How to Wire 13-Amp Plugs

Written by david robinson
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How to Wire 13-Amp Plugs
The 13-amp plug is the main 240-volt plug in the United Kingdom. (British plug image by c from

In the United Kingdom, the main type of electrical plug is the three-pin 13-amp plug. It is fitted to everything from lamps to washing machines and, with a 13-amp fuse, can power appliances up to 3,000 watts. The plug has three prongs and may be used with two- or three-wire cords. Wiring a 13-amp plug requires an understanding of European wire colours, good colour vision and access to simple tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Electrician's screwdriver
  • Knife or wire-strippers

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  1. 1

    Locate the screw positioned in the centre of the plug base. Undo it to remove the top of the plug. The screw is usually captive and will not fall out of the plug base. If it does come free, put it in a safe place until later.

  2. 2

    Cut the final two inches of outer insulation from the cord, taking care not to damage the insulation of the three wires within it. Hold the cord over the plug base, with the undamaged end of the outer insulation about a 1/4 inch on the internal side of the cord grip.

  3. 3

    Route the green and yellow wire to the farthest terminal. This is the grounding terminal and is connected to the largest of the three prongs. Cut the wire to size so it reaches the far side of the terminal without being stretched or bunched up. Cut the blue wire to size by routing it to the bottom left (neutral) terminal, and the brown wire by routing it to the bottom right (live) terminal.

  4. 4

    Trim the final 1/4 inch of insulation from the end of each wire. Twist the fine wire filaments between your fingers to stiffen them into short rods.

  5. 5

    Loosen the terminal screws with the electrician's screwdriver until they no longer obstruct the holes in the terminals. Insert the end of the grounding wire into the hole in farthest terminal, then tighten the screw to hold the wire firmly in place. Repeat with the blue (neutral) wire and the bottom left terminal, and finally with the brown (live) wire and the bottom right terminal.

  6. 6

    Push the insulated cord into the cord grip at the base of the plug, and ensure that the fuse is in place. Replace the plug top and resecure it with the screw in the base plate.

Tips and warnings

  • UK electrical systems refer to "earth" rather than "ground," so UK plugs will be labelled live, neutral and earth.
  • Use the first two letters to remember which terminal is which: BLue = Bottom Left and BRown = Bottom Right.
  • All UK plugs contain a fuse and are designed to work on the 240-volt electrical system. This may seem small by U.S. standards, but a 13-amp fuse in a 240-volt system provides the same protection as a 30-amp fuse in the 110-volt U.S. system.
  • All 13-amp plugs must contain a fuse. Do not replace the fuse with wire or metal foil.
  • Simply attaching a 13-amp plug to a North American appliance will not make it work in the UK. The UK voltage is more than twice the 110 volts American appliances are designed to use.

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