In cosmopolitan south London, some landlords refreshing their letting properties in Thornton Heath, Kenley, Bromley, Dulwich, Lambeth, Orpington, Wandsworth, West Wickham and Whyteleafe are turning to universal plug socket outlets as there is an increasing number of short term foreign lettings. These universal socket outlets mean that tenants don’t need to buy adaptors to use their electrical goods during their stay.
But is this a good thing? Not really, according to Electrical Safety First.
The use of these devices is widespread in the Far East and is now starting to more popular in south and south west London. The test laboratory of Electrical Safety First (ESF)looked in detail at these devices and found that they did not conform to UK general product safety regulations of 2005, nor did they conform to the 1994 plug and socket regulations or BS1363. Yet they are still sold and fitted.
Changing an existing socket is not normally notifiable and so landlords are tempted to do the work themselves, without consulting a qualified electrician. But this could be putting tenants at risk say ESF.
The key thing about socket outlets, whether fitted to a hotel room in central London or a rented flat in Bromley, is that they are designed as an electrical safety feature. They allow a plug to be connected to the electricity supply in only the correct and safe way. Universal socket outlets do not, it is possible to connect devices in dangerous ways.
Using one of these unsafe sockets with a European or US plug, the ESF team found that the user could touch the live pin during insertion. A feature of all of the universal socket outlets is that the holes are all large and irregular so it is easily possible to fit a plug incorrectly into a socket. The testers found that in 80% of the samples tested, the Europlug (two pin) can be inserted in such a way as to link the live with the earth. With US, Australian and New Zealand plugs, polarity is reversed and when one double unit was tested, there was not enough space to fit two plugs side by side.
When we have been called out to do emergency electrical jobs for landlords in south London areas such as Thornton Heath, Kenley, Bromley, Dulwich, Lambeth, Orpington, Wandsworth, West Wickham and Whyteleafe, we have noticed that these universal sockets have been fitted in a few of the properties. Naturally, we have strongly recommended that they be replaced. Use of the correct adaptor is the only safe way forward.
So if you are a landlord, talk to your South London Electricians (020 3199 9093) about electrical safety before making any decisions, whether it is notifiable or not – then get your electrician to fit socket outlets that are safe!