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My friend is renovating an old house in the UK. I was interested to notice that all of the (removed) mains sockets had these plastic terminals on the ends of the wiring coming out of the wall. I've never seen these before - I would have expected bare wires, to attach to screw terminals on the socket fixtures.

I understand that the wiring is pre-2004 standard, with red live and black neutral.

What are these plastic connectors for? Are they intended to plug in to some particular design of socket fixture? To fit to a normal screw terminal socket, would these just be removed?

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These are a type of splice that in your case was a safe way to terminate the wire in the bottom photo. In my area they are referred by there brand name Wago. I only use these types of splices or connectors in fluorescent fixtures but they are or can be used as they are a listed connector. Some contractors use them because they are quick to install and take up very little room in the box. I have had to replace many outlets and switches that have this same kind of connection called back stabs so I usually cut them off. If your wire is on the short side they can be crushed to release & save the wire.

  • They are listed for use in the UK according to the wago web site. See wago series 221. Meet requirements of BS7671 17th edition (I looked them up because I did not know if they were legal in the UK). I may be wrong but believe they are legal the listing information shows 24 amp and 32 amp certifications these values are not used in the U.S. – Ed Beal Feb 6 '18 at 14:39
  • "Meet requirements of BS7671 17th edition" - sounds good, thanks for the clarification. FYI I've never heard the term "listed" used in this sense before; I suspect the equivalent British English term would be "approved" or "compliant with ### standard". Or indeed "meets requirements of ### standard". – AndyT Feb 6 '18 at 14:49
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    Yes approved and listed are considered the same by our NEC but most use the term listed will keep that in mind when trying to answer questions on the other side of the pond. – Ed Beal Feb 6 '18 at 14:52
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    Depending on the model, you can also rotate and pull or sometimes there's a slot to insert a flat blade screwdriver to release. – Pete Kirkham Feb 6 '18 at 16:37
  • "listed" seems to be an American thing, Here in Europe we seem content to trust the manufacturers/importers to self-certify that their products comply with standards. – Peter Green Feb 16 '18 at 18:16
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To me (from NL) this looks perfectly normal, two four-way push terminals to connect the lives and neutrals and a two-way-push to two-way-clamp connector for ground.

These things are touch save, so by leaving it like this you can turn on the breaker and still be safe.

And I'd consider a "normal screw terminal socket" anything but normal or modern, every socket I've bought and installed had push-type connectors.

To connect a socket I'd use a pigtail to connect to the terminals, or if space is an issue remove them and connect the wires directly to a socket.

(btw: the gray connectors are great for lamps, solid core push-in connectors on one side and the other side accepts flexible wire and are push-side-to-release. No more tightening tiny screws while standing on a wobbly ladder holding a too-heavy lamp)

  • Intersting how different countries vary. UK wiring accessories always seems to use "tunnel style" screw terminals. The Yanks seem to use a mixture of push-in connections and wires under screws and from your post it sounds like NL mostly uses push-in. – Peter Green Feb 6 '18 at 23:51
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The orange ones look like Wago (or a clone) push-in wire connectors. The grey one also seems to be some sort of wire connector but i'm not sure exactly what.

They have been put on to the wires to insulate them and to maintain circuit continuity. If you are going to re-fit the socket yourself just remove them before fitting your socket (obviously you need to isolate power to the circuit while doing this).

Really they should under a blanking plate or other suitable cover but that would make it difficult to fit the wall-coverings, so they often get left open like this during construction/decoration work.

To get the wires out of the Wago push-in connectors twist back and forth while pulling them out. I think the grey connector is probablly squeeze to release but i'm not 100% sure.

  • It looks to me the cover was removed, note the wall damage around the box. There are dozens of different models of Wago and they do come in different colors. – Ed Beal Feb 8 '18 at 0:37
  • On the first two pictures It looks to me like the socket was removed and the connectors put on but no cover. Then someone put up a new wall covering and did a half-assed job of cutting it around the box (which they may or may not plan to tidy up later). On the third it looks like they have removed the socket and put the terminals on but not yet put up the new wall covering. – Peter Green Feb 8 '18 at 1:18
  • Note that most UK sockets don't have "covers" like your american ones do. The workings of the socket and the final front surface are normally a single unit thatcable.com/img/products/473_700x309.jpg . – Peter Green Feb 8 '18 at 16:32

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