When you plan the positions of socket outlets, try to ensure there will be enough, all conveniently situated, so that it’s never necessary to extend the flexible cord of a table lamp or other appliance. But if you do find that a flex will not reach a socket, extend it so that it is not stretched taut, which may cause an accident.
Avoid joining two lengths of flex by twisting the bared ends of wires together, even if you bind them with insulating tape. People often do this as a temporary measure then neglect to make a proper connection later – which can have fatal consequences.
If possible, fit a longer flex, wiring it into the appliance itself. But if you can’t-do this on don’t want to dismantle the appliance, use a flex connector.
There are two-terminal and three-terminal connectors, which you should match to the type of flex you are using. Never join two-core flex to three-core flex.
Strip off just enough sheathing for the conductors to reach the terminals, and make sure that the sheathed part of the each chord can be secured under the cord clamp at each end of the connector.
Cut the conductors to length with engineer’s pliers, then strip and connect the conductors – connecting the live conductor to one of the outer terminals, the neutral to the other, and the earth wire (if present) to the central terminal. Make sure that the matching conductors from both cords are connected to the same terminals, then tighten the cord clamps and screw the cover in place.
If you plan to fit a longer continuous length of flex, you can install an in-line switch that will allow you to control the appliance or light fitting from some distance away – a great advantage for the elderly and people confined to bed. Some in-line switches are luminous.
If you fit a long flex to a power tool, it will inevitably become tangled, and one of the conductors will eventually break, perhaps causing a short circuit. The solution is to buy an extension lead or make it yourself.
The best type of extension lead to be had commercially is wound on a drum. There are 5 amp ones – but it’s safer to buy one with a 13 amp rating so that you can run a wider range of equipment without danger of overloading. If you use such a lead while it is wound on the drum it may overheat, so develop the habit of unwinding it fully each time you use it. The drums of these leads have a built-in 13 amp socket to take the plug of the appliance; the plug at the end of the lead is then connected to a wall socket.
You can make an extension lead from a length of 1.5mm² three-core flex with a standard 13amp plug on one end and a trailing socket on the other. Use those with unbreakable rubber casings. A trailing socket is wired in a similar way to a 13 amp plug. Its terminal is up marked to indicate which conductors to connect to them.
Multiway trailing sockets will take several plugs and are ideal for hi-fi systems or computers with individual components that need to be connected to the main supply. Using a multiway socket, the whole system is supplied with a single plug in the wall socket.
You can also extend the lead by using a lightweight two-part flex connector. One-half has three pins that fit into the other half of the connector.
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