If you live in a house with electrics installed before the turn of the century, the chances are you wish one or more rooms had more sockets in it.

The reality is that electricians did not anticipate the growth in our need for electrical devices. Or how since the turn of the century our love of the internet and linked devices has increased demand for electricity and sockets. 

The following chart courtesy of Electrical Safety First and the Office of National Statistics shows the increase on consumer electricals that have led to our need for greater sockets.

Not having enought sockets can lead people to undertaking DIY alterations to their electrical installations; extending the cable on an applicance or using single (or worse stacked) extension leads.  Most people have a four-bar extension somewhere in their house, but just because you can use one, it does mean it’s safe to do so. The consequences can be deadly. If you use more than one extension, look at the Electrical Safety First Overload Calculator.

Sockets wear out!

Even if you live in a modern house or one that has had its electrical installation upgraded you might still find that sockets wear out. The casing might get cracked or damaged, the switch could become faulty or the barrels (where the prongs of the plug enter) could become worn (special testing equipment is required to identify this and its part of a EICR).

How many sockets do I need?

Electrical installation work carried out in the United Kingdom is subject to BS 7671 IET Wiring Regulations. Regulation 553.1.7 of BS 7671 states:

“Where mobile equipment is likely to be used, provision shall be made so that the equipment can be fed from an adjacent and conveniently accessible socket-outlet, taking account of the length of flexible cable normally fitted to portable appliances and luminaires”.

Additionally, for dwellings in England and Wales, the Building Regulations require that:

“Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering installations from fire or injury”

Based on this the IET have published the following recommendations.

How much is a new socket?

New sockets cost from £70 per fitting for a standard ‘white’ double socket with additional costs for long or complex cable runs to a power source and/or non-standard fittings. A simple replacement ‘like for like’ can be done at a reduced price and conversions from single to double are also available for less. 

New sockets can be surface mounted or recessed depending on location and preferrence.  The price quoted above covers most domestic circumstances. How we actually go about it can be more or less complicated depending on the construction and arrangement of your building.   

A common misconception is that we can just add a socket anywhere – this isn’t true. Sometimes the length of cable is too long meaning that the safety limits of the circuit will be exceeded or maybe the load on the circuit is already too high. Sometimes we can add Spurs but even those come with limits. 

However, to end on a positive – there is almost always a solution!

If you use lots of extension leads or socket adaptors, new sockets can make your home both more convenient and safe. Modern USB sockets can tidy your spaces of adaptors and cables.”