Electrical Appliance Safety

Introduction

Small, portable appliances such as radios, portable hi-fi systems, televisions, and table lamps as well as small kitchen ‘gadgets’ such as food processors and electric kettles, are designed to run from power supplied to 13 amp wall sockets. In the past, there were a variety of plugs including round, two- and three-pin plugs. Today, there are standard 13 amp square pin plugs fitted to all lights and portable appliances.

New safety developments include rigid plastic or unbreakable casings, neon indicators to show when they are ‘live’ and partially insulated pins to stop you getting a shock from a plug that has only been part way pulled from the socket.

13-amp Socket

All sockets function in the same way, but there is a range to choose from, including coloured faceplates to match your interior decor, and ones with a neon indicator lights. There are single- and double-switched and unswitched sockets. Triple sockets are available, but these can only be wall mounted and not recessed to fit flush with the wall. If you have low wattage equipment such as hi-fi’s or computers and their peripherals, it may be more convenient to plug the components into a 4-point trailing socket.

Fused Connection Unit

While 13-amp sockets and plugs are designed so that appliances can be moved from one room for use in another, some other appliances are permanently fixed in one position. A fused connection unit is a way of joining the ‘hard’ circuit cabling in your house to the flex of an appliance. The junction has the added protection of a cartridge fuse similar to the one found in an ordinary 13-amp plug. Electric cookers, waste disposal units, wall-mounted heaters, extractor fans, and electric showers are all types of appliances connected to the power supply via a fused connection unit. Because these appliances are wired to fused connection units, there is no danger of damaging or accidentally removing a plug. A fused connection unit is the only power point – apart from a shaver socket – that you can install in a bathroom.

A fused connection unit can replace a socket on the ring circuit, or you can lead an extra spur of cable from an existing socket to supply the fused connection unit. Fused connection units are single – never double – although you can have a single fused connection unit and a regular socket in a dual box. Choose a fused connection unit with a switch for added safety, and a neon indicator light to remind you the appliance is switched on. As with all electrical appliances, when not in use, switch off at the controls, then at the ‘socket’.

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