PATTA" attends important meetings and provides representation for the smaller businesses that do PAT testing in the UK, when decisions are being made that affect them.