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Are you overloading your plug sockets in the house?

Are you overloading your plug sockets in the house?

On March 23rd 2020, we were instructed by the UK Government to work from home, if we could. So thousands of people across the country moved their offices home – whether that was just a laptop, or the whole outfit – the majority of the country is now working from the safety of their own 4 walls.

Which begs the question, are you overloading your plug sockets in the house? With so many devices in the home these days, it’s easy for us to overload, and also easy for us to try and squeeze everything in with extension cables and block extenders.

Just to be clear, we aren’t trying to scare anyone, but overloading a socket can be potentially dangerous, causing plugs to overheat, and even causing fires. It’s a genuine concern, but without understanding the power your appliances need, you might find yourself overloading your sockets.

Do you know how much power your appliances need? Did you know for example, your kettle will use much more power on each boil than your fridge? This excellent infographic from Which? shows you how much power your general household appliances need:

As a guide, your average plug socket shouldn’t be loaded with more than 3,000 watts. This would mean if you wanted to use an extension cable off one plug, you shouldn’t use appliances that will add up to more than 3,000 watts. So for example, don’t boil a kettle and use an iron off the same extension at the same time, which will require over 5,000 watts. Based off the graphic above, appliances like lamps, fridges and radios are much happier sharing a plug with ones that really do use a lot of wattage.

If you’re not sure about the appliances in your own house, and your own set up, you could try this great online calculator from Electrical Safety First ( The page also have some excellent tips for avoiding overloading, and fire safety in general.

Now, we know that many houses and flats don’t have a lot of plugs around the rooms. It’s just a fact of technology, as many houses were built before the influx of appliances and need for electricity that we have today. Just beware of the following:

  • Don’t use cheap extensions – they are cheap for a reason and it’s just not worth the risk
  • Avoid block extensions – purely as the more you add to them, the heavier they get and the more likely they are to slowly fall out of the socket. This will lead to resistance heating, and a risk of fire.
  • Don’t add an extension lead … onto an extension lead. Remember the rule of 3,000 watts per socket.