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I'm in the US and creating a table lamp for a relative in England. I have a UK standard plug and had planned on using 18/2 lamp wire. I of course want the lamp to be safe. The lamp will be using a 40 watt "Edison" filament globe bulb. Is there a problem with using 18/2 wire with the 220vot system in the UK?


Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I ordered a 230v plug on ebay and it has a 13m fuse so I should be good there. I can be found as...(13 a 230 V UK 3-Pole, Heavy-Duty, Rechargeable Rubber Connector R. DM) I also ordered (2 Core Braided Fabric Cable Lighting Lamp Flex Vintage Wire Cafe Decoration Cord) and it seems to be rated for the uk but what I find interesting is it seems to my eye that the copper wire is thinner then US 18/2 copper. The insulation might be thicker the US 18/2 . Is that the difference? I want to be safe.enter image description here

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  • "the 220 Volt system in the UK" The UK has a 240 V supply.
    – Graham Nye
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 23:06
  • @GrahamNye The allowed voltage range in the UK is 216.2 volts to 253.0 volts, so you are picking a nit that doesn't need to be picked. Call it 220 volts, or, 240 volts, or 230 volts, it's all the same given the allowed variance. The nominal utility voltage in the UK is defined as 230 volts, at least according this this site: spenergynetworks.co.uk/pages/voltage_changes.aspx
    – MacGuffin
    Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 23:33
  • "The nominal utility voltage in the UK is defined as 230 volts," It is, by the EU. In reality it's 240 V.
    – Graham Nye
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 1:47

3 Answers 3

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Make sure it's the right type.

Generally AWG gauges of wire are under the North American regulatory system, which flows from UL White Book standards. (and CSA equivalents).

In that system, cordage is serious business. There are a set of standards for cords. They start with S, and have a variety of other symbols including J, O, OO, W, and others. They need to meet that standard to be safe/legal for cordage / line cords. (the S stands for Super Tough, but that is pretty much the minimum for under-foot line cords.)

Proper cordage is sold for pennies a foot at competent hardware stores. Any of it will be rated for 300V so you're fine there.

However, given the British passion for safety earthing (grounding), I would use 3-wire cordage and ground the lamp chassis.


Oh, speaking of that, you need to use a legal BS1363 plug. It will have a fuse. I'm a little bit troubled with where you'd find such a plug in North America. Quality is everything. Inspect the plug and make sure it has the BSI "kite mark", looks like a heart with an S in it. (BSI is British for UL).

Also, a genuine UK plug will have a fuse in it. The fuse should be replaced so it matches the load (e.g. 1A for that light, that's 240W, plenty).

Some do not realize that most of the listings on that Very Popular mail-order site are actually third-party sellers - effectively, it's eBay sellers. Most of that stock is "cheap Cheese junk", not naming any countries :) The takeaway is that none of it should ever be attached to AC power - it's not built to safety standards.

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  • Consider making the lamp and shipping it to the UK with instructions on how to install the plug there. Oh, and a SASE so they can send you the receipt for the proper plug & you can reimburse.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 21:11
  • SPT-2 cordage is permitted to be 18AWG Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 4:51
  • @ThreePhaseEel thanks. It must be extension cords I am thinking of. Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 19:10
  • Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I ordered a 230v plug on ebay and it has a 13m fuse so I should be good there. I can be found as...(13 a 230 V UK 3-Pole, Heavy-Duty, Rechargeable Rubber Connector R. DM) I also ordered (2 Core Braided Fabric Cable Lighting Lamp Flex Vintage Wire Cafe Decoration Cord) and it seems to be rated for the uk but what I find interesting is it seems to my eye that the copper wire is thinner then US 18/2 copper. The insulation might be thicker the US 18/2 . Is that the difference? I want to be safe.[![enter image description here][1]][1]
    – Rob Niosi
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 15:11
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Just for the sake of completeness... If you have some specialty small gauge wire that you really want to use for a lamp project, you could make it a low voltage lamp so you don't have to worry about the rules that come with mains voltage. Have a transformer that steps down the voltage to 12VDC and find some compatible light bulbs or LED packages.

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You will want to be sure the 18/2 wire is rated for 220V and not just 120V. It should be embossed on the insulation. As far as current rating, 18/2 is more than adequate for a 40W load. That would represent 0.18A at 220V.

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  • Thanks for the thoughtful responses. I ordered a 230v plug on ebay and it has a 13m fuse so I should be good there. I can be found as...(13 a 230 V UK 3-Pole, Heavy-Duty, Rechargeable Rubber Connector R. DM) I also ordered (2 Core Braided Fabric Cable Lighting Lamp Flex Vintage Wire Cafe Decoration Cord) and it seems to be rated for the uk but what I find interesting is it seems to my eye that the copper wire is thinner then US 18/2 copper. The insulation might be thicker the US 18/2 . Is that the difference? I want to be safe.[![enter image description here][1]][1]
    – Rob Niosi
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 15:11
  • @RobNiosi The plug should be fitted with a fuse that's appropriate for the load. You can get BS1362 fuses in a wide variety of ratings, but by far the most common ratings are 3A, 5A and 13A. 3A is fine for a lamp. Unfortunately, BS1362 fuses are an odd size, that doesn't match any ones used in other countries.
    – Simon B
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 14:55

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