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UK plug with broken bit...

Postby Lin66 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:20 pm

Aaaaaaaaaah help for stupid woman (and I'm not proud of the fact) please: Just discovered that on my Christmas lights' plug the "pin" (is that what it's called?) on the earth (is that the name of the "pin" at the bottom?) has snapped off and all that's left is the spindy metal inside bit. Can't replace it since the socket is pre-formed or pre-moulded - I obviously need electrical lessons! Is it safe to use? I want to put the lights inside an open but unused fireplace so figure that if there's a fire at least the noxious plastic fumes will go up the chimney - sorry Father Christmas! - but might it cause a fire at the plug & socket end? Thinking about French, and presumably other country's set ups there is no earth so am I right in thinking it should be OK? Thank you for help. Yours stupidly, Lin66. PS What is the best/easiest non-metallic thing to poke into a UK socket taking a two-prong plug anyway?
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Postby chriscba » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:07 am

Just dump them & buy new ones, do not use those lights!!
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Postby ericmark » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:20 am

In the UK and for that matter most other countries we have three classes of electrical goods.

Class I = Must have an earth often has metal bits that should a fault accrue could become live so the earth ensures if this was to happen then the supply would automatically be removed. i.e. fuse blowing.

Class II = Does not require an earth since the design ensures even with a fault there is nothing which can become live. There is always a double square one inside the other to tell you this is the case.

Class III = Separated extra low voltage. These have a transformer which isolates the mains low voltage supply from the item and uses a voltage that even if you did touch it would do you no harm. Example mobile phone.

With the Class II items in this country they still have an earth pin as our sockets have a safety device to stop anyone putting objects into the socket and getting a shock. In this country we don't need to use little plastic socket protectors to stop children from getting a shock although there are still sold. In fact the so called socket protectors in this country make sockets less safe as they defeat the built in protection. As a result with the exception of MK make you can't plug in a device with a broken earth pin even if you wanted to. (MK use the two live pins going in at same time to open shutters)

So you lights may not require an earth but to use them you will have to change the plug anyway in order to plug them in.

Electric goods are in general protected against two dangers.
1) Shock
2) Fire
Some of the protective devices offer some protection against both. The RCD is a good example. But they do not offer total protection and any fire is likely to remove the protection against shock so using in the fire place items likely to go on fire would not protect you from shock.

So only answer for Class II is change plug. However if a class III device where the transformer is built into the plug then a new transformer would be required. Yes I know you can plug in a British to Europe adaptor and then used a Europe to British adaptor to defeat the need for earth pins but ask yourself is it really worth the risk for a set of Christmas lights? I think not?
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