12
Aug
2015

Illegal UK power leads

Quite a lot of electrical products bought online are made in China. China do make good products, but a lot of the time corners are cut to lower the production cost as much as possible. Sometimes these cost cutting measures are so great, that you get this appearing in the UK:

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This lead is legal to be manufactured in China, but is totally illegal to use in the UK. This lead is not fused, and a 32A circuit will melt this in a matter of seconds (only 0.5 mm^2 conductors) and potentially cause a fire if the MCB doesn’t cut the power in time.

The British standard for plugs (BS1363) also states that the Earth pin (top, the one that is broken off) should never, ever be sleeved. This one is, and the hazard involved here is that certain socket contacts grip the Earth pin right near the bottom of the pin to ensure that the Earth pin contacts first in the socket (this is why it’s always longer). If a live connector contacts first, and the equipment has a short to the casing, the casing will become live and won’t be connected to Earth. This plug could forgo proper Earthing entirely, and on 240V mains with only a 32A breaker to protect you… GG.

Not only is it sleeved, but the earth pin has broken off on shipping due to the incredulously small pin that is between the contactor and the internals of the plug. In a fault situation, this is meant to absorb the line power (could be many tens of amps before the breakers trip), which is why the earth pin is so large compared to the rest of the pins. This wouldn’t last a second under fault conditions. Then again, Earth leakage breakers (RCD’s) are designed to trip with milliamps of current (but safety requires some redundancy – if your RCD is faulty you would be screwed with this plug).

I also noticed this:
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Even the power connectors are smaller than a normal UK plug (quality phone charger in comparison). And the cable is “rated” at 10A. Disgusting.

When buying products online, be very wary of these leads! They do not conform to UK standards and are a genuine fire risk. Genuine leads are cheap, and can be picked up at any electronics shop. You might also want to be careful of what appliance you bought that came with this lead… If the lead is poor quality, then there is a good chance the appliance is too! Stay safe!

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