Wiring Up a Plug – You dont need an electrician!
Simple Steps to Wire Up a Plug
I don’t often get called out to wire up a plug, but I’ve seen many examples of a bad job! It’s easy to get it wrong, but also easy to get it right. Here’s a step by step guide to wiring up a plug perfectly. As always, if you are unsure what you are doing it’s good get the advice from someone who knows what they are doing!
Tools You Need
- Small flat-headed screwdriver.
- Small cross-headed screwdriver.
- Wire strippers or wire cutters.
- A sharp knife – such as a Stanley knife.
- The plug and the cable.
Step 1 – Prepare the Cable
Take off 4cm of the cable’s outer sheath:
To do this, you can use the wire strippers if you have them. If not, then use the sharp knife to gently score around the outer sheath (in this case the white sheath) taking care not to cut through to the blue, yellow/green and brown wires underneath. Flex the cable until the outer sheath breaks, and pull of the end.
Using the wire cutters, cut off 1cm from the blue (neutral wire) so it is then 3cm long. Then cut off 2cm from the brown (live wire) so it is then 2cm long. Then cut off about 5mm of the insulation on the blue, yellow/green and brown wires and twist the ends of each. It should then look something like this:
Step 2 – Prepare the Plug.
Take your new plug and towards the centre of the plug there is screw that holds the two parts of the plug together (A). Unscrew it and separate the two parts. Loosen the clamp screws (B). Loosen the three terminal screws (C) so it leaves a good space to insert the wires (D).
Note that the plug on the right has had one clamp screw removed completely, allowing the plastic clamp itself to swing round. This makes reconnecting the clamp slightly easier.
Step 3 – Insert the Individual Wires into the Plug & Secure
You may wish to refer to the diagram above (middle picture) showing a ‘map’ of the different wires and where they go. Many plugs come with this useful little map on a piece of card which needs to be removed before you use the plug.
- Insert the green/yellow wire into the top terminal screw (this is the earth) and tighten. Give it a little tug to make sure it is tight, and make sure there are no little strands sticking out. Also make sure the terminal screw is clamped onto the wire, not the wire’s insulation.
- Insert the blue (neutral wire) into the neutral terminal (this is on the bottom right of the opened plug). Tighten, give it a tug to check and ensure no strands are sticking out.
- Now twist the cable round so the brown (live) and repeat the procedure for the brown (live) wire, inserting it into the remaining live terminal by the fuse.
- Make sure all the three wires are not obstructing anything and lying neatly within the plug.
- Screw the plastic clamp back in with the two screws and tighten so it has a good grip on the cables outer sheath.
If all is well, it should now look something like this:
Step 4 – Screw the back on.
Finally, the other part of the socket needs to be screwed back on. It should easily pop back on. That’s it, all done!
Some Useful Notes
- Be careful when removing the outer sheath not to cut into the wires inside. This is a very common error!
- Remember 4-3-2 which are the lengths in centimetres of the earth, neutral and live wires.
- Remember to twist the 5mm ends of each wire – they are made of strands and if you don’t twist them together it makes it more difficult to insert into the plug terminals, they tend to splay out.
- After inserting each wire into the plug terminals, check to ensure a good connection by giving it a little tug. Also make sure the wire is in contact with the terminal screw and no clamped onto the wire’s outer insulation.
- Make sure the cable clamp grips the outside sheath, not the inside wires.
- Make sure the fuse size is correct. Most fuses in the UK are either 13amp or 3amp. Most plugs in the UK come with a 13a (brown writing) fuse as standard. 3a fuses tend to have red writing. Unless specified otherwise, it is common to use 13a fuses in most plugs.
Gallery of Faulty Plug Wiring
A) When cutting off outer sheath, knife has cut into the insulation of the wires inside. If this happens, cut the cable and start again, removing 4cm of the outer sheath.
B) All looks good, but the blue neutral and brown (live) wires are the wrong way round. In this case, you will have to start again as the cables will not be long enough to go back in the correct way.
C) A total and dangerous mess. The exposed wires are highly likely to cause a short-circuit fault, and as you can see from the picture, could be dangerous and lead to fire. In this case, the plug itself should be replace and the wires stripped again.
D) A highly dangerous example of where a blown fuse has been replaced with some tin-foil. This is dangerous because the tin-foil may not offer any protection, and could lead to the cable itself burning and catching fire.
For Further Info and Contact
You can also see a video of how to do it in the videos section. If you would like to get in touch, please feel free to phone or email and I would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.