We have lots of spare BS546 plug sockets in our rented house (we are located it London, UK). In the bedroom, these are linked to the lighting circuit but we only have one lamp so the room is very dark. The plug on the lamp is type BS 546 5A 240v.

What type of lamps can we buy / what should we check for when buying a lamp? The one lamp we do have says "Input 230-240v 50Hz with max 40W bulb".

Can we just buy a lamp and fit a BS546 plug without blowing ourselves up?

  • 1
    What about an adapter?
    – Skaperen
    Mar 17, 2013 at 12:20
  • Buy a UK extension lead. Chop the plug off and fit a BS546. Now you can plug normal UK type plugs into the extension. As long as you use 220v/240v equipment everything will be fine.
    – Piotr Kula
    Jul 17, 2013 at 11:31
  • 2
    As long as you don't try and draw (even by accident) more than 5A... approx more than 1100W. (For example someone sees the "normal" socket on the adaptor and tries to plug a heater into it). It's not really a good idea. The BS546 socket is used so you don't try and power something with a BS1363 plug. Please fit a BS546 plug to the lamp instead.
    – John
    Jul 17, 2013 at 12:21

3 Answers 3


Power (Watts) = Potential (Volts) x Current (Amps). At 230 Volts a 40 Watt bulb uses 40/230 = 0.2 Amps. So a 5 Amp circuit will have no problem supplying this lamp.

Your choices are

  • Change the plugs on your lamps.
  • Use an adapter.

Changing the plugs is not difficult and should be within the competence of many people. If not you can probably find an electrician who will do this for minimal cost.

5A round-pin plug per BS 546
From a well known trade/retail store

Note that BS546 plugs are mostly not fused. I believe they should only be used on BS546 radial circuits that are individually protected at the fusebox ("consumer unit")

A few fused variants are available:

BS 546 fused plug from an online retailer

If you can find a source, you can buy an adapter

BS 1363 to BS 546 adapter

From Museaum of plugs and sockets

  • Changing the plug on a lamp is safer, is it prevents the risk of plugging in something that would draw a higher current. Aug 13, 2015 at 10:54

Watts = Amps x Volts

So, with 5A and 230 volts (roughly 1KW) you're easily good for any bulb you can find in the high street or at the likes of B&Q. I'd agree with Skaperen's suggestion that making yourself an adapter, particularly if you're only renting for a short while, may be an option - just ensure you don't connect anything with a fuse above 5A (like a 2KW heater), stick with only using lights.

  • 1
    'making yourself an adpater' sounds like dangerous advice for someone who knows nothing about electrics. Do you just mean fitting a BS546 plug on an existing lamp?
    – codecowboy
    Mar 17, 2013 at 17:10
  • 2
    Fitting a BS546 plug onto an existing lamp cord is actually the best long term solution. You must ensure the wires go to the correct pins, none are interchangeable. The connections must be properly made with no extra bare wire. If there's the least bit of doubt, have someone who knows what they are doing do this.
    – bcworkz
    Jun 15, 2013 at 18:46

BS546 was the old 5A 2&3 pin system universally used in Britain, before the 13A flat pin BS1363.

Your sockets should not be wired to the lighting circuit. If they are, then get them wired from a separate fusebox/distribution board, fused at 5A, or 15A if you have the 15A version. Better still, rewire for a 30A ring with BS1363 sockets.

Do not use any UK plugs or adapters, these are for Europe, not for GB. Make sure all accessories are BS marked.

  • 1
    -1 the OP is renting the house and you are suggesting rewiring?
    – mike
    Oct 3, 2013 at 16:15
  • 1
    -1. Having BS546 5A sockets connected to the lighting circuit is not unusual in new houses in the UK. Aug 13, 2015 at 10:52

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