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Electrical items from the UK

British electrical items are surprisingly different than Contental European ones, despite the geographical proximity and use of the same voltage. They're built as a single block, with the faceplate being part of the device itself instead of being a separate piece, while the (1-gang) wall boxes are similar to the round European ones but not quite the same.

Standard power socket

Rating: 13A 250V

This is a very common style of power socket. Most ones in the UK and Ireland are double ones, but this isn't always the case; similarly, the majority of them have a built-in switch to cut power to the outlet, but unlike Australian ones this isn't an actual requirement.

Wiring is fairly simple, with screw terminals located on the back; screwless terminals are now available in the UK, but it's not yet a common feature, generally being found only on high end devices.
As this is entirely a single-block device, the front contains two holes for mounting to the wall box; covers are provided in order to prevent the screws from being visible.

Single power socket

Rating: 13A 250V

This is a single power socket, meant to go in a one-gang box. It's very similar to the one shown above, but with only one outlet and with no power switch.

One interesting feature found on all of these sockets is the metal bar connecting the earth terminal to the mounting screws. This is because metal wall boxes are quite common in the UK, and require being connected to earth.

One-way light switch

Rating: 10A 250V

This is a very standard light switch as found in the UK. This specific one is a one-way switch, used for turning on a light from a single point - as such, it only has two terminals. There are also two-way and intermediate switches for turning on lights from multiple locations.

The depth of the switch is considerably narrower than most other ones from other countries - that's so that it can fit in very shallow wall boxes, which are often used for mounting light switches there.

Fused connection unit

Rating: 13A 250V

This device is used to connect a hard-wired appliance. UK circuits are generally protected by a 32A breaker, so a fuse (13A, can be swapped for lower values) is necessary to protect the power cord of the device; there's also a double-pole switch for isolation.

The fuse can be swapped easily by removing the fuse holder at the front (which can't be extracted fully, so it's impossible to lose it). An indent is present in the plastic, which can be broken off to pass a cord through, and a cord grip is present to secure it.

Essentially, this device offers the same features as a plug and socket would, but without actually being a plug and socket.

Isolator switch

Rating: 45A 250V

This is an isolator switch, used to safely disconnect and isolate an electrical appliance; the switch is double-pole, and thus also disconnects the neutral, a necessary feature to ensure complete isolation of the supply. A red indicator light is present to indicate when the power to the device is present.

For safety, in the UK it is mandatory to have an isolator switch for hard-wired appliances, such as stoves. Indeed, the high rating of the switch (45A) indicates that this would be perfectly suitable to use with an electric stove. Such a high rating is necessary, as most UK homes are only supplied with single-phase power.

Shaver adaptor

Rating: 1A 250V

While the BS 1363 plugs are the only type used domestically in the UK and Ireland, there is an exception: shavers. Shavers are the only devices allowed to use Europlugs, or special plugs designed for this purpose (BS 4573). However, standard British sockets aren't compatible with these plugs.

This adaptor solves this problem, by safely allowing the connection of a Europlug, BS 4573 plug, or US two-pin plug to a BS 1363 socket. The adaptor is labelled as being for "shavers only", and is fitted with safety shutters and a 1A fuse.