How to wire an American electric plug

Updated March 23, 2017

The ability to wire a plug is an essential, but often overlooked, piece of knowledge. In urban areas, faulty wiring accounts for 33 per cent of residential electrical fires. If you go on holiday to America you will find that all your UK electrical plugs are unsuitable to the electric sockets there. One solution is to buy a plug adapter, the other is to take off your British plugs and fit American plugs to your electrical goods.

Choose a plug that is suitable for the device it is to pass power to. Virtually every electrical item with a metal case will require a three-prong plug. The three-prong plug ensures that the device is grounded and won't be able to give its users potentially fatal electric shocks. Devices that don't require grounding can be fitted with a two-prong plug.

Disassemble the plug to reveal the wiring terminals by removing the screws near the prongs.

Slide the back part of the plug over the cable via the hole in its centre.

Cut away the protective outside sheath of the cable using a knife. This will expose the wires inside which should be checked for integrity.

Remove 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) of insulation from each of the wires using wire strippers.

Identify the individual wiring terminals on the front end of the plug and loosen each of their screws.

Insert the green wire into the centre round or upside down "U" prong and tighten the screw onto it. This is the ground terminal. The black wire goes into the coppery-coloured connector in the same fashion. The white wire goes into the silvery-coloured connector.

Put the two sections of the plug back together without tightening the screws. Ensure that the individual wires are not exposed where the cable meets the plug. If they are, remove them from the terminals and shorten them.

Tighten the screws connecting the outer plug parts together when the individual wires are completely hidden.


The strands of wire should all sit under the screw of each terminal. If they fail to do so, the stray wires could cause a short in the circuit. To prevent fraying, twist the ends of the wires by hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wire cutters/ strippers
  • Plug
  • Knife
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About the Author

Justin Schamotta began writing in 2003. His articles have appeared in "New Internationalist," "Bizarre," "Windsurf Magazine," "Cadogan Travel Guides" and "Juno." He was a deputy editor at Corporate Watch and co-editor of "BULB" magazine. Schamotta has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Plymouth University and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University.