Be Safe when using Mains Adaptors beware of unseen dangers…

Here at Essential Supplies we have a wealth of technical knowledge and experience. We pride ourselves on being able to answer your technical questions and producing a product solution that suits you yet is safe and legal.

Quite often we get asked to price adaptors and sometimes these could be dangerous so we have written this blog to let you know what is acceptable and what is not.

If you are ever in doubt as to what is safe and what isn’t then STOP. Please pick up the phone and speak to one of our experts in the technical department who can advise you properly on what you should be doing. Electricity is just too dangerous, even more so at three-phase which many of our customers are confronted with.

Always check that what you are doing complies with regulations as these vary around the world.

Quite often our customers arrive at a new site to find that the power socket they have been given is different to what’s on the equipment that they have.  This seems to be quite a common occurrence and many of the phone calls we get, our customers asking for a quick fix!

What you need is an adaptor. When you are jumping up in amps e.g. from 16 amp to 32 amp the solution offered is often simply a piece of cable with the appropriate plugs and sockets at each end to allow you to connect things together.  We can manufacture these for you with a very quick turnaround time.


Adaptors – Golden Rules

All adaptors only have one plug, they might have a single or multiple socket.

An adaptor with more than one plug, is potentially lethal, as the exposed pins of the plug (when only one end is plugged in) could be live and cause an electric shock. 


Different Types of Adaptors

  1. Multiway Adaptors:

Used to Plug in multiple devices into a single supply

  1. Step Up Adaptors:

Used to Plug In a device with a larger plug than the available socket

The Adaptor Plug End has the lower current rating, than the Socket End, which has the Higher Current Rating.  These are very common for powering up a things like catering trailers; yachts etc

  1. Step Down Adaptors:

   Used to Plug In a device with a smaller plug than the available socket

The Adaptor Plug End has the higher current rating, than the Socket End,  which has the Lower Current Rating.  These need to be used with great care, as it is possible to overload the plug, cable and appliance, causing overheating, fires, electric shocks etc.  We manufacture these with an in-line overload trip to prevent this, these are normally called “Cable Protectors” These are very common for power up a thing like catering trailers; yachts,

  1. Phase Split Adaptors:

Used to Split 3 Phase Supplies to Single Phases. This is the simplest way to split 3 phase power to single phase. Care has to be used in each application as there is no extra protection.

Often used at events when single phase is required.

  1. Adaptors for Test Purposes:

These adaptors are for use by Professionals Only, it is possible to damage equipment or expose people to electric shock if used incorrectly.

Examples include:

  1. Step Down Adaptors without trips or fuses, often used to test cables.
  2. Phase Jump. Often used to power portable 3 Phase distribution boards from a single-phase supply. The board will only supply a single phase, but all sockets will be live on that single phase.

If the equipment you have has a lower rating then the socket you have been given you can quite simply use the adaptor supplied and plug it in.

However, depending on which way around you need the adaptor this could potentially be deadly.

If you go up in power (e.g a piece of equipment with a 32a plug is plugged into a 63a supply can you give an example here)   then there must always be a circuit breaker between the socket and the equipment – this would then trip before a higher current would pass through the cable.


Our guide lines are

Make sure the venue or generator power matches what your power needs

Use proper power distribution boards

Do your sums, add up the total load of everything that you want to plug into your adaptor, and make sure it is less that the rated capacity of the adaptor.

Remember – never plug into a socket that can provide more power than your equipment unless there is a circuit breaker in between.


Check out our range of Cable Protection Enclosure with RCD’s,  MCB’s and RCBO’s

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