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How to wire a plug safely

Wiring a plug is something many of us learned about at school. If you're looking to refresh your knowledge, take a look at our guide.

We will be looking further into how to wire a plug step-by-step as well as how to wire a plug with only two wires in this guide. So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading to expand your DIY skillset.

Safety first

It is important that you are aware of the legalities associated with learning how to wire a plug, so make sure you read the following caution before beginning:

  • Legally you have a duty of care for anyone in your home, and if a visitor is electrocuted as a result of electrical work you have done, you can be prosecuted. Part P of the Building Regulations states that any electrical installations must be carried out by a competent person.
  • A competent person is someone qualified to undertake electrical installations and approved by the government’s Part P scheme. Whilst you don’t need to be certified in order to change the accessories or fittings, you will need to call a qualified electrician if you want to install or replace sockets – you might also enjoy our guide on how to install a plug socket.

The following areas are non-notifiable works that can be done. NOTE: You must check with the building control dept of your local authority prior to any works being carried out! Regulations are regularly changed and updated. Works carried out outside of a ‘special location’. This means any work in the following rooms is non-notifiable:

  • Kitchens
  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Porches
  • Hallways
  • Gardens
  • Lofts spaces
  • Dining rooms
  • Like for like work. E.g. changing the accessories or fittings to an existing socket/plug.
  • Replacing damaged cables.
  • Installing additional sockets and a single fused spur to an existing circuit.

Hopefully, this helps you to decide whether to proceed with your project, but if you are unclear, please click here for more information.

Wiring a plug

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How to wire a plug

Ok, you are ready to begin learning how to wire a plug. Start by collecting the following tools and materials. This will prevent you from needing to pause partway through.

Tools and materials

You will need:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire strippers
  • New plug

Extra costs

Wiring a plug is generally not an expensive job, but you will need to pay for a few tools and materials. Below are the average prices you can expect to pay:

  • Replacement plug: £1 – £3
  • Electrical tools: £15 – £35

Step-by-step guide

This guide focuses on wiring a moulded plug so ensure that you have the correct type. Once you have gathered the above tools, follow the steps below carefully to ensure your plug is correctly and safely wired:

  1. Cut off the old, moulded plug and dispose of it, as it will now be unusable. (CAUTION: Be careful when cutting the cable that you do not damage the wires).
  2. Next, measure 50 millimetres from the cut end of the cable.
  3. Grab a wire stripper and remove 50mm of the outer casing then separate the individual wires: Green/yellow, blue and brown.
  4. Using the new plug you are fitting as a gauge, cut the wires to the required length. This usually means that the brown/live wire is the shortest and the green/earth wire will be the longest.
  5. Remove 5mm of insulation from the end of each wire using the wire strippers.
  6. Twist the copper ends of each wire tightly to ensure they fit into the terminal holes completely.
  7. Follow the markings inside each plug: L = Live = Brown. N = Neutral = Blue. E = Earth = Yellow & Green.
  8. It is worth noting that older appliances may have a cable with different coloured cables: L = Live = Red. N = Neutral = Black. E = Earth = Green.
  9. Loosen the cable clamps at the bottom of the plug then feed the cables into the plug.
  10. Now you can re-tighten the clamp, to secure the cable in place.
  11. Loosen the screws on each terminal and push the bare part of each wire into the correct position.
  12. Next, tighten the terminal screws to secure them in place. Please note, the terminal pins lift up to make access easier.
  13. Remember, loose screws can cause overheating, so ensure that all wires are attached securely and that all terminal screws are tight.
  14. Check that the cord clamp at the bottom of the plug is gripping the outer insulation casing only and that it is secured tightly. You can test this by giving the cord a sharp tug.
  15. Also, make sure the correct fuse is fitted, by checking the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  16. Once you are happy that all the wires are secure and fitted correctly, replace the plug cover and tighten the screws.

Plug wiring diagram

How to wire a plug with only two wires

Now you know how to wire a plug. However, not all plugs have three wires. In fact, some plugs are double insulated and have only two wires, live and neutral. These plugs do not rely upon the earth wire for protection.

You may be wondering how to wire a plug with only two wires but following the below steps should make the process as easy as possible.

  1. Begin by using a wire stripper to remove 50mm of the outer casing and separate the individual wires: blue and brown.
  2. With the plug, you are fitting as a gauge, cut the wires to the required length. This usually means that the brown/live wire is the shortest, the blue/neutral wire will be the longest.
  3. Use the wire strippers to strip 5mm of insulation from the end of each wire.
  4. Next, tightly twist the ends of the copper wire tightly to make sure they fit into the terminal holes properly.
  5. Always follow the markings inside each plug.
  6. To finish, follow steps 9 – 16 of our ‘how to wire a plug’ section above.

Wiring a plug 2

Staying safe

As we mentioned at the start of this guide, wiring a plug can be dangerous if not done correctly. So, if at any point you get mixed up or confused, make sure you call in an electrician to finish the job safely. It is never worth trying to rush through any project using electricity.

Also, never be tempted to use a plug unless you are 100% sure it is safe.

Considering hiring an electrician? The average cost is £45 per hour but this will vary between tradespeople. For more information, check out our electrician hourly rate guide. Once you are ready to contact a professional, please use our free search feature to find a local, highly qualified electrician.

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