UK electrical question.

I've recently come into a nice pair of lamps. Unfortunately, their plugs are 5 amp and 250v with 3 round pins (BS546A). I do not have round pin sockets in my home. Is it safe to to replace the plugs with more modern 13 amp rectangular 3 pin plugs? Say, like these?

If it is safe, would simply watching a tutorial designed for replacing rectangular pin plugs with the same type of plug work for stepping me through it (like say this)? Or would there be potential snags that wouldn't be covered?


  • I don't know much about this topic, but it seems like if the conversion were safe to do then there would be commercially available adapters that you can just plug into your outlet to do it for you. Are those available? – David Grayson Oct 9 '16 at 16:09
  • You misspelled a tag: "eletrical" should be "electrical". – David Grayson Oct 9 '16 at 16:11
  • @DavidGrayson. Once upon a time such adaptors probably were but appliances aren't sold with 5A plugs and haven't been for a long time so there's no need. The 5A plug is still used in a few countries so some travel adaptors do this - but they're not common. – Chris H Oct 9 '16 at 16:45
  • 13A to 5A adapters exist marketed as "india to UK adapters" e.g. cpc.farnell.com/pro-elec/9950/india-to-uk-adaptor/dp/PL11223 – Peter Green Jul 19 '17 at 17:10

Yes - almost certainly. You need to get the wiring right (the wires should be colour coded in the usual way - if in doubt post pictures). The pins are in the same positions in both plugs. The 13A plug is fixed unlike the 5A. A fuse should be chosen to match the rating of the cord but you're unlikely to have that information. In that case just fit a 1A fuse unless the bulb is over 200W when you should go for 3A.

The 5A plug is used in theatrical lighting (along with the 15A) but it was also used many years ago when standards weren't what they are now. Watch out for metal housings with no earth wire (double insulation is possible however) or cable with only a single layer of insulation (such as you only see on Christmas tree lights) often as two such wires twisted together.

A further thought on wiring: rather than the usual brown/blue/green&yellow you may see red/black/green for live/neutral/earth. This is based on ancient British standards like the 5A plug, that were adopted then adapted in some commonwealth countries.

  • @RedGrittyBrick. that's a good point and I'll put it in. Of course when replacing an unfused plug with a fused one that information may not be available (so calculate from lamp wattage) and the fuse adds a level of protection that didn't exist before (5A sockets on 5A fuses did exist but weren't common in practice. – Chris H Oct 10 '16 at 7:19
  • Thanks so much, this is extremely helpful! I've ordered 3 pin plugs and both 1 and 3 amp fuses. The lamps currently have 40 watt bulbs. – Blackwood Oct 16 '16 at 14:31
  • One hiccup. The lamps have 2 core wire (h03vvh2-f). Do I just ignore the earth when wiring two a 3 pin plug? – Blackwood Oct 16 '16 at 14:33
  • 2
    Yes, and if it's that exact cable with the part number stamped on it that's a good sign that the lamp is recently made. Brown-Live and Blue-Neutral – Chris H Oct 17 '16 at 8:13
  • The 5A plug is also sometimes used for centrally switched lighting in homes, pubs etc. – Peter Green Jul 19 '17 at 17:12

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