As an electrician in Hinckley, one of the most common electrical mistakes I see in peoples homes is the over reliance on extension leads. Now this may not seem like a big deal if you have been using extension leads for a while, however extension leads if used incorrectly can overheat and this can lead to fire.

Why I don’t recommend extension leads

I have seen countless extension leads being used in a dangerous way. In some cases, the householders have known they were taking a risk.

Most people see an extension lead as extra sockets to use in whatever way they are needed. Unfortunately care needs to be taken not to overload them. In general terms, extension leads are ok for use in a living room to plug in a TV, DVD, Skybox and Xbox for example, however in a kitchen they can quickly become an electrical danger. Simply plugging in a kettle and toaster will overload an extension lead. In fact practically every kitchen appliance needs its own socket.

Overloaded extension leads will continue to work but will overheat eventually causing fire. It’s not a matter of if….its when a fire will start.

Why are so many people using extension leads though?

The main problem is the age of housing here in the UK. Many areas in the UK are served by housing built back in the Edwardian and Victorian eras – a far cry from todays world of fast technological advances. Even more modern housing struggles to keep up with the demands of electrical appliances all of which require an electrical outlet to work or charge.

According to the National House Building Council (NHBC) who raise construction standards for new homes in the UK and provide consumer protection for home buyers, socket provision in a new build three bedroom home comprises of at least 38 sockets and this is made up of:

  • four sockets in the kitchen
  • four sockets in utility areas
  • four sockets in living rooms
  • eight sockets in living/dining room areas with 2 near to TV outlets
  • six sockets in the master bedroom
  • four sockets in other bedrooms

As an electrician in Barwell, Hinckley and surrounding areas, many of the homes I work in are severely in need of additional sockets. I see extension leads in use in practically every home I work in and every extension lead in use is putting a strain on the socket which it is plugged into.

The extent of the problem

I recommend extra sockets are installed in most of the homes I work in to as I strongly believe the use of extension leads should be kept to an absolute minimum. A survey carried out by Energy Experience, an on line educational resource, back in 2007 revealed that 92% of survey respondents used 3 or more extension leads in their home.

That was 7 years ago – and back then energy efficiency was still relatively new. Discussions were taking place about the possibility of landmark devices that would control the power of an entire household at the flick of a switch. Of course, most house holders are familiar with systems like these with many SmartPhone Apps now able to allow you to control the heating and energy usage remotely so you don’t even need to be at home!

However, extension use remains the same despite optimistic hopes of plug in anywhere skirting boards and wire free equipment and appliances! (we live in hope on that one!)

Energy efficiency awareness has risen – but so has the need for extra sockets

Back in 2007, there was a suggested move away from the traditional sockets as householders started to become more aware of the need for energy efficiency. Most households are now familiar with energy efficiency measures which reduce energy usage and in turn cost. However the array of gadgets on offer has not reduced and has increased. The cost of charging and using individual gadgets has reduced significantly but the number of products on the market has risen.

So whilst it is perfectly possible to remotely control whether or not you want to charge your Ipad at home whilst you’re holidaying in Turkey, one thing that has not changed is the need for a socket to make any of this happen.

The socket phenomenon

Installing extra sockets is a common job for any qualified and registered electrician nowadays, and I don’t see any end to this currently. The extension lead market is booming and socket shortages are as great as ever.

If you think your home is in extension lead overload then I recommend you contact a qualified and registered electrician who will be able to advise on where to place your additional sockets so they work for you and most importantly, keep you electrically safe.