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How to wire a UK socket

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you’re repairing a faulty electrical socket or installing a new socket, wiring the socket correctly is essential to ensure safety and prevent a fire hazard. The United Kingdom uses a three-pin standard for all electrical sockets, so you will need to connect the three main wires – live, neutral and earth – to each socket terminal. Wiring a socket is a straightforward task that is no more complicated than wiring an electrical appliance’s power plug.

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  1. Switch off the electricity supply at the consumer unit. You will usually find this in the hallway or in a cupboard near the property’s front door. Flick the consumer unit’s switch to the “Off” position.

  2. Unscrew the retaining screws on the front of the socket. Unclasp and pull off the socket faceplate. Place the screws on the faceplate and put this to one side.

  3. Pull about 10 cm of the main electrical flex through the aperture at the bottom of the socket.

  4. Strip 3 cm of the flex casing away from the end of the flex with the wire stripper tool. This exposes the red, black and green-yellow wires inside the flex. On a spur circuit you’ll find one wire of each colour; on a ring circuit you’ll find two wires of each colour. If the flex contains two wires of each color, connect the wires of the same colour by twisting together the exposed copper cores. Twist the wires tightly to form a robust connection. This forms three pairs of wires.

  5. Strip 1 cm of the wire casing from each wire to reveal the inner copper core. Push about 5 cm of the flex back through the aperture and into the wall space. Leave enough flex inside the socket so that the protruding core wires comfortably reach the terminals.

  6. Unscrew the terminal screws inside the socket with a screwdriver. Unscrew each terminal screw by enough to create a space under the screw on each terminal.

  7. Push the bared copper end of the red wire into the terminal marked “L” or “Live.” Push the copper end of the black wire into the “N” or “Neutral” terminal. Push the green-yellow wire end into the “E” or “Earth” terminal. Screw the terminal screws back into place until the screws tightly secure the wires in place in each terminal. Gently tug the flex to ensure each wire connection is tight.

  8. Place the faceplate back onto the socket. Screw the retaining screws back into the faceplate to secure it to the socket.

  9. Tip

    After wiring the socket and fitting the faceplate, check around the socket to ensure that no wires protrude from the outlet. If you notice a wire, remove the faceplate and push the wire back into place.


    Always switch off the property's main electricity supply at the consumer unit before wiring a socket or carrying out any electrical repairs.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wire stripper tool
  • Screwdriver

About the Author

Adrian Grahams

Adrian Grahams began writing professionally in 1989 after training as a newspaper reporter. His work has been published online and in various newspapers, including "The Cornish Times" and "The Sunday Independent." Grahams specializes in technology and communications. He holds a Bachelor of Science, postgraduate diplomas in journalism and website design and is studying for an MBA.

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